Cruises have long had a reputation as vacations for the wealthy. However, this year more than ever before, vacationers may find that the absolute best vacation deals are all-inclusive cruises. As travel agents and cruise lines reach for new business to tide them through the hard financial times, they are putting together some amazing cruise deals that will appeal to everyone from singles to seniors, honeymooners to families. If you are looking for the best cruise deals, the following steps will help you find them.
1. Decide What Type of Cruise You Want and Be Flexible
These days, there are plenty of different types of cruises available from family-fun cruises to luxury adult singles cruises. Before you start shopping around, decide what you want from a cruise vacation including destination, ship size, type of cruise, dates, and price range. Keeping these pertinent details in mind will help you narrow down your choices while giving a cruise agent a starting point to put together a cruise package that suits you best.
2. Start Planning Well in Advance
In general, the best time to book a cruise is between the months of January through March. During these three months, cruise lines tend to book about thirty-five percent of their business for the entire year. Therefore, during these months you will most likely find the best deals being offered by all of the major cruise lines. If you are not in a position to book during those months, do not despair. You can still get great cruise deals by booking well in advance of sailing date, or by waiting and taking advantage of last minute cruise and cancellation deals.
3. Check Online Travel Sites for Current Cruise Deals and Best Prices
There has been an explosion of online sites that let you search multiple booking sites for the best cruise deals. Today there are a number of web sites that allow you to search across all of the major sites at once, which will save you time and allow you to easily compare what is being offered by many different cruise lines. Find the best deals on the cruises that you want, and print out the details for your cruise file.
4. Check the Cruise Lines Directly
You can also go directly to the cruise line’s website to get information on the cruises, destinations, and ships that each line offers, as well as their best deals on those cruises. Some cruise lines have special cruise deals that are available only through their own website and most offer special discounts if you book through their own website. While you are perusing their site, sign up for a newsletter if they offer one. Cruise newsletters are a great way to keep up to date on the best cruise deals being offered. Again, print out the details of cruises that interest you and add them to your cruise file.
5. Contact a Travel Agent Specializing in Cruises
Despite the popularity of online travel booking sites, most cruises are still being booked through travel agents. An experienced travel agent knows the business ver well, and keeps a finger on what is constantly happening in the industry. An agent will often be able to put together an entire package that includes travel to your departure destination, overnight lodging if required, the cost of the cruise, and travel home from your ending destination. In addition, a good cruise and travel agent will be able to book you on special tours and events you may enjoy during your vacation, something you will not usually find when you book online yourself.
However, be prepared to get your best price on a cruise deal before you visit the travel agent. That is where your prepared cruise file comes in handy. Pick the cruises that are most appealing to you, and ask the cruise agent if they can get you a better price, or offer a better deal on one of the cruises that you are considering.
You can also shop around for the best cruise agent. Be honest and tell each agent you speak with that you are comparison shopping for your best deal. Some will charge you a nominal consultation fee.
6. Compare Prices and Choose Your Best Deal
Once you have put together a list of the best deals that you have found wither online or through cruise agents, sit down with them and compare them side by side. Be sure that you consider all of the costs and benefits of each cruise deal before you make a final decision. Do not be afraid to call an agent back with a counter offer. Most travel agents will go the extra mile to get you the best cruise deals possible, especially if there is a little competition involved.
Be sure to check back online one last time after you have found your best deals just in case any cruise deals have been updated since you last checked. If a travel agent offered you the best cruise deal of all, contact him or her to book the cruise. If you found your best deal online, follow through to book your cruise online. No matter where you find your best deal on a cruise vacation, you will be satisfied in knowing that you got the best possible vacation for the best possible price.