Many people ask how to make sure that they are getting the best deal on a cruise. There are a number of steps that can be taken to make sure that you are getting the best deal.
Be Flexible: If you can be flexible on your sail date you may be able to save money. Cruise pricing tends to be higher during holiday weeks and school vacation times. Sometimes going a week or two before or after your ideal cruise date can save you money. Also, sailing from different departure ports on similar itineraries may also help you to save.
Compare Rates: Look at different cruise lines and ships that have similar itineraries. One cruise line may be offering a special on one of the sailings. Keep in mind that all ships are not the same. Newer ships may have a slightly higher price point than older ships. You also have to consider what is included in the pricing as some departures offer special amenities and higher end cruise lines include a lot of extra amenities that are not normally included in standard cruise pricing. Make sure that you are comparing apples to apples.
Guarantee Categories: Cruise lines often offer what they call "Guarantee Cabins" in a certain category or location. Pricing for guarantee cabins tends to be lower. The only catch is that you are not given a cabin assignment until just before embarkation. You are guaranteed to be assigned a cabin that is in that category or higher. The plus is that there is a possibility of being upgraded. However, you shouldn't select a "Guarantee Cabin" if you have any special needs or requests. If you must be near an elevator, on a specific deck, next to the people you are traveling with or have other special needs then you should not confirm a "guarantee cabin" as specific requests cannot be made when booking one of these rates.
Resident Specials, Senior Rates and Military Rates: Many cruise lines will offer special pricing if your home residence is in a certain state. Special pricing is also sometimes offered for senior citizens or military personnel. Always be sure to ask for these discounts.
Most importantly when you find a good deal be prepared to book it as the offer may not last long. In most cases, when you book early and the rate goes down most cruise lines will honor the lower rate or offer a value add such as an on-board credit as compensation for the lower rate. Booking early also gives you the prime choice of cabins.