Cheap Cruise Clinic–Part 1

I am going to share with you ONE way to find and book the absolutely cheapest cruises. We will be looking at inside cabins, because they are the cheapest, but you can use the same strategy for other categories if you are not a cheapskate like me. I am not saying that this is the best strategy, but it is one that has worked well for me in the past. Today in Part 1, I will discuss finding the cruise. My next post in the Clinic will be Part 2, Booking Award Tickets to Meet Your Cruise.

There are many cruise booking websites, including the cruise lines themselves, but my go-to site for this method is vacationstogo.com, because they have a feature that tells you the price per night for all cruises. You will have to register with them to do searches, but all you need is an email address, and any email address will do. Make sure that you fill out all the information in “My Account,” as this info will be used to see if you qualify for any discounts. Then click the button called “90 Day Ticker.” When this comes up, find the status link on the right of the blue bar at the top, and change it to “price per night.” Now you can compare all the cruises based on how much they cost per night.

Prices and discounts change constantly but the example that I am going to use was from a search I did yesterday afternoon. I found a 7-night cruise on the Carnival Liberty sailing round-trip out of San Juan, Puerto Rico for $48/night, or $339 on May 3. There were other cruises that were slightly cheaper per night, but I chose this one as my example because it has a great itinerary, and getting flights to San Juan is a little more challenging that flying into Miami, and I will discuss this in Part 2.

Prices on this website, just like all other cruise booking sites, do not include taxes and fees in their initial offers. To find out how much this will be, go to the Carnival website and go through the motions of making a booking. To see what the absolute lowest price is (and that’s our particular goal here), do not pick a cabin. Choose a “guarantee” cabin. That’s where you won’t know which cabin you’re getting ahead of time, but you are guaranteed a cabin in the category that your have paid for, with the possibility of a free upgrade. After you have picked a room number, or a guarantee cabin per my advice, Carnival will show you the price, including all charges of $431. For our particular example it turns out that the taxes and fees are $92/person, so the real total price is $339 + $92 =431/person on vacations to go. So you now have 2 quotes, one from Carnival, and one from vacations to go. Notice the prices are the same, which is not unusual. Please keep in mind that gratuities are about $12/day/person extra, but right now we want to just want to comparison shop and get the best price on the cruise.

Now you know what the cruise will cost if you go through Carnival, and you know what it will cost on vacations to go. Go ahead and look at some other websites like Travelocity and American Discount Cruises. Compare prices! See if any are offering any goodies like on board credit. It won’t hurt to put your cruise information into the website Cruise Compete. You will get several bids on your cruise. However, at this rock-bottom price point you will find there won’t be much difference in price between all the sites. If you are lucky you may get $50 on board credit or a free bottle of wine.

Now you know who has the best price and you’ve decided who you would like to book with. But don’t book yet, you’ve still got some work to do. I’ll pick this up in Part Deux–Booking Award Tickets to Meet Your Cruise.

This post originally appeared on Saverocity.com.  This was 6 months ago before I started the blog.  At that time, I did not know how to snip and paste images!  I think that the info is still good though, so wanted to put it in the blog.

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