Many of my clients ask how they can get a discount on a cruise when a promotion is not available. One risky way is to wait until a discount comes available, however this is only recommended when you don’t really care when you will be cruising, just that you want to be cruising.
The two best ways to save are to book early, as soon as possible after dates open, and to book while you are onboard. Many cruise lines have onboard booking incentives but the key is that you have to pay that deposit before you get off the ship or the incentives go away.
With some lines like Norwegian Cruise Line, you will purchase a certificate or coupon to use on a later date. You do not name your travel agent at the time of booking with Norwegian, but with Royal Caribbean and Celebrity you do. These may or may not have a use deadline (Norwegian has a 4 year limit).
With other lines you will select your cruise date. Some will have perks for booking onboard. Royal Caribbean and Celebrity give you a potential upgrade and onboard credit. Disney offers a discount and onboard credit.
There may be limits on how many you can book onboard. Celebrity and Royal Caribbean limit you to three bookings per line. Disney limits the discounted bookings to two rooms on the same sailing, but additional rooms may be booked but only receive the onboard credit.
Most lines do offer a reduced deposit as well.
Disney Cruise Line’s changes to their onboard booking procedure last fall make them among the most stringent policies. You have 18 months from the date the quote was first produced to use the booking or lose the onboard booking incentives. You will receive $100 onboard credit on sailings of 3-6 nights and $200 onboard credit for sailings of 7 nights or more. If you initially book a 7 night sailing, you will receive a discount on the deposit requirement (normally 20%, you will pay 10%). There are also several block out dates when a discount is not available.
I think the most important thing to remember is that you should book as soon as you know you want to cruise to lock in the best pricing. If you will be onboard before that sailing, you can always check pricing when you are onboard to see if you will save more money with the incentives. If so, book a new reservation. We can get you a full refund if outside of penalties or move monies already paid to the new reservation. As long as the same category is available with cabin assignments, we can generally get your original cabin reassigned to the new reservation.
Make sure you get your quote/booking before you get off the ship as many of the offers will no longer be available when you disembark. There is nothing wrong with putting a request in the bin for new quote requests, but I do recommend taking a photo of the form so you have it handy should something happen to the request. There is no need to stand in the lines to speak to someone. If you are using a travel agent, clearly write in their name and agency name on the form. If you do book onboard, it is recommended that you let your travel agent know as soon as you can that you did a booking so they can make sure they locate it.