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How to Save Money on Cruises: Three Simple Strategies

Aug 17, 2007
Learning how to save money on cruises may seem like navigating a maze. After all, you may hear dozens of different prices quoted -- all for the same cruise!

But if you pursue three simple strategies -- from the initial planning stages to the day you disembark from your ship -- you can cruise like royalty and still keep your wallet fat with cash.

First, you want to focus on booking the best deal.

Timing is crucial. The best deals are available either by booking early -- a year or so before a cruise departs -- or by booking late, within two or three months of a ship's departure.

Early booking deals are usually available through travel agents or cruise lines themselves. Late booking deals are typically offered online by huge Internet discounters. If you have plenty of flexibility in your travel plans, late bookings are usually the hottest deals going.

The choice of stateroom is another key. If you plan to spend most of your time on deck or in the ship's public rooms, you can forego pricey extras such as verandahs or even windows -- both of which can add hundreds of dollars to your fare.

Smaller cabins, too, can cost thousands of dollars less than elaborate suites. Yet you might be surprised at how roomy the cabins can be on modern cruise ships.

Second, you'll want to concentrate on tracking down discounts.

You are most likely eligible for discounts on your next cruise:

**If you're traveling as part of a group of friends or family,

**are past age 55,

**have served in the military,

or have sailed with a particular cruise line in the past.

Policies differ by each cruise line, though, so be sure to ask.

You can also find big discounts by choosing off-season sailings or special "repositioning" cruises, in which ships travel from one region to another, such as Alaska to the Caribbean or South America to the Mediterranean.

Third, you'll want to be alert to saving money onboard.

Many cruise lines offer low upfront fares to fill cabins that would otherwise go empty, figuring they'll make up any deficits by charging for lots of extras once you board.

These may include alcoholic beverages, spa treatments, casino gambling, "premium" restaurants, souvenir photographs, and, most expensive of all, organized shore excursions -- which can cost hundreds of dollars apiece.

Remember, though, that all these pricey extras are optional. By carefully establishing an onboard budget -- and sticking to it -- you can keep spending way down.

Once you know how to save money on cruises, you're in for smooth sailing all the way!
About the Author
Clark Norton is the publisher of SmarterCruising.com. You can read more about how to save money on cruises by visiting Smarter Cruising.
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