Who says you can’t go on a cruise if you don’t have a boatload of money to spend? When you know how to find a last-minute cruise deal, you can enjoy a relaxing vacation without severely depleting your bank account. Let’s face it. Going on a cruise is a sweet experience, but saving money on your dream vacation is even sweeter. Read on for tips on how to land that eleventh-hour cruise without breaking the bank.

Get on the Web

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Use the internet to find websites devoted to discounted cruises. According to USA Today, “[w]ebsites like Cruise Bargains and Vacations to Go are clearinghouses of discounted cruises.” These websites sometimes have deals listed months in advance, but most of the time you find bargain-basement prices a week or two before the ship sets sail.

Do Some Shopping

Cruise sellers often have access to lower prices and bonuses that differ from their competitors. Many of these sellers also have websites listing last-minute cruises and promotions. Shop around so you can compare cruises and prices. Some companies may even send weekly email blasts to subscribers in order to advertise deals and promotions. If you’re unable to find a promotion that’s a good fit, give the cruise seller a call. According to Cruise Critic, the company may be able to offer a discount “they can only tell customers about over the phone.”

Ports That Are Close to Home

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One of the smartest ways to save money on a cruise is to find one that’s leaving from a port close to the city in which you live. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself paying extra money to take a flight to the port of departure. If you’re really going to save some cash, find cruises that are close enough for you to hop in the car and drive to the homeport.

Flexibility

When trying to score a discounted cruise, you have to be flexible. You may not get the departure dates you most desire. And you may not be able to reserve the cabin that checks off all the boxes. Often the cruise may be sailing to ports that aren’t exactly on your bucket list. But if your heart is set on a cabin with a balcony on a specific cruise line traveling to extremely specific destinations, you should probably book your cruise months in advance. In other words, you can’t be picky if you want to save some serious cash.

Consider the Time of Year

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Cruise lines won’t usually have deals during peak times of the year. Holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving as well as school vacations are the worst times to try to find a last-minute cruise deal. Instead, strive to book a cruise during the least-popular times of year.

Departure Dates and Rates

Reader’s Digest reports that cruises raise their rates according to the increase in demand. When departure dates get closer, those same rates go down. Why? Cruise lines want to set sail with all their cabins full. They don’t want any empty cabins when they depart. Be a smart shopper and search for cruises less than 60 days before the cruise is scheduled to depart. That’s because current passengers can usually cancel their reservations without being penalized if they cancel at least 60 days before the cruise sets sail. Cruise lines can then see how many cabins will be available and book those cabins to you at a rock-bottom price.

Choose an Older Ship

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Save some money by choosing an older cruise ship. Newer ships mean more people want to sail on them. Older ships may have available cabins because they aren’t as popular as the shiny, new cruise ships. This means you have a better chance of getting a better deal on tickets.

Don’t Drag Your Feet

Once you find a good deal on a cruise, don’t waste any time. Go ahead and book your cruise. If you wait too long, the price may go up and you’ll end up kicking yourself for procrastinating. If you’re not ready to make a move right away, wait until a later time to search for a last-minute cruise deal.