4 steps to an affordable, hassle-free cruise

October 9, 2015

Become a savvy traveler: follow these insider tips when you book a cruise. You'll get treated like a first-class guest and save money— so you can enjoy your holiday time more often!

4 steps to an affordable, hassle-free cruise

1. Stick to one cruise line

  • All cruise lines have loyalty programs, and the more you vacation with one company, the better the perks will get—they could be anything from $100 cruise vouchers, to private cocktail parties or free bottles of wine.
  • In addition, once you prove that you're a loyal customer, many of the big lines will allow you to skip from brand to brand within the same company and still retain your standing in their frequent-cruiser program. For instance, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity are part of the same corporate structure; once you're a return customer at one, ask if you can use your loyalty points on the other line. Chances are, you can.

2. Get a group together

  • Want a free cruise? It's easy. On virtually all major cruise ships, if you can get eight other cabins booked, the ninth one is free. And that one, of course, would be yours.
  • Keep in mind that you don't necessarily need to know the other people in your group. Hang an ad in your church, at the local gym or anywhere people congregate. Maybe you'll get lucky and get a group together. At worst, maybe you'll make a friend or two.

3. Haggle with your travel agent

  • Most people book their cruises either through websites or travel agents. Here's a significant fact that may change the way you book your next cruise: the cruise lines are getting more and more inflexible with their pricing. In the past, cruise lines would quote their prices to travel agents, and the agents would be able to work within a set of parameters. For example, a cruise line would tell a travel agent that a particular cruise should cost between $2,000 and $2,500. Travel agents would be able to negotiate prices with their clients.
  • Now, cruise lines tell agents exactly how much a cruise costs. Any rebate your travel agent is offering you is coming straight out of her commission. "Cruises don't rebate on their product anymore," says Sheila Gawel, the owner of GalaxSea Cruises and Travel in Toms River, New Jersey. "They believe they have a good product, and they choose a price and stick with it.
  • "What does this mean for the cruise consumer? Well, no matter where you go to book your cruise, the price of the cruise will remain constant—it's the commission fees that will change. So while you can't easily negotiate prices with the cruise lines or websites, you can certainly negotiate prices with your travel agent. Commissions on cruises are normally 10 to 20 percent of the price of the cruise; when you speak to your agent, tell him you want a deal, or you'll go home and book the cruise on your computer.

4. If there’s a problem, just tell someone

  • Cruise ships have the best customer service you'll find anywhere in the travel industry, according to one veteran of the business. The reasoning is simple: there is plenty of competition for your cruise dollar, and bad word of mouth can sink a ship.
  • So if you ever find anything not to your liking while on board, be sure to speak up. You will be taken care of. Don't like the people at your table? Speak up. Is your cabin too close to the disco? Dance on over to someone in charge. Any problems you encounter are worth discussing with cruise personnel.
The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
Close menu