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Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas and Celebrity Beyond docked in Cozumel (Photo: Jorge Oliver)

How to Book a Cruise on a New Ship for Less

Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas and Celebrity Beyond docked in Cozumel (Photo: Jorge Oliver)
Mikkel Woodruff

May 16, 2023

Read time
6 min read

You may jump at the chance book a cruise on a new ship after its debut. Being one of the first people onboard a shiny new cruise ship gives you a first look at the latest technology, entertainment, and fun offerings cruise lines have packed their ships full of, not to mention bragging rights.

Yet booking a cruise on a new ship carries a heftier price tag than cruises aboard older ships. With a few money-saving tips, you’ll learn how to book a cruise on a new ship for less.

Why Book a Cruise On a New Ship?

Wonder of the Seas at Labadee, Haiti on March 6, 2022 (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

Much like booking a room at a new hotel, booking a cruise on a new ship is filled with possibilities. The latest Broadway-caliber shows may premiere on a new cruise ship. The technology onboard is likely to be the latest and greatest across the board, whether it's a cutting-edge 280-degree screen in the main theater, new games in the casino, televisions in the bars, or onboard rides that appeal to a younger audience.

Additionally, booking a cruise on a new ship allows you to be a part of something historic in some ways; this is especially attractive for avid cruisers. If the ship is the "first" in its class – for example, the largest ship at sea or the first to offer a cool new attraction -- you get to be a part of it. You forever get to say, "I was on the ship back when…"

So How Can You Book On a New Cruise Ship For Less?

Booking Online for a Cruise (Photo: Song_about_summer/Shutterstock)

There are a number of different tricks to book a cruise on a new ship for less. While it may seem like a game of opposites attract, with a little research and careful consideration you can find the best deals on new ships.

Savings divulge in a myriad of ways. Instead of simply looking for a percentage discount off your cruise, look for something like more inclusions that can save you money in the long run. For example, instead of focusing on 30% off the cruise fare, keep your eyes peeled for upgraded drinks packages, free Wi-Fi, excursion credits or Onboard Credits (OBC), and the like.

Try Booking Early

9 Mistakes to Avoid When Booking Shore Excursions (Photo: nito/Shutterstock)

When a cruise line wants to jumpstart sales on a new ship, they may discount the cruise as soon as bookings go public. Getting these deals as soon as they are released, even if it means booking many months or even more than a year in advance, may equate to great savings for you.

Or, Book Last Minute

9 Mistakes to Avoid When Booking Shore Excursions (Photo: paffy/Shutterstock)

If you’re flexible with your travel plans and your schedule, don’t rule out looking for a last-minute deal -- even on a new cruise ship. These specials are often released with only days or a couple weeks of notice prior to departure, and are intended to fill the ship to capacity. You may not have the best selection of cabins to choose from, but if you're not picky, the savings can really add up and get you onboard that new cruise ship, for less. Last minute savings on new cruise ships are especially advantageous for people who are within driving distance to a port, who don't have to be concerned about last minute flight costs.

Book Your Next Cruise While Still Onboard

Next Cruise on Oasis of the Seas

Many cruise lines offer a significant discount if you book your next cruise while still onboard your current cruise -- and that can be a great way to secure a spot on a new cruise ship. Find out where the Future Cruises sales desk -- or area of the ship with a similar name -- is onboard. Cruise lines offer significant onboard booking incentives to hook you while you’re happy!

For example, if you book your next cruise onboard Emerald Cruises (including their new yacht cruise ships Emerald Azzurra and Emerald Sakara), you may get a percentage off the booking and an upgrade element no matter the cabin category. In addition to this is a 60-day grace period from the booking date, which grants a full refund if you cancel, making it risk-free.

In many cases, you can stack savings on board. This allows you to take advantage of multiple discount offers, whereas it’s unlikely you can do so by booking from home.

Book With a Travel Agent

Travel Agent Shaking Hands with Customer (Photo: PR Image Factory/Shutterstock)

Part of a travel agent’s job is being privy to the latest and greatest news and offers in their area of travel expertise. Booking through a cruise-specific travel agent may equal savings via introductory offers not yet available to the general public. They may also offer you OBC you would not have otherwise received.

Beverly Olds, of Bolds Travel & Tours, LLC, says, "Consumers who book direct are missing out. Through affiliations with cruise lines, travel advisors often have added amenities not offered when booking direct."

If you’re new to the world of travel advisors, Olds recommends interviewing a few before you decide to book. Inquire about how long they have been selling cruises, who they work with, and what cruises they have been on. You can even check out their social media and websites to see if their travel style resonates with you.

Lastly, ask to book a call to see if you mesh well over the phone since you’ll likely be in contact a few times before you travel. After all, you’re entrusting this travel professional to assist in booking a memorable cruise vacation you’re taking with hard-earned money and time off.

Book Direct With The Cruise Line

Top 8 Things You Can Do on the Cruise Critic Message Boards to Enhance Your Cruise (Photo: Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock)

While booking with a travel agent is often a money-saving way to go, sometimes booking direct can offer the most savings on a new cruise ship.

Knowing when to look for deals could save you money on a new cruise ship too, like Wave season. This is the time when cruise lines run specials from Black Friday through the first two to three months of the new year. How long the deals last, exactly when they start and end, and what the savings are depend on the cruise line.

Furthermore, look at cruise line websites during holidays, including Black Friday/Cyber Monday and Christmas, along with cruise-specific events like Wave Season. You may get major percentages off the cruise fare or "2nd guests sail free" incentives, OBC, or cost savings off the total cruise fare.

Be Flexible With Your Stateroom

CC MSC Magnifica Ocean view cabin

Generally speaking, the higher the cabin category, the more expensive the cruise fare.

If you’re flexible with your cabin choice, a once-out-of-reach cruise on a new ship may become possible. Even small flexibility may help reduce the cost of sailing on a new cruise ship, like choosing an outside cabin, instead of one with a balcony, or a balcony cabin with an obstructed view.

Additionally, check the prices for cabins that are on lower decks. Quite often, the higher the deck number, the higher the price you'll pay.

Consider a Repositioning Cruise

A passenger looks out over the stern of Queen Mary 2 on the Atlantic. (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

If ports of call aren’t of vital importance to you, consider a repositioning cruise. These cruises take the ship long distances to simply reposition where it is in the world, typically at the start and end of a season.

For example, a repositioning cruise across the Atlantic Ocean may occur when a cruise ship that has been at Port Everglades, Florida, during winter, sails to the Port of Barcelona, Spain, for summer. New cruise ships need to reposition themselves just like older ships, and these voyages often have significant value by offering more days onboard for a reduced price.

While the itinerary may hit a few ports during the sailing, repositioning itineraries typically include fewer ports than a usual cruise. Partially because these cruises don’t incur as many port fees and taxes, they often cost less.

With a little planning -- and some flexibility -- it really is possible to book a cruise on a newer ship, and save some money while doing it.

Updated May 16, 2023
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