You might think all cruise fares are created equal — but they aren’t. From last-minute cruise specials to senior citizen discounts, there are a number of different cruise fares available to the knowledgable cruiser. If you’re thinking of booking a cruise for your next vacation, here are four types of cruise fares you should be aware of.
Last-Minute Cruise Fares
If you are not set on a specific cruise itinerary and have some flexibility, you can often save a bundle if you look for last-minute cruise fares. You can even book shore excursions at a discount on some sites.
It’s important to do research on your last-minute rates, as you want to get the best deal. When searching for these types of fares, one of the best times to search is 60 to 90 days out. This is typically when the cut off is for existing reservations to cancel without penalty. Once the cruise line knows how many cabins remain, they can offer deep discounts to fill the ship. Understand that most of these deals aren’t going to fall over peak travel times or major holidays.
Senior Citizen Cruise Fares
If you are a traveler over a certain age, you might be eligible for special cruise fares for senior citizens. Membership in certain groups, like AARP, may open the door for discounts too. The one caveat is that at least one person in your cabin must be over the required age on the day of or before the cruise departs. And, the cruise lines do check to ensure people aren’t abusing the age-related cruise fares.
Age-related discounts vary by cruise line. Most cruise lines offer senior fares to anyone who is 55+, though Costa Cruises defines a senior citizen as someone who is a minimum of 60 years old. Some cruise lines that offer special senior cruise fares include Carnival Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Carnival Cruise Lines, Azamara Club Cruises and Royal Caribbean.
One cool aspect with senior cruise fares is that the second person in the cabin is eligible to receive the discount as well in most cases.
Some cruise lines and travel websites offer all-inclusive fares that bundle your airfare, pre- and post-hotels and more. Some cruise lines may run specials from time to time that include free airfare if you book through them directly. If you’ve had your heart set on a cruise to the South Pacific, Paul Gauguin Cruises often runs deals that include deeply-discounted rates plus airfare from Los Angeles or San Francisco. If you’re interested in this type of vacation to other destinations, there are several other cruise lines that also specialize in all-inclusive cruise fares.
Military Member Fares
If you or a family member are active or retired military, you may be eligible for a special cruise fare as well. Websites like Military Cruise Deals specialize in the best cruise fares for active military and veterans. These deals are available for U.S. and Canadian active, retired and honorably discharged military personnel, along with their family and friends. If you are a veteran and over a certain age, you may qualify for both military and senior discounts. Some cruise lines, like Carnival, allow military members to book two additional cabins under the same deal. Other lines like MSC Cruises and Hurtigruten extend their military discount to U.S. armed forces personnel employed in agencies like the FBI, CIA, Secret Service, NASA Johnson Space Center and even cadets who are currently enrolled in a military academy with a scheduled date to enter into the military.