A few years ago, while enjoying the city views from the terrace of Miradouro de Santa Luzia in Lisbon, I noticed large cruise ships docked at the Lisbon cruise port. This made me think about my own previous cruise experiences exploring St. John’s in Newfoundland (a province in Canada) with my mom and Montego Bay, Jamaica with friends. Looking out at the Tagus River, I wondered why I hadn’t been on a cruise in a while. Since I’m always searching for the next cheap flight, you can see how it’s easy to get distracted. Anyway, I’ve been searching for the best cruise deals around the world ever since.
Since Bermuda just so happens to be a popular cruise destination and one of my favorite islands, recently I’ve been searching for the best cruise deals to Bermuda. Although I’ve flown to Bermuda several times (the flight is less than 2 hours from New York City), I would be lying if I said that Bermuda was a cheap vacation destination by any means. In fact, Bermuda is extremely expensive. Check out my Bermuda budget breakdown which details all of my trip expenses and how much you can expect to spend on your trip to “Bermy” (local slang). With that being said, more than 50% of Bermuda’s visitors visit by cruise ship. This actually makes a lot of sense because there are plenty of advantages to cruising to Bermuda.
Why go on a cruise?
If you’re looking for a stress-free way to vacation, cruises are the way to go.
Although you may save a lot of time by flying to a travel destination directly, a cruise vacation is one of the more affordable ways to travel because it’s all-inclusive. Cruises offer everything you could possibly want or need while on vacation. Also cruising is a great option for those with disabilities because everything is available within the confines of the cruise ship. Here’s a list of wheelchair accessible cruises from Alaska to the Bahamas.
On a cruise, pretty much everything is paid for.
This includes transportation, lodging, food and non-alcoholic beverages, entertainment and access to amenities and on-board facilities. You can also pay for luxuries like spa treatments, casinos, cruise photos, fancy dinners and alcohol.
And although on most cruises you only spend a short amount of time docked at a port, cruising can offer a great introduction to a destination.
If you are planning to go on a cruise, here are my top tips for finding the best cruise deals around.
Tips for Finding the Best Cruise Deals
To find the best cruise deals, do your research ahead of time and compare the best offers.
When comparing cruises figure out how much you will spend in total on each cruise.
In addition to the face value cruise cost, be sure to factor in extra costs like airfare, hotels, drinks, specialty dinners, tips, shore excursions and gifts. Factor all of these into your total to figure how much you will spend.
If your cruise package comes with freebies or upgrades, don’t forget to deduct the value of the freebie from your total cost. Do this because this is something that you would have spent money on but no longer have to because of the bonus offer.
Some freebies to look out for include:
- Premium beverage packages
- Onboard credit
- Unlimited Wi-Fi
- Kids cruise free
- Cabin upgrades
- Onboard credit
- Spa treatments
- Specialty dining
- Bottles of wine
- Chocolate covered fruits
- Reduced deposits
- Prepaid gratuities
- Reduced third/fourth passenger rates
With cruises, timing is everything and I’ve found that Wednesday is the best day to book a cruise. Also, since cruises are family oriented, you’ll likely find the best bargains when school is in session.
For the best discounts, plan to set sail off-season generally from October to December 21st or April to early May.
And if you don’t mind the weather (rain, wind or hurricanes), cruises to the Caribbean are cheaper during hurricane season from September to early November.
You may also find discounts by avoiding the holiday rush after Thanksgiving – book during the first two weeks of December and January. April, May and September are also a great time to save on cruises to Alaska and the Mediterranean.
Cruising off-season also means less tourists which is a win-win if you ask me!
Book Last Minute
Although I’ve heard that booking early is a good way to save money, I’ve found that last-minute cruise deals offer the most savings.
If you’re flexible with where you’re willing to go and don’t mind your cabin type, last-minute cruise deals can save you a lot of money because the closer it gets to the sailing date, the cheaper the cruise becomes. The last thing the cruise line wants to do is leave the port with an empty ship. As a result they tend to slash prices to fill the ship or add extra perks like cabin upgrades.
The only downside would be that the cruise you’re eyeing might get sold out or there may be limited rooms available – meaning all the luxurious rooms have already sold out.
For the past 5 years, my mom has consistently booked last-minute cruise deals to the Caribbean. For departures in early October, she starts monitoring prices in September. She usually books the week of departure and has saved hundreds of dollars on each vacation.
Helpful Tip: Just because you book a cruise last-minute doesn’t mean that you can’t start planning your vacation ahead of time. Request time off at work during the cheapest cruise months. A few weeks before your departure, book the cruise!
In summary, either cruise off-season or last-minute to find the best cruise deals.
Cruise Deals for Solo Travelers
What about cruise deals for solo travelers?
I have good news – many last-minute cruise deals waive the single supplement fee. This means huge savings for solo travelers. Since cabins are usually priced for double occupancy, if you book last-minute, you can potentially have a cabin all to yourself by paying for the price of one occupant!
Also, remember how I shared that my mom goes on cruises every year.
She always cruises solo and she is able to secure her booking for an entire cabin (sometimes with a balcony view) as a solo traveler.
Read More: How to Build the Confidence to Travel Solo
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Have YOU cruised lately? What’s your favorite booking tip?
This is a collaborative post with Celebrity Cruises, however all opinions are my own.
Danielle is a travel finance strategist, author, speaker and podcaster. She paid off $63,000 of student loan debt in 4 years, bought a house at 27 and has traveled to 26 countries. She refuses to let her financial responsibilities hold her back from living life on her own terms.