20 of the Best Websites for Booking Cheap Cruises (January 2023)
Think that the only place to go for booking a cruise is directly via the cruise line’s website? Or through a travel agent? Think again. You can also find cheap cruises through a bevy of affordable travel booking websites. Here are 20 of our favorites, as well as the pros and cons of each option, so you can book your next cruise for the best price possible.
Cruise-Specific Booking Websites
While you could go to an online travel agency that offers flights, hotels, and cruises, why not try a cruise-specific booking website first? After all, these are the pros that specialize in cruising, so they know what you’re looking for and how to give it.
Yeah, CruiseDirect’s website looks a little outdated, but that’s only because this cruise booking provider has been around for about two decades. You know they know their stuff.
One of the coolest features on this website? As you’re searching around for a cruise, you can “heart” the cruises you like, so you can go back later and reconsider them. Additionally, the website doesn’t require you to pay the full cost of your cruise at the time of booking — just a deposit.
- Booking incentives such as free dining experiences and travel insurance
- No need to pay up-front
- Price matching is only available for the first 24 hours after you book
- Clunky website
Cruise Critic is a great little corner of the internet for those who love all things cruising. Here, you can find tons of information about your favorite cruise lines, cruise ships, routes, and more. Get in-depth reviews, cruising tips — it’s all there. But, beyond providing all of this extra info, Cruise Critic also allows you to book cruises. Unfortunately, it’s not Cruise Critic offering those cruises for sale. Cruise Critic just aggregates all of the pricing info and then presents it to you. You have to go to another website to book your cruise.
- Tons of information about any and every cruise
- Robust forum community of cruisers
- You’ll have to go to another website to purchase your cruise fare
If you love the power of data, though, Cruisewatch might be the perfect cruise-booking platform for you. The website uses a compilation of data points to predict the best time for you to book your cruise based on price — allowing you to get the best deal, not just the best deal that the website decides to push that day. Additionally, it uses a handy algorithm to better suit the website’s recommendations to your tastes. As you “like” or “dislike” certain cruise features, the website learns your preferences and makes its recommendations accordingly.
- Tech-savvy search capabilities and personalization
- Real-time price drop alerts
- Search functions don’t go as in-depth as some of the others on our list
- Doesn’t show all the prices for all of the cruises available unless you hand over your personal info
CruisesOnly offers … you guessed it: only cruises. What makes it a little different from other cruise-booking platforms on this list is its unparalleled level of customer service, with on-demand agents available to answer any of your cruising or cruise booking questions. The website also has a loyalty program, allowing you to earn extra bonuses and perks the more you book. For example, after just two bookings, you can get vouchers for shore excursions, cash back, and/or an Amazon gift card.
- Free loyalty program
- On-call booking agents
- Doesn’t always offer the lowest prices
Cruise.com is just about as specific and simple as you can get. It’s a website, named after exactly what you want to book — a cruise! Unfortunately, while the name is simple, the website isn’t always as simple as it could be. This is a site that’s a little more catered toward the seasoned cruiser. It gives you a lot of information and a lot of options, meaning newbie cruisers could feel a little overwhelmed. One great thing, though, that this site offers that some of the other cruise-specific booking websites don’t? The ability to bundle your cruise fare with airfare.
- Book your airfare and cruise fare in one place, for one price
- Find a lot of extra offers, packages, and rates, all in one spot
- Lots of information in what can be a confusing interface
- This site is not newbie-friendly.
So what about Cruises.com? Yes, cruise.com and cruises.com are two separate things. While the former is known primarily as a site that offers deals you won’t necessarily find elsewhere and gives you a lot of extra info, cruises.com is known for potentially lucrative deals. The only downside to these deals is that you have to be careful to read the fine print. If not, you could feel like you didn’t get your money’s worth or you could find yourself, unfortunately, scammed. That’s not to say it happens every time, though, so just do your due diligence.
- Find lucrative cruise deals
- Sometimes those deals aren’t as good as they seem
Okay, so Vacations To Go sounds like it would give you the option to book everything you might need for an entire vacation. But, one quick look at the website’s homepage shows that it bills itself as an online cruise agency. It boasts that it’s the largest cruise agency in the world. It also says it can save you over 80% on cruise fares, but that’s not proven.
Vacations To Go’s website may seem a little outdated, but it does have some nice features. It allows you to search for cruises with certain port stops. You can also search for cruises with particular themes, such as a singles cruise or cruises for emergency personnel. There’s also a 90-day ticker feature that shows you last-minute available cruises.
The big downside to this website, though, is that you have to call the brand’s number to book. The only thing you can do online is ask for a quote. You’ll have to speak with someone to reserve your cruise.
- The website offers a robust search function
- You can find last-minute cruise deals, for cruises departing in 90 days or sooner
- You can’t book your cruise directly on the website
- You have to call a Vacations to Go representative to book
Online Travel Agencies (OTAs)
But if you’re a frequent traveler, you’re probably already pretty familiar with the very popular online travel agencies out there. Priceline, Expedia — it’s incredibly common that you’ll find your best hotel and flight deals with one of these websites. But many of these online travel agencies likewise offer deals on cruises.
CheapCaribbean.com is technically a Caribbean-specific travel booking platform, but don’t let the name fool you. Rather, you can find cruises for all around the world here, not just Caribbean cruises. The nice thing about this booking platform is that it allows you to search via a few extra categories (like cruise themes) that you won’t find on the other platforms above. Additionally, CheapCaribbean gives you plenty of incentives to book on the platform, with discounts, credits, and even a loyalty club.
- Free, 24-hour cancellations
- Lots of booking perks, from spa credits to cash back
- Lots of search functionality
- Not 100% focused on cruises
- Reviewers report poor customer service
- Not as cheap as the name would suggest
Comparatively, Expedia is one of the larger travel booking platforms out there. From vacation rentals to flights, rental cars to cruises, Expedia offers a little bit of it all. The site is easy to use, making it a top pick for those who want a hassle-free cruise-booking experience. The only downside, though, is that the cruise-booking experience is so simple on Expedia that you don’t have the chance to get down into the nitty-gritty of what you want from your cruise when searching. That could be either a pro or a con, depending on what you’re looking for.
- Some of the best cruise-booking deals available
- Large, reputable platform
- Simple-to-use interface
- Conversely, the site could be considered too simple, and it doesn’t include all the search features an avid cruiser might want
Similarly, Priceline is another well-known travel booking platform, with just as much clout as Expedia. However, where Expedia fails in allowing for in-depth searches, Priceline shines. You can search for a range of cruising experiences, whether you want a balcony cabin, a luxury cruise, or even a cruise with a certain theme. You can also search for cruises with particular discounts, such as a senior discount. This makes Priceline quite competitive with CheapCaribbean when it comes to search features.
- Lots of ways to search for your perfect cruise
- Bonus incentives for booking through Priceline, such as credits and shore excursion savings
- Priceline’s famed “name your own price” feature doesn’t apply to cruises
Kayak is more of a travel deal aggregator than a legitimate online travel agency, but that’s precisely why Kayak aficionados prefer the site. It brings together travel deals from around the web and then even compares them to the deals you’ll find with competitors like Expedia and Priceline, so there are fewer websites you’ll need to scroll through, to find your best cruise deal. Further reading: see our complete guide to using Kayak to book cheap travel.
- Find more prices in one place
- Great user experience via the Kayak app
- Unfortunately, Kayak pushes “suggested,” higher-cost cruises over the legitimately cheaper fares
Like Cruise Critic, TripAdvisor is a great place to go to find reviews and cruising information, but did you know that you can also book cruises via this website? You can find cruise deals from a wide array of sources, for cruises all over the world. However, also like Cruise Critic, TripAdvisor won’t allow you to actively book your cruise on the site. Instead, it’ll send you elsewhere to do that. But, it’s a nice feature if you’re already frequently on the site, reading up ahead of your next cruise.
- Real reviews and info plus booking and deal recommendations all in one spot
- You’ll be redirected to a different website for booking
13. Avoya Travel
Next up, Avoya Travel is a unique option, as it combines online search features and travel agent know-how to give you what it calls a superior cruise-booking experience. You enter some info about what kind of cruise you want, and then a planner uses your information to show you the best cruises for you. Better yet, a website membership gets you access to unpublished deals, as well as free cruise booking changes and cancellations.
- Personalized service and cruise recommendations
- Free membership comes with exclusive deals and perks
- The low-price guarantee is only available for 24 hours after booking
- Not ideal for those who want a hands-off, DIY booking experience
Another online travel agency where you might frequently book your other travel, Orbitz also offers cruises — and there are a lot of reasons why you might want to book with Orbitz. The site offers a loyalty program for frequent travel bookers (and it’s very possible to frequently book with Orbitz since the site offers entire vacation packages, rental cars, activities, etc.). It also offers deals and savings you might not find elsewhere. And, if you do find a better price on your cruise on another site, within 24 hours, you can take advantage of Orbitz’s best price guarantee.
- If you prefer to streamline your travel booking and do it all in one place, Orbitz will allow you to do that, with its wealth of options
- You only have 24 hours to take advantage of the best price guarantee
- Cruise bookings don’t qualify for the Orbitz loyalty program rewards
Much like Orbitz, Travelocity is another online travel agency where you’re most likely to book a cruise only if you use the site for all of your other travel bookings. If you already book your flights, hotel rooms, and car rentals on Travelocity, it’s worth checking out their cruise deals.
However, you might find the cruise booking portion of the agency’s website a bit clunky. For this reason, some users just use the website to browse their cruise options and then they call Travelocity directly to book their chosen option.
- Cruises offered in the same spot you potentially book all your other travel, for a streamlined experience
- Users find a poor website design (at least for the cruising portion)
- It’s sometimes easier to book over the phone
Airline, Hotel, and Other Brands
But sometimes, you can also purchase cruises through providers who aren’t online travel agents, or cruise lines, or even anything close. Airlines, hotels, and other brands also offer deals on cruises for their most loyal customers.
16. Costco Travel
Costco members can purchase cruises, hotels, airfare, and car rental packages all online. While the cruise fares aren’t necessarily cheaper through Costco than what you might get with some of the other providers on our list, the incentives are what make booking through Costco worth it for some. The favorite incentive? Hefty Costco gift cards.
- Incentives include Costco gift cards that can really add up
- The prices aren’t always cheaper than what you’ll find elsewhere
- A Costco membership is necessary to book
If you’re an American Airlines AAdvantage member, you may want to book your cruise through your existing American Airlines loyalty membership. Doing so allows you to earn airline miles, while also taking advantage of savings. Just like many of the above booking platforms, American Airlines Cruises promises a 110% best price guarantee, meaning they’ll refund you 110% of the difference if you find your cruise offered at a lower price within 48 hours of your initial booking.
- Earn up to 10,000 AAdvantage miles per cruise
- Earn even more miles if you have an American Airlines credit card
- You’ll be charged an extra processing fee for your booking
Very similarly, if you’re a SkyMiles member versus an AAdvantage member, you can earn miles for your cruising when you book with Delta SkyMiles Cruises. Rather than receiving a certain number of miles for which cruise line you cruise with, you’ll receive miles based on how long you cruise, up to 10,000 SkyMiles. You also get extra perks if you book more luxurious rooms.
- Earn up to 10,000 SkyMiles per cruise
- Receive extra cruise amenities based on your Delta Medallion status
- You’ll be charged an extra processing fee for your booking
19. United Cruises
Likewise, you can earn United MileagePlus miles if you book your cruise through United Cruises. Rather than base the number of miles you earn on nights cruised or cruise line, though, United Cruises bases your miles earning on the type of stateroom you book. You can earn up to 100,000 bonus miles on select cruises.
- Earn up to 100,000 MileagePlus miles per cruise
- Receive extra cruise amenities if you have Premier status
- You’ll be charged an extra processing fee for your booking
20. Marriott Cruises
But what if you’re not a member of any frequent flyer program? You can still earn points for an existing loyalty program if you’re a member of Marriott Bonvoy. Earn points based on how much money you spend for a cruise booking, via Marriott Cruises.
You can earn up to 8 points per $1 spent on a cruise, putting you that much closer to a free night at your favorite Marriott-owned hotel. You can also use Marriott points to pay for your cruise if you so wish.
- Earn up to 8 points per $1 spent on a cruise
- Pay for your cruise using Marriott Bonvoy points
- You’ll be charged an extra processing fee for your booking
Read all of the above and still tempted to book direct? We don’t blame you. There are reasons why you might. It’s easy. You know exactly what you’re getting. All the information about the line, its routes, and the individual ships is right there at your fingertips. However, despite this, you could still be missing out on some great deals.
So what’s your best course of action? Before booking any cruise, look around at the various prices offered in a range of places. After all, you never know where an awesome deal could be lurking!
It all depends on what you’re after. If you want the most affordable cruise fare possible, you can usually find great deals the closer you get to a cruise date, as the cruise line tries to fill up cabins. However, waiting until the last minute could mean you end up with fewer choices in terms of cabin and amenities.
If you’re looking at a specific cruise across a swathe of websites, you’ll usually find that the base price is the same across a handful of sites. From there, you’ll have to look at the various “extras” the site is offering — drink packages, shore excursions, room upgrades, etcetera — to see which is providing the most value for that lowest price.
It’s a good question! Many cruise booking websites, even some of those we’ve listed above, look a little sketch. But don’t let an outdated website put you off. If it’s listed above, you can trust it. Just make sure to always read the fine print before you book any sort of travel online.
It does make sense that a cruise line might drop its prices to sell out cabins right before a cruise is set to launch. However, even having empty cabins on a cruise is a lot less common than you might think. Most cruises are full when they set sail. So, if you thought you might wait around and take a last-minute cruise that’s half-off the week before sailing, you might just want to abandon that idea.
Often, cruise lines will offer sales and deals in the late winter-early spring, January through March. These months are popularly known as “wave season.”
Most cruise lines will allow you to book a cruise as much as a year and a half in advance. If you decide to book this far out, just make sure that your cruise of choice offers some sort of travel booking insurance or a cancellation policy that allows you to adjust your schedule as needed without losing the entire cost of your cruise fare.
The Vacationer’s Final Thoughts
Cruise-specific booking websites are great resources to find your next trip at sea. However, OTAs can often have cheaper prices and worthy reward programs. Also, consider booking through a specific airline or hotel brand. This can help you maintain or gain status on an airline or with a hotel brand you use regularly. Additionally, booking with a cash back credit card such as the Chase Freedom Unlimited® can put 1.5% or more back in your wallet. Lastly, stacking these savings with another cash back program such as BeFrugal or Rakuten will further increase your savings. See also our guides on the best websites for booking cheap flights, the best websites for booking cheap hotels, and the best websites for booking cheap car rentals.
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