When shopping for cruise travel, we tend to trust the same reliable source we may have used in the past. That might mean contacting the cruise line directly, booking online or using a travel agent. Regardless of how we go about making our reservations there are nearly always discounts or special promotions available. Frankly, it has come to the point where not considering possible promos and discounts is a lot like buying a car and paying the sticker price on the window. Not many do. Still, we can’t ask for what we don’t know about so here is a listing of currently common cruise line discounts that may or may not apply.
Resident Discounts – These are most commonly given to states from which the cruise lines are not drawing a lot of clients. The contagious satisfaction of going on a fabulous cruise is what they want to spread. In a virus-like manner, cruisers like to talk about their cruise. They’ll tell anybody about it. If the topic comes up in the office, the grocery store, church or with a complete stranger, everyone who has done it has a story to tell. Most all of them (95%+) are happy stories. If the cruise lines can get people talking in a state or country where they don’t do a lot of business, those people will sell it for them.
Royal Caribbean is the king of Resident Discounts, offering them most often. Princess comes in second with “regional discounts” . Others are hit and miss but none of them offer a resident discount all the time. Most common state to get a resident discount: Florida. There are a lot of ships and a lot of people who like to cruise and can do so often in Florida.
Senior Discounts – The basic rule of thumb is that at least one guest in a cabin must be 55 or older to get a senior discount. Be aware though, this is not like the movie theatre; not every cruise line gives senior discounts. Those that do don’t all the time. Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity commonly give a discount for seniors when they need to fill up a ship. That’s not only as they get close to sailing either.
Often, when a sailing first opens up for booking, a senior discount comes along. Later, if a sailing is not selling as well as the cruise lines had anticipated, they may offer a senior discount again
Last-Minute Deals – Don’t count on them. They exist for those who can sail with as little as 30 days notice. As recent as several years ago you could bank on last minute deals being there to the point where you could almost book airfare for a particular cruise on a given date but NOT buy the cruise until 30 days before sailiing at a reduced rate. That really never was a very good idea as the ship could sell out then you would be stuck with airfare to nowhere. Now, its a stupid move as the majority of ships DO sell out early.
Military Discounts – Again, filling up the ships is good for business. If they can do it and benefit those who may have put their own lives in harms way to protect us, all the better. Carnival offers this most often but others do as well. Again, none of the cruise lines offer it all the time on all sailings but do ask your travel agent if you qualify. Active or retired as long as you have proper ID, you can get it for your entire cabin. Sometimes you can get it for more than one cabin.
Past Guest Discounts – This is a very popular, common and appropriate discount. The cruise lines want to keep you coming back and will often make it worth your while to sail again and again with them. Perks, amenities and even pricing in some cases are afforded to repeat guests. After you’ve sailed a line, you are then a past guest. Record your past guest numbers and be sure they get entered into your bookings. Your good travel agent will keep these on file and use them to your advantage. Your Discount Internet cruise broker will most often fail to apply them to your booking even if you have them available.
Interline Discounts – Available to full time employees of airlines, cruise lines, Amtrak, Federal Aviation Administration, International Air Transport Association, National Air Traffic Controllers Association, Sabre, Worldspan/ Airline Pilots’ Association, Civil Aviation Authority, Cargo companies and Travel Agents. Next to military rates, on cruise lines that off it, the Interline rate is usually the lowest when offered.
How To Be Informed
- Sources: Add your name and email to every cruise line and travel agency mailing list.
- Information: Get an email address other than the one you use for your regular daily email. Using an email address like @gmail.com or @yahoo.com keeps the junk mail you eventually will get as the cruise lines sell your email address to others.
- Secret Weapon: Your Travel Agent has access to fares this week that will be advertised by cruise lines next week and/or fares the public will never see.
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