So, when you’ve got a liner that lets you travel in style to the most exotic destinations in the world, from Scandinavia to Antarctica, you naturally assume them to be jaw-droppingly expensive. Well, some of these sure are, but there also are a variety of options to suit your budget. The following pointers will come in handy to find you that dream cruise vacation.
How to Find the Best Cruise Deals
Begin with Research
The first rule is also the most obvious one on the list; to be able to find a bargain on your cruise vacation, you need to invest a good deal of time in research. Get the basics in place by deciding:
– myour destination
– myour choice of ship (big or small)
– type of cruise (adventure/family/singles/exotic)
Once you have these answers in hand, you can get to the task of zeroing in on the cruise that ticks all your boxes. Read up on cruise companies and their reviews on the Internet. This will help you shortlist a few options. You can even order brochures of the trips that interest you.
Proceed to Booking
If this is your first cruise trip, it is suggested that you book it through a travel agent. A cruise, unlike a regular holiday, is like your mode of transport/accommodation/sightseeing all rolled into one. Which is why a travel agent’s expertise will come in handy to book a trip that suits your needs. An agent can help you pick the right cruise, a good cabin, food and beverage options, age-appropriate entertainment for the family/group, include a few steal-deals, and perhaps throw in a discount as well.
A few cruise companies even appoint certain agents to accept bookings from customers. In such cases, the agent will not charge you anything for the service rendered, as he is already being paid a commission by the company. So, in case an agent is trying to coerce you into choosing a particular cruise, give it a deeper thought before you come to a decision.
Usually, the good agents are sure to have a Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) affiliation. A CLIA-certified agent is considered to be worthy and experienced to offer the best services, having completed a training program. Plus, you may also look for referrals, and pick an agent that has been recommended by someone you trust.
Finding the Best Deals
Finding the best cruise deals requires some amount of experience as well as expertise. To a first timer, it is akin to rocket science; and there are more chances of the person being taken for a ride, rather than a cruise. But here’s a thumb rule―your best chances of snagging a steal are at least 8 to 10 months before the sailing date. The best cabins are on sale during the early days, so you’re ensured a wide choice. This is especially true of popular destinations like the Mediterranean or Caribbean. If you’re thinking of going off-track, say Antarctica for instance, then you have to book at least a year in advance. Such cruises are not as frequent as the others, but are phenomenally popular (and not to mention, expensive).
Getting in Last-minute
Last-minute deals are a bit of a gamble when it comes to cruises. This is because, unlike regular vacations, your options are severely limited. So, while it’s true that you may find some last-minute value deals, they may not necessarily be to your liking. If this is your first trip to the seas, it is recommended that you play it safe and book in advance. Once you gain experience, you’ll automatically be trained to snag a steal at the last moment.
Be Weather Wise
Ensure that you complete your homework regarding weather-related aspects before you book your trip. Be in the know about the kind of weather to be expected at your destination, plus the general conditions of the sea throughout the duration of your trip. Doing so is important because lull-season cruise trips may fit perfectly in your budget, but the dowdy weather conditions throughout the cruise may dampen the overall experience. This may seem a bit trivial to some, but keep in mind that if you don’t like the weather, you simply can’t leave a cruise midway, for obvious reasons.
Consider the Whole Hog
A cruise isn’t just about the ship. You need to add the cost of traveling to the port of departure, perhaps a night’s stay here, and the return flight from your destination. Adding up all these things will give you an accurate picture of your actual expenses. Just ensure that your pre- and post-cruise expenditure does not eat into what you thought was a bargain cruise price.
There are endless number of things to consider when you’re booking a cruise trip. But listing them all out would translate to a lot of confusion. So, don’t be too pressurized, and book your trip in a relaxed state of mind. You’re sure to get the best deal this way.