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Bargain hunting: How to get the best deal on your luxury cruise

Cruise Advice

You know how it is - you hang on for a great fare on the cruise you've earmarked, and one of three things happen: the fares shoot up out of your reach the moment your back is turned; the fare comes down about three months prior to departure but the exorbitant airfare cancels out the benefit; or the fare is OK but you just can't secure the type of accommodation you prefer.

I'm often asked, 'what's the best thing to do to get the best fares?' Here's my preferred strategy...

When you're planning future travels identify the things you really want to do, and when you want to do them. These might include family trips over school holiday periods; big long haul journeys; or bucket list destinations on your 'now or never' list. These are the trips you need to book early, so embrace the early booking fares, look out for any 'payment in full' reductions, and take advantage of the fact that you are going to get the best value airfares, and exactly the flights and accommodation you want.

Crystal Symphony in Antarctica

If it is a long and pricey cruise, it might be worth your while to take a little extra trip now - a week on Seabourn this summer is a great opportunity to make a future cruise deposit on board and benefit from a 5% discount on your 2021 World Cruise, which will probably more than pay for this summer's trip. And although it sounds counterintuitive, think about going for longer!

Back to back reductions can significantly reduce your daily rate, and if you stay on board for an extra week or two, you might end up somewhere with easier or cheaper homeward flights. Once you've got your 'big' trips planned, you can afford to be a lot less fussy as you fill in the gaps, waiting for offers on the next tier of your list - a bit of a 'take it or leave it' approach.

Viking Sea in Dubrovnik

Often you'll find you can save money if you are prepared to take a 'guarantee'. Guarantees fall into two different categories. The first is if the accommodation you prefer is fully booked, but the cruise line thinks it can afford to overbook by one or two cabins because there is plenty of space in higher grades. So you pay the fare, and hope that you might get upgraded. The second is when a 'guarantee' is an indicator of a reduced fare: you can either book a specific cabin, with a number provided, at one fare, or agree to book with no specific cabin allocated, at a lower fare.

In either case, if you are not prepared to travel in absolutely any cabin within the 'guarantee' category, DON'T BOOK A GUARANTEE! You have entered into a contract with the cruise line, and if, when the time comes, they allocate accommodation you don't like, you haven't a leg to stand on.

Cabin on Paul Gauguin Cruises

Certain times of year in certain destinations can work well if you are looking for a bargain. Alaska or the Baltic in May or September, the Mediterranean in April or November, or the Caribbean in the autumn can all work out significantly cheaper than in peak season, and there are often advantages: fewer crowds, different wildlife, or brilliant displays of early season flowers. Hard to sell times of year can also include Thanksgiving and early December.

Whatever you do, take advice. Your professional cruise consultants at Mundy are here to help you decide on the best course of action!

Meet the author

Edwina Lonsdale is Managing Director and together with husband Matthew, owner of Mundy Cruising. Most recently she's cruised on Windstar and has also sailed with Silversea, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas, Crystal, SeaDream, Ponant, AmaWaterways and Aqua Expeditions. Her favourite destination is the Galapagos however she's also enjoyed cruises in the Mediterranean, Danube, Middle East, East Africa & Indian Ocean, Brahmaputra, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, the Mekong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, the Caribbean and the Arctic. When she’s not travelling she loves reading, food and wine.

More about Edwina

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