6 Ways to Save Money for Your Cruise
One of the most common misconceptions about cruising is that it’s significantly more expensive than taking a land-based vacation. While this isn’t true, taking a cruise can still stretch the budget for many travelers. With that in mind, we’ve have rounded up some of the best ways to save money for a cruise.
1. Use your line's payment plan.
While this doesn’t technically save you money, it does break the cost of your cruise into manageable, bite-sized pieces. If you find the perfect itinerary long before departure day and can’t cough up all of the cash immediately, you can put the voyage on a payment plan; like a monthly bill. You will put down a deposit when you book the voyage to secure your spot, and then will pay in increments as the sail date gets closer. The final payment is usually due two to four months before embarkation day, depending on the cruise line.
2. Take advantage of waived/reduced deposits.
Several times a year, many cruise lines have reduced deposit promotions where you have to pay as little as $50 up front to book a cruise. These are good opportunities if you have the funds for a payment plan, but don’t have a chunk of cash right away. Keep in mind that deposits do go towards the overall fare so you will still have to pay the difference at the end. Also, consider booking through a travel agency like Cruises Only, which occasionally has deals where you can book a sailing with no deposit down at all.
3. Regularly use cruise line credit cards.
Most major cruise lines offer a rewards credit card, so consider taking advantage of that for your favorite cruise line. For example, Disney offers Visa cards that earn 2% in Disney Rewards dollars on many everyday purchases, as well as discounts on select cruise onboard purchases. Carnival offers a MasterCard which earns FunPoints on every purchase, redeemable towards anything for your cruise. Royal Caribbean also has a similar Visa card for their cruise line brands, and neither has foreign transaction fees.
4. Purchase discounted Carnival gift cards.
You can get discounted Carnival Cruise Line gift cards from AARP and Verizon, where you can pay a reduced rate; for example pay $450 for a $500 card or $90 for a $100 card. Citibank allows cardholders to use ThankYou Points for Carnival gift cards, too. Kroger also has a deal where you receive fuel rewards for buying the gift cards, although this isn’t actually a reduced price on the Carnival cards themselves. If you use any of these companies, be sure to look into how to go about getting the cards.
Tip: If you’re planning a Disney cruise, Sam’s Club has Disney gift cards at a discounted rate. The card will work for anything that you want to put it toward, including your fare, onboard shopping, specialty dining, spa services, and more. Plus, if you’re heading to Disney World before or after your cruise, you can use it there too.
5. Book your next cruise while on your current one.
If you know you’re going to sail with a certain cruise line again, be sure to consider booking that next cruise while onboard. It can really pay to visit the ship’s sales desk and see what the current offers are. Offers vary between cruise lines, but you can receive everything from onboard credit and reduced deposits to discounted fare if you book while still on the ship. Many times you don’t even have to choose your itinerary right away; you are basically just committing to cruising with that same line again and can choose your specific voyage later on. Keep in mind that there’s usually a time limit though, and your sail date needs to be within the set range.
Tip: If you didn’t book on your last cruise, or this is your first one you can still book early. Often the earlier you book, the better your deal will be. Cruise lines many times will offer a lower fare, cabin upgrades, or complimentary amenities for those that book six to eighteen months ahead of time. If you score a good deal, the price is probably only going to rise as the cruise date nears. But don’t worry if it drops, that’s what our price alerts are for.
6. Keep an eye on price drops.
One of the features here on Cruiseline.com is being able to set a price drop alert. You just enter your ship and sail date, and are emailed whenever the price drops 1 percent or more below what you paid for the sailing. Or if you want to simply monitor a voyage you have your eye on but haven’t booked yet, you can do that too. You might not have to save up as much money as you think. If the fare drops, you can reach out to the line (or your travel agent) and they’ll usually adjust your price, give you the difference in onboard credit, or take advantage of an upgraded cabin.