Carnival Corporation is having a rough week, from ship fires, to armed robberies, to barred ports of call. Coupled with the Costa Concordia disaster, its understandable that travelers may be a bit more reluctant to book a cruise for their vacation time. But despite the bad press, and perhaps to some extent because of it, this is a great time to find cruise deals; and scores of them are available right now.
January through March is what the cruise industry refers to as wave season and its the time of the year that the most aggressive deal and advertising campaigns are launched and, consequently, when most cruise reservations are made. Even so, demand for the season isnt down and deals abound; the industry still wants to fill its cabins. What this means for you is that your cruise deal options are wide and varied. What you want to watch out for especially are flash sales and special offers and rates.
Flash sales are only available for small flashes of time usually a few days or less. Wednesday, for example, Princess Cruises is having a one day only Leap Day Sale on Alaska cruises with discounts that add up to a full cruise day, plus on-board credit. And Monday, those signed up for our e-newsletters received a bulletin on the 72-hour Leap Year Sales on CruisesOnly.com, which include offers from Carnival to Royal Caribbean to Norwegian of great discounts, free upgrades, air credit, or even free wine. These types of sales are very popular during wave season; they generate sales in small windows, so that cruise companies can make sure they dont sell all of their rooms at the lower rate. Theyre also hard to resist even when youre not considering a certain cruise, seeing the words 75% off might change your mind.
You should also look for the difficult to find and often hidden offers and special rates. These rates run from discounts for veterans to seniors to early bookers to past guests and even to residents of certain states. For example, Disney has special Florida resident rates for last-minute Bahamian cruises this March and April available through March 4. They arent blatantly advertised, and you have to know the offer code while youre searching for a cruise to even see the lower price point. But a test booking revealed that for the same March 4 5-Night Bahamian Cruise, two guests would pay $1,999.24 for a Stateroom with a Verandah, if one of them was a Florida resident, whereas with no Florida resident in your room, youd be paying $2,299.24. Thats a $60/night difference that adds up to a $300 difference for the whole cruise.
These kinds of rates are more difficult to find than others; you could look for them on the cruise lines own special offers pages, but they arent always listed. Some booking engines have an option for state of residency or whether or not youve sailed with the line before make sure you always try entering yours or your cabin mates information if you can, because there might be a discount available that wasnt advertised.
To see the best deals, vetted and hand-selected by our travel experts, and to make sure youre kept up-to-date on the best flash sales, check out our Cruise Deals and make sure youve signed up for the Top 25 Newsletter.
And of course, use our Travel Search price comparison tool to make sure youre getting the best available rate not only on your cruise, but on all other aspects of your travel, as well.