Older or a newer ship, an inside or an outside cabin, a drinks package or pay as you go? There are various hacks and tricks you can employ to save as much as possible next time you book a cruise holiday.
Cruise Arabia & Africa has found that, generally speaking, the nice ships tend to be the newer ones and they’re more expensive than the older ships in a cruise line’s fleet based on cruises of the same length.
This is because they often don’t have the same amenities and facilities onboard, and the cabins tend to be smaller, but if all you’re looking for is the cheapest price, an older ship may be the way to go.
A more surefire way of ensuring you get the best price possible for your cruise is to book at the last minute. A last minute booking provides a cheap cruise price because cruise line’s typically drop prices significantly in the weeks and days before a cruise departure in order to fill it up.
However, keep in mind that the least desirable cabins are likely to be the ones leftover for a last minute booking (cabins above the nightclub, near the engine room or at the very stern the ship) which generally suffer from greater noise and vibration.
Book your cruise for a time of year that is outside of one of the peak seasons, when prices can almost double! In addition to greater demand during the holidays and summer, cruises at this time of year are also extremely busy and packed with children.
Cruise Arabia & Africa loves to see kids at sea, but some of our readers prefer the more mature and relaxing atmosphere that reigns on an adults-only cruise. For those of you who feel this way, these cruises are also cheaper because they’re generally outside of peak season.
Book an inside cabin, but try and upgrade it once you’re on the ship, this often provides the best rate if the higher category cabins are available anyway (because of a no-show or last minute cancellation).
But, bare in mind that this is a risky gamble as the higher-grade cabins fill up fast once passengers start boarding and trying to upgrade as well. Head straight to the pursers office when you board, be prepared to wait in a long queue for sometime, only to be told there are no more upgrades available.
Not all cruise lines have complimentary passenger laundry areas where you can do your own washing, many charge a fee to do it through housekeeping. So take extra items that you’ll go through a lot of (like underwear), it isn’t the most glamorous of topics, but try spending the day walking around a port in the tropics and we can guarantee you’ll want to change your underwear before dinner!
Buy sundry items like shampoo and suntan lotion on land before you board. You’ll pay twice as much if you buy it on the ship and while all cruise lines will provide complimentary supplies for personal hygiene, they often don’t supply enough. Ladies especially will likely prefer to use their own regular brands on board.
Booking your cruise directly through the cruise line or through a travel agent is often a hit-and-miss affair in terms of getting the best rate.
In very developed cruise markets like Europe and North America, it generally holds true that travel agents specializing in cruises will provide the best rate, but in the South African and Middle Eastern cruise markets, which are still emerging, you’re better off booking directly through the line, or an international cruise specialist.
If you’re flying to meet your cruise ship abroad, make sure you book your flight with several hours of ‘buffer time’ between when it lands and when the cruise ship sails.
Many cruise passengers prefer to leave 24-hours and stay in a cheap hotel near the port, this adds to your cost, but it will be significantly cheaper than landing late, missing the ship and having to fly to the next port to join it.
If you’ve visited the same port before and do not want to go on one of the ship’s shore excursions, but if you do need to take a taxi, loiter around the nearest taxi stand and see if you can share a cab with fellow passengers heading in the same direction (typically to the nearest town or city centre). You’ll save money and might even meet some new friends.
If you are booking a shore excursion through the cruise line, the best time to do so is before boarding, at the same time that you buy your ticket online. Prices for shore excursions tend to go up as spaces get filled. Also, you don’t want to waste vacation time standing in queues at the tours desk.
However, you can save significantly (up to 60%) if you book directly through the tour company, because the cruise line acts as a middleman and adds a premium to the net price. You can do this before joining the ship for the cruise, or when you get to port (but the tour might already be fill by then).
You could also use a different tour company to the one the cruise line is using, but you run this risk of missing the ship, because the ship will always wait for late cruise line-organised tours, but not independent ones.