Cruise ship vacations offer the best of land and sea adventures with travels to mysterious and exciting ports of call. Most cruise ship companies also offer special deals to attract your business.
Competition among major players in the cruise ship industry is strong. Each company knows you have numerous vacation choices as a consumer.
Prices for cruise ship vacations vary competitively between companies as each one attempts to undercut the other to generate business. Prices also change based on ports of call, seasonal promotions and the length of your cruise. Alternate ways to find cruise deals such as site aggregators and travel agency packages are available in addition to direct discount offers by specific cruise lines. Read ahead to learn how to save on cruises with special deals offered by major cruise line companies in 2021.
Cruise Ship Savings 101
Getting the best deal on a cruise chip vacation sometimes feels like playing a game of roulette or Wheel of Fortune. Deals and discounts are spinning everywhere and the challenge is to stop the wheel at the exact right time to get the lowest prices. What many consumers do not realize is cruise lines hide deals over, under, on top of and around their surface packages. If you know how to find them you can save hundreds or more on your romantic, family or personal adventure-type vacation. The hottest tips you need to know about cruise ship savings are the following:
- Cruise line companies make the most money on what guests spend after embarking on the ship - not from initial bookings.
- Cruise companies want bodies on board and often discount room/cabin prices to fill the ship to capacity.
- Stateroom/cabin prices are often negotiable if you understand how ship lines operate.
- Most ships require guests to purchase proprietary refillable credit-type debit cards, which are used to purchase alcohol, gamble and spend on miscellaneous items. The use of these cards is where ships make the most money and where you/your family can save even more by limiting expenditures and staying under budget.
Top 5 Major Players
Many amazing cruise line companies offer vacation packages with pricing discounts and offers for deals. Certain companies are considered industry giants, however, and dominate the market above their competition. The top 5 major players in the cruise ship industry today are:
- Carnival Cruise Lines.
- Royal Caribbean.
1. Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Cruise Lines has a longstanding international reputation as the party corporation or fun-ship of the industry. While this was once considerably accurate, the company has since expanded part of its marketing style/approach by adding longer cruises and boutique destinations to its fleet and packages. Longer (12-day) cruises to classic Mediterranean cities appeal to families and romantic couples, while 4-day jaunts to Jamaica, Cabo San Lucas and the Bahamas attract a more zestful clientele. Carnival still markets itself as the most fun cruise line on the seas today, however. Guests can sign up for Very Important Fun Person (VIFP) status, which procures special discounts sent via email. 48 Hour Early Saver and Sail Soon Free Upgrade sales offer even more savings when you purchase/sail during select dates.
2. Royal Caribbean
Royal Caribbean is widely considered the class of the seas. Because of this high-class status, some vacationers think cruise prices are out of reach. Royal Caribbean offers multiple deals and discounts, however, making high-class cruise ship vacations both fun and affordable all year long. For example, Royal offers Last Minute Cruises deals for purchases made close to any embarkment date. Other great deals such as $200 off, the 2022 Kicker and Double Points (used towards on-board purchases and future cruise bookings) are also available.
Disney stops at nothing to provide the best family-oriented cruise on the open waters around the world. These efforts include Marvel, Star Wars, Halloween and other holiday-themed cruises. Destinations include a special Disney-owned private island, locations in the Transatlantic, Europe, the Caribbean, Alaska and more. 393 total cruises are available in 2021 and all Disney Premier Visa Cardmembers can earn $300 credit on statements and zero-percent financing on vacation packages/cruises.
Viking is unique because the cruise line offers glorious river cruises to amazing destinations and ocean cruises alike. The company is currently running a contest where the winner is gifted a free 8-day cruise in 2022 or 2023 for two people to any available destination. Promotions are also currently running for cruises to Malta and Greek Isles (Valletta Roundtrip), Reykjavík to Barcelona and free airfare on special popular itineraries for 2021-2023 river cruises.
NCLH-Norwegian, more popularly known as Norwegian, is another class-act among cruise line industry giants. Norwegian’s current promotion is perhaps the best in the business for mid-2021. All cruises are thirty-percent off and include free open bar and free specialty dining. The free perks continue with free airfare, free excursions and even free additional guests. Norwegian offers luxury, flexibility and special entertainment features only available on Norwegian ships. Sign up for the Latitudes Rewards Loyalty Program for even more discounts, savings and deals today.
Top Tips and Sites for Cruise Ship Deals Today
Cruise lines offer discounts on their own websites but those sites are not the only sources for great deals today. Cruises.com is one of the top sources for finding savings and deals on cruise ship vacations around the world. This popular site aggregator is a go-to resource for seasoned cruise line vacationers who know how to look for great deals. CruiseCritic.com also provides search portals to locate savings on top-tier cruise ship vacations but the site offers much more than deals. CruiseCritic.com also offers tips and real guest reviews of thousands of cruise options to help you make informed choices. Other site aggregators such as CheapCruises.com, Expedia and Smarter Travel also provide options for saving money on fantastic vacation packages for 2021 and beyond. Additional tips for saving money on cruises include:
- Follow Twitter deal-Tweeting profiles for last-minute offers.
- Bundle amenities for additional discounts.
- Book far ahead or last-minute (both often get you surprisingly low prices).
- Choose “cabin guarantee.” - You cannot choose specific rooms but in exchange get lower prices and free upgrades.
- Ask directly for lower prices and better deals - this works better than most people realize.