Find a Cruise

Finding your perfect

I find that 80% of people either LOVE cruising or don’t like it, either because of a fear of water or perception of the large ships. And then there are the 20%, like me, that enjoy the perks and avoid the cons that come with all travel.

While I am not a fan of large crowds and canned experiences, the cruise lines today, both big luxury ships and river cruises, offer so many amenities including jaw-dropping ships, pools, spas, entrainment, and world-class dining in addition to access to great ports and ability to create your own experience. These perks along with the ease and time savings of traveling to multiple destinations without moving your luggage makes cruising a form of travel that I enjoy.

Finding the best deal for me is dependent on time, price, and comfort. I use CruiseDirect.com and either search by a favorite cruise line and by location to find itineraries the peak my interest. I also use CruiseSheet.com to watch prices on a select group of cruise lines.

I find that cruises are generally always offering some sort of promotion be it 2nd fare discounts, lower deposits, onboard credits or bundled deals. Cruising is a bigger purchase and with careful planning (what do you want out of the ship) and watching the fares about one year out, you can get a deal that is of value to you.

Know your Trip

Know the pros and cons of cruising and manage your experience. If crowds are your hang up for cruising, consider the smaller river cruises or the new luxury ships that have perfected the “neighborhood” approach on the ships that thoughtfully manage crowds.

I think you get what you pay for. The new luxury lines, both big cruisers and river cruises, really do deliver on all the amenities including dining, entertainment, spas and the wow factor. However, if you are looking for a more economical cruises, options are available for inside rooms or older ships where you can still enjoy the cruising benefits of visiting many destinations.

Book Ahead

Cruising is a much more planned travel activity with many people booking cruises over one year in advance. Cruises, especially luxury ones, offer their best prices early and then prices bump up every three months. Most cruises require deposits and then full payment 90 days in advance. So 3 months before a cruise, it will likely be booked or limited availability.

River Cruises book up even quicker with even limited room choices on the small ships and for the best itineraries. As sail date grows closer, the prices almost always jump if not sold out.

For cruising, last minute really rarely pays.

Last Minute Deals

90 days is the typical point that final cruise payments are due. After this point, the cruise has a gauge of occupancy and pricing usually goes up. However, if you are VERY flexible, you can often get great deals on last available rooms a few days out… I am talking often 1-2 rooms on a ship with 1000 rooms.

I once took a cruise in the Baltics for about 25% of the regular price grabbing the last available room with only 5 days notice. This was only doable as i was already in the area and had time flexibility.

Shoulder Season Sailings 

Like all travel, being flexible with dates will save you money and also help you avoid the crowds. Shoulder seasons of Spring and Fall will give you better pricing and fewer crowds. The con is that you may not have ideal weather. Christmas and Summer Breaks will always be the most popular time on cruises.

After booking, keep monitoring the price

I still keep a price alert on my cruise after I book it. Prices usually do go up and I feel good about my deal. But if the price drops, contact the cruise line immediately. It is NOT guaranteed, but some cruises will work with you to compensate the lower fare. It might not be a refund, but perhaps an onboard credit.

Bundle your Airline

If you also need airline and transfers from the airport to port, check with a travel agent or directly with the ship for options. Bundle deals do pay for cruising.

Cabin Selection

Cruises usually offer four tiers: Inside, Outside, Outside Balcony and Suite. In addition, many cruises offer discounts for guaranteed cabin booking which means you pick from those four categories but do not select the exact cabin. The pro of picking your exact cabin is to be pick locations that are quiet (away from the nightclub, dining areas) and avoid seasickness if you are prone (pick a cabin in the middle of the ship).

Another resource that started as a hobby site, CruiseSheet scours the internet to find the best values on the best cruises.

Deals here have no booking fees, no change fees, and add no markup. They charge the bare minimum that cruise lines allow.

Check Discounts

Loyalty pays for cruisers are well. Most cruise lines offer discounts for repeat cruises or other perks including cocktails in private lounges, spa perks, dinners in the upgraded restaurants and more.

Other discounts available include military, senior (AARP) and discounts from different states.

Disclaimer: Some of the links on this website are affiliate links. I receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, which contributes to maintaining this website as a travel resource. Please know that all companies are ones that I do use and have had great experiences with in my travels, or I would not include them on Blue Sky Traveler.