One of the most common questions that we are asked is, “What is the best way to book a cruise?”. While there are quite a few different ways you can book your vacation, here are several of the best ways to book a cruise.
What is the Best Way to Book a Cruise?
The following is listed in no particular order so don’t think that the first is more important and the last is the least important. We have listed the pros and cons of each so you can decide for yourself which way is best. Why do we do this? Because what is best for you may not necessarily be best for someone else. We all have different needs, wants, and expectations. The following guide should help you find the best way to book a cruise.
Online Travel Site
There are many online discount travel sites that you can book through. These online travel agencies will often reserve large groups of cabins on hundreds of cruises locking in not only great rates, but also extra perks as well that include onboard credit or free gratuities.
Many of them also work out exclusive offers with cruise lines that aren’t available anywhere else. You can instantly view prices across different online travel discount sites here. If the most important thing to you is price and extra perks, then this is the way to go.
However, it’s not all sunshine and roses with online discount travel sites. While you will often save money and get extra perks, you won’t get the same personalized service and attention that come with working with a travel agent or PVP.
Directly Through the Cruise Line with a PVP
When you book directly through a cruise line, a PVP (Personal Vacation Planner) will handle your reservation. Since they work directly for the cruise line, they have excellent knowledge about each cruise ship and itinerary. Also since they aren’t constantly booking cruises on different cruise lines, they know the ins and outs better than anyone since they have a focus on just one line.
Many PVPs now have their own Facebook group, so getting in contact with them is super easy. The one downside is that many of them are super busy. So while you will get good service, it won’t match what your local travel agent can do for you.
Booking a cruise yourself is perfect for those who are control freaks. While you are still booking directly through the cruise line, you can literally do 100% of everything online. If you hate talking on the phone and like to do everything yourself, then this is the way to go.
Cruise lines have all of their currently promotions listed on their website. You can find the one that you like best, and book it 24/7.
You will find that booking a cruise on a cruise line’s website is easy and efficient. They have made the process as easy as it can be. This is the way I’ve booked my first few cruises before I started to use a travel agent.
Through a Local Travel Agent
If you have been a reader of Cruise Fever for any amount of time, you have most likely seen us talk about the importance of booking through a local travel agent. If not, you can read our post Reasons to Use a Travel Agent here.
A good experienced travel agent can make booking your next cruise a total breeze. You get their experience and knowledge at no extra cost making it a no-brainer to use one. There’s also something to be said about supporting local businesses.
However, I will say this. If you are a control freak, then using a travel agent may not be the best way to go. You can not call the cruise line and ask about your reservation. Everything has to go through the agent. The cruise line won’t even talk to you, only to the agent. But why wouldn’t you have an agent handle everything? Let them wait on hold listening to elevator music so you don’t have to.
Travel agents have access to day tours on cruise ships from time to time. This gives them knowledge of a variety of ships and cruise lines that they can pass onto you.
Agents also get daily emails with different deals that cruise lines are offering. They also have access to training courses to learn about what each cruise line offers. They can pass this information on to you saving you both time and money.
Yes, you can book your next cruise directly through Costco Travel. Costco offers great deals on eleven different cruise lines from Carnival Cruise Line to Disney Cruise Line.
And no, you don’t have to buy cruises in lots of 12. However, Costco does offer tons of extra perks that aren’t available anywhere else. They negotiate the best prices with cruise lines and then pass that savings on to you.
You must reside in the United States to take advantage of savings through Costco Travel. Executive members earn an annual 2% reward on all Costco Travel purchases.
Going through Costco won’t work for everyone since they do not sell cruises on all cruise lines.
Vacation Clubs are growing in popularity. They promise huge savings on cruises and some even brag how you can cruise for free just by joining.
If you are going to join a vacation club, join a reputable one like Disney Vacation Club. Stay away from the vacation clubs that are pyramid MLM schemes. If the club is more about recruiting your friends than taking cruises, RUN! Run fast and far away as quick as you can.
The problem with vacation clubs is that most of them are MLM companies and not true vacation companies. It’s all about making money off recruiting your friends and family and not about traveling.
“If you recruit five people, and each of them recruit five people, and then those recruit just five people, you can make six figures a year and travel the world for free.” Sound to good to be true? That’s because it is too good to be true.
As an extra perk for working for them, many companies offer special savings on everything from computers to vacations. If you work for a large company, this is something you should check out.
At my previous job, we were offered discounts on phone bills, insurance, computers, vacation packages, and more. If you work in corporate America, this is something worth looking into so you can save on your next cruise.
With all of the different ways to book a cruise, just find the one that works best for you and your family and go with it.
Note: This article was updated in January 2023.