By Barry Vaudrin
In today’s economy most people seek out the best possible deals to save money, and receive the best value. One of the miss-conceptions of cruising is that it’s too expensive, however; when you make a chart that compares a land-based vacation verses a cruise vacation, you’ll see that the best value is a cruise. Think of the tips in this article as GOLD, because I’m about to give you some nuggets of information that could save you hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars when you plan your next cruise vacation.
The very first tip is to contact a travel agent that exclusively books cruises. Too often, I have had people tell me they booked their cruise directly with the cruise line, because they think they are cutting out the “middle-man” and saving money….these poor people think they’re getting a great deal, when in fact they could get more bang for their buck if they go through a well-established cruise-only travel business. Let me break this down so it’s easy to understand. The cruise line will certainly sell you a stateroom on a cruise of your choice and you might fall for the illusion that this is the right choice to save money. If you choose any cruise-only agency, you might find that they offer the same pricing that was quoted to you by contacting the cruise line directly, but here is the catch. The cruise–only travel agency is given special perks based on the volume they sell with any particular cruise line, so they are often able to offer something over and above the quoted cruise price. When you book through a travel agency, you will not pay any extra fees, you’ll get the best rate offered by the cruise line, but more importantly, you may be able to get special upgrades, discounts, onboard-credits, and extra amenities the cruise line only offers their top-producing travel agencies. The cost of the cruise might be the same, but when you book through a cruise-only agency, you may be able to receive discounts and amenities only offered to top producing agencies….that’s money in your pocket!
There are a few other ways to save money when you plan your next cruise vacation. If you’re flexible with the dates of your vacation, ask your cruise-only agency if there are any re-positioning cruises you can book into. These re-positioning cruises are often discounted at very appealing rates.
Ask your cruise-only agent if you can get a “guaranteed” category stateroom. A “guaranteed” stateroom means that you pay for a specific category, but because it’s a “guaranteed” booking, you could get that particular category or better based on availability. It’s like rolling the dice, but the chances you are upgraded to a higher category are pretty good.
Enroll in a cruise line’s loyalty program. When you enroll into a cruise line’s loyalty program you can often receive discounts and upgrades only offered to those enrolled in the cruise line’s loyalty plan.
If you plan you plan your cruise around an off-season cruise itinerary, you may be able to save money. Peek cruise dates are usually Christmas and New Years cruises. These cruises often add a supplemental fee, so be aware of this fact. Christmas and New Years cruises almost always sell out, so there are rarely any discounts to be found during these cruise dates. What’s interesting is that the cruise before Christmas and after New Years is often discounted.
If you implement some of these ideas when booking your next cruise, you will save money and get the best possible bang for your bucks!
Barry Vaudrin is the Host of Cruising Authority, a popular cruise-related talk show about the cruise industry. Journey to the ancient country of China as Barry investigates the incredible experience that is offered by Viking River Cruises on the Yangtze River. Watch as your Host, The Cruise Journalist, visits Beijing, the Terra Cotta Army, the Forbidden City, the Great Wall of China and so much more: http://youtu.be/CN2orAN7_VQ