Booking a Cruise 101

The process of booking a cruise can be daunting – even when you want nothing more than bottomless mimosas and avocado toast on your balcony as the sun rises over the ocean. Here are some tips to know before you book.

Book Early

The earlier you book your cruise, the better deal – and room – you’ll get. And when we say early, we mean about a year in advance. Booking your cruise early gives you more time to pay it off; plus, there’s also a chance the price will drop before you’ve paid it off, and if that happens, you’ll get the discounted rate.

Plan on a Weeklong Cruise

First-time cruisers should plan on booking a weeklong cruise that stops anywhere from 3-6 ports, giving you a ton of time for exploration. And while this sounds like a lot of adventures, you will also have time to decompress. Another benefit is that cruise lines typically reserve their best ships for longer itineraries.

Join Email Lists

If you’re interested in a specific cruise line, sign up to receive its promotional emails, which are often full of deals to save you big bucks. If your travel dates are flexible, you could receive last-minute booking deals at the cheapest rates.

Yes to Wi-Fi, Yes to a Drink Pass

Some cruise lines offer Wi-Fi and drink passes for additional extra fees. So if you plan to use your devices for messaging or posting to social media while you’re at sea, you’ll want to pay for unlimited internet access. The same thing goes for the drink pass: If you plan on imbibing, the cost of a drink package – instead of paying per drink – is often worth it.

Excursion Planning

Most cruise lines offer land excursions and tours for a price, but you can also plan your own tours to save money. If you do book your own excursion, make sure you will be back at your port with plenty of time to spare. One major benefit of booking excursions through your cruise line is that if the excursion runs late for any reason, the tour operator contacts the ship, and it waits for the group. If you book your own excursions, you won’t have that built-in assurance.

Shoulder Season

When it comes to getting the best rates, consider booking your cruise during the “shoulder season.” The timing varies depending on your cruise destination, but generally speaking, the best deals are offered for cruises during the spring, fall, very end of summer, first week of December, and right after New Year’s Day.

Check the Deck Plan

Be sure to study your ship’s deck plan before selecting your room. For instance, you may not want a room directly above or below a hot entertainment zone. If you’re worried about getting seasick, shoot for the middle of the ship on a lower deck (but with a view of the horizon).

Consider Travel Insurance

Travel insurance can usually be purchased when you book your cruise, but you can also buy your own. We recommend finding plans that cover illness, cancellations, or any other issue that could cause you to change plans.

Do you have any tips for booking a cruise? Share them with us in the comments below!

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