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Last week, Norwegian Cruise Line announced it would have its “Greatest Deal Ever” sale beginning Tuesday, November 16. The company had a formal announcement, and I saw many travel agents promoting the sale on social media and email. The deal includes 70% off 2nd guest fare plus several free offers (free WiFi, free excursions, free specialty dining, free open bar and more). The deal ends today but will be back for Black Friday.
I had been eyeing a European cruise on NCL and had priced it out a few times recently. I excitedly waited for Tuesday’s sale to see if it would be compelling enough to make me put down a deposit.
Yesterday, I checked on my potential cruise. I was disappointed to see that the price was exactly the same. No change. Even the free offers were the same as the previous week. What a letdown.
Funny Math Behind Cruise Line Promos
Most cruise lines (except for Disney Cruise Line) are constantly running sales and promotions. In my experience, the sales don’t change the price that much if at all. It’s all a marketing ploy to see what tag line attracts people the most.
Even the add-on freebies are misleading. For example, if you agree to the “free” drinks and specialty dining, most cruise lines add on mandatory gratuities for those offers. The “free” excursions have a dollar limit, with most excursions costing more than the credit. Then, the “free” offers start to add up to a few hundred extra dollars on your final cost.
So what’s the best way to get the best price on a cruise? Book early. Yes, if you are considering a cruise, book it now. Don’t wait for the Black Friday sale or whatever greatest sale is supposedly coming next.
When you book early, you have a better selection of cabins. Suites and connecting cabins sell out quickly. If your cruise price goes down, most cruise lines will adjust your price if you are before your final payment. It’s not an automatic adjustment; you or your travel agent must request it.
So, did I book this cruise? No. I’m waiting for Royal Caribbean and MSC to release the rest of their 2023 itineraries first. This cruise is going to be all about the ports, so I’ll be doing a deep dive on the itineraries before making a decision.
Have you had good luck getting a great deal with a cruise line promo?
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.