Nick Ray

Have you always wanted to take an all-inclusive cruise vacation but never thought you’d be able to afford it? Well, think again. With dozens of new cruise liners being built this year alone, the cost of cruising has become more affordable than ever. Combine these lower rates with some of the most amazing deals available and you can set sail in style for far less than you’d expect. So how do you find these discounted cabins and rock-bottom fares on some of the most luxurious cruise ships in the world? To find out, we asked industry insiders and travel pros for their best tips on getting the lowest prices possible. Check out this article if you want inside information and up to date advice on finding the most amazing deals on a cruise.

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What does a good deal look like?

With prices on cruises ranging from under $100 to over $10,000, it can be difficult to determine the actual value of a cruise just by looking at the upfront cost. Calculating the actual value of a cruise can be tricky because most cruises include lodging, food, and various forms of entertainment, not to mention the ports of call. For example, let’s say you’re shopping around for a cruise from Miami to the Bahamas. You find two cruises to the Bahamas: both are 5 days and 4 nights, but one is $1500 while the other is only $500. It might seem like you just stumbled upon an amazing deal with the second option, but after looking a little closer, you discover that the second option spends less time in port, doesn’t include free drinks, and the ship is much smaller and older than the first option. While the second option might still be a better deal, you’d have to compare all the extras and amenities offered by both options to really know. To save yourself a little time when searching for a deal this year, try following the sage advice of Greg Coiro, CEO of Direct Line Cruises: “ If we see cruise fairs below $100 per person, per day, then our agency deems this an incredible value.” Now that we know what to look for, let’s talk about where to look.

How can I find the best deals on a cruise?

A quick google search for cruise deals will bring up an entire page of ads for the “best deals” and “lowest offers”. Aside from combing through every site and comparing rates, how will you really know where to find the best deals? A better strategy might be to understand a bit more about where and when cruises are the most heavily discounted. Once you know the most affordable locations and dates for cruises, you can quickly pinpoint the exact deals you are looking for, compare fewer high quality offers, and quickly book the cruise of your dreams at the lowest price possible. Let’s start with the most affordable destinations for 2018.

Where to go?

"In my 20-plus years in the industry, I have never seen such great deals for Caribbean cruises," says Greg Coiro.

Due to extreme weather events over the past few years, Caribbean ports have seen a radical decline in tourism. However, this is not an accurate indication of the port’s ability to accommodate tourism today. Many Caribbean countries depend heavily on tourism to support their economy and have made considerable efforts to rapidly repair any actual storm damage. But, spreading the word takes time, and most cruisers haven’t caught on to this amazing opportunity yet. According to Lea Nielsen, Vice President at Cruise Direct, “the Caribbean is absolutely where the deals are right now.” Since locations like the Carribean are warm year round, you can enjoy these discounts any time. However, you may be able to get even greater discounts by traveling during the cruise industries “Wave Season”.

When to go?

Wave Season is the Black Friday or Cyber Monday of the cruise industry. Running from mid January to late April, Wave Season sees the lowest number of bookings annually and in response, offers the best opportunity for discounts. Not only does Wave Season bring the lower prices, but it also offers better add-ons and amenities. A cruise offered during Wave Season might include additional dining options, alcohol packages, and otherwise exclusive access opportunities to on-shore attractions at little or no added cost. If you’re searching for the best deals on a cruise, you’ll definitely want to start by finding something during wave season. But when to actually book your cruise is another matter entirely.

When to Buy?

Conventional wisdom suggests that the earlier you purchase your cruise, the better. Not only will there be a greater variety of cabin options, you may also find lower prices on cruises with a sail date greater than six months in advance of your purchase date. However, there’s definitely an argument to be made for some last minute bargain shopping. According to Michele Fee, Founder of Cruise Planners, cancellations occur most frequently when people are asked to make their final payment for a specific cruise. This generally occur s around 60 days before the ship’s sail date and, with less than two months to go, cruise lines can offer deep discounts when a significant number of cabins suddenly become vacant. However, if you’re thinking of scooping up a last minute deal, don’t wait too long. Michelle reminds us that “prices actually start to go up again as the ship sells out. Most ships are still sailing at near full capacity these days; they are just selling out later than usual.” To get the best last minute deal, Michelle recommends you purchase your cruise between 60 and 90 days from the ship’s sail date.

Putting it all together

If you’re looking for an unbelievable price on a world-class vacation, keep an eye out for ship’s sailing for Caribbean destinations between January and April, and hold off on purchasing until 60-90 days before the sail date.

Ready to find the best deal on a cruise?