Looking for a way to book a cruise without breaking the bank? Even savvy travelers might not realize it’s possible to score heavily reduced prices on cruises by taking advantage of last-minute cabin fillers. As the name suggests, these are cabins that remain unbooked shortly before the cruise departure.
So, how can you book a cheap cruise? It’s all about knowing when to book and being flexible. With this in mind, let’s explore strategies to nab significant savings on your next cruise.
Scoring a Cruise for As Low as £24 per Day
In 2021, cruise lines slashed prices to as low as $29 — or £24 — per day. These heavily discounted fares and last-minute promotions are expected to continue this year. In fact, there are already hundreds of cruises in 2023 priced around £50 per day.1
These prices may drop even further as the departure date approaches. So, it can pay to be flexible and wait for last-minute deals if you’re not set on a particular ship or itinerary. Finding the right moment to snap up an unsold cabin can maximize your savings.
Knowing When To Score the Lowest Price on a Cruise
Timing is key when it comes to finding the lowest price on a cruise. While you might feel pressured to book a cruise early, the sweet spot for snagging a great deal is often around 60 to 90 days before departure.
Why? This is typically after final payments are due and when cruise lines can see how many cabins they still need to fill. At this point, they may offer deep discounts on unsold cabins to entice travelers to book.2
That’s why it can be smart to start shopping about three months before departure. By starting your search then, you can get a sense of pricing trends and availability. Be ready to pounce when you like the price.
Of course, there are no guarantees. The price could go up or down depending on demand. And the cruise could sell out. But by being strategic and flexible, you can increase your chances of scoring a huge discount.
Using Mailing Lists to Find Cheap Cruise Deals
If you’re on the hunt for a cheap cruise, one way to stay in the know about discounts is to sign up for mailing lists from cruise lines and travel agencies. These newsletters can be a great way to find out about flash sales and special promotions that may not be widely advertised.
Cruise line newsletters are a particularly good source of information, as they often feature exclusive deals and discounts for subscribers. Travel agencies are sometimes asked to fill cabins on behalf of cruise lines, so their newsletters are a resource for exclusive discounts.
In addition to email newsletters, it’s also a good idea to follow cruise lines and travel agencies on social media. They may alert their followers about deals and discounts on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, so it can pay to keep an eye on their social media.3
More Things To Keep in Mind About Booking Cheap Cruises
There are a few more things to keep in mind if you’re looking to book a cheap cruise. One of those things is to sail during the off-season. For example, travelers can typically find great deals on Caribbean cruises during the hurricane season and in September for Alaskan cruises.
Another option is to book a smaller cruise ship, which can be less expensive than larger ships with more amenities. While you may sacrifice some luxury, smaller ships can offer a more intimate and authentic cruising experience. So, some travelers may even prefer them.
Finally, it’s often cheaper to book a repositioning cruise. These cruises take place when a ship needs to move from one region to another. Since they don’t follow a traditional itinerary, they can be less expensive than other options. They’re a unique way to take a cruise for less.4
A Note About Capacity
You may see cases where cruises have some empty staterooms but aren’t selling any more cabins. That’s because cruises can’t book more people than the number of lifeboats on board. So, they may not be able to sell every cabin if some cabins plan to use pull-out couches or cots.
Even though cruises often shoot for 107% capacity, they may reach that without booking every cabin.5 Additionally, some cruise lines may hold back a few cabins to have on hand. That way, they can move passengers should something unexpected happen in the cabin they booked.
The Bottom Line
Cruise lines are motivated to fill unsold cabins because they want more people on board to spend money, and it looks better if the cruise is full. So, if you’re willing to be flexible and take advantage of last-minute deals, you could score a huge discount on your next cruise.
Just keep in mind that prices can fluctuate depending on demand and availability. As a result, it can pay to do your research and stay up to date on the latest deals and promotions. Whether you’re a first-time cruiser or a seasoned sailor, employing a few strategies can help you save.