11 Tips for Retirees To Score Great Deals on Last-Minute Summer Cruises

It’s not too late to snag a bargain summer getaway.

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Updated June 18, 2024
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Experts typically say “booking early” is one of the best ways to save more on travel. So, at this point, you might think it’s too late to score a bargain summer vacation.

However, cruises provide the opportunity for travelers — particularly retirees looking to explore the world — to nab bargain deals year-round.

If you are still hoping to take a cruise this summer, consider these 11 tips from experts for getting a great last-minute deal.

If you’re over 50, take advantage of massive travel discounts and trip-planning resources

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Sign up for email alerts on cruise deals

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Major cruise lines — such as Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Norwegian — often send out emails to let their customers know about upcoming deals.

They might even offer last-minute bargains on summer cruises that haven’t yet filled up, or that have had cancellations.

Step up your travel game by signing up for the email list on the websites of cruise lines you like. You might just discover that great summer cruise deal you have been hoping to find.

Keep tabs on the ‘deals’ section of cruise sites

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In addition to signing up for promotional emails, retirees may also be able to save big by keeping track of new deals that pop up on cruise line websites.

For example, Royal Caribbean has a regularly updated section called “Cruise Deals,” where you can find discounted trips, last-minute deals, short cruise packages, and more.

Consider a trip to the Caribbean or Mexico

Solarisys/Adobe cozumel port

The beginning of summer through November is considered the “shoulder season” for popular cruising destinations such as the Caribbean and Mexico. That is because this time is also hurricane season.

You may be able to score serious deals during the off-season, but consider booking travel insurance, too, just in case you have to cancel due to poor weather.

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Consider booking as a group

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If you are traveling with friends or a large family, you may be able to score discounts by booking as a group. Some cruise lines offer hefty discounts when travelers book a certain number of cabins.

For example, Norwegian Cruise Line offers discounted rates plus additional perks — such as an onboard credit and access to a free open bar — when groups book at least five cabins.

Check out cruise deal aggregator sites

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You can also keep track of upcoming deals by using cruise aggregator sites, such as Cruise Critic or Cruiseline.com.

These sites often compile deals. While travelers without a destination in mind can simply sift through the best bargains, customers also have the option to narrow down the search to a specific destination or general area.

Start looking for deals 90 days before sailing day

icholakov/Adobe retired couple enjoying cruise vacation

Cruise lines tend to slash prices or offer bargains beginning about 90 days ahead of sailing day. That is likely because three months out is often when final deposits are due on cruises. If a boat isn’t packed, the companies may start to offer some incentives to get those final cabins booked.

If you use the 90-day mark as guidance, you might score some excellent late-summer deals right about now.

Try to save by looking for kids deals

Pavel Losevsky/Adobe little girl standing on deck

If you are hoping to travel with family, look for deals that let kids travel for free.

For example, MSC Cruises allows kids 17 and under to sail for free on select ships if they are the third or fourth guest included in the package. A bargain cruise can make for a great getaway with the grandkids.

Work with a travel agent

Prostock-studio/Adobe worker offering tour to couple

While many bargain hunters prefer to book vacations on their own, a knowledgeable travel agent can hook you up with last-minute deals you might not otherwise uncover.

In addition to saving you time and doing the brunt of the research for you, a travel agent may have access to better deals. They can also answer questions about what’s included in each package.

Check social media for deals

saksit/Adobe happy asian senior couple

Cruise lines have been known to offer deals via social media. So, following your favorite companies on Facebook, Instagram, X, and other sites might lead to some serious bargains.

You can also find deals on a site like X by searching for the hashtag #CruiseDeals.

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Look into redeployments

Svetlana/Adobe man standing on empty deck

Sometimes, a major cruise line will need to redeploy a ship to another city or country. These trips may have fewer stops than a typical cruise, but you could score an excellent deal since the boat will be making the voyage anyway.

The downside of redeployment or “repositioning” cruises is that they are one-way, so you will likely need to fly back home from wherever you dock.

Book inside cabins

ike/Adobe couple walking on cruise ship

Many cruisers choose more expensive outside cabins because they want to glimpse the deep blue sea from their balcony at any time during the cruise.

However, with plenty of decks, lounges, and outdoor amenities to enjoy on board, you can engage in plenty of gazing at the ocean even if you book a cheaper inside cabin.

Compromising and booking an inside cabin is a great way to enjoy a cruise while also staying true to your commitment to get ahead financially.

Bottom line

olezzo/Adobe mature woman in glasses

Last-minute travelers often face higher prices, particularly when they need to fly somewhere. However, with some careful planning and price tracking, you can still score a great deal on a cruise this summer.

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Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore

Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore is a seasoned freelance writer who also teaches writing courses at Rutgers University. She's based in Jersey City and enjoys travel, live music and, of course, spending quality time with her pup.