Photo: Flickr / Tambako the Jaguar
This month’s soaring gas and fuel prices, the unstable economy, and last month’s Costa Concordia tragedy have caused some cruise lines to take a hit.Now, they’re doing everything they can to lure customers.
We asked Mark Murphy, CEO of Travalliance, for some tips on scoring great cruise deals:
Old-fashioned travel agents. Agents know how to find great deals tailored to a customer’s needs from personal experience and feedback from previous customers. Plus, because agents book 70 per cent of all cruise vacations, companies continually offer great prices to keep great relationships, Murphy says.
High-end cruises. Luxury lines frequently compete to offer the best prices, Murphy says. Some lines have eliminated the costs of alcohol and other amenities and added airfare credits and extra excursions to appeal to consumers.
Be flexible. The cruise industry is all about supply and demand, and lines are desperate to fill empty cabins nearing the cruise’s departure, Murphy says. For example, book a European cruise in May instead of July or August. You can find discounts for as much as 50 per cent off if you time your trip right.
Online resources. New York Times’ Michelle Higgins suggests using sites like CruiseSource.us or CruiseDeals.com to find deals. To get rid of some of the legwork, use sites like CruiseCompete, whose agents compete to get you the best rate for the kind of trip you’re looking for.
Once you book your trip, don’t forget to purchase travel insurance.
Murphy told Your Money the best kind is “cancel for any reason” travel insurance. These types of policies ensures customers will receive a refund if they ask to cancel the trip before it starts.
As well, travellers should consider “trip interruption” insurance or “medical evacuation” insurance just in case anything goes awry on board.