Finding the Best Deal for An Affordable Cruise

affordable cruise
Cruise Ships. Image via Flickr by sgbirch

You’ve seen the commercials and maybe even had friends or family tell you all about their amazing cruise experiences. Now the time has come for you to go on a cruise of your own, but you have no idea where to begin. Here are a few tips to help you find the best deal for an affordable cruise.

1. Decide on an Itinerary First

affordable cruise
Ships in port at St. Maarten. Image via Flickr by Dave Herholz

Before you become completely overwhelmed by the sheer number of cruise ships that are out there, decide on where you’d like to go first. Many first-time cruisers take a short 3- or 4-day Bahamas cruise to see what cruising is like. Other options for first-time cruisers include either Western Caribbean cruise itineraries with ports like Cozumel and Jamaica or Eastern Caribbean itineraries with stops that might include St. Thomas and St. Maarten.

2. Choose the Best Cruise Line for You

affordable cruise
Fire & Smoke. Image via Flickr by Woody Hibbard

Not all cruise lines are the same, and that’s for a good reason. A young couple without children probably doesn’t want to spend their vacation cruising with families with small children. Likewise, a family probably doesn’t want to end up on a cruise where there are no children onboard but for their own. Research the various options and decide what cruise line matches your wants and needs.

3. Look for the Best Price, but Don’t Decide on Price Alone

affordable cruise
Santo Tomas, Guatemala – ship at dock. Image via Flickr by Victoria Herring

The biggest mistake anyone can make when planning a trip, be it a cruise or land vacation, is to base their decision on price alone. While a lower price is always attractive, cheaper doesn’t always mean better. Look around for the best price or deal, and then try to compare your two or three top picks. Maybe one is the lowest price, but another includes gratuities and free internet. That cost savings could mean an overall lower price for your cruise vacation, so choose wisely.

4. The Time of Year When You Cruise Is Important

affordable cruise
Relaxing by Pool. Image via Flickr by Victoria Herring

If you decide to cruise during peak travel times like the holidays, school break, or the summer, you might be able to find a great deal, but maybe not the best. The best possible prices for cruises are usually found during off-peak travel times like September when school is back in session. If you’re flexible with your dates, you’ll probably find an extraordinarily good deal.

5. Reposition Yourself for a Repositioning Cruise

affordable cruise
Cruise 5-3-2006. Image via Flickr by Don Richards

What’s a repositioning cruise? Ships move throughout the year to new locations based on demand. Some ships will move from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean or from one side of the US to the other, and that means discounted savings for you. If you have the time and are open to the idea of a cruise with more days at sea than port days, then consider a repositioning cruise as an affordable option.

affordable cruise
Sunset at sea. Image via Flickr by minniemouseaunt

No matter what kind of trip you choose, most cruisers will tell you that once you’ve cruised, you’ll return time and again. Are you ready to go cruising?