We have saved about 17% on our recent booking using Carnival cruise discounts. We booked an early saver rate and then took advantage of several opportunities as they came up.
Why We Chose Carnival
We are not loyal to any one cruise line. We pick cruises based on price, itinerary, and departure port. We chose Carnival for this particular cruise based on three criteria.
- Short drive to the cruise port.
- Wanted to use the kids’ program for a 2-year-old
- Ability to stack discounts. Easy on Carnival. More of a challenge on other lines.
We cruised with our oldest grandson on his first cruise back in January. This was our “test cruise” to see how it was sailing with a young child. We looked for a short cruise sailing out of a port that we could drive to, so we booked a 3-day itinerary out of Port Canaveral on the Sensation. It was our first time using the kids’ club, and it turned out to be a success! J. enjoyed going to the club, and it gave B. and I some time alone to have dinner and go to the shows.
We decided that we would be willing to try another cruise, now with J. (5) and his younger brother A. (2). Carnival is the only cruise line that allows two-year-olds in their kids’ program, so we knew that’s who we would book the next cruise with. The drive to Port Canaveral is about 9 hours for us, so we began looking at a port closer to home. I was pleased to learn last year that Carnival is returning to Mobile, AL, which is about a 4-hour drive for us. We had cruised out of Mobile about 10 years ago and we loved the short drive and easy embarkation. We decided on a 5-day cruise out of Mobile on the Sensation in December.
We booked the cruise in March, and because we booked so early, I was able to take advantage of several discounts.
All the Different Types of Carnival Cruise Discounts I Used
Carnival has an Early Saver rate that guarantees that you are paying the lowest advertised rate for that cruise. If the price of your cruise drops, you will get credit for the difference. There are restrictions on this fare, however. You cannot switch cruises before the final payment deadline, and you cannot change guests. The price of the cruise has only gone up since I booked, but we did have the peace of mind of knowing that we were paying the lowest possible price.
This was the catalyst that made me book the cruise when we did. I found out that a couple of the American Express cards we had were offering a discount on Carnival and Norwegian. You find these offers at the bottom of the page when you log into your account. I made the deposit using one of the cards and saved $75. I then made an additional $250 payment on another card and saved an additional $75.
Ebay Carnival Gift Card Flash Sale
Ebay had a “flash sale” in March on Carnival gift cards. These were digital cards that I printed out and saved to use when making my final payment. The deal was for $15 off each $75 purchase. I made two orders of a $50 card and a $25 card for a total savings of $30.
Publix Carnival Gift Card Sale
I usually do my grocery shopping at Publix, and I always look at the weekly circular to see if they have any discounts on their gift cards. I like to take advantage of the $10 off of $50 gas cards. But one week they were offering $100 Carnival gift cards for $85 and I picked up one.
AARP Carnival Gift Cards
After applying all the above discounts, I had just a few dollars left to pay on my cruise. For this, I used the old standby–Carnival gift cards from AARP. I had gotten a $500 gift card for $450. The details on how to get these cards can be found on the most popular post on my blog. If you cruise on Carnival it is a no- brainer to get these cards. I will have a large balance on this card but will apply it on my ship board account to pay gratuities and drinks. Any balance will be refunded to me.
Carnival Corporation Shareholder Credit
I own 100 shares of Carnival stock, and as a stockholder I get on board credit for my cruises. On this 5-day cruise we will get a $50 shareholder credit. Our party of four will have a tab of $259 in gratuities for the cruise, so the discount will be 19% using the SHC.
Our Bottom Line Using All the Carnival Cruise Discounts
Not counting the shareholder credit, we have saved 17% using all of the discounts. Our total cruise fare for four people is $1200 including taxes and fees, but we only paid $995. I am pleased with this price for four for a 5-day cruise!