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Here Are 4 Great Ways To Find Good Deals On Cruises Amidst Skyrocketing Prices

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Cruises may not be as much of a bargain as they were during this time last year, but it's still possible to score a good deal on your next cruise with these tips.

Woman in a Hat in Front of Cruise Ship, cruises

The cruise industry was one of the hardest hit during the period of government-imposed travel restrictions in 2020 and 2021. In the United States, all cruise lines were forced to cease operations from March 2020 until June 2021.

Even when cruising restarted, many travelers were apprehensive about booking a cruise due to restrictions like masks, testing requirements, and vaccine mandates that diminished the experience.

In the spring and summer of 2022, as restrictions ended and travel returned to normal, it was a great time to score fantastic deals on cruises, as many popular cruise lines released massive discounts to entice travelers.

Cruise Ship in Greece, cruises

But now, as the cruise industry continues to rebound, it's becoming harder and harder to find deals.

According to USA Today, cruise pricing is up 5% to 10% from 2019 levels.

But although cruises are more expensive to book in 2023, these tips can still help you save money on booking a cruise:

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Crowded Cruise Ship, cruises

1. Don't Travel During Peak Season

The peak season for most cruises in the Caribbean and Europe is June through August. This coincides with the summer holidays, and you'll find the highest prices and the biggest crowds.

Similarly, spring break (March and April) is the peak season for Caribbean, Bahamas, and Mexico cruises.

You may also find higher crowds during the winter months around Thanksgiving and Christmas, especially for Caribbean cruises. This is also peak season for Southern Hemisphere cruises.

If you want to find the best deals on cruises, booking during “shoulder season” (typically May, September, and October) will yield cheaper prices and lower crowds in most destinations around the world.

Oceania cruise, cruises

2. Book A Repositioning Cruise

Repositioning cruises typically occur during shoulder season, and they are long-haul cruises designed for moving a ship from one home port to another.

For example, trans-Atlantic repositioning cruises from Florida to Europe (and vice versa) are very common during late spring and early fall.

These cruises include many days at sea, but you may also have the chance to visit unique ports that are otherwise hard to reach (like the Azores or the Canary Islands.)

Best of all, these cruises are often some of the cheapest out there, with steeply discounted fares.

Woman in front of cruise ship

3. Avoid The Temptation For Upgrades

Most cruise lines have upcharges for everything from soda to alcoholic beverages to WiFi to premium dining options onboard the ship.

The premium beverage packages on cruise ships are almost always a bad deal, and you can save tons of money by bringing your own drinks onboard (there are limits for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages) or buying drinks a la carte and limiting your consumption.

Similarly, avoid the premium dining options on the ship and stick to the included restaurants. Cruises are also a great time to disconnect and wait until you're in port to get WiFi.

Drinks on cruise ship

4. Choose A Guaranteed Cabin

Finally, choosing a guaranteed cabin instead of selecting your own cabin is a good way to save money on a cruise, albeit a slightly risky one.

This means that you are guaranteed a cabin in the class you have chosen (interior stateroom, exterior stateroom, balcony stateroom, suite, etc.), but you will not have the ability to choose exactly which cabin you want and will be assigned one when you arrive.

Deluxe Stateroom on American Countess

While guaranteed cabins can save you 10% to 20% on your total cruise fare, they do come with some risks.

You will not be able to choose the location of your cabin, so you could end up on a lower deck than you would have liked or in a noisy cabin beneath a restaurant or nightclub. But if you don't mind the risk, this is a good way to save money on your cruise.

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

Margot Knight

Monday 20th of March 2023

Also, if you’re a gambler, see if your local land-based casino has any partnerships with any of the cruiselines. AND check out the gambling-cruise folks at URComped to see if you can quality for any of their offers. After you’ve been on a cruise or 2, if your play warrants it, you’ll start to get offers for “free” cruises, paying taxes and fees only. I haven’t paid retail or a Carnival or Princess cruise in years. (I set my gambling budget at what I would have paid for the cruise!).