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So you’re ready to book a cruise to enjoy some time on the water and exploring port cities. But when is the best time to book a cruise? What if prices drop after you’ve already paid for your trip? Are the onboard drinks and Wi-Fi packages really worth it?
Christopher Festerman, a senior travel professional for CruisesOnly, has some advice on how to find the best cruise deals. Here are seven things to consider before booking your next cruise:
1. Book early if you have special needs or a large party
You don’t want to risk the rooms you need being unavailable, and you can often get money back if the per-person price drops later.
2. Your travel agent might be able to track price changes
Once you’ve already purchased a trip, some can set up an automatic notification to let you know of a price drop and refund the ticket difference to you as long as the final payment hasn’t passed.
3. Wait to book for last-minute deals
If you are really flexible on dates, location and cabin type, you may be able to get deals within 30 days of your departure.
4. Don’t assume an interior stateroom is the best deal
Often, the ocean view and balcony rooms will come with perks such as unlimited beverages and included gratuity. The difference you spend may save you money and make your vacation more comfortable and memorable.
5. Book shore excursions from outside vendors
You can find local shore excursions online and get more options with smaller group sizes.
6. Book spa treatments while at port
When the ship is docked, you can get spa treatment packages for much cheaper than on land in a destination city. Take the morning for a spa treatment and the afternoon to explore the area.
7. Only buy Wi-Fi if you absolutely need it
You can get Wi-Fi in coffee shops, local bookstores or restaurants at port stops.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: Does cruise travel fit into your credit card strategy? I survived a cruise and you can too Should you insure a cruise?