The price of a luxury cruise can be very high. For the money, you get nicer accommodations, higher space-to-passenger and crew-to-passenger ratios than on mass-market ships.
Sometimes you want to save money.
You will never find a cheap cruise, but you can find sailings that are cheaper than others. If you choose the cruise less traveled, you can get great value, even if you have to compromise on sail dates.
You can save a bit when you sail on one of the five most affordable cruises.
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Caribbean cruises are the bread and butter of mass-market cruise lines, but they don't have the same prominence as the itineraries of the luxury lines. Tropical cruises on luxury lines tend to be shorter, taking place in the fall and winter, and often targeting younger professionals who might not have the time to take a two week vacation.
If you combine those factors with a shoulder-season fall travel date, you can get yourself a more affordable luxury cruise.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises has a Caribbean season that lasts from November through March. During the travel lull between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the cheapest sailing is in late November. There is a weeklong round-trip cruise from Miami. The sailing costs $4,699 in February.
The cheapest cruises of the season are the first and last Alaska sailings of the season. What's the reason? The timing and weather are related.
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The Alaska cruise season lasts through September and sometimes October. Families who wait for the summer school break to take their vacations are not interested in these travel dates. Travelers who aren't bound by school schedules shy away from these cruises because of the weather.
Alaska's famous salmon haven't started to run and bus service at Alaska's famed Denali National Park hasn't yet begun because of the chilly weather in May. In September and October, the weather starts to get cold and the attractions start closing.
You can score a deal on a high-end Alaska sailing during these off-peak times if you want to take a chance on the weather. The mid-May Alaska cruise on Silversea will start at $4,700 per person. The cost of the cruise in July is $5,700, which is $1,000 less than in the shoulder season. You could experience sunnier days on the more affordable sailing if it's not as rainy as July.
Travelers prefer the ports of call for their cruises. If they love spending time on the beach or checking out exotic ports, they are drawn to the destinations. The majority of cruise fans don't like itineraries with few to no port calls.
Trans-Atlantic crossings are inevitable because many cruise ships frequently move between Europe and the Caribbean. In order to attract guests, the cruise lines add onboard activities and guest lecturers. You can get a luxury cruise experience for less if you cross the ocean.
SeaDream is a small, all-inclusive line that can be found on the ocean. SeaDream 1 will sail its last Caribbean cruise of the season from St. Thomas to San Juan at a starting price of $3,999 per person. The ship crosses the Atlantic to Malaga. The 13-night sailing is nearly double the length of its preceding cruise, but its starting price is just $100 less.
You're all about the upgrade when you travel. It is possible to get a great price on a high-end cruise ship by booking the cheapest rooms.
Some of the mass-market ships have windowless closets, but the entry-level suites on the nicer ships don't. They're spacious cabins, either with windows or private balconies, with separate sleeping and sitting areas as well as nicely appointed, reasonably sized bathroom and often walk in or large closets. You can get the same personal service, access to the same gourmet dining, and enjoy the same ship amenities as people in the top suites.
You will pay more. A veranda suite with a private balcony is an entry level suite on the Seabourn line. The rooms on the Greece and Turkey cruise will cost $4,499 per person. You can pay $7,999 for the 450- square-foot penthouse suite with a 93- to 103- square-foot balcony. For a suite you won't be spending a lot of time in on this port intensive itinerary, that's an increase of $3,500.
Several big-ship cruise lines are making their way into the luxury travel space, which can be affordable. These cruises are perfect for families looking for upscale accommodations combined with robust children's programming, or luxury travelers who prefer a more casual vibe.
Travelers will get the same treatment as their shipmates in the Star Class suites of Norwegian Cruise Line. They have access to exclusive restaurants, lounges and sun decks, as well as priority boarding and theater seating, and receive more fare perks, such as drink packages, internet access, and even butler service.
The top suites are relatively affordable in two ways. Royal Caribbean and Norwegian cruise ships sail shorter itineraries than true luxury lines so you can book a short cruise to spend less on your vacation. While prices are comparable to the luxury lines, you will be sailing in the ship's top suites for what you would pay for mid-level on a luxury ship.
You can book the Star Loft Suite on a seven-night Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas for $7,235 per person. It comes with a Royal Genie butler, free dining in all specialty restaurants, exclusive access to the Coastal Kitchen, complimentary beverage packages, and internet access. A weeklong Regent Seven Seas cruise to the Caribbean in February costs $7,099 per person for a 448- square-foot Penthouse Suite or $8,499 for a 577- square-foot Seven Seas Suite.
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