PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A cruise ship vacation is the perfect getaway for a lot of people: escaping to warm weather, cruising on the open water, visiting exciting places and eating probably more than you wished you had.
We asked two experts the best ways to find deals and save money when it comes to cruising.
Stewart Chiron is also known as www.CruiseGuy.com. He’s been on national television giving advice on cruise vacations numerous times.
Ruth Nagy is the go-to person when it comes to travel at the AAA office in East Liberty.
Tip 1: Repositioning Cruises
“Repositioning Cruises are some of the absolute best deals available,” said Chiron.
So what is a repositioning cruise?
“The ships that are in the Caribbean today, when it’s cold, some of them, a lot of them, are going to move to Europe in the summertime,” Nagy said.
Cruise lines certainly don’t want to make that journey with empty cabins, so travelers can find deals.
“You could wind up on a two-week cruise, in a balcony cabin,” said Chiron. “I’ve seen them for $400 or $500.”
The drawbacks can be fewer stops and you have to find another way home, but Nagy says occasionally you can get an incredibly low rate if you’re willing to pick an inside cabin.
“You can get some of them for as low as $30 a person a day,” she said.
Tip 2: Cabin-Type Guarantees
Chiron says rather than getting a specific cabin assignment, you can sometimes save by agreeing to a type of cabin, such as ocean view or balcony. Then, you’re actual room number will be specified later.
“You’re going to wind up in a balcony cabin, you may wind up in a mini-suite, you don’t know; but if you’re willing to take the gamble, the difference could be $500 to $1,000 a person,” he said.
Tip 3: Book Early
Both of our experts say book early to guarantee the best price.
“Because if the price drops, you can call and get your price adjusted,” said Chiron.
Tip 4: Be Flexible
John Mikach, a veteran cruise goer from Murrysville, has found this to be true.
“If you can do the deals at the times they want you to, you can get unbelievable specials,” said Mikach.
Chiron says the difference of just a few days can sometimes be astounding.
“If you look a week before or a week after, it could wind up saving you thousands of dollars,” he said.
Tip 5: AAA’s Motor Coach to Baltimore
Baltimore is one the closest cruise ship ports for Pittsburghers, and if you book through AAA, the shuttle can get you there and back without paying for parking at the pier.
Nagy says sometimes the shuttle is free, other times it’s part of the price of a vacation package.
Tip 6: Western Caribbean is Cheaper
Chiron says if you want to cruise the Caribbean and save, go west.
“The Western Caribbean itineraries are always less expensive than the Eastern, so taking a look at a sailing out of New Orleans, out of Galveston, they are going to be less expensive.”
Tip 7: Consider Two Cabins Instead of One
This tip is perfect for larger families. It turns out; two adjoining cabins can be less expensive than one big one.
But Nagy says if you put your information in online that’s likely not an option you’ll be given.
“If you put six people in, it’s going to steer you to a cabin that holds six people,” she says.
But both of our experts say that may not be the best choice.
Chiron says on a seven-day cruise, two adjoining rooms instead of a suite could mean “a $1,000 to $1,500 savings by getting two cabins. They’re smaller, but you get two bathrooms, two balconies.”
Tip 8: Tips Specific to Disney Cruises
One way to save on Disney Cruises is that you’re allowed to bring your own alcohol. Although, if you bring a bottle of wine to dinner, you will face a corkage fee.
Many cruise lines ban bringing alcohol onboard, and it can be one of the most expensive costs for travelers.
“No, no. Disney is an exception,” said Thomas Praxmarer, the hotel director on the Disney Magic.
But there’s more. Various websites recommend checking out what they call “Secret Porthole Rooms.”
Disneycruiser.info actually has pictures of them. They’re a handful of cabins that give you natural light, but have obstructed views, so they cost less.
Finally, Mousesavers.com recommends that when you check in at the port for a Disney cruise, ask for an upgrade. The site claims if a better room is available, you’ll pay less than if you had booked the upgrade originally.
Tip 9: Buy Travel Insurance
Travel Insurance is less expensive than you might think and really important during hurricane season.
Tip 10: Use a Travel Agent
Chiron says go ahead and research online, but he says never underestimate the discounts a travel agent can find.
“Some of the best deals are never available online,” said Chiron.
He says travel agents may be aware of discounts for various things for which you might never realize are available on your own.
Chiron has put together a list of cruise prices for Pittsburghers that you can research on his site: www.CruiseGuy.com.
Here are a few of them, beginning with one of those repositioning cruises:
Azamara Club Cruises’ Azamara Quest (03/27/14)
15-night transAtlantic from Miami to Nice
Prices were from $6499 PP NOW from $1988 PP
INCLUDES roundtrip air from Pittsburgh, prepaid gratuities and standard spirits, beer and wine! Inside cabins only!
Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas or Allure of the Seas
World’s Largest Cruise Ships!
7-night Eastern or Western Caribbean from Ft Lauderdale
Prices were from $1899 PP NOW from $799 PP
Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Reflection
7-night Eastern Caribbean from Miami
Prices were from $1799 PP NOW from $599 PP
MSC Cruises’ MSC Divina
7-night Eastern or Western Caribbean from Miami
Prices were from $1749 PP NOW from $399 PP
NCL’s brand New Norwegian Getaway (Debuts Feb 8, 2014)
7-night Eastern Caribbean from Miami
Prices were from $1599 PP NOW from $599 PP
FOR MORE INFORMATION: 1.800.700.3881 OR www.CruiseGuy.com
AAA Travel also has a current list of cruise prices on its website. Click here to scroll through the listings!