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Book on board, get a deal

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On November - 5 - 2007

Question: I’ve been on a few cruises and I’ve seen fliers touting deals for passengers who book their next cruise while on board. Is it a good idea? And can you really save money?

— Anne Librosky, Chicago

Answer: Yes and yes.

Most cruise lines now allow you to book your next cruise with their line while on board, and most offer the services of an onboard sales consultant who can answer all your questions. As an enticement to make the booking — and to build your loyalty — cruise lines will usually offer excellent savings on these promotions, along with perks that can include stateroom upgrades and shipboard credits.

Most cruise lines understand that you may not be sure when and where you want to cruise next. Not to worry. Most onboard booking promotions allow you to change your ship or sailing later. You can even transfer the booking to your own travel agent, who can make the necessary arrangements when you do decide to book or make changes.

Here are the current onboard offers from the major cruise lines.

Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival is offering a “Sail into the Future” program aboard the Carnival Valor, Carnival Legend and Carnival Fascination. Passengers making a $100 deposit on a future cruise will receive shipboard credit on that cruise — $50 or $100, depending on the length of the chosen cruise. The promotion is good on any Carnival ship or sail date, but it may not be combined with certain restricted fares.

Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises
Through the “Celebrity Passages” program, guests can book a future cruise with a $100 deposit and get shipboard credits ranging from $50 to $300 per stateroom without having to commit to a ship or sailing; the value of the shipboard credits depends on the cruise fare. Up to three bookings per stateroom per sailing may be secured while on board; one name on each booking must remain the same. The Celebrity Passages program is currently available only to U.S. and Canadian citizens. Note that no onboard credits will be applied to “Galapagos Celebrity Xpeditions,” as these sailings are all-inclusive.

Crystal Cruises
Crystal Cruises offers an onboard booking discount ranging between 3.7 percent and 6.3 percent, depending on sailing and stateroom category.

Cunard Line
Guests booking a future voyage through Cunard’s onboard voyage specialists can receive up to $400 in shipboard credits for that cruise, depending on the accommodation category they choose. The shipboard credits can be combined with savings offers for returning passengers.

Disney Cruise Line
Disney Cruise Line offers a 10 percent discount if you book your next sailing while aboard the ship. Additionally, the line offers a $200 shipboard credit if you book a seven-night Eastern Caribbean or Western Caribbean cruise or a seven-night Land and Sea Vacation package. If you book a three- or four- night cruise, you will receive a $100 shipboard credit.

Holland America Line
Guests making a $100 deposit have four years to take their next cruise and they needn’t make another deposit until final payment is due. Guests will also receive shipboard credits ranging from $25 to $100 per person, depending on the sailing and stateroom category they choose.

Majestic America Line
Guests who book on board will get a $100 per-person credit in addition to the 5 percent returning-passenger discount.

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)
NCL’s “Freestyle Cruise Rewards” program allows guests to make a $250 deposit for a future NCL cruise and receive a $100 shipboard credit to use right away. Guests do not have to indicate the date or itinerary when they sign up; in fact, they have a year to make up their minds. Additionally, guests can purchase up to four Freestyle Cruise Rewards to give as gifts to friends and family.

Oceania offers a $200 discount to passengers who book a future cruise through their shipboard Internet area called Oceania@Sea. If you miss that opportunity, you can book your cruise within 45 days of returning home and get the same discount.

Princess Cruises
Princess’ onboard booking program lets guests book a future cruise with a $100 deposit that is fully refundable should the guest decide not to use it. When guests decide which cruise to take, they will receive shipboard credits ranging from $25 to $250 per person, depending on cruise length and cabin category.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Guests can book future cruises through the cruise consultant aboard the Seven Seas Navigator, Seven Seas Mariner and Seven Seas Voyager. Guests receive up to 5 percent savings on select dates. A 10 percent deposit is required to secure the reservation, except for “World Cruise” bookings, which require a deposit of $1,000 per guest.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line
Royal Caribbean’s new “NextCruise” program allows guests to reserve space – and credits — on a future cruise without having to declare when and where they want to go. A nonrefundable deposit of $100 per person is required. The value of the shipboard credit will be determined when the booking is finalized; currently the credits are $50 per stateroom for a three- to five-day cruise; $100 per stateroom for a six- to eight-day cruise; and $200 per stateroom for cruises longer than eight days.

Seabourn offers guests a 5 percent savings for onboard bookings. The discount may be combined with any “Early Booking Savings” already applicable for the cruise they select. Guests can even make an open booking that is good for two years if they are not sure what cruise they want.

SeaDream Yacht Club
By combining the 5 percent onboard booking discount with any of the “Book Today Save Specials” found on SeaDream’s Web site, guests can get the best fare possible on their chosen voyage and stateroom – and they may reserve as many staterooms as they wish. Guests may cancel or change their bookings within 30 days of debarkation at no charge. SeaDream will notify the guest’s travel agent of the onboard reservation. A 25 percent deposit is required while on board.

Silversea Cruises
Silversea guests who book on board get a 5 percent discount on select voyages. The discount can be combined with all of Silversea’s other savings offers and is available on a very good selection of cruises.

Windstar Cruises
Windstar’s rewards onboard bookers with $100 per person in shipboard credit. The discount can be applied to other returning-passenger promotions like “Alumni Sailings,” some of which offer savings up to 50 percent. The offer can even be extended to family and friends.

As you can see, cruise lines really offer a lot of savings and options to keep you cruising on their ships. Check out the programs at each cruise line and see if they fit your needs. Lastly, always get the program details in writing so there’s no question what your cost savings will be.

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One Response to “Book on board, get a deal”

  1. Karen D says:

    If you book a balcony or suite stateroom and get the stateroom discount based on being a Platinum (or above) Crown & Anchor member, Royal Caribbean will NOT honor the onboard credit you thought you would get with the NextCruise program. We paid $200 while on a cruise in April 2008 for the NextCruise program and Royal Caribbean now says we are not entitled to the onboard credit because they changed their policy in January 2009, nine months AFTER we paid for the program. They basically accepted our $200 and decided to deny our onboard credit.


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