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The words 'cheap' and 'cruise' don't often go together in the same sentence. Cruises may offer quite a lot for their all-inclusive price - including food, beverages, multiple island stops, and more - but this is not always something that one can afford. With that being said, travelers don't always need to invest thousands of dollars into their cruise experience.

With a little know-how and a lot of research, finding the best cruise deals out there comes down to where and when to jump on them. These tips are so helpful that travelers might even find themselves purchasing a cheap cruise - which is practically unheard of. Here's how to start.

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The Best Time To Book A Cheap Cruise

Cruising is something that takes place year-round despite the fact that most travelers opt to plan their sail for summer. While this is usually the more attractive option thanks to potentially calmer waters, beautiful island climates, and more options for those who want to cruise beyond the Caribbean, it's not the only option. Simply altering the time frame of the cruise and having an open mind about when to set sail can help to decrease the cost.

For example:

  • Book during 'wave season.' Contrary to how this sounds, it has nothing to do with actual waves. The cruise 'wave season' is the time of the year when cruises and cruise packages are first announced for the year. It typically starts in January and continues throughout the spring, with cruise after cruise being announced. For those who can decide what they want early and catch this 'wave,' they might luck out with an unbelievably low price.
  • Spring or fall, aka the off-season. Common sense tells us that booking anything - including a cruise - during the off-season will likely lead to cheaper prices. Since fewer people are inclined to travel during this time, especially families and college students, this is another way to save some money on booking.
  • Hurricane season. Alas, this is the riskiest of the options when it comes to booking a cruise during a certain time of the year. For those willing to take the chance of bad weather (or alternative routes), hurricane season can offer some serious deals. During the shoulder season in the Caribbean and Mexico, anytime between June and November can offer more affordable rates if the route goes straight through hurricane alley.

Another somewhat wild option to consider: last-minute booking. According to Cruise Critic, jumping on a cruise within a 90-day window might just lead to a serious deal. Of course, this also means no cancellations, as cruises are trying to fill cabins at this point and usually stop offering refunds within three months of the sail date.

Related: Cruise Trip: Should You Work With A Travel Agent Or Book Directly?

Where To Find The Best Cruise Deals

There are two main means of finding the best cruise deals; travelers can either go through cruise sites, or they can go directly to the cruise line itself. To start, let's take a look at the most affordable cruise lines, which are more likely to offer deals that appeal to a wide range of traveler budgets.

Virgin Voyages

Not only does Virgin Voyages offer cruises, in general, at a more affordable rate, but they also have unique packages that give travelers the option for a shorter trip. The only downside of this is limited route options since the size of the fleet is smaller than other cruise lines. With that being said, cruise prices range from as little as $660 for a five-day trip.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Whereas Virgin Voyages offers limited cruises for a more affordable price, Norwegian's prices can be more than double that - but for a good reason. With a plethora of options and full seven-day itineraries to the world's most coveted tropical locales, Norwegian is often the cruise line that travelers keep an eye on for their deals and destinations. At the time of writing, travelers can find deals as low as $299 for a four-night Bahamas cruise.

Knowing where, and when, to jump on cruise deals is half the battle of finding a dream vacation that's affordable and convenient. More so, travelers don't need to sacrifice everything they're looking for in order to find an exceptional cruise - it just takes a little planning.