Your best cruise deal may come by using a travel agent, booking online or calling the cruise line directly. It’s hard to say which way is better than the other. An email offer could bring what appears to be an exclusive deal, just for you, from any of those sources. A limited-time for flash deal might have brought a great offer just by being in the right place at the right time. Regardless of where that apparently ‘best cruise deal’ comes from, be sure it’s a good one now and later by asking these simple questions.
“If the price goes down later, can I get it?”
What might seem to be the best cruise deal around right now might not seem so great a month from now. A new offer that comes up later could be better. Before buying today’s best offer, find out if your booking will be convertible, should a better one come along. Pricing offers that will never allow conversion: last minute deals like Royal Caribbean’s Tuesday sale.
Are there any other discounts available on this ship and sailing date?
What appears to be the best cruise deal around might be even better. Cruise lines often allow discounts that everyone qualifies just for living in a particular state in the United States or province in Canada. If you or someone you are traveling with has served in the military, was a firefighter or member of law enforcement: discounts may apply.
If my sailing date is flexible, is there a sailing where I can get the same ship, itinerary and stateroom category for less?
This question is sort of the reverse of looking at a sale that is good on “select sailings”. Cruise lines promote specific dates of the same itinerary that are not selling as well, mainly to fill up ships. Establish a window of time in which you can travel, say ‘the second week of June through the first week of August” for example. That exact same sailing that looked attractively priced in July might be far less in June.
“Is my past guest status considered in this offer?”
Your loyalty is often rewarded with discounted rates or complimentary upgrades across the board, regardless of ship, sailing date or stateroom category. Bonus savings and even extra credit toward a higher loyalty level are also possible by booking higher category staterooms. Treating yourself to a mini-suite or higher might be worth the bump to a higher level that might bring bonus perks on every sailing. You can drop down to that inside cabin next time.
Obviously, we can’t ask our computer screen these questions when booking on line. Reserving with a travel agent or calling the cruise line directly as your first choice is better. Still, if click-to-buy is your way of booking, be sure to use a website that has a live chat feature or phone number to call with questions. Bonus tip: try that chat feature or phone number before buying to see how convenient (or not) it is.
Chris Owen shares frank, inside information about cruise vacations on ChrisCruises.com.