Learn how to work the system, and you can save a bundle on your next cruise.
If you're willing to learn the the ins-and-outs of online travel bargain hunting, you can save as much as 70% off published rates and 10-25% more from cruise brokers, consolidators and group movers.
Bargains can be found at sites that offer comparison shopping, clearance, last minute deals, cruise line sites, auctions and travel classifieds.
You can do the same, simply by visiting the highlighted sites noted here. You can even find last minute cruise deals, that the cruise lines are dying to sell you, as an empty cabin generates no income.
While you can find similar bargains at sites run by the cruise lines themselves, often they are not as good as those on offer from a cruise broker or consolidator. We'll show you where to look.
For most, internet bargain shopping is a bit of a hassle. Going from one site to the next, looking for the cheapest price. Well, we've done the work for you.
If you enjoy the thrill of the chase, you can find a real vacation bargain. A great cruise vacation, all the while spending less, and enjoy it more.
Are your ready? Read on.
So many so called travel-help sites do nothing but point you to bargains available from other sites that advertise on their web site. Not very independant. Not very impartial. Look for cruise-seller web sites that use the Revelex or OVS cruise reservation systems, places like www.americanexpress.com, www.aaa.com, www.cruisedirectonline.com, you can comparison-shop instantly, pricing staterooms at dozens of cruise lines with the click of a mouse. At sites like http://www.cruisedealsonly.com/, http://ww.alaskacruisesdirect.com/ and www.cruisesearchonline.com, where you can browse for limited- time online deals or scoop up clearance and last minute special offers. If you want to save on shore excursions, read up on how, at http://www.shoreexcursionsmagazine.com/
Cruise Reports lets you sort cruises by traveler ratings quickly, and it provides easy ways to view the popularity of various cruise lines and ships. It also has some of the best in depth reviews we saw. You can find their reviews at, www.cruisesreviewsonline.com. The user reviews are from professional travel writers and consumers alike. It’s not uncommon to fmd dozens of in-depth user write-ups for your favorite cruise.
Online shopping for a cruise is big business. Expedia, Tarvelocity, Orbitz and Priceline sites that primarily sell airline tickets, hotel rooms and car rentals are now in the cruise business. One of the drivers for its continuing growth is increased sophistication in online comparison-shopping Web sites, which can not only help you find bargains but also reveal remarkable choices when you’re looking for a cruise. In fact, many consumers use online travel sites just to research vacation options, then brow-beat their local travel agent to match the price.
Comparison Shopping Tips
Comparison shopping online for a cruise makes a lot of sense, whether you’re ready to reserve or just want to find the lowest prices. • Most sites make it very easy to identify the most popular cruises for any available stateroom category and you can read user reviews. We don’t always recommend going with a web site that is highly visited, but popularity can be a signal of good price, quality service, and more. • Price is often paramount among online shoppers, so learn to make use of the special offers that many sites offer, sign up for an e-mail alert when the price or cruise you want becomes available. • Note how the site you use handles special rates, such as senior discounts, resident specials, upgrades, onboard credit, and price-off offers. Some incentives on particular cruises are nice, but they might not give you the best price. For example, a AAA or AARP discount may not get the best deal, especially if you live in State that offers a resident special for your cruise.• Use several travel-comparison sites at once. Better yet visit sites that let you view all the cruise lines offers and compare lines, ships and prices and itineraries. These sites work best when you know exactly what you’re looking for and have a good idea of what your cruise should cost. Then you can see quickly find out whether the cruise is available—and whether you’re really getting a bargain
Success at cruise clearance or last minute travel sites requires patience and good eyesight to read the "Fine Print".
• If you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, you’ll find yourself wading through offers with second-rate cabin availability. Cabins near elevators, service doors, under the disco or children's activity room. (There’s often a reason certain cabins get relegated to the clearance list.) • Read the fine print carefully. Clearance and last minute cruises items often are non-refundable. • If the travel site offers a price-matching policy, read that closely, too, It’s tempting to think that you’re getting a great deal, but you may find a better price later. Price-matching particulars vary among providers.
Forget impulse buying; you’ve got to research every offer.
• Cruise Deals can disappear as quickly as they appear. The better sites—e-mail updated offers that keep you up to speed without requiring you to revisit a site every couple of days. Sign up for them. • Check the discussion forums that appear on many of these sites. The contributors are usually super-savvy about cruising, and you’ll get great tips, like which cruise lines and ships are the most popular and which ones aren’t. These forums can also tell you which deals really are too good to be true. • Know what you’re after. These sites are best if you already know what you’re looking for. Like stores themselves, travel sites can be dangerous if you’re just browsing. Inevitably you’ll see a vacation deal you’d be crazy not to jump at—and you’ll wind up spending more money that you should.
Some cruise lines now forbid travel agents from discounting cruises to the public. Now, that doesn't mean the cruise isn't discounted. It most likely is, but only by the cruise line themselves. So, if you see a travel agent offering
a much lower price than most anyone else...look out. That agent may be violating his agreement and is subject to sanctions by the cruise line, such as being removed from the cruise line's authorized seller list and loosing the right to sell cruises for that carrier.Auctions And ClassifiedsSometimes, the best online travel deals can be found at auction sites like eBay and classifieds pages like those at Cruisemates. If you’re shrewd enough, you can reel cruises in for even less than you’ll pay elsewhere on the Web. The downside is that this sort of shopping involves a bit more work than other methods—and a bit more risk. With auction sites in particular, you can spend days trying to find the right cruise, and sometimes the cruise offer goes to someone else. Sometimes you pay too much for it. Sometimes it’s not what you expected it to be. There’s even that small chance you won't get what you paid for. Caution is the byword here.
When using an Auction site to purchase a cruise vacation:
• Pay close attention to user feedback. Make sure the seller has a long history of selling and a long list of feedback. And take the time to read the feedback. • Look for auctions with inconvenient closing times: If an auction ends in the middle of the night or during a big sports event, fewer people will place last-second bids, and you have a better chance at a bargain. - Before you bid, pick a maximum price and stick to it. You’re looking for a bargain. Don’t get caught up in the excitement of an auction. If you miss out on one auction, chances are another one will soon pop up. • Don’t bid right away. If you bid right away, others will know you’re interested and can alter their strategy accordingly. In most cases, especially if you want a cruise bargain, there’s no need to bid until the last few seconds of an auction. And if too many bids start popping up, go elsewhere. The price won’t stay low for long. • Check how many people have viewed that cruise on offer: It works both ways; other bidders are also waiting to lay down a last-second bid. You can tell how popular an item is by checking how many people have simply viewed it. If the number is too high, go elsewhere. The price is likely to skyrocket.
For more information visit http://www.cruisetravelermagazine.com/
Cruise Traveler Magazine is an online cruise magazine offering an unbiased cruise guide, latest cruise news, cruise reviews, tips, feature cruise articles, and need to know information about cruising. Editorially independent of travel providers or cruise lines.