How To Save Money On A Cruise: 16 Smart Strategies

To save money on cruises look for discounts during the wave season from January to March. You can sign up for cruise line newsletters to book early and get upgrade offers. Also, check the price comparison websites before booking. Opt for an all-inclusive fare. And cut on extra expenses onboard.

how to save money on a cruise

Here is how to save money on a cruise in detail:

1. Sign up for newsletters

Newsletters from cruise lines and travel agents help you to stay updated. You can get limited-time offers, flash sales, and cruise discounts.

This is especially useful if you are traveling with a large family.

So, subscribe to these newsletters when you are planning for a cruise.

2. Choose a cheap cruise line

There are budget cruises and luxury cruises.

For example, Carnival Cruise Lines is often seen as a budget cruise option. Same for Royal Caribbean.

You can save a lot of money when choosing such cruise lines.

3. Choosing a cabin

I do not recommend choosing inside cabins for families. They can be claustrophobic for some people.

But they are the cheapest option on a cruise ship, as they don’t offer a view and have limited amenities.

But their location on lower decks also helps to cut seasickness.

So you may choose them if you are on a strict budget.

4. Book early

Cruise lines release their itineraries in about 18 months or more in advance. 

If you book your cruise early, you can save money as well as get the best choice of cabins.

You can also get a location in your preferred spot on the cruise ship.

Most cruise lines tend to increase their prices as ships sell out.

So plan your trip well in advance and get extra benefits.

5. Choose an off-season

If you book your cruise during the off-season you’ll find better deals and discounts.

The shoulder season, which is from January to March, is good too.

As the demands are low, cruise lines lower the prices during these periods to fill their cabins. 

There will be fewer crowds on the ship during the holidays and summer vacations too. This means you will have less rush during lunch, dinner, and excursions.

6. Book an all-inclusive fare

An all-inclusive fare on a cruise may include:

  • Three meals per day.
  • Snacks.
  • Water and tea. 
  • Alcoholic beverages.
  • Onboard activities and entertainment. 
  • Shore excursions.
  • Gratuities for staff.

But note that not all cruises offer the same type of all-inclusive fare.

So compare what’s included in each cruise package before making your decision.

An all-inclusive fare may not look cheap, but it will help you to stay within budget.

7. Check Prices on a Comparison Website

The first thing I do when booking a cruise is go to TripAdvisor and compare the prices.

If you are not comparing you will pay more. As simple as that.

Besides, you will be able to see all the prices from different cruise lines in one place.

You may also get discounts on these websites which are not available if you book from the cruise line.

8. Buy tickets through a travel agent

You can also take the offline travel agent route to book your cruise.

A good travel agent can offer you lower rates or discounts too.

Most of them have connections within the industry.

9. Promotional offers from cruise lines

The cruise lines may also offer discounts through promotions.

So, if you have already finalized the cruise line you are going to travel with, keep an eye out for offers such as:

  • Early bird discounts.
  • Last-minute deals.
  • Onboard credit offers.
  • Group discounts.
  • Seasonal promotions.

As I wrote before, do not forget to subscribe to their newsletters.

10. Keep an eye on upgrade offers

If you have already bought the cruise tickets, you may get an upgrade offer too.

These offers come with large discounts as the cruise lines want to sell their inventory fast.

But, you may have to place your bid and will get it if you are the winner.

So, place your best bid and get an upgraded stateroom for a lot less.

11. Use loyalty points

When you book a cruise, you get enrolled in their loyalty program by default. 

You will earn points for the number of nights you booked the cruise. You will also earn points on your spending onboard. 

You will be eligible for onboard credits and other benefits upon reaching milestones.

You can apply the credit on spa treatments, specialty dining, or shore excursions.

12. Use credit card reward points

You can also take advantage of your credit card rewards points.

You can use these points when booking your flight, hotels, or rental cars during your cruise trip.

You can also use a card like Chase Ultimate Rewards. which lets you book cruises with reward points.

13. Become a Shareholder

Cruise companies like Carnival offer onboard credit to their shareholders.

The amount of credit usually depends on the duration of the sailing:

  • 6 days or less: $50 onboard credit per stateroom
  • 7 to 14 days: $100 onboard credit per stateroom
  • 15 days or more: $250 onboard credit per stateroom

But they need you to own at least 100 shares to take advantage of the shareholder benefits.

14. Buy onboard packages in advance

If you book the onboard packages before embarkation you can save a lot of money.

So, buy the beverage, alcoholic, or wi-fi packages at the time of booking the cruise.

15. Bring your drinks

If you’re not a heavy drinker, buying drink packages does not make sense. 

So, check the cruise line’s policy on bringing alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

You can also save money by opting for cheaper alternatives available onboard.

Also, look out for happy hour specials and discounts on certain events or activities.

16. Book your next cruise from the ship

Cruise lines, like Royal Caribbean, offer extra onboard credit through their NextCruise program.

This is a program for booking your next cruise onboard your current sailing.

Although the price of the cruise will be the same, you will still get an onboard credit.

You can use the credit on dining, spa treatments, shopping, or shore excursions.

You have the benefit of getting your queries answered from the cruise line onboard. And you will get the latest information on the trip before everybody else.

It will be also much simpler to book onboard as you can book on their app or by filling out a simple form.

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About Tully Seal

Avatar of Tully SealTully Seal is a travel blogger. She is a BA graduate in Hospitality Management and has over 4 years of work experience in the travel and hospitality industry. She loves to cook in her spare time.

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