Going on a cruise itself sounds like a luxurious experience – what with all the added costs of purchasing items on board a ship and excess costs of excursions at cruise ports. Is there no other way to reduce the costs of being on a cruise ship?

Here we explore some really useful ways to score cruise bargains and go on the cruise experience you’ve always wanted.

12 Cruise Bargains To Score Cheap Cruises

cheap cruise, cruise bargains

1. Hop on repositioning cruises

Many cruise ships have to reposition their ships from one part of the world to another to prepare for a change in seasons. Usually this happens twice a year, during spring and autumn.

During this time, cruise lines offer massive cruise bargains for anyone who’s willing to get on a repositioning cruise, since these liners have to make this trip anyway.

If you don’t mind the long duration at sea and sometimes scaled-down facilities, this is one type of cruise bargain to look out for.

2. Choose an inside cabin

If you are planning to spend little time in your room and prefer taking the view of the sea from observation decks instead, you can score a cruise bargain by sacrificing the window view of your room, or getting a windowless room.

Almost like buying a flat, it is worth noting that the higher your room is on the ship, the more premium you have to pay. Rooms in the middle of the ship often cost a premium too as compared to those either forward or aft.

3. Avoid expensive add-ons

That being said, cruise ships also frequently add on gratuities and extra charges for optional purchases such as food and beverages. Some cruise ships will allow you to bring your own alcohol, so it pays to check beforehand and be well-equipped with all the entertainment you need on board the ship.

4. Go in a group

cheap cruise, cruise bargains

Whether it is with a family or a corporate retreat, you can get cruise bargains on many cruise lines when you bring more than 1 guest. The more people you bring along with you on your cruise, the cheaper it can sometimes become.

5. Look out for student, senior, or military discounts

Some cruise lines offer discounts for students, seniors, and military members all year round. If you fall into one of these groups, keep a look out for these cruise bargains!

As long as you produce a valid ID to verify when you board the ship, these discounts can be applicable.

6. Smaller and older is cheaper

As with the adage “bigger and newer is better”, that is not always the case. These days, cruise ships have transformed from mere forms of transportation vessels to fancy floating amusement parks and rock walls. It’s crazy to imagine what a new world you can live in on a ship now!

As such, the demand for older vessels has declined, which often means cheaper cruises.

If these fancy amenities and facilities are not what you need or are looking for, opting for an older ship allows you a much cheaper cruise.

Furthermore, smaller boats, with fewer amenities and attractions, will also be less expensive.

7. Go with a less familiar cruise line

If you will give smaller cruise liners a chance, you can score a better cruise bargain. With big cruise liner names, they have the liberty to price as they wish.

With less established cruise liners, until they build a name for themselves, their rates tend to be cheaper than other mid-priced cruise lines.

8. Plan your own itinerary

For saving money on a cruise, compare the airfare on your own against the cruise company.  You can save hundreds of dollars by checking each and choosing the optimal price.

One downside of booking with the cruise company is that they force you to choose their expensive transfers and their hotels if you want to arrive a day early.

When Lisa and her parents took a South America and Antarctica cruise over Christmas and New Year’s, they spent a total of $600 total for a hotel room and transfers. Yet, they saved substantially more – $1200 on airfare!

9. Travel during off-peak season

The Viking Sun on a Baltics Cruise, cheap cruise, cruise bargains

The Viking Sun on a Baltics Cruise

One of the best ways to buy a cruise with a great bargain is going on a cruise in winter!

Liza bought her Baltic Sea cruise (visiting St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm and Tallinn) in November and went on a cruise in December. That saved her at least $300 compared to the price of the cruise in summer.

Also, there was a promo that the dinners would also be included in the price (the dinners are usually quite expensive), so it was definitely a great deal. Visiting Scandinavia (and Russia) in winter was a great experience as well – everything was covered in snow and it looked like Winter Wonderland.

Apart from winter, shoulder seasons, such as after Thanksgiving but before Christmas, is also when cruise starts offering discounts.

Avoid peak timings, such as the summer, school holidays, Christmas and Easter, as they are more expensive.

10. Loyalty programs and discounts for returning customers

If you find a cruise line that you like, it pays to become a repeat customer, and sample more than one itinerary from the same cruise.

Almost all cruise lines send special offers, such as free air or discounted air, steeper seasonal discounts, and last-minute promotions and deals to loyal customers or members. As a loyal customer to a cruise line herself, Dhara can attest to this. Often, these offers are only open exclusively to existing customers.

Cruise lines also offer special discounts if you book another cruise with them while already on a cruise. It definitely pays to be loyal!

11. Organize your own cruise excursions

Continue the savings once you are already aboard the cruise ship by organising your own cruise excursions. At each port, the cruise line will offer a selection of tours and activities and they will surely be expensive.

By arranging your own excursions, you will not only score a cruise bargain, but you can also tailor your experience to your own taste and preferences.

Do a bit of research before your cruise – some popular tourist sites may need to be pre-booked, while at other cruise ports you can just turn up and explore at your leisure.

12. Hold off til the last minute

Sometimes, cruise prices will drop as early as 12 weeks before a ship is slated to depart as cruise lines will be at a loss if they depart with many unsold cabins.

If you are the type to enjoy spontaneous travels, you can always wait until you find a last-minute deal, as long as you are open to the option of not getting the cabin, destination or ship that you desire.

Have you been on cruise ships and scored a bargain? Share it with us below!

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Isabel Leong

Isabel Leong

An explorer at heart, the world is Isabel's playground. She enjoys seizing every moment exploring every hideout and doing the unimaginable, like bungee jumping in Phuket and couchsurfing in Europe. If she had wings, she’d definitely be soaring right now. Also a fitness trainer, if she’s not at the gym, you can find her doing yoga or rock climbing! Read more about her on belaroundtheworld.com/about.

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