Cruise Deals

Royal Caribbean kicking off Summer Splash Sale with up to bonus $200 onboard credit

In:
Category: 
16Sep2015

Royal Caribbean is offering a bonus Summer Splash Sale, where guests can get bonus onboard credit on top of the current BOGO Plus deal.

Guests that make new bookings between September 17-21, 2015 for 6-9 night Caribbean, Europe and Alaska sailings departing May 1 – Sept 30, 2016 will receive $100 per stateroom onboard credit.

Plus, Oasis of the Seas or Allure of the Seas sailings qualify for an additional $100 per stateroom onboard credit.

Offer is combinable with current standard/full fare rates, restricted rates (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military, BOGO, Upgrade offers), and Next Cruise offers. Offer is not combinable with any other offer or promotion, including, but not limited to, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, weekly Sales Events, Net Rates, Crown & Anchor Discounts, and Shareholder benefits.

Offer open to residents of the United States and Canada.

How to find really cheap Royal Caribbean cruises

In:
Category: 
11Sep2015

The glory days of super cheap Royal Caribbean cruises may be over but there are still ways to find a cheap Royal Caribbean cruise vacation if you look hard enough.

The ever increasing popularity of cruising these days has been good news for the cruise industry, and with rising numbers of people going on a cruise, prices have also crept up a bit.

The good news is there are still deals to be found but you need to be flexible and a little creative when looking for that perfect cruise deal.

These days, when we refer to a "really cheap" cruise deal, we are talking about cruises that are below or right around $100 per person, per night.

Go when others don't want to

If you are looking for a Royal Caribbean cruise deal, you likely will not find it over Christmas, New Years, Spring Break or Summer.  Why? Because everyone else is looking to cruise then!

What you want to do is cruise during times of the year when most folks, especially families, cannot cruise.

The average school calender should be a good indication of when to cruise becaue when school is in session, there are less families out there looking to book a cruise.  Families often try not to take their kids out of school and so they wait for school vacations to take a cruise.

Some great times of the year to start with are

  • September
  • Early October
  • Early November (minus the weeks of Veterans Day and/or Thanksgiving)
  • First two weeks of December
  • January (minus Martin Luther King weekend)
  • First week or two of February
  • Early May

You want to avoid holidays, because that is when lots of people have days off from work and school and will also be looking for a vacation.

September and early October are your best bets because school is in session and it is the peak of hurricane season.  The first two weeks of December and the weeks following New Years in January are good times for deals too because with Christmas and New Years holidays, most folks will not take a vacation right before or right after.  Plus, school is in session during both times.

Pick older ships

Royal Caribbean likes to shine the spotlight on its newest and greatest ships and it makes sense because those ships offer so many cool new innovations.  But if you are in the market for a deal, look past them to the other ships.

Royal Caribbean has a fleet of 23 ships and the basic rule is the newer the ship, the higher premium for it.

You can often find better deals on these ships

  • Adventure of the Seas
  • Brilliance of the Seas
  • Enchantment of the Seas
  • Grandeur of the Seas
  • Independence of the Seas
  • Jewel of the Seas
  • Majesty of the Seas
  • Navigator of the Seas

Deals can also be found on other Vision, Radiance and Voyager class ships but it will largely depend on other factors.

Just because a ship is older, does not mean it will be boring or not worth your time.  Rather, Royal Caribbean has poured millions of dollars into these ships in the last few years to refurbish them with ammenities and activities that were first introduced on the Oasis and Quantum class ships.

As new ships get added to the fleet, the premium pricing gets applied to those ships while the other ships in the fleet can be had for less money.  

For price savy consumers, an older ship can be a terrific bargain.

Cruise in a competitive market

Even with the first two steps, you may still not find a really good deal and so what you want to do is look for a cruise somewhere that has other cruise lines competing with Royal Caribbean.

As of this blog post, the China, Australia and Asian cruise markets are commanding some high prices because of the booming demand there.

Cruises out to the Caribbean and even in Europe, can be had for a lower fare, especially when you factor in the first two steps of the blog post.

Book early

The old way to get a cruise deal was wait and book at the last minute.  But Royal Caribbean has been phasing out those last minute deals so if you absolutely want the lowest price, book early.

The cruise lines want to book their cruise ships up earlier and earlier, so they offer the best deals early on.  

Time and time again, the lowest pricing for all sailings comes when they first go on sale.  

The caveat to this tip is you have to be prepared to book a cruise 1-2 years in advance.  For a lot of folks, that is not very practical since work and school calendars are rarely published that early.

Your best bet is to book something with just a deposit and have the flexibility to change it later.  Even if you book only 7 or 8 months in advance, that is still better than trying to book 4-5 months in advance.

Pick shorter cruises

This may seem obvious but generally speaking, the shorter the cruise, the less expensive it is.

If you really want to just get away, 3 and 4 night cruises are going to be a heck of a lot less expensive than a 7 night or longer cruise.

There is also an interesting price dynamic with 5 and 6 night cruises because they tend to be overlooked by guests as they are too long for a weekend but not long enough for a week.  Think about it, if you are going to take 4-5 days off work for a 5 or 6 night cruise, why not just book a 7 night cruise for the same amount of time off?

Look at cruises that are between 3 and 6 nights for deeper discounts, especially closer to their sailing date when Royal Caribbean may lower the price to get more bookings.

Travel agents & web sites

There are hundreds and thousands of Royal Caribbean cruises out there and it can difficult to sift through results to find all those cruise deals.

Travel agencies provide a true service in highlighting particularly good deals as well as providing service to guests in making their booking and cruise planning processing simpler.

Keep in mind that the price of any Royal Caribbean cruise is strictly controlled by Royal Caribbean so the price you can get from Royal Caribbean directly or from a travel agent should be the same.

The reason why travel agencies and cruise discounting web sites are a good means of finding cruise deals is because they can bring certain deals to your attention as well as offer an agency-specific deal on top of the price.

These agency specific deals can sweeten the deal and it often comes in the form of onboard credit, free gratuities, free shore excursions and more.

There are a ton of travel agencies out there and be sure to consider the level of service with any of them, since they will be managing your reservation.  Here are a few of the really popular cruise sellers:

With any agency, I suggest contacting them about a quote and also ask the agent questions.  It can even be questions you know the answer to.  The key is to get a sense of their level of responsiveness and service.  Remember, some things are more important than saving an extra $20.

I will be honest and say I usually just book with the travel agency that I have worked with for years, but I do know plenty of folks out there use some of these web sites to find cheap cruise deals.

Save more

Continue saving money on cruises – and everything else – with these other must-read articles on the blog:

What are your best tips for finding a cheap Royal Caribbean cruise? Tell us in the comments!

Royal Caribbean offering bonus Crown & Anchor Society points on select Freedom of the Seas cruises

In:
07Sep2015

Guests booking Freedom of the Seas can earn an extra three points in Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program, Crown and Anchor Society, when each guest spends a minimum of $450 per person on pre-cruise and onboard purchases.

If you can act fast and book a last-minute Freedom of the Seas cruise on one of the following sailings, you will qualify for the deal

  • September 13, 2015
  • September 20, 2015
  • September 27, 2015

This is a pilot program by Royal Caribbean to award additional Crown and Anchor Society points to those that spend a certain amount of money on their cruise.

The total qualifying spend must be greater than or equal to $450 times the number of adults in the stateroom. If this is met, each guest in the stateroom will receive three aditional points.

The following purchases qualify towards the $450 threshold:

  • Shore excursions
  • Food and beverage
  • Spa treatments
  • Retail purchases
  • Photo purchases
  • Art purchases
  • Other onboard activities.

The deal excludes these types of purchases

  • Onboard charges for casino
  • Air or hotel reservations
  • Dining booked through the call center
  • Items from the Gifts & Gear website
  • Promotional onboard credit
  • Gratuities

Gold status and higher Crown & Anchor members over the age of 18 will receive an additional three cruise points per sailing when each member in the stateroom makes $450 USD or more in purchases during the sailing and after all credit and refunds have been applied, if any.  Onboard credits do not count towards the $450.

All adults in the stateroom must meet the minimum amount independently. 

Amount of guest’s purchases will be calculated upon the end of the cruise.

Points will be added to eligible Crown and Anchor Society member’s account 60 days after cruise completion.

Royal Caribbean offering free high speed internet for new Harmony of the Seas bookings

In:
07Sep2015

For a limited time, Royal Caribbean is offering its high speed internet service, Voom, for free to those that book qualifying Harmony of the Seas cruises.

Royal Caribbean is tacking on free Voom internet for two guests on top of its popular BOGO Plus deal that is currently available.

Guests staying in an ocean view, balcony or suite stateroom will receive Voom unlimited internet package for two devices.  A two-device Voom package would ordinarily cost $22.50 per day for the duration of the cruise.

The Harmony of the Seas cruise must be booked between August 17 and October 11, 2015.

Offer applies to all Harmony of the Seas sailings departing between May 29 - Oct 16, 2016.

Offer includes one Voom internet package for two devices. Offer applies to ocean view, balcony, and suite staterooms. Voom unlimited internet package applicable to guest 1 and guest 2.

Offer does not apply to third and higher occupancy guests.

Offer available to residents of United States and Canada.

Royal Caribbean offering up to $50 bonus onboard credit for Labor Day weekend sale

In:
Category: 
03Sep2015

Royal Caribbean is kicking off a Labor Day weekend sale that will give guests up to $50 in bonus onboard credit for cruises booked this weekend.

The Labor Day weekend sale applies all new bookings made September 4-8, 2015 for all sailings departing on or after October 4, 2015, excluding China departures.

Bookings made during this sale will receive

  • Inside & oceanview staterooms: $25 onboard credit per stateroom
  • Balcony & suite staterooms: $50 onboard credit per stateroom

Offer is combinable with current standard/full fare rates, restricted rates (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military, BOGO, Upgrade offers), and Next Cruise offers.

Offer is not combinable with any other offer or promotion, including, but not limited to, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, weekly Sales Events, Net Rates, Crown & Anchor Discounts, and Shareholder benefits.

Offer available in the United States and Canada.

Royal Caribbean offering Weekend WOW Sale with a bonus up to $50 onboard credit

In:
Category: 
28Aug2015

For this weekend only, Royal Caribbean is giving guests up to an extra $50 in onboard credit that is combinable with the BOGO Plus offer.

Royal Caribbean is offering

  • Book an Interior or Ocean View stateroom and receive $25 onboard credit
  • Book a Balcony or Suite and receive $50 onboard credit

This onboard credit offer is on top of Royal Caribbean's BOGO+, which offers Buy One Guest, Get Second Guest 50% Off + Free upgrades promotion.

This Weekend WOW Sale applies to sailings departing on or after September 28, 2015, excluding China departures.

O­ffer is combinable with current standard/full fare rates, restricted rates (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military, BOGO, Upgrade o­ffers), and Next Cruise o­ffers. O­ffer is not combinable with any other o­ffer or promotion. 

Royal Caribbean offering free shore excursions for cruises booked this weekend

In:
Category: 
14Aug2015

As we noted yesterday, today begins Royal Caribbean's new Free Shore Excursion Weekend Sale, where for three days only, guests that book 5-night or longer sailings will receive up to $150 credit toward shore excursions.

To qualify for this promotion, you must purchase any sailing 5 nights or longer, departing on or after September 14, 2015, excluding China departures and Ovation of the Seas sailings departing between December 15, 2016 and January 23, 2017.

Royal Caribbean will provide a shore excursion credit up to $150 per stateroom

  • Interior & Oceanview staterooms: $75 shore excursion credit per stateroom
  • Balcony & Suites: $150 shore excursion credit per stateroom.

Shore excursion costs exceeding the onboard credit amount are the guest’s responsibility.  Onboard credit is applicable only to shore excursions purchased onboard the ship; Onboard credit is not applicable to shore excursions purchased prior to cruise departure nor to any other charges.

Cruise must be booked Aug. 14-16, 2015.

Shore Excursion offer is combinable with standard/full fare rates, restricted rates (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military, BOGO) and NextCruise offers. Offer is not combinable with any other offer or promotion, including, but not limited to, Standard Group, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, weekly Sales Events, Net Rates, Crown &Anchor Discounts, and Shareholder benefits.

Offer open to residents of the United States or Canada.

First time cruisers: How to find a deal on a Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
13Aug2015

All this week, we are helping first time Royal Caribbean cruisers with all aspects of the cruise vacation.  Check back every day for a new post aimed at those who are new to Royal Caribbean!

So you are ready to book your first Royal Caribbean cruise but the savvy consumer side of you knows there must be a sale or promotion that you can take advantage of to reduce the cost of your cruise.  

And you would be right! Here's what you need to know about finding a deal on your Royal Caribbean cruise so your first cruise can be an affordable one too!

The deals you can expect

To remain competitive in the cruise market, Royal Caribbean will usually have promotions and deals out there at any given time to entice guests to book a cruise.

While Royal Caribbean does change its sales tactics up now and then, there are some general promotions that are available somewhat regularly that you should be aware of and what they mean.

BOGO deals

Royal Caribbean's go-to promotion these days is the BOGO sale.  Essentially, you pay full price for the first guest in a stateroom and the second guest is 50% off.

This promotion has been available regularly for the last 12-18 months as of the writing of this post.  

Royal Caribbean does tend to combine this promotion with other promotions to make each offering a little more exciting.

WOW Sales

In general, Royal Caribbean has a WOW Sale at an almost quarterly basis, and for first time cruisers, this may be your best promotion.

WOW Sales offer 50% off deposits and free onboard credit.

What makes WOW sales good for folks new to Royal Caribbean is you get onboard credit that usually is not available to first time cruisers.  

Last minute sales

Royal Caribbean is in the process of phasing out last minute deals on cruises, but they do still pop up now and then.  

Last minute sales are for deals on cruises that sail somewhere between 30 and 60 days from booking, so you will need to act fast and be flexibile in the sailing, stateroom and transportation options to the port.

These can be legimitately good deals but most people need more advanced notice and prefer different sailings.

The "throw ins"

There are other promotions Royal Caribbean keeps up its sleeve that they use to enhance some of the other deals.  

These can include free gratutities, free shore excursions, a small amount of onboard credit and more.

These promotions aren't deals on their own, but can be used in combination with other deals.

Where to look for Royal Caribbean cruise deals

Travel Agent

When you are new to Royal Caribbean cruising, your best place to start is with a travel agent that knows Royal Caribbean well.  

It is a travel agent's job to keep track of the various promotions and provide guidance to you for your best deals.

We always advocate using a travel agent for the services they provide you, which are free to you (Royal Caribbean pays them a commission, so there is cost to you).

Ask your travel agent about what promotions are out there as well as regional and vocational discounts available.

Travel agents may also have access to additional onboard credit or savings through agency-specific promotions.   It never hurts to consult a few different agencies to find the right one for you.

Check Royal Caribbean's deals page

Royal Caribbean maintains a list of deals available on their site that are also a good frame of reference to see what they are offering.

There may be a deal on Alaska cruises that you were not thinking about and find that to be a better deal for you.

Unline a grocery store, most promotions are applied automatically on Royal Caribbean's site.  So when you price out a cruise, it will use any deals that are out there, so you can track the cost of any sailing.

A word on prices

There are lots of places online and in-person that will sell you a Royal Caribbean cruise but keep in mind that Royal Caribbean maintains strict pricing on its cruises.  

That means the price of a given sailing at any given time will be the same no matter if you call Royal Caribbean directly, use a travel agent or find some web site selling a cruise. 

The difference can be travel agent specific deals, where perhaps a travel agency has a block of rooms reserved that lowers the cost of the stateroom or the agency is offering onboard credit that comes out of their pocket.  

The other important concept to understand about cruise prices is they are a lot like airline prices.  What you price out today may be completely different tomorrow, an hour from now and three months from now.

Royal Caribbean allows guests to rebook their cruise as many times as they want up until your final payment date.  

Once you hit final payment and make your final payment, your price is locked in and you cannot change it without a penalty.  

There is one caveat to this rule and that is if the price of your cruise drops to the point an upgrade in your cabin is as inexpensive or more than your current cabin, Royal Caribbean will upgrade you to that category.

Tricks to finding a deal on a cruise

Regardless of the promotion Royal Caribbean is running or where you live or anything else, there are some strategies to finding lower priced cruises.

Cruise during hurricane season in the Caribbean

The months of August through October are the height of hurricane season in the Caribbean and most folks avoid cruises during this time because of fear of a storm impacting their cruise.

Booking a cruise during these months can be cheaper than other months of the year because there is less demand for these sailings.

If you are worried about what happens if a hurricane should strike, the good news is Royal Caribbean will reroute their ships around the storms. It is quite rare to have a sailing be cancelled due to a hurricane.

Book early for popular times

If you only want to cruise during popular times, such as summer in Europe or winter in the Caribbean, then book as far in advance as you can.

The earlier you can book your cruise, the better the price in most cases and by locking in the price early, you will be rewarded with the lower fares.

In addition, you can always pre-book your sailing if the price drops up until your final payment date.

Royal Caribbean and the cruise industry as a whole want guests to book early and not wait for the last minute so they will price their cruises lowest when sailings are first announced.

How early is early? If you can book at least 8-12 months in advance, you are in the right time frame.  If you can book even earlier, such as up to 24 months in advance, you may net even larger savings.

Sailings that will be always popular are

  • New ship sailings
  • summer Alaska sailings
  • Christmas and New Year's cruises
  • Panama Canal crossings

Use holds to your advantage

Royal Caribbean will allow guests to place a 24 hold on a particular sailing, so your stateroom and price can be locked in.  

Use this strategy to give yourself time to research and think about a cruise without fear of losing out on availbility or price.

When in doubt, it is best to use these courtesy holds to get more time to consider all of your options.  Working with a travel agent and using courtesy holds can be a good way to keep your options open.

Royal Caribbean will offer new BOGO Plus deal with free stateroom upgrades on select 2016 sailings

In:
Category: 
13Aug2015

In just a few days, Royal Caribbean will kick off its next promotion, BOGO Plus, where guests can book one guest and the second guest sails for 50% off­ plus free stateroom upgrades on select 2016 sailings.

The deal offer is as follows

  • Buy One Guest, Get Second Guest 50% off
  • Plus for all eligible Caribbean, Bahamas, and Europe sailings departing Jun 1 – Aug 31, 2016, offer includes Free Upgrade – from an Ocean View to Balcony or Interior to Ocean View.

For Sovereign and Vision class ships, Free Upgrade refers to booking an ocean view stateroom for an inside stateroom at standard/full or BOGO fare. For all other ships, Free Upgrade refers to booking a balcony stateroom for an ocean view stateroom at standard/full or BOGO fare.

The BOGO Plus offer will be available for bookings made between August 17 and October 11, 2015 and is valid on all sailings departing on or after September 17, 2015. Offer excludes China departures and Anthem of the Seas sailings departing before April 29, 2016.

BOGO offer is combinable with the adjoining Free Upgrade offer, Crown & Anchor discounts, NextCruise offers, and Shareholder Benefits. BOGO and Free Upgrade offers are not combinable with restricted rates (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military). Free Upgrade offer is combinable with Crown & Anchor discounts, NextCruise offers, and Shareholder Benefits. Neither offer is combinable with any other offer or promotion, including, but not limited to, Standard Group, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, weekly Sales Events, Net Rates.

Offer open to residents of the United States or Canada.

Royal Caribbean rolls out new shore excursions and offering free shore excursion sale this weekend

In:
13Aug2015

Royal Caribbean announced today it has revamped its shore excursion offerings and to celebrate the new offerings, is offering free shore excursions this weekend only.

Royal Caribbean's shore excursions have been grouped into seven special interest categories designed based on guest’s interest and vacation needs: Active Adventures, Family Connections, Royal Tour Challenge, Culture and Sights, Culinary Delights, Caring Discoveries, and the Royal Premium Tour Collection.  

In celebration of the new tour offerings, Royal Caribbean is offering free shore excursions on all new reservations completed this weekend, August 14-16, 2015. Bookings for sailings departing on or after September 14 will receive a credit of up to $150 to use towards the shore excursion of choice.

The new shore excursion categories group together various excursions to make it simpler to find related activities.

Active Adventures 

Guests can get their hearts pumping with activities at every level, from riding a dune buggy and boat rides to high-energy excursions that will take their vacation’s adrenaline factor to the next level. From tackling six exhilarating zip lines and two skybridges in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, to rappelling through small waterfalls, sliding toboggan-style down boulders and jumping off cliffs into natural pools at a thrilling watercourse in Madeira, Portugal, adventure seekers can test their metal on any one of these excursions.

Family Connections

Creating lifelong memories are what family vacations are all about. What better way to ensure those come to life with shore excursions that kids, parents and even grandparents can enjoy together. Families can share exciting experiences while attending gladiator school in Rome, Italy, where they can learn Roman gladiator combat skills with a hands-on fighting lesson and earn a certificate of Roman citizenship. Or embark into the great outdoors with awilderness kayak experience at Chilkoot Lake in Skagway, Alaska, where adventure seekers might spot bald eagles, brown bears, seals, sea lions or even whales. 

Royal Tour Challenge

In the spirit of good fun and some friendly competition, guests can spend their days in port with challenge-based activities designed especially for families and groups. Families and friends can spend some quality time together with a half-day laser tag adventure in Cozumel, Mexico, where participants will hit targets to gather points by following a jungle path filled with Mayan ruin replicas. Or better yet, guests can enjoy a five-on-five soccer game in Gijon, Spain, followed by a game of paddle tennis, a raquet sport played extensively in Spain.

Culture and Sights 

For travelers looking to explore history and culture with local experts and enrich their understanding of the world, they can select classic sightseeing tours, guided visits to archaeological sites and museums, live performances, and more. Guests can visit a sprawling Buddhist temple complex in Bangkok, Thailand, which was built in honor of two famous kings, or explore Rome, Italy, in an Ape Calessino, the little vehicle eponymous to Italian style which launched in 1948 to help with post-WWII reconstruction.

Culinary Delights 

Want to know what’s on the menu, in the fields or on tap? Discover a destination’s authentic, essential flavors through excursions that introduce guests to local chefs, specialties and purveyors. Visit Graycliff Chocolatier in Nassau, Bahamas, and delight in making truffles, bonbons and bars with a tropical flair, or learn pizza-making from the experts in Naples, Italy, where the Italian favorite was invented in 1830.  

Caring Discoveries 

Guests wanting to make a difference in the places they visit can select tours committed to wildlife, the environment and local communities. Whether it issaving a sea turtle in Cozumel, Mexico, where approximately 20 percent of turtles aren’t quite ready to head for the seas, or meeting an Iditarod musher and their racing dogs at a dog sled camp in Skagway, Alaska, visitors will leave a lasting impression.

Private Destinations: Labadee, Haiti and CocoCay, Bahamas

These secluded escapes boast experiences that range from soaring 500 feet above the beaches of Labadee on the Dragon’s Breath Flight Line, to tranquil beachside escapes appreciated through guided nature walks or lounging on the white sandy beach of CocoCay.  Exclusive to Royal Caribbean guests, the dynamic offerings in Labadee and CocoCay tantalize guest’s individual craving for adventure or relaxation.

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