How to get your dream cruise destination on a budget

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In association with Thomson

For many of us, a cruise holiday represents the ultimate in luxury. Exotic destinations, sea views, endless sunshine, interesting trips on shore; plus all the gourmet food, entertainment, and pampering you can handle. Cruises command a high price, and are always in demand, so getting a discount is next to impossible.

Or is it? Great cruise deals do exist, but it can take a little more digging to unearth them. Looking out for special offers, keeping your options open when it comes to dates and destinations, and booking at just the right time can all help to net you a dream holiday at a price that won’t give you nightmares.

How to get your dream cruise on a budget

pic credit: kansasphoto via Flickr/Creative Commons

Sign up to mailing lists from cruise companies and travel agencies, to get special offers straight to your inbox. Keep an eye on company Twitter accounts, too. Last minute deals and availability are often announced in a tweet, for quick communication and a fast sale.

Good times to keep your ear to the ground are early in the new year, and at the end of the summer, when cruise packages often go on sale.

How to get your dream destination cruise holiday on a budget

pic credit: bobchin1941 via Flickr/Creative Commons

When it comes to cruise deals, flexibility is key. Peak seasons such as summer and winter holidays will always be in high demand, and correspondingly expensive. If you are able to choose the shoulder season, the period immediately before or after high season, or take time off during the school term, you could enjoy a cruise that’s not only cheaper but less crowded.

The exception to the flexibility rule is when you book a long way in advance, perhaps as much as a year. By picking your dates early, you can save hundreds on your tickets. This carries the extra advantage that the deposit and balance are paid months apart, helping to spread the cost. Do remember when the balance will be leaving your bank account, or it could come as a nasty shock. You’ll also have to hope that nothing important, like a family wedding, comes up in the meantime, or you risk losing your deposit.

Remember that cruise companies are affected by economic conditions just like everyone else, and will have difficulty shifting cabins during times of recession. Political unrest or weather conditions can occasionally make stopping at some ports difficult, and reduced rates may be offered if the cruise line has to cross a few stops off the itinerary.

Finally, consider bringing family and friends along. Groups are usually offered a discount, and sometimes the organiser; that’s you, goes free.

This article was written by Rebecca Hurt, in association with Thomson.