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Taking a cruise is the dream of a lot of people, but finding a cruise line going to the destination of your choice at the right price can result in hours of online searching. Some people rely on a travel agent to find the best deals, but others spend hours online looking for that perfect deal. You may be able to get a low price but may have to make some compromises on the ports you wish to visit. Here are some ideas for finding cheap cruise deals.

How To Book A Cruise

If you’ve never cruised before, working with a travel agent is a smart move. Travel agents have relationships with the cruise lines and can usually find lower prices and good deals at the last minute. The agents have the experience to handle problems that may arise before your departure. If you choose the do-it-yourself route, you can do a search for sites that crawl the web looking for the best cruise deals. Sometimes booking on a smaller ship is cheaper since they don’t have as many amenities as the big cruise lines.

When To Make Reservations

When you’re making the reservations for your cruise don’t book early unless there’s a room that you want. Cruise lines don’t want their ships sailing when they aren’t fully booked, so the best thing to do is hold off to make your reservation. A lot of the best deals are available within 90 days of the departure date. If there’s a price change after you book your cruise, contact your travel agent or the cruise line. A credit for the difference can usually be issued. Another way to handle a price change is to request a change in the rate, cancel the reservation and then book it again.

Off Season Deals

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to save a lot on your cruise, book a Caribbean cruise between June 1st and November 30t, which is typically Hurricane season. You can save a lot by booking a cruise to Alaska in September.

Book A Repositioning Cruise

Great deals are available if you book your cruise on a ship that’s being moved from one port to the next for the start of the cruise season. You can find out about repositioning cruises on any cruise line’s website and is the opportunity to sail along a continent take a transatlantic crossing. On the one-way cruises, cabins and seating for dinner may be somewhat limited, but you can save a considerable amount on the trip. If you drive to the port instead of flying, you’ll save even more.

Ways To Save Onboard

Cruises aren’t always all-inclusive, and cruise lines make a lot of money from what passengers spend onboard. The specialty restaurants that most ships feature are booked ahead of time and can cost a lot since most of them are a la carte. Eat your meals at the buffet. The food is just as good, and you’ll save a lot on dining.

Cruise lines make a lot booking shore excursions for passengers. Instead of reserving in port trips through the cruise company, plan your trips in port. You’ll be paying a local tour operator and avoid the crowds from the ship. If you opt for the complimentary drinks onboard, you’ll save money since soda can cost $3 or more for a small glass. If you drink a lot of soda, it adds up quickly.

Use the Web To Save

Take advantage of email offers that the cruise lines send out to subscribers. If you don’t want deals from cruise companies sent to your email, set up a separate one only for cruise deals. Find last minute cruise deals by using Twitter.

Documents You Need For A Cruise

Documents that you need if you’re a U.S. citizen can vary depending on the cruise. For example, if you’re boarding a cruise ship at a port in Florida, traveling to the U.S. Virgin Islands, then returning to the same port, it’s known as a closed loop cruise, so you don’t need a passport.

However, if you board the ship in Miami for a cruise that ends in San Diego, it’s not a closed loop cruise. If you’re a U.S. citizen on a closed loop cruise, you can leave and enter the country with proof of your citizenship. Acceptable documents are an Enhanced Driver’s License; a government-issued birth certificate, a passport, or a photo ID that includes our birth date. The EDL is valid for U.S. citizens re-entering the country from the Caribbean, Canada, or Mexico.

When you’re booking your cruise, make sure to follow these tips. If you know how to search for the best prices, you’ll enjoy your cruise even more.