Back in the good old days, senior discounts actually meant something. A few decades ago, when there were fewer of us out there, being in your 60s or 70s really was a ticket to lower prices on cruises, trains and planes around the world.
Now, the reality has shifted. 10,000 people turn 60 every day in the United States alone and, while we represent a significant percentage of the travel market, there are simply too many of us for it to be affordable to offer us genuine discounts.
Oh sure, you will occasionally see a “senior discounts” section on some cruise, flight or hotel websites, but, don’t be fooled! Most of the time, these discounts are inferior to the other, non-age-related, offers that are also available.
So, this begs a question… if we can no longer rely on senior discounts to get us a great cruise deal, how can we book the trip we want at a price we can afford?
Fortunately, as older adults, we have a secret weapon. We just have to be willing to use it. But, first, we need to understand a bit about how cruise deals are made.
If you want to get the best cruise deal, you’ll need to understand how dynamic pricing works. Basically, in the cruise industry, prices aren’t as set in stone as you might imagine.
Most cruise companies use dynamic pricing to adjust to changing demand for their cruises. This sounds complicated, but, it’s actually pretty simple.
If a manager sees that demand for a particular cruise is unusually low, he or she can lower the price at a moment’s notice. This means that cruise deals are often less about finding a low-cost cruise company and more about having the patience to wait for a good deal.
This is where your secret weapon comes in. In movies and on TV, it has become popular to make fun of people who try to save money by clipping coupons or searching a gazillion websites for the best deals.
That said, when it comes to finding amazing cruise deals, this is exactly the kind of behavior that can pay off!
As older adults, many of us are retired or semi-retired. With our kids out of the house, we don’t have to book our trips around summer holidays. We are free to be more flexible with our time… and this gives us the opportunity to save big on our next cruise.
So, by now, I can hear you saying… “Ok, this is all well and good, but, what can I actually do to get a great cruise deal?” Here are a few suggestions.
First, learn to rely on multiple sources of information. Sign up for multiple newsletters, like the ones offered by Cruise Critic and Vacations to Go. Then, set yourself a reminder to go to Vacations to Go, Cruise Sheet and Cruise Deals every few days. You may also want to compare the deals that you can find through these sources with those that a good travel agent can give you access to. Sometimes, they have access to deals that you might not hear about.
Once you have established your sources of cruise deals information, don’t be in a hurry to book your next cruise. Print out the deals that you find most fascinating, make notes about the best prices that you have seen and turn your knowledge into cruise wisdom.
Of course, there are also general principles that you can apply. For example, cruise deals are typically cheaper when the kids are in school, during off-peak seasons and when a ship is being “repositioned.” But, once you have decided when you want to cruise, the next step is to get a feeling for what a “good deal” really looks like… and this will only happen when you watch prices and deals for several weeks or months. After a while, you will begin to develop an intuitive sense for when a deal needs to be snapped up.
This may sound like a lot of work, but, for some of us, the process of hunting for the best cruise deals can actually be fun. If we are willing to trade our time for money, then we have the potential to snap up all of the best cruises before anyone else even knows about them.
Where have you found the best cruise deals? Are there any cruise newsletters that you have signed up for? Do you use any of the websites mentioned in this article? Please join the conversation and let us know about the best cruise deals that you have personally found!
Tags Senior Cruises