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Cruises, in my opinion, are the best bang for your buck vacations out there! In fact, it’s such a good deal trying to start a new tradition of one cruise every year (fingers crossed). If you’re willing to look for bargains, there’s always a way to lower the cost of your cruise vacation. Here are 6 tips to help you save when booking your next cruise.

Be Flexible With Your Dates

The more flexible you can be with your dates, the lower the cost of your cruise will be. When booking my spring break cruise my senior year of college, we could have saved $120 each if we had booked our cruise for just one week later. When you find a cruise you’d like to take, check the dates and pricing tab to see the difference in cost.

Book Your Next Cruise Onboard

Sometimes cruise lines will offer special deals and incentives for booking your next cruise onboard, and sometimes even a reduced deposit. Many cruise lines don’t even require you to pick your sailing date, rather purchase a future cruise credit to be applied to your next booking. If you know you are going to be sailing again during a specific time, check to see if there are any special offers onboard.

Watch For Sales

Not all of the big promotions result in big savings on your cruise fare. The best way to see if a special or sale is worth it is to monitor cruise prices over the next several weeks. When you know what the average price for the cruise is, you’ll know if the offer is a good deal or not.

The best offers will come from sales that add value to your experience while onboard, such as onboard credit, beverage packages, etc while keeping the cruise fare low.

Sign Up For Cruise Line Newsletters

While I’m usually against inbox clutter, cruise newsletters are worth it! When you sign up for a cruise newsletter, exclusive deals and sales are emailed straight to your inbox. These include deals directly through the cruise line AND travel agency deals! I regularly get deals in my inbox for free drink packages, free wifi, and other special perks while onboard. Check out Cruise Critic’s price drop tool to find out which cruises have been discounted during the past week

Choose A Port Closer To Home

Ships sail from the New York area, Seattle, Baltimore, Charleston, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Houston, Tampa and many other coastal cities year round. The most popular location to travel from is Florida, in cities such as Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Port Canaveral.

There are so many cruise ships that sail from cities all across the US, that the vast majority can drive less than five hours to get to a port, which will help you save big on travel. Without the cost of a plane ticket, a trip to the Bahamas just got a little cheaper. This could mean an extra $300 plus in your pocket to use towards something else!

If you can, book at the last minute

Some of the best deals can be found on bookings made close to the sale dates. You can almost always snag a great deal by waiting anywhere from three to six weeks before departure. However, be warned that you will have to settle for whatever cabins are left. If you are sailing during a slower time, or even during hurricane season in the Carribean, last minute deals are extremely easy to come by. Cruise lines may continue to drop prices in order to fill up the ship as the sailing date gets closer, so be on the lookout for those deals!

One final note:

You can do all the bargain hunting in the world to find an amazing deal on your cruise, but if you blow your vacation budget onboard it doesn’t matter. Cruise ships are designed to make you want to splurge. Be sure to find out ahead of time what is included in your cruise fare and what you pay extra for.

Some ships such as Norwegian charge extra for room service, while Carnival does not. Before you leave, create a budget for extra expenses and make sure to stick to it during your trip.

YOUR TURN: How do you save on your cruises? Have you ever been on a cruise? Let me know in the comments below!

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