Everyone tries to stretch
vacation budgets further to maximize the fun. For a growing number of
travelers, there is no better value than a cruise. The industry enjoyed a
banner year in 2004 with and estimated 10.6 million bookings, according to
the Cruise Lines International Association. The trend shows no signs of
letting up, either, with advance reservations for 2005’s most popular
sailings on pace to help the cruise industry set new sales records next
year. With demand high, how does one find a great cruise vacation at the best
price available? CruiseBrothers.com (http://cruisebrothers.com/ ), one of
the largest family-owned cruise-only travel agencies in the country,
offers the following suggestions:
* Book as early as possible. Not long ago, some of the best cruise deals
were found by last-minute travelers. This has changed, however, as people
have grown more comfortable with traveling since 9/11. Today, some cruise
lines offer their best deals with plenty of incentives a year before the
* Fall into a cruise. Veteran cruisers know the best time to save money on
a cruise is during the autumn. The vacation season is over and the cruise
lines offer plenty of discounts and perks to fill cabins, including free
room upgrades, discounted flights and great rates.
* Consider a repositioning sailing. Most cruise ships have winter and
summer home ports. Many people have discovered some of the best cruise
deals can be found when the ships are traveling between the two ports.
* Contact a consolidator. The smaller travel agencies around the country
cannot compete with the large cruise consolidators, like
CruiseBrothers.com, which offer the best prices and incentives to
cruisers. Consolidators leverage their volume of business to negotiate
bulk rates that are often passed on to consumers, along with other
upgrades and shipboard freebies. Consolidators buy blocks of cabins on
lines like Princess Cruises, The Love Boat, so they have great prices on
the most popular cruises even at the last minute.
* Let agencies compete. Cruise prices can vary significantly from one
travel agency to another, but it virtually impossible to call every one.
Now there is a solution to finding the best deal and it is free. Just log
on to http://cruisecompete.com/ to simultaneously contact 100 of the
largest cruise agencies in the country and secure their best prices. Just
provide the name of the cruise line, ship and departure date. Most people
receive five or six quotes.
* Work with a high-volume travel agency. The bigger travel firms are
constantly on the look out for the best prices and are aware of dozens, if
not hundreds, of little known cruise deals. They also purchase special
group blocks on sailings, putting down deposits months in advance to
secure and lock in the very best prices for their customers, no matter how
high the demand leading up to the cruise.
For example, CruiseBrothers.com reserves cabins for Alaska cruises on
three Princess ships. Island Princess rates start at $1,369 per person for
a mini suite, compared to the retail price of $1,919. Sapphire Princess
rates start at $949, with a retail price of $1,469. Sun Princess rates
start at $739 per person, with a retail price of $1,319.
* Talk to friends and family. Another way to save hundreds of dollars off
of the list price of a cruise, or secure an ocean view or balcony room for
free, is by booking a group on the sailing. Fill up eight cabins with
friends or family and CruiseBrothers.com will gladly consider a few perks
for your effort such as free cocktail parties for your group and free
cabin for the organizer.