Travelling via cruise ships is one of my favorite things to do. If you love cruise ships, you will enjoy this blog post!
The price tag to take cruises are often quite expensive. Saving up money to go on a cruise could take quite some time. This is unfortunate because cruises are amazing.
There are several ways to travel hack cruise ships. The four main ways are:
- Last Minute Cruises
- Early Bird Deals
- Relocation Cruises
- Speaking in Cruises
Last Minute Cruises
The first time I went on a cruise was back in December 2014. I used a website called vacations2go to find last minute deals. Cruise ships will often give big discounts for those who book last minute. The cruise that I personally booked was 83% off the brochure price. I forgot the exact brochure price but it was roughly around $900 before tax. After the 83% off discount, the cruise ship price was down to $179. After tax and conversion to Canadian dollar, Karen and I paid $270 each. We then went on a five day Caribbean cruise on Carnival Cruise and gained 10 lbs from eating all the delicious food. Yes, cruise ships will make you fat but that’s a different story for another blog post.
Chowing on Desserts in Carnival Cruise
How to Find Last Minute Cruises
The main website to search for last minute cruises is vacations2go (you can also visit vacationstogo.com). They have a list of cruises from all over the world with big discounts offered by a variety of cruise lines.
Here are screenshots with step by step instructions on how to search for discounted cruises:
Step 1: Click the 90-day Ticker
Step 2: Sign up for an account or enter your email address if you already have one
Step 3: Start browsing for deals
If you look at the deal I found above, they are giving away 94% off a 7 day caribbean cruise! $199 USD before tax is an amazing deal! Even after paying taxes and converting to Canadian dollar, the grand total will probably be around $320. That’s ridiculously cheap for a 7 day cruise!
Is it safe to book with Vacations2go?
Yes, it is safe. I booked with them personally and received the deal promised. The whole booking process is done over the phone and their customer service was pretty good.
Why would the cruises give such a big discount?
When a cruise line doesn’t sell out all their cabins, they are losing profit. It is better for cruise lines to sell empty cabins for a big discount than to leave them vacant. Some money is better than no money.
Early Bird Deals
Early bird deals is essentially paying for your cruise several months ahead of time. The savings can be quite good.
Early bird deals are typically cheap but not as cheap as last minute deals.
When to Book Early Bird Deals
I helped a Japanese family book a Hawaiian Cruise with Norwegian and we opted for early bird as oppose to last minute. The main reason is that everyone has work and it works better for their schedule to know ahead of time when they are travelling. That way, they can all notify their employer ahead of time of their travel plans.
There is no definite time frame when early bird deals are available. I’d say roughly 8 months before the cruise embarks is when you should look into getting early bird deals.
Where to Find Early Bird Deals
The best place I’ve found to book early bird cruise discounts is actually on the cruise lines’ website. I compared the price between Expedia and other travel search engines and found that the actual cruise line to be a few hundred dollars cheaper. That is because travel search engines get a commission based on their sales and would have to increase the overhead price to collect their share of the profit.
Here is a list of some of the popular cruise lines and their website:
- Carnival Cruises
- Norwegian Cruises
- Royal Caribbean Cruises
- MSC Cruises
- Disney Cruise Line
- Princess Cruises
- Holland America Line
- Celebrity Cruises
The cruise lines’ website will also typically post up last minute deals as well so do go check their sites and compare with Vacations2go before doing any booking.
A repositioning cruise is when a cruise goes one way instead of round trip. They are great for people with a lot of flexibility. When paired up with travel hacking flights, you can save massive amounts of money and frequent flyer points while enjoying the comfort of a cruise.
Here’s how to find a repositioning cruise:
Step 1: Select Repositioning
Step 2: Find a Cheap Repositioning Cruise as shown in an old example below
The deal above looks pretty amazing. For $260 USD, you can do a 15-day cruise from Panama to Portugal. This is a really cheap way to reach Europe from North America while enjoying your time on the sea. Combining cruise deals with travel hacking flights can yield you massive savings. For example, you can use 20,000 Aeroplan miles to fly from Canada to Panama for around $100 then take the repositioning cruise to Portugal. That’s a fun way to reach Europe for under $500.
If you want to save even more money, you can take a relocation cruise under the 90-day ticker and get even more discount. Keep in mind that repositioning cruises sell out pretty quickly because of their cheap price tag.
Free Cruises by Being A Speaker
Did you know you can cruise for free? Well almost for free because you still have to pay an agent to find you cruise ship speaking gigs. If you have knowledge on a specific travel destination or interesting topic, then some cruises will allow you to cruise for free in exchange for you doing entertaining presentations during “sea days”. I haven’t done this myself personally but I will definitely look into it in the future.
Travel Hacking Cruise Ships Conclusion
Travel Hacking Cruise Ships is a great way for cruise lovers to do more of what they love which is cruising the world!
If you plan on traveling the world, taking cruise ships is a great way to visit multiple countries and cities in the comfort of a “moving hotel”.
Port Stop in Jamaica
Whether you plan on taking a last minute cruise and go on a winter get-away or planning a big trip with friends and family using the early bird deals, you are sure to save a ton of money.
If you are flexible and plan on traveling the world, consider using the repositioning cruise to get you to your next destination.
With more research, you can cruise for nearly for free by being a cruise ship speaker.
Here are the previous travel hacking starter guides if you missed them:
- The Starter’s Guide to Canadian Travel Hacking Part 1: Flights
- The Starter’s Guide to Canadian Travel Hacking Part 2: Accommodations