Booking a cruise is unlike reserving any other kind of travel. To the first-time cruiser, the myriad of choices and procedures can be overwhelming, and even experienced cruisers aren’t immune to confusion, particularly if they’re considering switching lines for the first time.
While I always advocate the use of a travel agent if you’re planning to book a cruise, this article will show how to book your very own cruise online – if that’s something you feel comfortable doing.
Step 1: Get Pricing
The first thing you want to do is price out your voyage. I picked a random Alaska cruise on Celebrity Cruises’ website; a quick sampler itinerary from Vancouver. All you have to do is select your sailing date, the number of people who will be travelling, the number of cabins needed, and click forward.
Step 2: Check For Deals
Most cruise lines will check for deals before you book, but sometimes these deals aren’t always obvious. Celebrity’s site immediately told me that special packages were available for this particular sailing, with perks like free gratuities or a complimentary beverage package. But sometimes savings can come in less-obvious forms. Price reductions can occur for entering your Province or State, or by entering your past guest number if you’ve sailed with the line before. If you don’t see any savings on your selected itinerary and are flexible with your departure dates, try another cruise. Many special promotions are limited to select itineraries and departure dates and, of course, can be revoked at any time.
Step 3: Choose Your Stateroom
Once you’ve got your price nailed down, you’re going to be asked to select your stateroom. Here’s where you’re going to want to have a brochure handy. You can book a Guarantee stateroom that will place you in any available room in your selected category for a reduced price (typically), or you can pay a bit more and select your actual room. I always like picking my actual room, but I’ve had good luck on past cruises playing the “guarantee game”, which can sometimes, but definitely not always, result in a category upgrade.
When picking your stateroom, consider this: is it above any noisy public areas, like the ship’s main theatre? Is it below any high-traffic areas, like the Promenade Deck, or next to anything liable to be noisy, like a stairwell or elevator bank? If so, and you feel you might be bothered by that, its best to select a different room. Most cruise lines will usually give you a handful o