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.
- Popular route
- High demand ship
- Fuel costs
- Peak season travel
- Shoulder season
- Competition in a region
- Less sought out destinations
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.
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.
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