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Royal Caribbean Kids Sail Free 2022-2023 Dates & Tips

In:
01 Jun 2022

Kids Sail Free is a promotion Royal Caribbean offers from time to time on select sailings that are usually a great vacation discount.  Throughout the year, Royal Caribbean will offer Kids Sail Free deals as a way to encourage new bookings. 

 In this post, we will cover information about the promotion, tips for booking it, and offer answers to frequently asked questions.

For starters, Kids Sail Free is an offer Royal Caribbean offers selectively throughout the year.  It is not available all the time and there is no way to know exactly when it will be offered again. 

We always post new cruise promotions on this site, so be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for notifications when a new Kids Sail Free promotion begins.

Kids Sail Free offer details

The exact offer details may vary, but Royal Caribbean's Kids Sail Free offers are usually consistent in their basics. Third guests and higher who are 12 years old or younger on select 4 nights or longer sailings are eligible for free cruise fare.

There are usually many blackout dates associated with any Kids Sail Free offer, which means if your cruise begins on or in any of the blackout dates, the Kids Sail Free offer does not qualify. Not surprisingly, most of the black out dates are over major school holidays in the United States calendar year. 

Here are some sample blackout dates from past Kids Sail Free offers:

  • Thanksgiving sailings departing November 18, 2022 – November 25, 2022
  • Holiday sailings departing December 22, 2022 – January 8, 2023
  • Spring break sailings departing March 10, 2023 – March 24, 2023
  • Easter sailings departing April 6, 2023 – April 16, 2023

How often does Royal Caribbean offer Kids Sail Free?

Best reader tips for having fun with kids on a cruise | Royal Caribbean Blog

There is no pattern to how many times a year or when the offer will become available.

Kids Sail Free is usually available a few times throughout the year.

Is it really free?

Assuming your kids qualify for the deal, their cruise fare cost will be zero.

You are still responsible for paying for the taxes and port fees associated with the children, along with any other charges onboard.  But if you look at the cruise invoice, their cruise fare will be zero. 

Kids stuck at home? Check out these Royal Caribbean coloring sheets! | Royal Caribbean Blog

Like all guests, a daily gratuity will be charged per passenger, including the kids.

Be sure to check the fine print before booking to understand exactly the full price of the cruise.

Kids Sail Free dates

Last updated June 1, 2022

Royal Caribbean will bring back Kids Sail Free as of June 1, 2022.

The offer will run between June 1 – 30, 2022 on sailings departing on or after July 1, 2022 – April 30, 2023.

The new offer will provide free cruise fare for third guests and higher who are 12 years old and younger as of departure date on sailings 3 nights or longer booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualifying guests in a triple or quad occupancy stateroom.

Kids Sail Free excludes Thanksgiving sailings departing November 18, 2022 – November 25, 2022, Holiday sailings departing December 21, 2022 – January 6, 2023, Spring break sailings departing March 10, 2023 – March 24, 2023, Holy Week/Easter sailings departing April 1, 2023 – April 11, 2023 and Rhapsody of the Seas sailings departing from Haifa, Israel between August 5 – October 28, 2022. 

Taxes, fees, and port expenses are additional and apply to all guests.

Kids Sail For Less

Best reader tips for having fun with kids on a cruise | Royal Caribbean Blog

In addition to the Kids Sail Free offer, Royal Caribbean may also offer the Kids Sail For Less offer, which is typically 25% off cruise fare for third guests and higher booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualified guests.

The primary advantage of Kids Sail For Less is there are no blackout dates associated with Kids Sail For Less.  This means if you have a couple of kids in your stateroom, you receive a discount on them. 

Moreover, Kids Sail For Less often does not have age restrictions in place, so really any guest of any age who is a third guest, fourth guest, fifth guest, et al in the same stateroom as the first two guests can get a discount.

Other cruising with kids posts & resources

If you are interested in the Kids Sail Free offer, then you probably will find these blog posts equally helpful:

Your thoughts

Now, we want to hear from you.  Are you a fan of the Kids Sail Free promotion?  Have any tips for someone looking to cruise with kids?  Is there a better deal for families in your opinion? Let us know what you think of the promotion and whether you are planning on taking advantage of it in the comments!

Royal Caribbean offering kids sail free deal this week

In:
25 Apr 2022

The Kids Sail Free offer is back.

Boy after riding water slide on Mariner

Royal Caribbean has brought back the Kids Sail Free offer for the last week of April, where children under the age of 12 booked in the same cabin as two adults will qualify for free cruise fare.

Families may find extra savings on a new cruise booked in which kids stay in the same cabin.

This is the second time Royal Caribbean has brought back Kids Sail Free since the pandemic, with the previous sale about a month ago.

 

In addition to Kids sail Free, there's also up to $550 off sailings departing May 27, 2022 or after, 30% off every guest, and even bonus bonus onboard credit when redeeming a future cruise credit.

Deal details

Kids Sail Free applies to new bookings made between April 25 – May 2, 2022 on sailings departing on or after June 1, 2022 – April 30, 2023, providing free cruise fare for third guests and higher who are 12 years old and younger as of Offer Cruise departure date on sailings 3 nights or longer booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualifying guests in a triple or quad- occupancy stateroom.

Kids Sail Free excludes Thanksgiving sailings departing November 18, 2022 – November 25, 2022, Holiday sailings departing December 21, 2022 – January 6, 2023, Spring break sailings departing March 10, 2023 – March 24, 2023, and Holy Week/Easter sailings departing April 1, 2023 – April 11, 2023.

Taxes, fees, and port expenses are additional and apply to all guests. 

Up to $550 off applies to new bookings made between April 25 – 30, 2022 on sailings departing on or after May 25, 2022, and provides instant savings of up to $550 USD per stateroom.

Savings amount varies by stateroom category booked and sailing length as follows:

  • 5 nights or less, $25 USD savings for Interior and Ocean View, $75 USD for Balconies, and $150 USD for Suites
  • 6 nights or longer, $50 USD savings for Interior and Ocean View, $100 USD for Balconies, and $550 USD for Suites

Up to $550 off is combinable with 30% Off Every Guest, FCC Kicker, and Kids Sail Free as well as with promotional OBCs, Next Cruise offers, Instant Savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Promo Code driven offers, Free Upgrades, Shareholder Benefits, but not combinable with Ultimate World Cruise and Crown and Anchor discounts. Resident rates apply to select states on select sailings; valid state of residence must be provided at time of booking. 

Will I save money with this offer?

They say "beauty is in the eye of the beholder", and similarly, how lucrative a deal is depends on the person trying to book it.

The biggest drawback of any Kids Sail Free offer are the blackout dates, which greatly hinder many families ability to book a cruise that qualifies for the offer.

If you can find a sailing date that isn't blacked out, kids sail free offers can absolutely save money, especially for higher category rooms. Suites, in particular, offer big savings with kids sail free.

Of course, Kids Sail Free deal requires the kids to be in the same stateroom as the parents, so you cannot split across multiple rooms and use the offer.

Using a good travel agent, you can easily compare and contrast prices between sailings.

Royal Caribbean is bringing back Kids Sail Free deal

In:
23 Mar 2022

For the first time in two years, Royal Caribbean will offer a Kids Sail Free offer.

Kids at the pool

While the cruise line has brought out a number of different promotions during the pandemic, kids sail free has been absent until now.

The Kids Sail Free deal has been a popular option for families because kids 12 years old and under staying in the same room as two adults are free to cruise.

Beginning on March 24, the kids sail free offer is back, which can be combined with a few different other discounts.

The new offer includes up to $550 off the cruise fare, plus 30% off every guest, and kids sail free.

The new deal begins March 24, 2022, so you will not see new pricing until that date.

Deal details

Kids Sail Free applies to new bookings made between 3/24 – 3/31/22 on sailings departing on or after June 1, 2022 – April 30, 2023.

It provides free cruise fare for third guests and higher who are 12 years old and younger as of departure date on sailings 3 nights or longer booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualifying guests in a triple or quad occupancy stateroom.

Kids Sail Free excludes Thanksgiving sailings departing 11/18/22 – 11/25/22, Holiday sailings departing 12/22/22 – 1/8/23, Spring break sailings departing 3/10/23 – 3/24/23, and Easter sailings departing 4/6/23 – 4/16/23.

Taxes, fees, and port expenses are additional and apply to all guests.

Up to $550 off Extension applies to new bookings made on 3/24– 3/28/22. Up to $550 off Extension provides up to $550 USD instant savings for select sailings departing on or after 4/24/22.

Savings amount is per stateroom and varies by category booked and sailing length:

  • Sailings 5 nights or less, $25 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $75 for Balconies and $150 for Suites
  • Sailings 6 nights or longer, $50 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $100 for Balconies and $550 for Suites.

Offer open to residents of US, Canada, Puerto Rico and select countries in the Caribbean. 

Is this a good deal?

Kids Sail Free deals definitely save money, but the issue has always been finding dates that were not blacked out. With Kids Sail Free being offered over the summer, there is ample opportunity for families to take advantage of the offer.

Your best value with Kids Sail Free will be in the higher category rooms, especially balcony and suite rooms, where the savings on the third and fourth passenger are more substantial.

Of course, Kids Sail Free deal requires the kids to be in the same stateroom as the parents, so you cannot split across multiple rooms and use the offer.

Using a good travel agent, you can easily compare and contrast prices between sailings.

Royal Caribbean will give you extra onboard credit if you book a cruise with your future cruise credit

In:
11 Feb 2022

Have a future cruise credit from a cancelled cruise? Royal Caribbean will give you extra onboard credit if you book a cruise this month.

At any given time Royal Caribbean has a myriad of promotions running, but I was surprised to see an offer for redeeming future cruise credits.

While Royal Caribbean has been cruising since June 2021 in North America, there are still quite a few unredeemed future cruise credits out there.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader Rich Triplett alerted us to this offer.

Royal Caribbean extends Cruise with Confidence program, but will end Lift & Shift | Royal Caribbean Blog

The "Future Cruise Credit Kicker" runs the entire month of February, and will give you $100 onboard credit per stateroom if you book a cruise departing between March 1 – December 31, 2022.

This offer is combinable with all rates and promotions, meaning there are no blackout rules with it.

Onboard credits will be added to up to two weeks after the FCC has been redeemed on all valid bookings determined by booking creation, FCC redemption and sailing dates. 

More offers in February

Royal Caribbean extends Future Cruise Credits expiration date until September 2022 | Royal Caribbean Blog

In addition to the onboard credit offer, there are a few other promotions Royal Caribbean has running during February.

30% savings off cruise fare for all guests in the stateroom

30% Off Every Guest offer must be booked between February 1 – 28, 2022 (“Offer Period”). 30% Off Every Guest offer applies to select sailings departing on or after March 1, 2022. 

Royal Caribbean Wow sale offers discounts on cruise fare and pre-cruise purchases | Royal Caribbean Blog

WOW Sale

WOW Sale applies to new bookings made between February 9 – 14, 2022. WOW Sale offers up to $400 USD to spend at sea (“Onboard Credit” or “OBC”) per stateroom on select sailings departing on or after March 9, 2022.

OBC amounts are per stateroom and determined by category booked and sailing length:

  • Sailings 5 nights or less, $50 OBC for Interior and Ocean View, $75 for Balconies and $150 for Suites
  • Sailings 6 nights or longer, $75 OBC for Interior and Ocean View, $100 for Balconies and $400 for Suites

Royal Caribbean Future Cruise Credit: What you need to know | Royal Caribbean Blog

2022 Kicker

2022 Kicker applies to new bookings made between February 1 – 28, 2022. 2022 Kicker provides instant savings of up to $150 USD per stateroom on select sailings departing between March 1 – December 31, 2022.

Savings amount determined by category booked and sailing length:

  • Sailings 5 nights or less, $25 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $50 for Balconies and $75 for Suites
  • Sailings 6 nights or longer, $50 savings for Interior and Ocean View, $75 for Balconies, and $150 for Suites

Royal Caribbean expands double points offer to include nearly all 2021 cruises | Royal Caribbean Blog

Crown and Anchor Bonus

Applies to new bookings made between February 1 – 28, 2022 to Gold, Platinum, Emerald, Diamond, Diamond Plus, and Pinnacle Crown & Anchor Society members.

CAS Bonus provides up to $50 USD to spend at sea (“Onboard Credit or “OBC”) per stateroom on select sailings departing on or after March 1, 2022.

OBC amount is determined by sailing length:

  • Sailings 5 nights or less, $25 to spend at sea
  • Sailings 6 nights or longer, $50 to spend at sea.

OBCs are not redeemable for cash and are non-transferable. When reserving, a valid Crown & Anchor Society membership number must be included in the reservation.

Royal Caribbean Wow sale offers discounts on cruise fare and pre-cruise purchases

In:
09 Feb 2022

You might be able to save extra money on booking a new cruise or a pre-cruise add-on, such as a drink package, excursion or wifi.

Royal Caribbean's WOW Sale begins today, which offers new discounts on cruise fares and items purchased via the Cruise Planner website.

Whether or not either of these sales saves you money will depend on the ship and sailing you pick, but here's what you should know about the promotion.

WOW Sale

Wow Sale banner 2022

WOW Sale applies to new bookings made between February 9 – 14, 2022.

It offers up to $400 USD Onboard Credit per stateroom on select sailings departing on or after March 9, 2022. 

OBC amounts are per stateroom and determined by category booked and sailing length:

  • Sailings 5 nights or less, $50 OBC for Interior and Ocean View, $75 for Balconies and $150 for Suites
  • Sailings 6 nights or longer, $75 OBC for Interior and Ocean View, $100 for Balconies and $400 for Suites

Onboard credit does not apply to China departures.

Combinability: 30% Off Every Guest, 2022 Kicker, CAS Bonus and FCC Kicker are combinable with each other as well as promotional OBCs, Next Cruise offers, instant savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Promo Code driven offers, Free Upgrades, Crown and Anchor discounts and Shareholder Benefits. WOW Sale is combinable with 30% Off Every Guest, 2022 Kicker, CAS Bonus and FCC Kicker as well as with promotional OBCs, Next Cruise offers, Instant Savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Promo Code driven offers, Free Upgrades, Shareholder Benefits, but not combinable with Ultimate World Cruise and Crown and Anchor discounts. Resident rates apply to select states on select sailings; valid state of residence must be provided at time of booking. 30% Off Every Guest, 2022 Kicker and CAS Bonus is not combinable with any other offer or promotion, including, but not limited to, Ultimate World Cruise, Standard Group, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, Weekly Sales Events, and Net Rates. FCC Kicker is combinable with all rates and promotions. Promo Code driven offers are based on select ships and sail dates and must be applied at time of booking; limit one promo code per booking.

Offer available to residents of United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and select countries in the Caribbean. 

Cruise Planner WOW Sale

Cruise planner sale

The new sale offers up to 35% off pre-cruise purchases made between February 9 – 16, 2022 on sailings departing between February 13, 2022 – December 31, 2022.

Here is what is included during the sale:

Beverage: Up to 40% off

  • Classic Soda Beverage Package: 30% off onboard prices.
  • Classic Soda Beverage Package + VOOM Surf & Stream 1 Device: Over 35% off onboard prices.
  • Spring Water Cans: 40% off onboard prices.
  • San Benedetto Water Cans: 40% off onboard prices.
  • Evian Water Bottles: 40% off onboard prices.
  • Deluxe Beverage Package: Discount varies by ship.
  • Deluxe Beverage Package + VOOM Surf & Stream 1 Device: Over 30% off onboard prices.
  • Refreshment Package: 30% off onboard prices.

Shore Excursions: Up to 30% off

  • Shore Excursions: Discount varies by ship.

Internet: Up to 50% Off

  • VOOM Surf + Stream Voyage Package 1, 2, 3, 4 Device(s): Discount varies by ship.
  • VOOM Surf + Stream Voyage Package 1, 2, 3, 4 Device(s): Discount varies by ship
  • VOOM Surf Voyage Package 1, 2, 3, 4 Device(s): Discount varies by ship.

Dining: Up to 55% Off

  • Unlimited Dining Package on 3N – 9N sailings: Discount varies by ship.

Gifts & Gear: Up to 20% Off

  • Anniversary Decorations with Champagne
  • Happy Birthday Decorations with Chocolate Cake & Strawberries
  • Happy Birthday Decorations with Vanilla Cake & Strawberries
  • Inky Beach Set
  • Inky Beach Towel (TicTacToe)
  • Inky Travel Set
  • Red Wine and Cheese
  • Royal Caribbean Beach Towel
  • Strawberries with Champagne
  • White Wine and Cheese

Photo Packages: Up to 70% Off

  • Photo Packages: From 5 – 100 Print and/or Digital Options: Discount varies by ship..
  • Photo Package: Private Photo Session: Discount varies by ship.
  • Photo Package: Picture This Private Studio: Discount varies by ship.
  • Photo Package: All Digital: Discount varies by ship.

Spa: Up to 30% Off

  • Spa Packages: Discount varies by ship.

Can I save money with this sale?

Each Royal Caribbean sale adds the potential to save money on the cost of these purchases, but the price does not change for every single sailing and item available to purchase.

Some prices may change, but there is not a flat discount applied across all sailings.  Some people will notice better prices, while others may not see any change.

To check if your sailing has this new offer available, log into the Cruise Planner on Royal Caribbean's web site look for any available offers. Keep in mind that not all sailings may see the sale applicable, nor are all offers significantly cheaper than previously posted.

If you spot a better discount on something you already pre-purchased, you should be able to cancel the purchase and then re-purchase the same item under this promotion.

More helpful information

Get up to $500 in statement credits back when you book a Royal Caribbean cruise through new Amex offer

In:
08 Oct 2021

If you carry an American Express credit card, you should check to see if you have a new offer to get a lot of money back for simply booking a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Amex Offers are an area at the bottom of the page when you log into the American Express site, where you can earn all sorts of statement credits for buying things from certain vendors.

Select card members may see an offer to get up to $500 back in a statement for booking a new Royal Caribbean cruise.

Before you can utilize an Amex Offer, you generally have to activate it on your account, so before paying for anything, be sure to do that. By using your credit card at a qualifying merchant, you can instantly take advantage of the discount, credit or bonus by using your American Express card there.

The exact offer seems to vary depending on who the cardholder is, but if you have an American Express card, it is worth checking out if the offer is for you. 

RoyalCaribbeanBlog readers reported the Delta American Express card did not offer it, but the American Express Blue and Gold cards offer it.

 

Like all Amex Offers, there is specific language about how you can redeem this offer:

"Offer valid on bookings made online at royalcaribbean.com or by calling 1-866-562-7625 or your Travel Professional. Reservations must be booked on US website only. "

"Excludes onboard purchases, e-gift card and physical gift card purchases made online, transfers/transportation to the ship, Royal Caribbean/Universal Resort Joint Vacation, MGM Resort International Joint Vacation and Royal Wedding Packages. Excludes Celebrity Cruise, TUI Cruises and Silversea brands."

Keep in mind you do not have to spend the qualifying amount in one transaction. Rather, you can do it over the course of many transactions, but the offer kicks in once the aggregate total exceeds the threshold for the offer.

It can be redeemed once, and is open to only U.S.-issued American Express Cards.

You must take advantage of the offer by 12/31/2021.

Typically, Amex offer statements appear on your statement within a day or two, it can sometimes take several days for the statement credit to hit your account. 

How to use this if you use a travel agent

Royal Caribbean steps up again to support travel agents with new booking incentive | Royal Caribbean Blog

You may notice in the fine print for this offer it states it must be redeemed directly with Royal Caribbean (although some say travel professional are okay), which may or may not mean if you booked through a travel agent that may not qualify. Here is how to get around that rule and still be able to get this offer while supporting your favorite travel agent.

Even after booking a cruise with Royal Caribbean directly, you have up tot 30 days to transfer it to a travel agent after initial booking. It must be outside of Final Payment and the booking is not paid in full.

I would recommend informing your travel agent what you are doing first, so they can be prepared for the necessary paperwork to transfer it to them.

All you have to do is complete this online form and the booking gets transferred to the agent.

One week left to get double points on a Royal Caribbean cruise booking

In:
23 Sep 2021

It looks like Royal Caribbean may not extend its popular double points promotion, so time is running out to book a cruise that qualifies for it.

Royal Caribbean added the double points offer during the cruise industry shutdown as a way to motivate cruise fans to book more cruises. As the name implies, you get double the normal Crown and Anchor society points if you happen to book a cruise under this promotion.

The Double Points offer officially ends September 30, 2021, and is valid for sailings departing January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2022.

Any cruise booked before the offer expires can qualify for double Cruise Points.

Here is the breakdown of the points you will receive under the Double Points offer:

 Standard Cruise PointsDouble Cruise PointsTotal Number of Cruise Points Awarded
Cruise1 point per night1 additional point per night2 points per night
Single Cruiser2 point per night2 additional point per night4 points per night
Suite2 point per night2 additional point per night4 points per night
Single Cruiser & Suite3 point per night3 additional point per night6 points per night

If you already have a cruise booked between January 1, 2021 and December 31, 2022, this offer is being applied to all qualified existing bookings.

Since the Double Points benefit was announced, it was a big hit with guests because it allows people to move up the cruise line's customer loyalty program faster.

Loyalty 2X Points is available to Gold, Platinum, Emerald, Diamond, Diamond Plus, and Pinnacle Crown & Anchor Society members.

Crown and Anchor points will be applied once the guest has paid their booking in full and completed their sailing. 

Read moreTop 8 Royal Caribbean Double Points questions

Why double points is good

Earning double the amount of points per night means you can earn points quicker, which is something Royal Caribbean has rarely offered in the past.

By earning more points, you can reach the higher tiers of Crown and Anchor Society faster, and there are some really lucrative benefits for reaching the Diamond and Diamond Plus tiers.

Complimentary alcoholic drinks, balcony discounts, complimentary photos, and reserved seating at shows are just some of the great freebies guests who reach the top tiers of Crown and Anchor Society can expect.

Moreover, this type of offer has rarely been seen.  Previous extra point offers were much more restrictive and have not been made available for a while.

Royal Caribbean extends double point offer through December 2022

In:
26 Jun 2021

There is now even more time to earn double Crown and Anchor points.

Royal Caribbean announced it has extended the Loyalty 2X Points benefit so that it applies to existing bookings, as well as new bookings made between now and September 30, 2021 for cruises sailing through December 31, 2022.

Prior to this extension, the program was good for bookings made through June 30, 2021 and departing between now and September 30, 2022. This is the third time Royal Caribbean has extended the Double Points offer.

Double points means guests earn twice the amount of points per night than usual in the Crown and Anchor Society.

There is no change to existing cruises booked during the extended time period, as they already qualify for the benefit as well.

Since the Double Points benefit was announced, it was a big hit with guests because it allows people to move up the cruise line's customer loyalty program faster.

Instead of the usual one point per night, Royal Caribbean said it would double the points per night (including other staterooms as well):

  • Standard room: 2 points per night
  • Suite room: 4 points per night
  • Solo guest in standard room: 4 points per night
  • Solo guest in suite: 6 points per night

Loyalty 2X Points is available to Gold, Platinum, Emerald, Diamond, Diamond Plus, and Pinnacle Crown & Anchor Society members.

Crown and Anchor points will be applied once the guest has paid their booking in full and completed their sailing. 

Why you want double points

Earning double the amount of points per night means you can earn points quicker, which is something Royal Caribbean has rarely offered in the past.

By earning more points, you can reach the higher tiers of Crown and Anchor Society faster, and there are some really lucrative benefits for reaching the Diamond and Diamond Plus tiers.

Complimentary alcoholic drinks, balcony discounts, complimentary photos, and reserved seating at shows are just some of the great freebies guests who reach the top tiers of Crown and Anchor Society can expect.

Moreover, this type of offer has rarely been seen.  Previous extra point offers were much more restrictive and have not been made available for a while.

Mailbag: Will a Royal Caribbean sale actually save me any money?

In:
20 Apr 2021

If you are any of Royal Caribbean's email lists, then you will very likely get plenty of emails advertising new discounts and sales on cruise fares, shore excursions, wifi and more.  But will any of these promotions actually save you money?

I'm back with an answer to another commonly asked Royal Caribbean question that one of our readers have sent in, which I hope helps a lot more people as well.

I got an email from Royal Caribbean for a new sale, but I've seen comments on Facebook that the prices don't actually change.  Someone even said they raise the price before the sale and then discount it after. Are these sales "fact or fiction"? - Erin A.

Social media is a terrific resource for learning and sharing, and you will definitely see a wide assortment of opinions when it comes to cruises.

I have seen some people write about saving hundred or thousands of dollars, thanks to a new sale, but I have also seen others complaining their prices only go up.

So will these cruise sales and pre-cruise discounts save you any money?

Like so many things in life, the answer is it depends.

Cruise fare sales

Royal Caribbean has sales quite often on cruise fares, and every few weeks has a new sale on things you can pre-purchase for your booked sailing.

Yes, every sale offered by Royal Caribbean could potentially save money compared to the price the day before, but not every sale means there are lower prices across the board.

In my experience, Royal Caribbean tends to have different targets or goals with its sales. But it is extremely rare that any one promotion has a flat discount across every sailing and date.  

However, that does not mean because one or more people report no discount that there are no savings.

When it comes to sales on cruises, a lot of the time savings depend on the type of booking. Kids Sail Free deals always see the best discounts if you have a third or fourth passenger in the same room.  30% off sales will net a completely different kind of savings.

Moreover, you may have already the lowest price for a sailing because you booked early enough to get that best deal.

Traditionally, Royal Caribbean cruise prices are generally set the lowest when a new sailing becomes available, and then prices increase over time.  Royal Caribbean calls this pricing model "low to high".

The idea behind the low to high model is it provides consumers with the confidence that they are getting the best deal.

Obviously there can be exceptions, because pricing is not linear, but there is no doubt the best prices tend to be early on.

Read moreHow far in advance should I book a cruise to get the best price?

Does Royal Caribbean play games with their prices?

Erin also mentions the often repeated theory that Royal Caribbean raises prices before a sale in order to make the discount seem noteworthy.

In my experience, prices for cruises will fluctuate daily, or even hourly, depending on a variety of factors.

The best parallel I can provide to give an example of how cruise fare prices tend to go are jeans at the mall.  The ticket price is the baseline price for jeans, and cruise fares have similar list fares.  Later, the store puts those jeans on sale and the price goes down for a bit.  But once that promotion ends, the price for the jeans may go back up to its ticket price again.  And then a week or two later, a new sale on jeans brings the price down again.  And so forth.

Cruise fare prices are not exactly like merchandise in a store, but you will see an ebb and flow to their prices in a similar way.

The major difference with cruise fare is the price of a cruise is also dependent on supply and demand.  The more cabins booked, the higher prices tend to go.

So the reason why the price of a cabin may go up before a sale is not a nefarious Royal Caribbean conspiracy to suck up all your money, but the fact cabins on that sailing have recently sold and now there is less supply, and prices adjust accordingly.

Airfare is priced similarly, and ultimately how many seats/cabins are left combined with booking trends dictate discounts (or lack thereof).

So the bottom line is, yes, sales can save you money on your cruise fare, but don't expect a discount on every sailing.

Read more45 ways to save money on a Royal Caribbean cruise

Do pre-cruise sales save money?

What about the sales on wifi, shore excursions, or drink packages? Will those sales save you money?

The answer is a bit clearer here, because it is easier to compare and track prices since everyone is getting the same offering (as opposed to cabins).

Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner sales definitely save money on most purchases compared to the price if you wait to book it onboard.

Drink packages, wifi, and even shore excursions will definitely cost more if you wait to book it once you get on the ship.

Read moreRoyal Caribbean Drink Package Information and Planning Tips

Spa treatments are a bit of a wash, as the price is basically the same onboard or online.  The spa offers special deals onboard, but they are almost always on combo packages that are not offered online, so you cannot compare the two.

Specialty dining packages are sometimes discounted online compared to waiting to book onboard. Individual restaurant reservations are more or less the same as onboard.

The really nice thing about the pre-cruise sales is you can easily track prices, and cancel and rebook if there is a better price. 

Cruise pros know to book something they want early, and then look for new price drops if they happen. Unlike cruise fares, there is no penalty for cancelling and rebooking, even within just a few weeks of the sailing.

Read moreHow to cancel and rebook pre-cruise purchases on Royal Caribbean's Cruise Planner

Cruise planner sales can absolutely save you money, and almost certainly will not cost you more than booking onboard.

More mailbag questions:

Royal Caribbean expands senior rates on select fall 2021 - spring 2022 cruises

In:
05 Mar 2021

Royal Caribbean announced expanded senior discounts on select cruises for sailings next year.

Royal Caribbean has expanded senior discounts of up to 15% off across many Caribbean itineraries departing between fall 2021 through spring 2022.

The senior prices are available on selected sailings exclusively for guests who are 55 years of age and older. 

The new prices are available to book between now through Friday, March 19, 2021.

Up to 15% off clients who are 55 years old or above:

  • 7-night Caribbean: Allure of the Seas (departing from Fort Lauderdale)
  • 7-night Caribbean: Symphony of the Seas (Miami)
  • Short Caribbean: Navigator of the Seas (Fort Lauderdale)
  • Short Caribbean: Freedom of the Seas (Miami)

Exact prices and discounts will vary, but be sure to ask your travel agent to compare the senior citizen rate compared to the standard rates.

Read more7 ways to get a discount on your Royal Caribbean cruise

New senior discounts are in tandem with Royal Caribbean's comments during its recent earnings call with investors that the group they are seeing a lot of new bookings are seniors.

Bookings have risen by about 30 percent in the first two months of this year compared to the last two months in 2020, and many are guests aged 65 and above.  It appears there is a correlation between getting the Covid vaccine and wanting to plan a cruise.

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley told investors, "One of the things we’ve seen after the holidays is a proportional increase in the number of guests booking that are 65-plus, and that has continued to increase."

"I believe the 65-plus are getting vaccinated and obviously becoming more comfortable in booking."

"As the vaccine spreads down into the population by age, we'll see that probably accelerate."

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