Australian cruise portal CruiseAway is making industry saving secrets public. In an effort to ease budget challenges during the festive season, CruiseAway compiled a handful of helpful hints in cutting cruising costs.
From early booking discounts and the self-organisation of tours to travelling off-peak and in groups, as CruiseAway’s Head of Australia Fabian Scholz explains, cruising can be surprisingly affordable.
1. Take a lucky dip. Flexible bookings are recommended for the more relaxed traveller. Lucky dip bookings only require the choice of a cabin category – inner, ocean view or balcony room – leaving the selection of the cruise itself with the cruise company. Naturally, Mr Scholz strongly recommends following the booking with a call to a CruiseAway expert. “It’s also important to read the terms and conditions of the offer thoroughly,” he says.
2. Book early. Booking in advance can greatly reduce the overall cost of a cruise. The earlier a booking is made the better, a wider range of cabins available and the chance to procure bonuses and extras are available.
3. Use on-board credit. Cruise companies often offer on-board credit vouchers that can be used to pay for items not included in tickets. These vouchers – which can be used for food and beverages, for example – are useful to consider when planning a travel budget.
4. Pre-book beverage packages. Booking these in advance can deliver savings of up to 20 per cent. Many cruise liners provide beverage packages catering all needs – from soft drinks, to beer and wine, and all-inclusives. Being realistic and trying to anticipate drinks requirements and booking packages accordingly prior to departure is recommended.
5. Self-organise excursions. Arranging tours, excursions and extras independently instead of booking them on-board can result in significant savings. Mr Scholz recommends investigating landing ports and places of interest well in advance and making tour arrangements before departure – paying special attention to time management, as ship departure times must be strictly adhered to. However, taking advantage of tours when visas are required is recommended. In some cases, excursions are significantly less stressful and complicated to book with the assistance of an on-board travel agent. It is advisable to book these tours early.
6. Avoid exorbitant roaming charges by relying on on-board and local Wi-Fi hotspots. Free Wi-Fi is largely easy to find, with calls made from local landlines at landing ports often cheaper than on-board.
7. Seek out sales and special discounts. CruiseAway offers sales published frequently in newsletters and on social media pages and websites. Travellers are recommended to ask their cruise expert about special discounts.
8. Travel in a group. With triple and quadruple occupancy cabins significantly cheaper per person than single or double occupancy rooms, Mr Scholz says booking as a group can be highly economical. Larger cabins are fewer than the latter, however, so early booking is recommended.
9. Travel off-peak where possible. Cruisers flexible on dates can save by travelling outside peak-season. Prices reduce substantially outside high season as cruise liners try to fill occupancies. For cheap Mediterranean cruises, booking to depart in November and early December is recommended. January until March is the cheapest time to cruise much of Europe, due to milder temperatures, and those who don’t mind a spot of rain here and there can cruise the Caribbean more cheaply between May and September.
10. Avoid buying souvenirs on-board. Cruises usually provide a number of on-shore excursions, providing adequate opportunities to indulge in a spot of shopping. Mr Scholz recommends budgeting cruisers to purchase souvenirs, such as traditional or hand-made gifts, textiles or culinary specialties to do so on-shore rather than in on-board boutiques.