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The high cost of a dream cruise vacation can leave you feeling a little queasy  before you even set sail. (And let’s not mention the add-ons!) Here, our advice about how to save big before boarding.

BOOK EARLY

By reserving six to 12 months ahead of your cruise, you can lock in an  early-bird rate that’s 25 to 50 percent lower than the published “brochure” rate  most lines advertise. You’ll also have a wider selection of itineraries, dates,  and cabins, and possibly get better deals on airfare and hotels. If prices go  down after you book, a good travel agent—or the cruise line itself—should help  you get the new lower rate.

OR BOOK LATE

Yes, it runs completely counter to what we just said about booking early, but  if you wait 60 to 90 days before you want to sail, cruise lines often drop  prices significantly to fill any remaining spaces on their ships. If you’re  willing and able to white-knuckle it, this is when you can nab a weeklong  Caribbean cruise for under $500. But of course, you won’t have as much choice of  itinerary or cabin, it may be tricky to find a low airfare to your port, and  last-minute fares are typically nonrefundable.

Save on cruising

Save on cruising

REQUEST A DISCOUNT

Asking the right questions can work magic. If you’re a return customer,  mention it when booking and politely inquire whether you’re eligible for a  discount—it can shave 5 to 15 percent off your fare. Since cruise prices are  based on double occupancy, a third or fourth person in your cabin should get a  30 to 60 percent discount. If you’re 55 or older, don’t be shy about asking for  a 5 percent discount; likewise, active and retired servicemen and women should  always ask if the line offers them savings.

USE A TRAVEL AGENT

Sites like Kayak and Expedia have put you in the driver’s seat—sometimes  literally—but don’t underestimate the role a good agent can play in finding you  the right deal. Many have reserved spaces they can sell you at a discount, and  they can explain whether an advertised “free” upgrade or all-inclusive package  is for real or just a ploy. They can also advocate for you if rates drop after  you’ve booked your cruise.

 GO BIG

Large groups—like family reunions at sea—can be complicated to pull together,  but they can also knock big bucks off the price of cabins. A group of 16 people  in eight cabins, for instance, can sometimes get a steep discount on the 16th  fare, or in some cases a free berth. For large groups, booking a year in advance  is advised to ensure you get the block of cabins you want.

TRY SHOULDER SEASON

You won’t save a ton, but sailing when most folks stay home can nab you a  modest bargain—maybe 10 percent off typical high-season rates. Here are the best  times to find deals in four highly popular cruise regions:

Caribbean. September and October, the non-holiday weeks in  December, and early January to Presidents’ Day.

Europe. Mid-March and April, September to December

Alaska. May and September

Bermuda. April and October

UNDERSTAND THE EXTRAS

The end of a beautiful cruise can be stunning in all the wrong  ways—if the bill tacks on a bunch of extras you weren’t prepared for. Ask in  advance what activities, food, drinks, and sundries are included in your fare  and which will cost more. In general, be ready to pay the following:

$2+ for a can of soda

$3+ for a latte

$5+ for a mixed drink

$10+ for a photo shot by cruise staff

$20+ for a bottle of wine

$10 to $75 per person for alternative dining

$119+ for a massage (be careful. This excludes a service tax for the therapist of as much as 18%- ask upfront about this)

Norwegian Getaway

Norwegian Getaway

– taken from Budget travel