Luxury cruises offer a more upscale and intimate environment on ships designed with all of the luxe finishes of a ritzy boutique hotel, and who doesn’t want to find a way to add a little more luxury, or a few extra shore excursions and pampering on their holiday?
Many cruise lines claim to offer a luxury experience, but the true definition of luxury cruising is defined by the level of inclusions and this is where you can ensure you get the best value on your luxury cruise. While most cruise lines include accommodation, entertainment and most main meals in the upfront cruise fare, luxury cruise lines offer many extras, adding tremendous value for money. We’ve curated a list of insider tips to help you secure more value for money when booking your next luxury cruise.
Shop during Wave Season
Since cruise lines release their itineraries about 18-months in advance, this is usually the best time to secure your desired cruise itinerary and a range of additional extras. This is commonly known in the industry as ‘Wave Season’ beginning in January each year. This booking period is usually best for price and added inclusions as most luxury cruise lines offer their best fares early, and then raise rates as cabins and suites sell out.
On that note, luxury cruises also sell out quickly unlike other holidays. If you have a set cruise itinerary in mind, booking early is the best way to make sure you’ll be cruising where and when you want, and in the style that you want.
During wave season, luxury cruise lines throw in otherwise-expensive upgrades and value adds like free or reduced airfares, complimentary amenities (think free specialty dining, beverage packages, shore excursions and/or gratuities) and cabin upgrades to entice faster sales. Tip: Look for packages that specifically says "balcony staterooms for the price of outside cabins" or similar to spot the upgrade offers.
Extended itineraries & Cruise/Hotel Night Packages
Want to spend a few extra days in the port on either end of your trip? Cruise lines happily package hotel stays (usually with transfers to or from the ship) with their sailings and will often create these added value itineraries to lure avid cruises to lock in their trips early and as a result are often some of the most popular routes.
Not only do you experience your nights on board during the trip but then have the option to spend more time in destination at either your first or final port, or both! Our Travel Associates Advisors usually recommend considering cruises with this included in the package as a way to make the most of your trip.
Premium vs. Luxury Cruising - is it worth the upgrade?
If you're an experienced high-end premium-line cruiser and often pay for extras like wine and specialty dining – it might actually be better value to upgrade to a luxury line.
Our Travel Advisors can help you compare whether this option may be worth looking into, specifically at what size cabin you get for what price on each line and factoring in any extra costs that add to your vacation budget. While base prices and cabin sizes tend to be somewhat similar, a luxury cruise will also include wines and premium beverages, internet, specialty restaurants and gratuities (tips), among other items you'd pay extra for on a mainstream or premium line. Contact one of our Advisors to find out if you might actually be better served by switching to a luxury cruise line.
Do your research or better, have your Travel Advisor do it for you
While our trusted Advisors will help find the luxury cruise for you (and with all the exclusive value extras we’re able to secure directly with the cruise lines), additionally, it doesn’t hurt to do some research yourself. That way you can get a feel for what average fares on your preferred sailing look like, so when a sale or price drop comes out, like those during Wave Season, you can act fast to lock it in with your travel advisor doing all the heavy lifting for you.
Another tip is to sign up to the Travel Associates newsletter to be alerted when the prices of cruises you're interested in go on sale or to be the first to know when the cruise lines launch their new season itineraries. The internet and email newsletters are some of the best mediums for finding deals and cruise industry news on new itineraries.
Why book with a Travel Associates Advisor?
They’ll manage your trip from booking to sailing: Sometimes a cruise is booked years in advance and there are so many variables that need to be managed between when you book to when you sail. From pricing fluctuations to documentation, visas and flight release alerts, your travel expert will keep you on top of updates and help make sure it’s all smooth sailing.
They know the ins and outs of add-ons and extras: From booking shore excursions before they sell out to organising cruise cover, which is mandatory on some cruises, your cruise specialist knows how to manage the extra details so you don’t have to stress about it.
They’re always just a phone call away: No matter what you need before, during or after your cruise, they’re there to give complete travel support. Missed a connection, need to postpone a trip or simply want some advice on which shore excursion to take? Don’t give it a second thought - your advisor is there for you every step of the way.
They love to cruise just as much as you do: Seriously. Cruise advisors are just like plane spotters. They spend all their holiday time on board experiencing new ships, routes and refurbishments. Most cruise experts have spent literally hundreds of nights at sea and are more than happy to share their encyclopaedic knowledge with you to ensure you fall in love with your next cruise too.
When ships swap hemispheres for different cruise seasons, venture to a new homeport or go into dry dock for repairs or refurbishment, it is called a repositioning cruise. Joining an ocean cruise that begins and ends in a different port isn’t just exciting, you often get better value for your holiday dollar as well.
Ships reposition all over the world via Asia, the Middle East, South America and Africa. If you’ve dreamed of cruising down the Suez Canal in Egypt or the Panama Canal, a repositioning cruise offers an affordable way to do these journeys.
Travellers who are willing to travel at the drop of a hat and have the flexibility to wait until the last minute, which in cruise timeframes is anywhere from three to six weeks before departure, are sometimes able to find discounted fares. However, this usually applies to the larger premium ships looking to sell off the last of their stock and rarely applies to the smaller boutique luxury cruises.
Be prepared to book the less desirable accommodations – typically cabins without balconies or windows, and staterooms in less popular locations. Similarly, if you can be flexible with dates, sailing during the shoulder season rather than popular summer and holiday weeks can shave a few hundred dollars from your base rate.
Loyalty points and On Board Credits
Just by cruising and by being loyal to one or two of your favourite lines, you can unlock more access to discounts on higher room categories and sometimes even free nights at sea.
It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve cruised before, you will also be eligible for rewards like On Board Credit (OBC) or if you’re a seasoned cruiser, you may score gifts such as complimentary laundry services, internet and upgraded bathroom amenities.