Everybody wants to travel the world, right? How does a luxury cruise sound? Warm beaches, exotic ports of call, haute cuisine, 5-star service, hammocks and fruity umbrellas. Who could resist?

Of course, there is a small problem: outrageous prices that put the dream of a cruise vacation out of reach for 90% of people. But there is hope. I’m here to help you find the best cruise travel deals. Wholesale prices, incentive cruises, and even the occasional FREE trip are in the bag of tricks. My goal is to show you how to plan, search, book and enjoy the cruise vacation of a lifetime on a budget, whether it’s your first cruise or your 10th.

Be sure to check out this month’s top tips, secrets, and tricks the travel industry doesn’t want you to know about getting a great cruise travel deal.

Here are 5 ideas to start finding the cheapest cruise deals:

1) Go out of season

Everyone and their brother are planning a cruise in the spring or early summer. Think spring break and that’s where you’ll find the crowds. The cruise industry will not offer good cruise travel deals during its peak season because it simply is not necessary. Expect a 20-30% cheaper rate for cruises out of season.

BONUS: Airfare will also be cheaper during the less traveled months, saving you an additional amount of money.

2) Consider repositioning

These cruises are heavily discounted because the cruise line is simply moving the ship from one home port to another. They have to make that trip no matter how many passengers sign up. You’ll get a few fewer ports, but if you’re a true cruise lover, the extra days at sea won’t be a huge burden. You can expect to save 40-60% on the price per day compared to regular cruises.

3) skip the flight

Most cruises in the US originate from Florida and California, but did you know that there are dozens of other embarkation ports (where you depart from) available? Unexpected places like New Orleans, Houston, Seattle, New Jersey, and even Mobile, AL offer a few cruise itineraries a year. If you can hitchhike from somewhere within driving distance, how much will you save? Anticipate travel costs to and from the port of embarkation to easily drop $ 1000 for a family of 4.

BONUS: Plus, you won’t have to worry about the hotel on either side of the cruise ship in this scenario.

4) Last minute savings

Often times, if your schedule is flexible, you can get good cruise travel deals in the last 2 months before departure. Think about it: the ship is underway, the overheads are relatively fixed, so empty staterooms cost cruise lines a lot of money that can never be recovered. Sign up for email newsletters (cheapcruises.com, vacationstogo.com, and travelzoo.com are my favorites) to receive priority notification of cruise travel deals.

5) Talk and browse

If you’ve ever been on a cruise, you know there are an endless variety of educational and entertainment opportunities on board. Everything from underwater basket weaving, painting classes, wine tasting seminars. Did you know that each of those presenters AND their family get a complimentary cruise in exchange for a couple of 1-hour work sessions? Would you work for 2 hours to get a free cruise?

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