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Finding the Best Cruise Price!

Finding the best cruise price really means finding the right cruise for you – ship, sail date, itinerary, departure port, and accommodations – at the best price available.  If you’re just looking for the lowest price, you need to sail during the slower travel months of the region you’re visiting, in an inside stateroom on a short cruise, sailing from a driving distance port.  But, for the rest of us, we know what we want, and we just want the best value for that product.  So, let’s take a look at the various elements that impact price to see what we can control: 

The Ship:  Prices are usually lowest for the older ships in each cruise line’s fleet, while the newest ships command the highest prices.  Smaller ships sailing exotic itineraries will have higher prices for these finite adventures.  As ship amenities and venues increase, so does the price.  Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Lines tend to offer the lowest prices, with the highest prices found for the luxury cruise lines of Seabourn, Regent, Silverseas, and Crystal.  Even with these lines, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples.  If one of the cruise lines offers complimentary wine with meals and complimentary shore excursions,  you need to add those expenses to the price of the other cruise line that charges for those separately.  You may find that the prices are closer than you initially thought! 

Sail Date:  Prices are based on supply and demand, so those high travel times of summer, school breaks, and holidays command the highest prices.  You’ll find the best prices to the Caribbean and Bahamas during the early fall months of September and October and the early months of the new year, January and February.  For the seasonal sailings to Alaska, Europe, Mediterranean, Panama Canal, and Canada/New England, the best prices are the “shoulder” period at the beginning and end of those seasons.  The best prices are usually found in the weeks leading into and ending those seasons.  If you’re more flexible on your sail date, a week or two earlier or later than your preferred date may offer a lower fare. 

Itinerary:  In each cruise region, the most popular itineraries frequently garner the lowest prices, because more cruise lines and ships are competing for those guests.  For example, the lowest prices for Caribbean itineraries is often found on western Caribbean sailings.  Sailings to exotic locales served by very few ships are often much more expensive.  And, logic dictates that the shorter itineraries cost less than the longer sailings. 

Accommodations:  Cruise prices are based on the accommodations you want aboard the ship.  The lowest prices are always the inside staterooms.  But, beware, the very lowest price on some ships is an inside stateroom with twin bunk-style beds.  A senior couple called me recently, saying they’d found a great low price online.  After checking the price, I told them I could offer them that price, but I warned them that one of them would have to sleep on a lower twin bed and the other on an upper twin bed.  They were so glad they called me, rather than simply clicking that button to buy that cruise online. 

In this area, the mantra – location, location, location – really affects your cruise price, again due to supply and demand.  Those oceanview and balcony staterooms located mid-ship and on the very aft end of the ship on the higher decks will cost you more.  And, without a doubt, the extra space, amenities, and luxury offered by suites raise the price dramatically.  Beware of deals, because you may board the ship to find you’ve booked a “night owl” room – right above or below a night club, where you hear the bass pounding well into the early morning hours. 

The Best Value for Your Preference:  Once you understand that your preferences impact the price you pay, you still need to know how to find the best price for those preferences.  When you’re comparing price, first make sure you’re comparing apples to apples.  Make sure the prices you’re comparing include and exclude the same things.  When I quote prices, I offer my guests the exact price required to board the ship, the cruise ticket price.  This price includes the cruise fare, port charges, and taxes, plus the fuel supplement when those are required.  Some online companies advertise the cruise fare only, adding the port charges and taxes at the time of purchase, when you’re deep into the purchase.  Of course, you also need to take into consideration any extras being offered with the price.  Some prices include an onboard credit, bottle of wine, pre- or post-cruise hotel stay, or prepaid gratuities.  If the extra is something you value and want, just add that cost on the lowest price offered elsewhere to make sure the added value is worth the extra price.  Be sure to check for discounts based on your age, your current or past military service, or your residency, or just consult a travel agent to do all this for you. 

Here’s where you receive the benefits of a great travel agent!  A travel agent listens to your preferences, then looks for the perfect cruise that meets your personal preferences and requirements.  We don’t work for the cruise lines, we work for you, so we look for that perfect cruise across all the lines, finding you the best price and value for that perfect cruise.  We provide you with the travel options that best meet your needs from several competing travel suppliers, explaining the advantages and disadvantages of each, with no extra charge for this consultation.  And, we’re always available by phone or email to answer one more question or solve one more problem.  Our goal is to help you plan a great hassle-free trip that leaves you with wonderful memories when you return home, and in return, we hope you’ll let us plan all your trips, and tell all your friends about your great travel agent

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