Cruise clearance sales - important points you should know.
Ships still need to sail as full as possible year-round, which can lead to some great deals.

Unless you walk around with your eyes closed, there’s an excellent chance you’ve seen, either on TV, in newspapers or more likely on social media, some of these promotions for cruise holidays where prices seem so low they can’t possibly be real. Cabins starting from $50 per person per day sound good, but there are always conditions.

Well, the good news is that when it comes to these sales, they really are that good. Advertising laws in Australia prevent any business from promoting something that cannot be obtained, so it is definitely possible to secure a cabin as cheaply as the ads say you can. However, there are some important points that must be considered before you start circling dates in the calendar for your next holiday.

Be flexible, but be quick.

Simply Googling the words “Cruise Sales” bring up a myriad of options including promotions which sometimes are only valid for 24 hours. More often that not, available inventory at these prices is very limited & cruise lines are simply looking to fill cabins almost at any price.

So if you’re in a position where you can literally pack your bags and go at a moment’s notice, a cabin on a sailing departing in the next week or two might find its way into your short term plans. There’s virtually no chance these available cruises will take place during peak periods such as school holidays, so there may be some interruption to your semester if you go. It’s also worth noting that more often than not, these sailings will run during the cooler months of the year, so there may not be a whole lot of activity by the pool each day.

Read the fine print before getting too excited at cruise bargains.
Certainly be quick to book a cheap cruise, but be aware of the conditions.

Check the small print.

All of the major contemporary cruise lines put out these “last minute” specials from time to time, but like any deal, the devil can come in the detail.

Couples or travelling parties of two people may find their price is affected because of the simple fact there aren’t more people in the room. It’s important to check whether the advertised price is based on “Twin Share” or “Quad Share”. In the latter case, you’ll need to have four people travelling in the cabin, and if you’ve ever seen some of these cabins, sure they’re comfortable, but four people may be a little too squishy for your comfort.

There’s also a good chance these specials apply to sailings the cruise lines are having trouble selling in their own right, so there may not be much variety in the available sail dates. Normally, cruise lines allow you to pay for your cruise with a deposit at the time of booking and a final payment deadline some time in the future, however to secure a price this low, you will have to pay for the entire holiday when you reserve your cabin.

The advertised price most likely won’t be all that you pay.

Cruise ships offer a plethora of dining and entertainment options, many of which are free and included in your cruise fare. And these free venues are far from third-rate – the food they serve is outstanding in quality, with extensive menus which change daily. Make no mistake, you’ll enjoy top-notch food even if you dine there every day (not to mention having the chance to get to know your friendly wait staff quite well). But those specialty dining venues do look tempting, and they all come with an additional cost, even if it is great value.

Drinks are a separate matter entirely. If water, tea and coffee is your thing, you should be able to keep your bill to a minimum. But a holiday is worth splurging on some nice drinks even if you have to pay for them. And this is where a drinks package comes in.

Don’t be disappointed if your final booking price isn’t quite so low.

One bonus of these cruise sales which is great for the whole industry is that they raise the awareness of cruising considerably in the market. Cruising is addictive and once you do your first, there’s a great chance holidays at sea will hook you for life. So if you see a promotion at a ridiculously low price but don’t quite meet all the criteria required to stay at that price, don’t worry – even if you pay a little more, you will still have a great holiday.

Living the high life with champagne on a cruise ship.
All power to you if you get a cheap cruise fare, however you’ll still have a great time even if you pay a little more.