Sea cruise is an unusual travel format. Tourists associate it with sunrises and sunsets in the middle of the ocean, refreshing sea breezes, and the cries of gulls. The reason why many people refuse to travel on a liner is how much cruise cost. The stereotype is still alive that most people can't afford such a vacation. In fact, you can buy a cruise on a liner at the price of a holiday in an average all-inclusive hotel. Secrets of finding cheap options will help you figure out how much does a cruise cost and where to look for budget tours.
The subtleties of pricing
For sea cruise, cost are formed based on several factors. This is the category and age of the ship, the type of cabin, the duration of the trip, the presence of children (some companies offer discounts, or the child sails for free). The best cruise trip includes accommodation in the selected cabin, meals in the main establishments and some entertainment.
Additional expenses include service (tips) and port fees. European operators in most cases include the port fee in the tour price. Unfortunately, tips are compulsory, and the passenger can't escape them. The exact amount of the fee depends on the company's policy and the class of vessel. It is usually 5-8 dollars (euros) per person per day.
How much a cruise ship trip cost depends on the time of year. The price of the same tour may differ dramatically in high and low seasons.
Why do companies offer cheap cruises
Certain circumstances lead to the appearance of budget tours. And not always affordable prices are a trick. This is often the only way for the operator to compete in the market. The main reasons for the decline in prices are the age of the ship (outdated onboard infrastructure), low season and low demand. Sometimes there are emergency tour adjustments. This may include adjusting the route, changing the number of ports visited, or reducing the duration of the cruise. In this situation, there is a risk that passengers will start to refuse tickets EN masse, and the company will suffer losses. The only option to compensate for the cost of a cruise is to sell tours at a minimum cost.
Also, companies often reduce prices for "trial" cruises, when the liner first sets sail on a new route. Another point — do not count on a long and cheap cruise. Cheap tours last 4-5 days, maximum — a week.
Secrets of saving money
To fully relax with minimal expenses, it is enough to follow simple recommendations. The best option to save on a trip is to travel together. Not every ship has single occupancy options, and a single passenger will have to buy a double cabin. Some operators practice moving in, but there is no guarantee that the neighbor will be a nice person. Valid visas to Europe and the United States will also help. But if the original goal is a cheap cruise, rather than visiting specific places, you should look for options with minimal visa hassle. Otherwise, in some cases, the cost of a visa is slightly cheaper than a tour.
The time of purchase
Early booking means purchasing a vacation package with a big discount, but this is not relevant for sea tours. It is better to buy tickets for a cruise ship trip 1-2 months before departure. The specifics of buying a tour are such that when booking early, the company charges the client only a Deposit (sometimes with the possibility of a full refund). A potential passenger may rebook a cruise or cancel the trip. But 2-3 months before the start of the tour, refusal is possible only with a fine. And since there are still a lot of unsold cabins, the company is actively reducing prices. The closer the departure date, the greater the discount on trips. But there are exceptions. If the company realizes that a particular cruise will not be in demand, it tries to do everything possible to attract passengers.
In this case, the best price offers appear 6-12 months before departure. These are usually winter cruises in the Mediterranean or spring tours in Northern Europe.
Modern cruise companies have covered the entire world ocean — from Alaska to Australia. But the most popular routes are in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. These are the same type of cruises, with an average duration of 5-7 days, calling at the same ports. You can always find great deals in both directions.
If you're lucky, you can find a relatively inexpensive trip on a transatlantic cruise. They take place in the off-season, when the ship is transported from Europe to America and Vice versa. It is not profitable for companies to overtake an empty ship, so they offer cheap tours. The option with the Atlantic is suitable for those who have a priority not visiting cities and sightseeing, but sailing on a cruise ship itself.
In may, companies organize promotions for cruises on Norwegian fjords. But at this time in Scandinavia, the weather is cool.
Which company to choose
The leaders in the number of shares are the economy class companies MSC, Costa and Pullmantur. The liners of these operators have everything you need for a good rest. For a reasonable price, passengers receive basic services. The entertainment program is aimed at a wide audience of travelers. Royal Caribbean belongs to a higher price category, but it is not uncommon to find attractive offers during promotions. You can try to find an inexpensive cruise on AIDA liners. The operator belongs to economy class, but this operator's price includes some additional services and drinks in the restaurant, including beer.
You can search for tickets directly on the websites of cruise companies. A more convenient option is to purchase a ticket through a tour operator in your country, but you will have to pay for the service. There are also international travel agencies with a reliable reputation. But you should first read the offers of several sites — prices may differ significantly. There are also special aggregator sites that regularly publish great offers. But it only shows the "bare" ticket price without additional fees.
When there is no chance to find a cheap option
Unfortunately, under some circumstances, you will not be able to purchase an inexpensive ticket. Do not count on budget options for tourists who want to go on a trip in high season, or if the vacation is limited by time limits. As a rule, cruise companies arrange sales in the off-season in order to attract passengers. Promotions appear suddenly — the tourist should be ready to sail in the near future. The lack of valid visas also complicates the situation.
Do not count on cheap trips for those who want to sail on a new liner or prefer only an external cabin with a window or balcony.
A sea cruise is quite an affordable holiday format. Periodically, operators arrange promotions, which makes it possible to purchase a ticket at an affordable price. The traveler gets a cabin, free meals in the main restaurant and buffet, and access to basic entertainment. You should look for a ticket 2-3 months before the intended trip. If you find a suitable option, do not postpone the purchase in a long box. When searching for an inexpensive tour, it is difficult to predict whether the price reduction is still expected, or whether it is the final cost. Do not wait for the last moment in the hope of a big discount — just before departure, there may not be cheap flights to the starting point of the cruise.