>  Advice   >  How to score a cruise bargain

Whether you’re saving for your first ever sailing holiday or believe too many cruises are never enough, it’s handy to know how to find the cheapest cruise deals. Even better, there’s no need to skip luxuries with a bargain fare. Many deals come with extras such as a free drinks package, balcony upgrade or airfares to Europe if you book a river cruise. Here are some of the best ways to find a cruise bargain that’s a steal.

Book using a travel agent

While it’s cheaper to book many holidays independently, a (good) travel agent can save you thousands on your next cruise. Travel agents receive advance notice of cruise line sales and special deals in advance. Large agencies can also create their own exclusive mega deals by purchasing flights, cruises and hotel room nights in bulk then selling them as a heavily discounted package. 

Sign up for cruise deals

Do you have a favourite cruise line or one you’ve always wanted to try?  Sign up for deals via the cruise line website to receive advance notice (and sometimes access to) upcoming sales. Some lines also offer bargain last minute deals to loyal cruisers via email. If you would prefer to avoid the email deluge, ‘Like’ your favourite cruise lines’ and travel agencies’ Facebook pages instead.

Get a cruise group discount

Families and friends travelling together can save a bundle thanks to cruise lines’ generous group booking deals. Groups are eligible for a cruise fare credit for every eight staterooms on Royal Caribbean. Other lines offer similar deals for cruisers travelling as a group, including points which can be redeemed for onboards perks, such as champagne or chocolate-covered strawberries.

Book a longer cruise

Longer cruises and those with less ports like a Transatlantic cruise are often significantly cheaper. Some bargain hunters have picked up deals for less than $80 per person per day. Longer cruises are best for those seeking a relaxing trip with plenty of sea days or active travellers who want extra time to enjoy onboard facilities such as the skydiving and surfing simulators, skating rinks, ziplining, and bumper cars available on Ovation of the Seas.

When to book your cruise

Keep an eye out for Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific cruise deals in late January and early February in when all the kids are back at school. End of season cruises anywhere in the world also offer significant savings if you’re willing to take a chance on the weather.

For example, if you’ve always dreamed of visiting Alaska, there are often bargain sailings available in September. Denali could be extremely chilly and the park may not be open if you’re very unlucky. However, you could also enjoy perfect weather, beautiful scenery and no crowds.

Last minute cruise bargains

Last minute cruise deals offer excellent value provided you have the flexibility to travel at short notice. You might not get your first choice of cabin or your preferred dinner seating time but savings can be significant.  Unless you need to purchase flights. Unlike cruises, these are seldom cheap to book last minute so always check flight costs and availability before – not after – you book.

Want more great cruise advice? Check out our tips for choosing the perfect cruise, cruising with grandchildren, cruising with tweens and cruising with kids of all ages, solo cruising, the best activities on Ovation of the Seas, doing a Transatlantic cruise with kids, cruising in Australia or Papua New Guinea, Iceland cruise tips, cruising on a megaship, scoring a bargain cruise fare, cruising the Mediterranean, making the most of a cruise ship kids club, luxury cruising with kids, and the Byron Beach Club onboard P&O Cruises. We have also reviewed Disney Wonder, Pacific Adventure, Celebrity Edge, Quantum of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas, Pacific Encounter, Carnival Splendor, Voyager of the Seas, Nieuw Statendam, Viking Helgrim, Pride of America, Coral Expeditions in Tasmania and the Great Barrier Reef, Celebrity Solstice, and Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth.

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Dr Tiana Templeman is an award-winning food and travel journalist, travel author and media industry academic. She is the creator of The Travel Temple, writes for Australian and international media outlets and appears on radio talking about where to go, what to see and travel industry trends.