Several cruise lines offer free perks when you purchase your cruise fare — extra activities or amenities included in the price. These perks might include things like internet, beverages, free shore excursions, a room upgrade, onboard credit to use for shopping or food, prepaid gratuities for the crew, butler service, priority check-in, access to exclusive lounges or swag from the cruise line. These free perks can be pretty exciting, and many of them save you money throughout the voyage. Here are a few ways you can search out the cruise fares that have the biggest perks.
Don’t Wait to Book
According to U.S. News & World Report, the best time to book a cruise to get the most perks is 12 to 18 months before the ship is scheduled to set sail. Keep an eye on upcoming cruises, and if you see one that looks interesting, don’t hesitate. Booking early can help you get a lower price and more perks. The article also says that January to March is an excellent time to book a cruise since cruise lines tend to offer even more perks during this time of the year as an incentive for you to book.
Book on Board
Cruise Critic explains that most cruise lines offer rewards if you book your next cruise while you’re on your current one. For example, the article says, Celebrity Cruises offers up to $500 onboard credit if you book a specific cruise while you’re on a cruise. That $500 can go a long way toward shopping, specialty restaurants and tips, so that’s a pretty exciting perk. Before you leave a cruise, think carefully about whether you’d like to take another one anytime soon — because if you do, you’ll want to go ahead and book on board.
Keep an Eye on Deals
The cruise packages with the most perks might not be the most heavily advertised, so to find those packages, you’ve got to keep an eye out. Try setting up a Google alert for the type of cruise you’d like to take, or get into a daily habit of checking websites that list cruise prices; by keeping your eyes open and constantly analyzing and comparing your options, you’ll be able to find and enjoy a package with several perks. You just have to be willing to put in the legwork. Don’t worry — you’ll thank yourself later. If it sounds like too much effort, though, consider booking with a travel agent. They can help you stay on top of the best deals and perks.
Of course, it'd be remiss of us not to mention this site. Cruise On sends cruise deals right to your inbox, allowing you to snag the perfect trip with the click of a button. Just sign up and watch the deals roll in.
Take Your Friends
According to Cruise Critic, you might be eligible for extra perks if you travel with a group. Many companies, Cruise Critic explains, incentivize large groups by providing extra perks for them, whether that comes in the form of onboard credit or just a lower price overall. So round up your friends and family — we don’t think it will be difficult to talk them into it — and book that cruise.
Tell a Friend
Some travel agents and cruise lines offer a discount if you refer someone to them. This perk isn’t usually very big — Royal Caribbean offers $25 a cabin in onboard credit — but still, it’s better than nothing.
Your travel agent has presented you with a list of cruise fare options, but you don’t know which one to pick. In this case, it’s best to think ahead and figure out what your priorities are. Maybe you’re looking forward to enjoying the bars on board. If so, choose a cruise fare that incorporates beverages. Or maybe you can’t take time off work to go on vacation — any option that includes free internet would be right for you.