[blockquote type=”blockquote_line” align=”left”]In 2011… £18.5 BILLION was spent on cruise holidays. Source: CheapCruises.com[/blockquote] With that kind of figure offered for your consideration, it’s easy to assume all cruises cost a small fortune. The thought that comes to mind when you hear the word ‘cruise’ is one of a luxurious, no expense spared, trip on a fine cruise ship, taking you to foreign lands over the course of many days or even weeks. But in truth, while such cruises are available, there are also plenty of opportunities to find cheap cruises for those with much smaller budgets. The trick is to know how to find them and what to look for. So with that in mind, let’s explore the various areas you should focus on if you want to look for an affordable cruise.
Consider the length of cruise
If all other things are equal, a shorter cruise will be cheaper than a longer one. However this does not always apply, as these two examples show: [two_columns ]The Clyde and Argyll Lochs Departs from and returns to Greenock in Glasgow 6 nights from £3,150 per person[/two_columns] [two_columns_last ]Springtime Gardens and Charms Departs from and returns to Avonmouth in Bristol 5 nights from £409 per person[/two_columns_last] The £3,150 per person advertised in the first deal would go much further if spent elsewhere, but since this particular example involves a 5 star ship, it’s easy to see where the money has gone. In contrast, the following example shows just how cheap – and short – a cruise can be if you shop around:
Cruise Break to Zeebrugge
Departs from and returns to Southampton
2 nights from £229 per person
This is a return trip to Zeebrugge with no other stops en route. It is the epitome of a cheap cruise holiday; furthermore it would be ideal for newcomers to cruising who don’t want to spend too much and only want two or three nights on board to get a flavour of what such a trip would be like.
Don’t just rely on websites that promise to offer cheap cruises
[blockquote type=”blockquote_line” align=”left”]“We guarantee that our prices will always be cheaper than the other cruise lines.” Source: CheapCruises.co.uk[/blockquote] As you start exploring the opportunities available for cheap deals, you’ll come across a number of websites like the one mentioned above. These typically offer a guarantee that their prices won’t be beaten. However you need to be aware that not every website will offer the exact same deals. This is why it’s worth doing your own exploration as well. Look at a range of cruise deals from a variety of sources and narrow them down. After all, no one knows what you’re looking for and how cheap you want your holiday to be more than you.
Be aware of air fares if you don’t choose a no-fly cruise
The air fare to enable you to join a cruise or get home from the final port of call can make a cheap cruise much more expensive. So you have two options: [list style=”check” color=”black”]
- Look for a low cost cruise that departs from and returns to a UK port
- Look for another cheap cruise you can also get cheap air tickets for
[/list] It might take some research to work out the cheapest method of travel; however if you don’t want to fly you’ll need to focus on the first method indicated above and look for the lowest cost cruises you can find. The good news is there are possibilities to consider in both cases. You just have to be diligent in looking for them.
Flexibility equals cheaper fares
There is a lot to be said for being flexible in a number of different ways.
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- For example, if you are dreaming about heading off on a romantic cruise with your partner around Valentine’s Day, you may have to settle for a costlier cruise.
- Popular dates will always sell out fast – think Christmas, New Year and also the Easter break.
- You may pay a premium for cruising on these dates, which makes it less likely you’ll end up with a cheap cruise.
[blockquote type=”blockquote_line” align=”left”]The more flexible you can be about when your cruise takes place, the more chances you will have of finding cheap offers.[/blockquote] For example school holidays are a lot busier in terms of the number of people heading off on holiday. However this will typically only apply to cruises designed for families. It shouldn’t affect singles holidays, for example.
Flexibility also applies in other ways…
Your nearest port may be Southampton, but if you can get a much cheaper cruise departing from Bristol you should consider it. Yes you’ll have to drive there or make other arrangements to meet your ship and get home again on your return, but you could save money in the long run by doing so.
Another example of being flexible is being open minded about dining arrangements. Some cruises offer specific restaurants or seating arrangements for some passengers, while those paying lower prices may be more restricted. If you are willing to accept tighter restrictions on where you can eat and whether you can get a good table or not, you’ll have more options to choose from.
Be willing to travel at the last minute
A cruise ship with one or more empty cabins represents a loss of income for the cruise line. Generally speaking, the closer the ship gets to departure, the more likely it is the cruise line will want to sell these spots at a cheaper price. A sold out ship is the ultimate goal, even if that means selling the last few cabins off incredibly cheaply. The trick is to find out when cruise lines require any bookings already made to be cancelled if the person who booked the trip can no longer attend for some reason. Once these numbers are known, the cruise line can release these cabins to people who are still looking to book a cruise.
[styledbox type=”information” ]Tip: Start searching 2 to 3 months before your ideal date of travel. This frees up many more potential ‘last minute’ bookings.[/styledbox]
Inside cabins are cheaper and don’t sell out as quickly
The ideal cabin to have on a cruise ship is often an outside cabin. These come in all shapes and sizes. Some are available with balconies whereas others will just have portholes. But all offer a view of the outside world. Inside cabins mean you won’t benefit from this view. But they are cheaper, which means when the last minute offers come begging, you’re likely to get some superb deals. Furthermore, the exterior cabins and suites tend to get snapped up quickly if any are on offer for cheap cruises. This means you stand a better chance of getting a good deal if you are prepared to stay in an inside cabin.
Watch for new offers and deals by specific cruise lines
[blockquote type=”blockquote_line” align=”left”]“Cunard… ensure that early bookers get best price possible.” Source: STV.tv[/blockquote] The new Price Promise scheme is set to come into effect for 2013. This means you’ll have more confidence booking with this line, because you won’t miss out if your ticket price were to drop at a later date. Different cruise lines operate in different ways, but this move by Cunard – one of the world’s most famous cruise lines – could lead to something similar coming into force with other cruise lines as well. Watch this space.
Look for cruises offered for older ships
Every year sees the launch of brand new cruise ships into the fleets of many different cruise lines. And with every year that passes, existing ships get that little bit older.
While many passengers clamour to get on board the brand new ships so they can enjoy the wealth of up to date and luxurious features, the cheapest cruises available clearly won’t be on offer.
If you want to cut the price of your cruise, make sure you look for cruise deals that mean you’ll be travelling on an older ship. Cruise lines generally don’t charge as much for ships of a lower standard, and yet many of them are still perfectly pleasant to travel on.
Typical examples of cheap cruises currently on offer
For more information on the latest cheap deals make sure you go online to see what is on offer. But for an insight into what you could look forward to, here is a selection of cruises with various cruise lines that are sailing the seas in the near future. Celtic Landscapes leaves from: Avonmouth in Bristol. Itinerary includes:
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- Fort William, Scotland
- Douglas, Isle of Man
[/list] This 6 night cruise with Voyages of Discovery was quoted at a per person price starting at £539.
Belgium Taster Cruise
Leaves from: Southampton Itinerary includes: [list style=”arrow” color=”black”]
This is billed as a taster cruise with Thomas Cook and lasts for 2 nights. It starts from as little as £229 per person.[divider_line /]
Springtime Gardens and Charms Leaves from: Avonmouth in Bristol Itinerary includes: [list style=”arrow” color=”black”]
- Tresco, Isles of Scilly
This cruise lasts for 5 nights and is available from just £409 per person with Voyages of Discovery.
Cruise Break leaving from Southampton
Itinerary includes: [list style=”arrow” color=”black”]
- St Peter Port, Guernsey
This short 2 night cruise is the perfect starter cruise. It’s a bargain too at a starting offer of £199 per person with P&O Cruises.
Guernsey and Boulogne Leaves from: Southampton Itinerary includes: [list style=”arrow” color=”black”]
- St Peter Port, Guernsey
- Boulogne Sur Mer, France
[/list] This is a charming 3 night cruise offered by Fred Olsen Cruise Lines for as little as £279 per person.
To conclude our cheap cruises guide, we hope we were able to offer some useful, and useable tips.
Hopefully the myth that all cruises cost a fortune has now been exploded. Certainly you can spend a huge amount on your forthcoming cruise if you wish. But if you are keen to go on a cheap and affordable cruise there are many ways to ensure you can find the best deal for your needs and circumstances. By following the tips and advice outlined above, you could soon be embarking on a delightful cruise at an incredibly low price.