When it comes to booking cruises, there are ways to save. From repositioning cruises, to special discounts, to strategies for timing your purchase, you can save money. • I'm a big fan of repositioning cruises because they offer the same on-board amenities of a regular cruise, but for a lower price. These cruises are available when the cruise lines move their fleets for the next cruise season. There are more days at sea, with fewer ports of call, but you still get the great meals and entertainment.
One example of a repositioning cruise that I recommend sails from Los Angeles to Alaska in May, with rates starting as low as $509 per person. This seven-night cruise on Norwegian departs from Los Angeles, makes stops in Juneau and Ketchikan and ends in Vancouver.
The cheapest rate in the summer is $240 higher, and it departs from Seattle. If you've ever wanted to upgrade, this is the time. A balcony on the May cruise costs $729 and a suite costs $799. In the summer, those same balconies are selling for $1,449 and the suites are $1,649.
Some of the best cruise deals are for people who have served in the military. If you are active military, in the reserves or retired, you'll need to show proof of service.
If you are no longer in the military, as long as you were honorably discharged you can qualify for these deals, even if you served just one day. If you need a copy of your DD214 discharge document, go to archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records.
Often, you can book up to three rooms at the military rate, enabling you to bring friends and family along.
In addition to military rates, there are some other discounts that can save you money if you qualify.
If you plan to cruise in late August, September or October, don't buy too early. Once the spring cruise season winds down, we usually see great deals for late-summer and fall cruises right after Memorial Day. We see extras added on, such as free upgrades and onboard credits, and prices often drop, too.
Tom Parsons is CEO of Bestfares.com.