If you’ve had the opportunity to take a luxury cruise with one of the 6 Star cruise lines like Seabourn, Crystal, Silversea, and Regent, you know how fabulous cruising can really be. From beautiful accommodations and fine dining restaurants, luxury cruises are hard to beat.
Much of the wonderful experience has to do with the personal service. The average luxury cruise ship passenger to crew member ratio is about 1.5. The average mass-market passenger to crew member ratio is about 3 guests per crew member. But of course all that staff comes with a higher price.
Though you see lots of advertised deals on mainstream cruise lines, at Prime Women, we wondered if it was ever possible to get deals on luxury cruises, perhaps a last minute bargain? To find out the answer, we turned to Vacations To Go, a national travel company that specializes in cruises and last minute cruises.
Cheryl Cunningham, director of special projects and group sales for Vacations To Go, gave us the low down on how to get deals on luxury cruises.
PW: One usually doesn’t associate luxury anything with a deal, much less a luxury cruise that are priced thousands of dollars more than the average cruise, but are there any deals to be had?
Cheryl: Absolutely, many of the luxury cruise lines have stepped up to the plate in offering deals, but it’s a little different than what you might expect. They aren’t like the mainstream cruise lines where they just slash prices to be competitive. Though, in the 6 Star cruise line market they do understand they need to fill their ships to present a quality program to everyone.
They are more likely to have special targeted sales that might last 3 weeks to a month. For example, if you book in one month and travel in the next six months, you receive additional discounts off the published price; maybe a $1,000 off a cabin or a two category upgrade and sometimes discounting the rate 40 to 70% off.
Silversea recently had an offer on select destinations. The Mediterranean was one of them. Recognizing that friends and couples like to travel together, they had an offer that if you booked 3 cabins and all booked together, one cruise fare would be free, which with Silversea could be a savings as much as $7,000 to $8,000.
PW: How much time do you have to book one of these deals?
Cheryl: You have as much as 8 months out to book on many of these offers. Last minute in the cruise world is within 90 days. It is much more difficult for cruise lines to sell their product compared to the airlines. They also realize they need to have their ships close to capacity to be able to offer the services you expect with a 6 Star cruise line.
Cruise lines will start looking 8 months out to see where they are on reaching their capacity. To fill their ships, they might offer all the cruise excursions for free. Recently one of the cruise ships offered a special on exotic destinations like Africa and Asia, where all the excursions were free, which is a $1,000 to $2,000 savings a person. Deals on luxury cruises aren’t always in the form of a discount.
PW: How about the Prime woman who has the ability to plan a cruise under 90 days?
Cheryl: Those offers are usually for their short stays. Crystal, for example, recently offered a great deal on a 7-night cruise that was under 90 days in the Mediterranean.
The key to finding a great deal is to be with a travel agency that specializes in cruises. These cruise lines send these specials out to their biggest bookers of cruise ships. The agencies who book other types of travel, may not know about these offers.
Companies like Vacations to Go are the first and, sometimes, only companies who will hear about these deals on luxury cruises. These offers are short term and don’t last long. We update our website sometimes multiple times a day, based on the offers that are coming in.
PW: What is your best advice for someone who would like to book a luxury cruise and save money?
I would advise that they start keeping an eye on a destination where they would like to travel and keep checking back until they find a discounted price. You may not find a deal right off on your first choice in destinations. For example, Crystal has some really good offers right now for booking a Mediterranean cruise in April, May and August. The Mediterranean may not be your first choice but you’ll eventually get to go everywhere you want to travel just not in the order you want.
PW: Thanks, Cheryl, for the great tips on luxury cruising.
Up next month is river cruising, which lines are best, and when and where you can find savings on your river cruise.
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