Expert cruisers know there are a number of ways to make sailing the Seven Seas more affordable. From the booking process to what you do on the ship, these secrets can make any cruise more affordable. Here are a few of them.
Book Off-Season or Last Minute
Similar to airfare, cruise fares vary greatly according to season and demand. As a general rule of thumb, book your journey for the off-season when school is in session, avoiding the peak of summer and winter breaks. During the low season, cruise liners often slash prices on undersold itineraries by offering a number of promotions- —the second passenger cruises for 50% off, free stateroom upgrades and credit for shopping and offsetting gratuities. Alternatively, book your journey within a month of departing for last-minute savings if you just wish to cruise and are free of time constraints and have no preference for cruise line, ship or destination.
Book With an Agent
In an increasingly digital world, it’s often more convenient to book your journeys directly online than organizing your travels through a middleman. However, travel agents often have access to exclusive offers, and have the ability to attract cruisers with booking bonuses. Even after you’ve purchased your cruise, continue monitoring the prices with your travel agent, and if a price drop occurs, cruise lines often allow free cancellation within a month or two of your sailing date, in which you can rebook at the lower cost. Alternatively, your travel agent may be able to offer you credit in the event of a price drop.
When onboard dining rooms are embellished with dazzling crystal chandeliers, and mouth-watering meals of fresh seafood are perfectly plated, completing the experience with a glass of wine is undeniably tempting. That wine can be pretty pricey, however. Luckily, most cruise lines now allow passengers to bring a small amount of alcohol on board. Some allow beer and hard liquor, while others only allow wine, so just make sure you check beforehand. For some big savings, Royal Caribbean guests are welcome to bring two bottles of wine or champagne in their carry-on bag for consumption in their stateroom on embarkation day. If you wish to enjoy these in the dining room, however, note that there’s a $25 corkage fee.
Onboard Wi-Fi is pricey, and because the entire crew is connected to the same network, fast internet can’t be guaranteed. Savvy cruisers can consider forgoing Wi-Fi on the ship and instead seeking free hotspots at cafes or public libraries at ports of call. However, if you’re a digital nomad and your work relies on internet connection, then purchase a Wi-Fi package with your cruise line prior to your sailing date for a discount of 10-15%.
Be Your Own Guide
Cruise lines conveniently offer shore excursions at each port of call, ranging from zip line adventures across the rainforest canopies of Belize to dog sledding across the snowscape of Juneau, all of which can be booked on board at the Shore Excursion Desk. However, you can organize your own excursions at a fraction of the cruise line’s fares. With the aid of guidebooks and simple online research prior to departure, you’ll discover that you can book tours locally, or utilize public transport upon reaching your port. On Royal Caribbean at the port of Katakolon, Greece, the cruise line offers an organized transfer to the ancient archaeological site of Olympia for $39.75 per adult. But the same 50-minute bus ride to the birthplace of the Olympics costs just $11 when you opt to hop on a direct local shuttle instead.