The 19 Best Websites to Book Cruises at the Cheapest Prices

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So you want to go on a cruise! That’s great, but do you know where to book it to get the best price?

There is no shortage of websites out there that can help you book a cruise. There may even be more options to book cruises than hotels or flights. In addition to the traditional online travel agencies, there are a bunch of cruise-only sites that you can choose from, too. So how do you know which site offers the best price? That’s where we come in!

We’ve previously looked at the best websites to book flights and hotels, but now it’s time to switch our focus to cruises. We combed through the most popular websites used to book cruises to look at their pros and cons and to do some head-to-head price comparisons.

If you’re only concerned about finding the cheapest price, scroll down to the price comparison section at the bottom of this post to see how all of these sites stacked up against each other.

1. Cruise Line’s Website

Your first instinct when booking a cruise may be to go directly to the cruise line’s website, especially if you have elite status with a specific cruise line. There are definitely some benefits to this — it’s simple and there are less hassles if you have to make any changes.

If you are sure of the cruise line you want to take, it makes the search for a specific cruise a little easier when you are just looking at 1 specific cruise line.

The big drawback when booking directly on a cruise line’s website is that you can miss out on extra deals that are being offered by online travel agencies.

Pros and Cons of Booking Directly with the Cruise Line

Pros:

  • Simpler search functions make it easier to locate specific cruises.

Cons:

  • You might miss out on extra deals offered by other sites.

2. CheapCaribbean.com

CheapCaribbean.com is an online travel agency (OTA) that specializes in travel to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America. The site, which was founded in 2000, prides itself on offering the best prices and great U.S.-based customer service. Their sales agents, called “Beachologists,” are available almost 24 hours a day to help you plan your ultimate Caribbean vacation.

Despite their name, you can book cruises to destinations other than the Caribbean through CheapCaribbean.com, including Europe, Canada, Hawaii, and Alaska.

cheapcaribbean.com
You can book your next cruise on CheapCaribbean.com by clicking on the cruise tab on the main menu. Image Credit: CheapCaribbean.com

CheapCaribbean.com sometimes offers extra bonuses when you book with them, like extra onboard spending credit. Plus it offers a 110% best price guarantee — if you find the exact same cruise for a cheaper price on another website within 48 hours of booking, CheapCaribbean.com will refund 110% of the price difference.

Hot Tip: Want to save more? CheapCaribbean.com offers exclusive deals to their email subscribers and offers unpublished fares and exclusive offers if you call in to book your cruise. 

Pros and Cons of CheapCaribbean.com

Pros:

  • Occasional special deals like extra onboard credit may be offered.
  • The site offers a 110% best price guarantee.

Cons:

  • To access exclusive deals you need to sign up for emails or call in to book your cruise.

Hot Tip: Ready to set sail? Be sure to check out our cruise vacation packing list before embarking!

3. CruiseDirect.com

CruiseDirect.com is a website that specializes in only cruises. The site allows you to quickly search cruises by destination, cruise line, departure port, or last-minute deals. You’ll find lots of different types of cruises from budget to luxury and mega-ships to river cruises.

With each cruise listing, you’ll see bonus details underneath the pricing. Some of these are already reflected in the price and some are extras like onboard ship credit or a discount off of shore excursions.

CruisesDirect Bonus Details
Keep an eye out for the bonuses offered when you book through CruisesDirect. Image Credit: CruisesDirect

Like most other booking sites, CruiseDirect.com offers a best rate guarantee and will refund the difference in price if you find the exact same cruise for a lower price within 24 hours of booking.

Pros and Cons of CruiseDirect.com

Pros:

  • Bonuses are offered with each cruise ranging from discounts, shipboard credit, or discounts on shore excursions.

Cons:

  • The bonuses offered are often from the cruise line and not exclusive to CruiseDirect.com, so you can get them regardless of where you book your cruise.

4. Priceline

Priceline gained fame from their “Name Your Own Price” feature but have since transformed into a more traditional online travel agency model. In addition to hotels, flights, and rental cars, you can use this site to book cruises, too.

Priceline often offers deals above and beyond what’s being offered through the cruise line. At the time of writing, a few different deals offered up to $1,000 onboard credit or up to $1,000 cash-back (you’ll need to call to access some of these deals).

Plus, a 110% best price guarantee is offered — if you find a lower price for the exact same cruise within 48 hours of booking, you’ll be refunded 110% of the price difference.

Pros and Cons of Priceline

Pros:

  • Onboard credit or cash-back deals sometimes offered.
  • The site offers a 110% best price guarantee.

Cons:

  • Priceline advertises deals and lower pricing if you call, which can be a negative if you’re looking for a simple way to book your cruise.

Hot Tip: For more information, check out our detailed guide on booking travel with Priceline.

5. TripAdvisor

While you might think of TripAdvisor as just a place to get reviews and photos of hotels, restaurants, and activities, it’s actually much more than that. In addition to reviews and traveler forums, TripAdvisor acts as a metasearch engine, comparing prices on lots of other websites.

When you’re searching for a cruise, just click on the drop-down arrow that tells you how many deals there are — then you’ll be able to see that cruise’s price on lots of different websites.

TripAdvisor Cruises
Using the drop-down arrow you’ll easily be able to compare prices on lots of different websites. Image Credit: TripAdvisor

Pros and Cons of TripAdvisor

Pros:

  • It offers lots of great ship reviews and travel forums.
  • It is a great site to quickly compare prices on lots of other sites at once.

Cons:

  • You may not be able to see all the deals being offered on each site.

Hot Tip: For more information, check out our detailed guide to booking travel on TripAdvisor.

6. Cruise Critic

Cruise Critic is a cruise review website that features reviews, tips, and advice to a huge community of cruisers. The Cruise Critic forums provide a place to ask questions, give advice, and get help booking your next cruise.

The site also acts as a metasearch engine for cruises, allowing you to compare prices from lots of other websites. You can search for your perfect cruise, then when it’s time to book, Cruise Critic will transfer you to another site to complete your booking.

cruise critic
Cruise Critic provides lots of cruise reviews and hosts a forum for you to ask questions. Image Credit: Cruise Critic

Pros and Cons of Cruise Critic

Pros:

  • The site offers lots of cruise reviews plus cruise tips and a travel forum to help you plan your trip.
  • You can sign up for email alerts so you’re notified when the price of a cruise drops.

Cons:

  • The prices you see are not guaranteed and may be subject to other fees or restrictions depending on what website they are from.

7. Cruisewatch

Cruisewatch is another metasearch engine and OTA that focuses solely on cruises. It monitors over 25,000 cruises and combines that information with price history and reviews to help you choose the best cruise at the best price. You can set up alerts that will email you whenever the cruise you selected drops in price.

If you’ve got some flexibility, you can check out their selection of cruise price drops, last-minute deals, and best cruise deals. Plus, there is also lots of information that helps you quickly compare cruise lines, cruise ships, and destination ports.

Sometimes you’ll be transferred to another website to book and sometimes you’ll book directly on Cruisewatch. Unfortunately, sometimes you’ll need to submit a quote request for someone to call you to actually get a real price quote.

cruisewatch price alerts
You can easily sign up for price alert emails on Cruisewatch. Image Credit: Cruisewatch

Pros and Cons of Cruisewatch

Pros:

  • You can set up price alerts so you know when the price of your cruise drops.
  • It offers lots of information available about different cruise lines, ships, and destinations.

Cons:

  • Not all cruises can be easily booked online — some require you to submit information for a price quote and then you’ll get a phone call from Cruisewatch.

Hot Tip: When booking a cruise through an online travel agency, be sure to use a credit card that earns bonus points on all travel purchases. We love the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card which earns 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on travel, including cruises!

8. CruisesOnly

CruisesOnly claims to be “the best” because each of their call center agents is an industry-certified expert that has gone through expensive training and accreditation programs.

While that might be helpful if you are a newbie to cruising or need some advice about which cruise line, ship, or destination you should choose, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting the best price (scroll down to the Price Comparison section to see how CruisesOnly stacks up against other websites).

CruisesOnly also has its own loyalty program! The V.I.P. Customer Loyalty Club is free, and you’re signed up automatically if you have booked with CruisesOnly at least once before. Benefits include things like shore excursion credits, onboard spending credits, or deposit waivers.

CruisesOnly Loyalty Club
One of the main benefits of CruisesOnly is its in-house loyalty program. Image Credit: CruisesOnly

CruisesOnly’s best price guarantee is similar to other sites — a refund of 110% of the price difference if you find a lower price on an identical cruise within 48 hours of booking.

Pros and Cons of CruisesOnly

Pros:

  • The V.I.P. Customer Loyalty Club is free and offers plenty of benefits.
  • The site offers a 110% best price guarantee.

Cons:

  • The site, like many other OTAs, can be very busy, making it hard to narrow down to the cruise you really want to take.

9. Cruise.com

Cruise.com is a cluttered website and can be overwhelming when you’re searching for a cruise (especially if you’re a first-time cruiser and not quite sure how everything works). It offers lots of deals and discounts, but many of those are actually offered through the cruise line, so it can be hard to tell which bonuses are actually coming from Cruise.com.

One thing that makes them a little different from some other sites is that you can book your flight right along with your cruise. While you can often save money by booking a vacation package, it’s always a good idea to check prices before you do — adding a flight through Cruise.com isn’t a sure-fire way to save money.

cruise.com
Image Credit: Cruise.com

Pros and Cons of Cruise.com

Pros:

  • Lots of deals for a variety of cruise lines are offered.

Cons:

  • The website is very busy and cluttered.
  • No price guarantee is offered.

Hot Tip: Don’t be confused — Cruise.com and Cruises.com are 2 separate websites!

10. Cruises.com

Cruises.com is another site that claims to be the best place to book your cruise. It can offer some impressive deals, but once you read the fine print, you realize there’s a lot of fine print!

For example, a deal was offered for up to $1,000 cash-back or a $750 Amazon gift card. However, after reading the fine print you’ll notice that the Amazon gift card is based on how much you spend on your cruise (and you’ll likely end up with closer to $75-$100 than $750). Plus, if you want the cash-back option, you need to spend that much onboard and then complete a redemption form to receive a reimbursement for your onboard expenses.

So while the deals offered could be lucrative, they aren’t necessarily a slam dunk.

cruises.com
Pay attention to the fine print on the deals offered by Cruises.com. Image Credit: Cruises.com

Cruises.com offers the standard 110% best price guarantee that you’ll find on many cruise sites — if you find a lower price for an identical cruise within 48 hours of booking, you’ll be refunded 110% of the price difference.

Cruises.com also has its own loyalty program. It’s free and you’re signed up automatically if you have booked with Cruises.com at least once before. Benefits include things like shore excursion credits, onboard spending credits, or deposit waivers. Benefits are identical to those offered through the CruisesOnly loyalty program.

Hot Tip: Cruises.com and CruisesOnly are both owned by World Travel Holdings along with other websites, including Cruise411.com. These sites offer the same loyalty program and similar perks, however, their prices can be different.

Pros and Cons of Cruises.com

Pros:

  • The site offers a 110% best price guarantee.
  • A loyalty program is offered for past guests.

Cons:

  • There is lots of fine print on their offers.

11. American Airlines Cruises

Did you know that you can book a cruise through American Airlines? The best part is that when you do, you’ll earn American Airlines AAdvantage miles for your purchase (in addition to any points or miles you will earn from your credit card!).

  • Earn 1 AAdvantage mile per $1 spent on cruises booked through American Airlines (up to 10,000 miles).
  • American Airlines credit cardholders will earn 2 additional AAdvantage miles per $1 spent on cruises booked through American Airlines (up to 20,000 miles).
  • Earn 20,000-100,000 bonus AAdvantage miles on select cruises.
Cruise LineBonus Miles You Can Earn
Celebrity Cruises50,000 AAdvantage miles
Crystal River Cruises75,000 AAdvantage miles
Hurtigruten Cruises50,000 AAdvantage miles
Paul Gauguin Cruises25,000 AAdvantage miles
Ponant100,000 AAdvantage miles
Princess Cruises30,000 AAdvantage miles
Royal Caribbean20,000 AAdvantage miles
Seabourn100,000 AAdvantage miles

American Airlines Cruises also offers a 110% best price guarantee — if you find the exact same cruise priced lower within 48 hours of booking, you’ll be refunded 110% of the price difference.

The bad news is that you are charged a $24.99 processing fee on every booking.

Pros and Cons of American Airlines Cruises

Pros:

  • AAdvantage members have the ability to earn lots of American Airlines miles.
  • The site offers a 110% best price guarantee.

Cons:

  • There is a $24.99 processing fee on every booking.
  • The miles are not useful if you don’t fly American Airlines.

Bottom Line: While you can book a cruise through American Airlines, you can’t use AAdvantage miles to pay for it.

12. Delta SkyMiles Cruises

In addition to flights, you can book a cruise through Delta Air Lines’ SkyMiles Cruises and earn Delta SkyMiles at the same time.

The number of SkyMiles you’ll earn is based on the length of the cruise you book:

Length of CruiseNumber of Skymiles You Will Earn
1-5 nights1,500 SkyMiles
6-8 nights3,000 SkyMiles
9-12 nights5,000 SkyMiles
13+ nights10,000 SkyMiles

Delta Medallion members will receive extra bonuses when booking a balcony or higher level stateroom:

  • Silver and Gold Medallion members: a specialty dinner for 2
  • Platinum and Diamond Medallion members: a specialty dinner for 2, a spa treatment, and priority check-in

SkyMiles Cruises also offers a 110% best price guarantee — if you find the exact same cruise priced lower within 48 hours of booking, you’ll be refunded 110% of the price difference.

Pros and Cons of Delta SkyMiles Cruises

Pros:

  • SkyMiles members have the ability to earn extra Delta SkyMiles.
  • Extra perks are offered for Delta Medallion members.
  • The site offers a 110% best price guarantee.

Cons:

  • There is a $24.99 processing fee on every booking.
  • The SkyMiles are not useful if you don’t fly Delta.
  • Bonus miles are minimal unless you book a very long cruise.

Bottom Line: While you can book a cruise through SkyMiles Cruises, you can’t pay for your cruise with Delta SkyMiles.

13. United Cruises

When you book a cruise with United Cruises you can choose to either earn United MileagePlus miles for your purchase or you can use MileagePlus miles to pay for your cruise!

United Cruises offers different ways to earn miles on your next cruise:

  • Earn 2 MileagePlus miles per dollar spent on an interior or oceanview stateroom
  • Earn 4 MileagePlus miles per dollar spent on a balcony stateroom or suite
  • Any United MileagePlus credit cardholder will earn an extra 3 MileagePlus miles per dollar spent
  • Earn 20,000-100,000 bonus miles when you book select cruises
Cruise LineBonus Miles You Can Earn
Celebrity Cruises50,000 MileagePlus miles
Crystal River Cruises75,000 MileagePlus miles
Hurtigruten Cruises50,000 MileagePlus miles
Paul Gauguin Cruises25,000 MileagePlus miles
Ponant100,000 MileagePlus miles
Princess Cruises30,000 MileagePlus miles
Royal Caribbean20,000 MileagePlus miles
Seabourn100,000 MileagePlus miles

United Cruises offers a 110% best price guarantee — if you find the exact same cruise priced lower within 48 hours of booking, you’ll be refunded 110% of the price difference.

Unfortunately, United Cruises charge a $24.99 processing fee on every booking.

Bonuses for United Premier Members

If you have any Premier status with United Airlines you’ll also receive onboard extras with select cruise lines:

  • Norwegian Cruise Line
    • A bottle of wine and chocolate-covered strawberries in your stateroom
    • $100 spa credit
  • Oceania Cruises
    • $200 onboard credit
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises
    • $300 onboard credit

Use United MileagePlus Miles to Pay for Your Cruise

Paying for your cruise with miles is a great option to have. Unfortunately, you’ll lose out on some value if you do this.

When you book a cruise using United Miles, you’ll get about 0.8 cents per mile in value. United miles are generally worth around 1.6 cents per mile (or more if you’re booking business or first class flights), so you’re getting about half the value you could get if you used your miles for a flight.

However, if you have a bundle of United miles and prefer cruising to flying, it might be a good redemption for you.

Pros and Cons of United Cruises

Pros:

  • MileagePlus members have the ability to earn lots of extra miles.
  • United Premier members receive extra perks with Norwegian, Oceania, and Regent Seven Seas Cruise Lines.
  • The site offers a 110% best price guarantee.

Cons:

  • There is a $24.99 processing fee on every booking.
  • MileagePlus miles are not useful if you don’t fly United.

Bottom Line: When you choose to book your cruise through United Cruises, you can either earn United MileagePlus miles on your purchase or you can pay for your cruise using your United MileagePlus miles.

14. Marriott Cruises

Marriott partners with Cruise With Points to allow you to earn Marriott Bonvoy points on your purchase, or you can choose to pay for your cruise with Marriott points!

When you book a cruise through Marriott, you’ll earn up to 6 points per $1 based on the type of stateroom you select:

  • Earn 3 Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar spent on interior and oceanview rooms
  • Earn 6 Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar spent on balconies and suites
  • Chase Marriott Bonvoy credit cardholders will earn an extra 2 Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar spent on a cruise

Marriott also offers a 110% best price guarantee — if you find the exact same cruise priced lower within 48 hours of booking, you’ll be refunded 110% of the price difference.

Hot Tip: The 1 thing you should know about booking a cruise with Marriott is that you’ll be charged a non-refundable processing fee of $24.99. That’s a pretty hefty fee considering most other sites don’t charge any fees.

Use Marriott Bonvoy Points to Pay for Your Cruise

It’s a great option to be able to pay for your cruise with points, and Marriott makes that possible. However, it’s not the best use of your Marriott points.

When booking a cruise with Marriott points, you’ll only get 0.4 cents per point in value. Since Marriott points are generally worth about 0.7 cents each you’ll be missing out on some value. You might want to look into other ways to redeem your Marriott Bonvoy including hotels, flights, or Hotel + Air packages.

Pros and Cons of Marriott Cruises

Pros:

  • Members can earn extra Marriott points.
  • You can pay for your cruise with Marriott points.
  • The site offers a 110% best price guarantee.

Cons:

  • You’ll be charged a non-refundable processing fee of $24.99 per reservation.
  • Marriott points are not useful if you don’t stay at Marriott hotels.

Bottom Line: When you book a cruise through Marriott, you can pay for your cruise with points or you can choose to pay cash (I mean, credit card!) and earn Marriott points on your purchase.

15. Expedia

Expedia might be one of the first websites you visit to search for flights or hotels (and it’s probably a site you have used for a long time), but did you know that you can book a cruise through Expedia as well?

The site is straightforward, easy to use, and offers cruises from all the major cruise lines. While Expedia doesn’t charge any booking fees, it also don’t offer any price guarantees. However, you can sometimes find additional bonuses for booking your cruise through Expedia.

expedia cruises
Keep an eye out for Expedia cruise deals like this one that’s offering an onboard credit of up to $1,000. Image Credit: Expedia

Pros and Cons of Expedia

Pros:

  • The site sometimes offers extra bonuses like onboard credit.

Cons:

  • No price guarantee is offered.

Hot Tip: For more information check out our complete guide to using Expedia.

16. Costco Travel

Costco Travel is an in-house travel agency that’s only available to Costco members. Costco offers 2 levels of membership, Gold Star for $60 per year and Executive for $120 per year. Executive membership comes with a valuable extra perk for travelers — 2% back on your purchases through Costco Travel (up to $1,000)!

Another great thing about Costco Travel is that you’ll sometimes find deals that offer extra shipboard credit or a Costco shop card as a bonus.

Costco Travel is easy to use and offers all of the search and filter functions found on any other website.

Costco Travel Cruises
Image Credit: Costco Travel

Pros and Cons of Costco Travel

Pros:

  • Executive members receive 2% back on purchases through Costco Travel.
  • Costco shop cards or onboard credit are sometimes offered as a bonus.

Cons:

  • Costco Travel is for members only.

Hot Tip: For more information, check out our detailed post on using Costco Travel.

17. Kayak

Kayak is a popular metasearch engine that will search other websites to show you who has the best deal on a cruise. Once it’s time to book, Kayak will transfer you to another site to complete your reservation. If you don’t want to do a lot of price comparisons, a site like Kayak is a great place to search since it allows you easily compare prices on lots of sites at 1 time.

However, you may not be able to see any special deals that are being offered by other sites that could affect your decision.

Pros and Cons of Kayak

Pros:

  • It is a great site to quickly compare prices on lots of other sites at once.

Cons:

  • You may not be able to see all the deals being offered on each site.

Hot Tip: For more information, check out our complete guide to using Kayak to book travel.

18. Orbitz

Orbitz is a typical OTA that offers flights, hotels, car rentals, vacation packages, and cruises. There are no charges for any booking fees on cruises and a price guarantee is offered. However, the price guarantee isn’t as strong as some of the other sites — you’ll need to find a lower price within 24 hours to receive the difference in price as a refund.

One of the nice things about Orbitz is that it offers a rewards program, however, cruises are not eligible for Orbitz Rewards.

Pros and Cons of Orbitz

Pros:

  • A best price guarantee is offered.

Cons:

  • Cruises aren’t eligible for Orbitz Rewards.

Hot Tip: For more information, check out our complete guide to using Orbitz to book travel.

19. Travelocity

Travelocity is a website that many travelers use to book flights, hotels, and rental cars. However, booking a cruise through Travelocity isn’t quite as easy. Error messages and fares that are all of a sudden “no longer available” are common. When this happens, you can still call in to book if you wish, however, if you prefer to complete your booking online, Travelocity might prove to be a frustrating choice.

Travelocity error message
Error messages are common when trying to book a cruise with Travelocity. Image Credit: Travelocity

Pros and Cons of Travelocity

Pros:

  • There are no booking fees.

Cons:

  • Error messages are extremely common, making online bookings difficult to complete.

Hot Tip: For more information, check out our complete guide to booking travel with Travelocity.

Price Comparisons

Let’s get to the important part — price comparisons! We’ve priced out a couple of identical itineraries on all of these websites to see which site actually offers the best price.

Example #1:

A 7-night Western Caribbean cruise from Tampa, FL on Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas. Prices are for 2 adults in the least expensive balcony room that’s available.

Booking WebsiteTotal PriceExtras
American Airlines Cruises$2,865.95 (including $24.99 fee)$50 onboard credit, a free specialty dinner for 2 people, and 2,865 American Airlines miles; earn an additional 1 mile per dollar if you’re using an American Airlines credit card
CheapCaribbean.com$2,840.96$175 onboard credit and a free specialty dinner for 2 people
Costco Travel$2,840.96$190 Costco gift card (plus an additional cash-back bonus of about $56 for executive members)
Cruise.com$2,820.96$175 onboard credit or free pre-paid gratuities ($189 value)
Cruise Critic$2,840.96$25 onboard credit and a free specialty dinner for 2 people
CruiseDirect.com$2,840.96$75 onboard credit and a free specialty dinner for 2 people
Cruises.com$2,840.96$100 onboard credit and a free specialty dinner for 2 people
CruisesOnly$2,840.96$125 onboard credit and a free specialty dinner for 2 people
Cruisewatch$2,840.96$175 onboard credit and a free specialty dinner for 2 people
Delta SkyMiles Cruises$2,865.95 (including $24.99 fee)$50 onboard credit, a free specialty dinner for 2 people, and 3,000 Delta SkyMiles
Expedia$2,840.96$175 onboard credit (must submit a form to be eligible)
KayakN/ATransferred to SeaHub which was not bookable online
Marriott Cruises$2,865.95 (including $24.99 fee)$50 onboard credit, a free specialty dinner for 2 people, and 17,045 Marriott points (6 points per dollar); earn an additional 2 points per dollar when you use a Chase Marriott Bonvoy credit card
Orbitz$2,840.96$50 onboard credit
Priceline$2,840.96$175 onboard credit and a free specialty dinner for 2 people
Royal Caribbean$2,840.96None
Travelocity$2,840.96$125 onboard credit
TripAdvisor$2,840.96$175 onboard credit and a free specialty dinner for 2 people
United Cruises$2,865.95 (including $24.99 fee)$50 onboard credit, a free specialty dinner for 2 people, and 11,363 United MileagePlus miles (4 points per dollar); earn an additional 3 points per dollar when you use a Chase United MileagePlus credit card

As you can see, most websites are offering the same base price. The exceptions are Cruise.com which is $20 lower and Delta SkyMiles Cruises, American Airlines Cruises, and United cruises which all charge a $24.99 processing fee.

The difference comes in the extras like onboard credit, free specialty dinners, free gratuities, or bonus miles. Unlike booking hotels or flights where it’s often a better deal to book direct, the cruise line’s own website was the only one that wasn’t offering any sort of bonus.

In this example, your best bets would be to book through CheapCaribbean.com, Costco Travel, Cruise.com, Cruisewatch, Expedia, Priceline, or TripAdvisor.

Hot Tip: The higher the room category you book, the more deals (like onboard spending money or free specialty dining) you’ll be offered. Lots of these types of bonuses only come with balcony staterooms and suites.

Example #2:

An 11-night Australia and New Zealand cruise from Auckland, New Zealand on Norwegian’s Norwegian Jewel. Prices are for 2 adults in the least expensive ocean view room that’s available.

Booking WebsiteTotal Price Extras
American Airlines Cruises$1,468.09 (including $24.99 fee)1,468 American Airlines miles (1 mile per dollar spent); earn an additional 1 mile per dollar if you’re using an American Airlines credit card
CheapCaribbean.com$1,443.10$50 onboard credit
Costco Travel$2,130.30$70 Costco gift card and Free at Sea (choice of 2 perks like a premium beverage package or specialty dining); Executive members receive an additional $42 cash-back
Cruise.com$1,443.10$100 cash-back (after submitting form)
Cruise Critic$1,443.10$100 cash-back
CruiseDirect.com$1,443.1010% offshore excursions booked through CruiseDirect.com
Cruises.com$1,443.10$50 cash-back
CruisesOnly$1,443.10$50 cash-back (must submit a form to be eligible)
Cruisewatch$1,443.10$100 onboard credit
Delta SkyMiles Cruises$1,468.09 (including $24.99 fee)5,000 Delta SkyMiles
Expedia$1,443.10$100 onboard credit
Kayak$1,443.10$100 cash-back (after submitting form)
Marriott Cruises$1,468.09 (including $24.99 fee)4,329 Marriott points (3 points per dollar); earn an additional 2 points per dollar if you use a Chase Marriott credit card
Norwegian Cruise Line$1,443.10None
Orbitz$1,443.10None
Priceline$1,443.10$100 onboard credit
Travelocity$1,443.10$100 onboard credit (must submit form prior to sailing)
TripAdvisor$1,443.10$100 cash-back (after submitting form)
United Cruises$1,468.09 (including $24.99 fee)2,886 United miles (2 miles per dollar); earn an additional 2 miles per dollar if you use a Chase United credit card

For this example, there are lots of sites that are offering either $100 cash-back or a $100 onboard credit including Cruise.com, Cruise Critic, Cruisewatch, Expedia, Kayak, Priceline, Travelocity, and TripAdvisor.

The clear loser in this situation is Costco Travel which is charging $687.20 more than everyone else!

Bottom Line: The base cost of a cruise is generally the same across most websites. The big difference comes in the extras — onboard credit, specialty dinners, cash-back, or bonus miles. Surprisingly, the cruise line’s website tends to be the worst place to book! In both of our examples, the only websites to offer the best deals both times were Cruise.com, Cruisewatch, Expedia, Priceline, and TripAdvisor. These websites are all pretty safe bets when it comes to booking a cruise.

Final Thoughts

No matter where you book your cruise, you’ll be paying the same base price 9 times out of 10. Even though a website might be offering “the best prices” or a “50% discount,” when you actually look at the numbers they’ll usually be the same as every other website.

To get a great deal, you’ll need to look for bonuses that a particular website is offering such as onboard credit, free specialty dinners, cash-back, or bonus airline miles.

The higher the room category you are booking, the more bonuses you’ll be able to get. Keep in mind that lots of the bonuses you may see advertised won’t kick in unless you book a balcony stateroom or a suite. Cash-back and onboard spending bonuses are generally tied to your stateroom level as well which means you’re not going to get anywhere near the amount advertised if you’re booking an interior or ocean view cabin.

No matter where you book your cruise, you’ll have a great time — and be sure to check out our post with cruise tips and a downloadable packing guide!


FAQ

How do you get the best deals on cruises?

To get the best deals on a cruise, it’s important to know which website is offering the most bonuses. The base price of your cruise will be the same from website to website 9 times out of 10, so you’ll need to find the website that’s offering the best bonuses like onboard credit or free specialty dinners. In our price comparisons, the websites that offered the best price in both examples were Cruise.com, Cruisewatch, Expedia, Priceline, and TripAdvisor.

Is it better to book directly with the cruise line?

Surprisingly, you’ll usually get a better deal when you book your cruise through an online travel agency (think Cruise.com, Expedia, or Priceline). When you book through these types of sites you’ll get any deals that are being offered directly by the cruise line plus any extras offered by the OTA.

Is it better to book cruises last minute?

While you can find some great deals on last minute cruises, it’s not a guarantee. If you have any preference about your cabin type or location, you’ll want to book as early as possible to make sure you get exactly what you want. If you’re traveling with a group and want to book cabins that are next door to each other, you’ll also want to book ahead of time.

However, if you’re super flexible and don’t care what type of cabin you’re in, where it’s located, or even what cruise you’re on, you can often find some good deals last minute.

Katie Seemann

About Katie Seemann

Katie is an Ohio native who caught the travel bug after spending a semester in college in Nottingham, England. In addition to exploring England, she visited Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands during that time and loved every minute of it (everything except the hostel in Scotland – that’s an experience she doesn’t intend on repeating!) In 2015, Katie discovered the world of points and miles, and since then she’s earned countless points and has an embarrassingly large number of credit cards in her wallet (which she needs a spreadsheet to keep track of!)

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