ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

10 Cheapest Ways to Book a Cruise

Updated on September 23, 2016

The cheapest ways to book a cruise can avoid hundreds and even thousands of dollars of extra cost.

The following 10 tips are among the best ways to keep costs down and save money.

  1. Drive to the closest port
  2. Book your own flight
  3. Use comparison sites
  4. Pick the cruise date last
  5. Compare prices by month
  6. Price it per night per person
  7. Look for special discounts
  8. Book at the last minute
  9. Watch taxes, fees and port expenses
  10. Get free hotel parking

1. Choose the Closest Port

Imagine a cruise embarkation port that is 500 miles away. Driving there with a family of four will take about seven hours if the average speed is 70 miles per hour on a highway.

The total round trip gas cost will reach about $60 with current gasoline prices. Add the cost of one night in a hotel before and after the trip before driving home again. Overnight parking will range between $15 and $20 per night depending on the port.

In the above example, the total cost is about $450.

A similar flight for a family of four may cost $1,500 including taxes and fees.

If the port is too far away to drive there, the closest port may still provide the cheapest trip because airline fuel costs money. The farther the flight, the more expensive the flight.

Book cruise excursions on your own before the cruise rather than through the cruise line.
Book cruise excursions on your own before the cruise rather than through the cruise line. | Source

2. Book Your Own Flight

Most cruise lines will be happy to book the flight for anyone who has to fly to the cruise port.

It is convenient for passengers, and it also is a way to spend more money on a cruise. Cruise lines build a profit into every service they provide.

So book your own flight to avoid the extra fee that cruise lines add if they do it for you.

3. Use Both Cruise and Comparison Sites

Cruise planners will often go straight to comparison travel site such as Expedia, Travelocity and Hotwire because of the convenience of look at rates for multiple cruise lines.

Yes, they are convenient. They are usually cheaper than the cruise sites, but not always. Comparison sites sell available inventory. Cruise sites constantly update their inventory.

Look at the dates and destinations on both a cruise site and comparison site to find the same listing.

Still, comparison sites often have slightly lower prices because they operate on a lower profit margin.

One Norwegian Cruise Line eight-day option to the Caribbean had a starting price of $579 on Expedia and $599 on the NCL website. For a family of four, that is a savings of $80.

A Royal Caribbean cruise on Expedia had a starting price of $823. It was $841 on the RC site.

4. Pick the Cruise Date Last

People with families often choose a cruise date first because their children have a schedule based on school years.

For them, it is best to create a search on comparison sites using the widest range of dates possible. For example, they could do searches that cover the entire summer break of June, July and August.

That way they can find look at the least expensive cruises for the entire summer and then choose a date during that time.

People who aren’t limited by schedules have one of the cheapest ways to book a cruise. They should search every available month and then order the results by price.

5. Price Them Per Night Per Person

Anyone planning a cruise has to pick the number of days and nights they want to go.

Is a seven-night cruise a better value than a six-night cruise? Is a seven-night eastern Caribbean cruise a better value than a seven-night western Caribbean cruise?

Look at the total price and divide it by the number of nights to get a cost per night. It’s a great way to understand the real cost of each cruise and save money.

Ships with most of the cabins sold out will charge higher prices for last-minute deals.
Ships with most of the cabins sold out will charge higher prices for last-minute deals. | Source

6. Compare Prices Per Month

Choosing the date last is a good way to pay the cheapest fare for a cruise.

But knowing that certain months have higher fares than others can narrow down the options.

A series of searches by month on a major comparison website produced the following prices per night for the cheapest Caribbean cruise available. The prices are fares only and do not include taxes, fees and port expenses.


September, October and November are the least expensive months to cruise because they are the most active months of the Caribbean hurricane season.

June and July are more expensive because families can cruise while children are out of school.

A last-minute deal isn't always a deal. This one is $90 per night per person before taxes, fees and port costs.
A last-minute deal isn't always a deal. This one is $90 per night per person before taxes, fees and port costs.

7. Look for Special Discounts

Cruise lines often give discounts for senior citizens and military personnel.

Some of them also offer discounts for firefighters and police officers.

Families may receive a discount for one or two children if they stay in the same stateroom as two paying adults.

8. Book at the Last Minute (Carefully)

The cruise lines know that some people book at the last minute to get a good deal.

They have pages on their sites such as “The Deal Finder” that will show a three-night cruise to the Bahamas that is disembarking tomorrow for only $269 per person or $90 per night.

The same cruise line offers a three-night cruise to the Bahamas a year from now for $209 or $70 per night.

Another major cruise line had an upcoming four-night cruise to the Bahamas starting at $169.or only $42 per night.

They show the benefit of watching the deal pages often and being ready to book the cheapest possible cruise at the last minute.

Last-minute deals take place within 60 to 90 days of departure. Their prices rise and fall according to the number of cabins available.

Royal Caribbean promises a 30 percent discount on certain cruise for people who book far in advance.
Royal Caribbean promises a 30 percent discount on certain cruise for people who book far in advance.

9. Watch Taxes, Fees and Port Expenses

Longer cruises are a better value with taxes, fees and port expenses.

A three- or four-night cruise sounds appealing because of the lower total cost compared to a six-night cruise. But they are more expensive per night because of the extra costs beyond just booking the cabin.

A four-day and three night cruise available on Carnival cost $179 per person for two people in an interior cabin. The price per person per night was about $60. So the total cost for just booking the cabin by itself was about $360.

But the taxes, fees and port expenses totaled $202. That total works out to an extra $34 per person per night.

A seven-day cruise to the western Caribbean cost $369 per person or about $61 per person per night.

Taxes, fees and port expenses totaled $281 or about $23 per person per night.

10. Get Free or Cheap Hotel Parking

The ideal schedule for a cheap cruise avoids booking a hotel the night before the ship leaves or the night after it return.

Avoiding a hotel means the cruisers will drive or fly into the embarkation port on the same day that the ship will leave and go home after it returns.

But if a hotel stay is necessary, look for one that has free parking and a free shuttle for anyone who stays there before or after a cruise.

Some hotels will charge a small fee for parking even for guests who don't stay there.

Even if the parking while cruising is not free, it may be less expensive than the cruise port parking.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • promisem profile image

      Scott Bateman 2 months ago

      Great advice, Peace Purple. We also find plenty of discounts during holidays and school days. Thanks for the tips!

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 months ago from Home Sweet Home

      the best way to book a cruise is when the location to visit is not a popular event like christmas , new year.

      Usually, I book it in advance, when school days , then I can get great discount. If book last minute, get hack with the hefty additional fees

    • promisem profile image

      Scott Bateman 5 months ago

      Thank you, Cricrinel! We have learned a lot from our Caribbean cruises.

    • Cricrinel profile image

      Elizabeth R 5 months ago from France

      Very interesting and useful article with high quality information!

    Click to Rate This Article