The Australian cruise deal and travel guide with lots of cruise ship information.
cruise trip at Bay Island in Honduras

How To Find Cheap Cruises?

There are many factors that are taken into consideration when planning a cruise. Prices change often as companies jostle for position to attract customers and fill cabins. Cruise ships sail year round by seasonal geographic relocation, and the cycle of advertising and promotion is unceasing. Cruise prices fluctuate due to supply and demand, but there are additional reasons for high and low prices.

High prices:

  • Popular route
  • High demand ship
  • Fuel costs
  • Peak season travel

Discount prices:

  • Shoulder season
  • Competition in a region
  • Less sought out destinations

Early-Bird Rates

If you are planning a cruise to a popular destination; Alaska in summer for example, it’s a good idea to consider booking early. Cruise lines offer discounts for those who plan in advance. Fares usually rise as the departure date draws near, and on popular routes it’s difficult to find last minute booking opportunities. However, although cruise lines set brochure rates for their cruises, they will entice customers with discounts and early-bird fares when required.

Early-bird rates are often discounted between 25-50%, and you will also be first in line for personalising your itinerary and cabin choice. Associated air fares and hotel stays will also be cheaper when booked early. If you have paid the early-bird fare and the cruise price drops below your discounted rate, it’s worth asking your cruise company for a price adjustment.

Last-Minute Deals

As the departure date draws near, the cruise company will have an indication of ticket sales targets. If there is space to fill, the result will be last-minute fares which can be heavily discounted. If your heart isn’t set on a specific destination or travel time-frame, it’s worth browsing for last-minute deals.

Last-minute fares are reliant on economic variables, along with cruise ship marketing strategy for maximising profit. Last-minute fares are not the cruise company ideal, and they try to limit reductions in favour of standard prices. If booking a last-minute fare, be flexible regarding your ship, itinerary and cabin type, and remember, your fare will be non-refundable should you change your plans.

Promotions and Discounts:

  • Cabin upgrades
  • Two-for-one deals
  • Kids cruise free deals
  • Discounted shore excursions
  • Onboard credits
  • Discount coupons

Discounts, specials and freebies can save money or add value to your trip, but you need to consider whether coupons, discount spa treatments and related bonuses are applicable to your needs. Discuss all options with your travel companions and you will have a better idea regarding expectations of your partner or tour group.

More Savings

The time of year you cruise will be a major factor in the cost. Shoulder periods in the weeks before and after peak season are a great option. The weather and conditions can still be ideal, and your destination will not be overflowing with holidaymakers. Additional discounts offered by some companies include seniors discounts for those aged over 55, military discounts for active or retired military personnel, repeat passenger loyalty discounts and additional cabin passenger discounts.

By discussing the above information with your travel agent or cruise line agent you will be well on the way toward making every dollar count for an inexpensive and enjoyable cruise vacation.

Photo by John Colby: Flickr

Do you know any other way to get cheap cruise deals? Let me know!

Robert Grant

Loves cruise tips and cruise ships. Shares his personal opinion about cruise deals and cruise tips that might help other travellers. Do let me know if you'd like to read more about certain cruise related topics.


  1. Annie Marie Peters Reply to Annie

    Great tips! Shopping last minute fares is a really good idea. I’m usually a little picky about my ship, but sometimes getting a good deal can trump that. Haha. Nice blog, by the way. It’s a great resource for cruise fans!

  2. I get cheap cruise deals through my membership with AAA. They always have great deals. And I live right near a port in NY so I’m lucky to be able to avoid the cost of airfare as well.

  3. Don’t forget to take into account cost of travel to get to the port. A more expensive ship might be cheaper if it’s leaving from near where you live…

  4. Sarah Lewis Reply to Sarah

    Now my kids are all older and have left home, me and my husband can now be flexible again. We are not tied to school holidays and are really flexible about destinations. I can already see the huge savings available.

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