Demand for cruise travel is at a record high right now — but unfortunately, so are prices.
Cruise travel is back with a vengeance, and as a result, the average cost of a cruise is up as much as 22.5% compared to 2019 prices.
When restriction-free cruising finally returned in the midst of 2022, there were some great deals to be found on cruises as things slowly got back to normal.
However, those deals have now disappeared, and cruise fares are higher than ever before.
Here are some tips for how you can still save money on your next cruise:
1. Travel During The Off-Season
If you can be flexible with your travel dates, one of the best ways to save money on cruises is to travel during the off-season or “shoulder season” for a destination.
For example, Alaska cruises are most popular (and most expensive) in June, July, and August. If you can book one of the first cruises in May or one of the last cruises in September, you are likely to save money.
Similarly, avoid traveling on school breaks. Thanksgiving break, Christmas break, and spring break are all some of the busiest and most expensive times to take a cruise.
2. Use CruiseSheet
One of the best ways to save money on a cruise is by tracking deals that do appear. Even though the average cruise fare has increased, there are still good deals to be found.
CruiseSheet is a free tool you can use to get notified of the best deals in real-time. Just indicate which port you will be traveling out of and set a filter for dates you’re interested in, and you’ll be notified immediately when deals appear.
Again, if you can be more flexible in your travel dates, this is one of the best things to do to save money.
3. Skip The Pricy Add-Ons
What if you can’t necessarily be flexible with your travel dates? Luckily, there are still other ways to save money on your cruise!
One of the biggest ways to save money is by skipping pricy add-ons.
These are things like unlimited drink packages, onboard WiFi, and shore excursions that will end up costing you a ton of money.
Do the math on an unlimited drink package before buying — most people will come out ahead simply paying for drinks individually, and this helps limit your alcohol consumption.
For WiFi, just skip this and opt to use free WiFi or cellphone data on the days when you’re in port. Internet while at sea is notoriously expensive.
And for shore excursions, you often don’t need to book through your cruise ship. You can DIY the same excursion for a cheaper price by booking directly with a local operator or just do a free activity like exploring the town or hitting up a local beach on your own.
4. Take A Repositioning Cruise
A lesser-known strategy for saving money on a cruise is booking a repositioning cruise.
These cruises are different from your average cruise, but they are by far one of the most affordable ways to travel.
What exactly is a repositioning cruise? Basically, this is when a cruise ship needs to move home ports at the beginning or end of a season. As a result, it’s a long route (think a two-week trans-Atlantic cruise from Barcelona to Miami) with many days at sea.
But you’ll get the chance to stop at some exotic and far-flung ports along the way (like the Canary Islands, the Azores, or Bermuda) before reaching your final destination, and you can get deals for as little as $50 a day.
5. Be Flexible On Your Stateroom
Finally, you can save money on your cruises by being flexible on your stateroom assignment.
Choosing a specific stateroom often carries a higher cost as opposed to selecting a “guaranteed” stateroom. This means you are guaranteed a stateroom in your chosen class (interior, exterior, balcony, or suite), but you won’t be able to choose the exact location.
If you’re okay with this, it’s a great way to save some extra money.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com