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- Introduction: Oceania Cruises’ Vista Inaugural Sailings
- Tips For Maximizing Your Oceania Cruises Booking
- Flying to Ljubljana, the New Gateway for “Venice” Cruises!?!
- Flight/Lounge Review – United Polaris Experience
- Flight Connection at Brussels International Airport (BRU)
- Intercontinental Ljubljana Review – Booked Using CC Free Night Certificate
- Getting From Ljubljana to Trieste, Our Experience Using Daytrip
- Our Experience on a (Nearly) Inaugural Sailing
- Ship Review – Oceania Cruises New Vista
- Oceania Cruises New Vista Dining Review
- Oceania Cruises Bars, Lounges, and the New Mixology Program
- Oceania Cruises Vista Cabin and Suite Overview Including Penthouse (PH-2 with extended balcony) Review
- Lounge Reviews – Goldair Handling vs. Swissport Executive Lounge Athens (ATH) Airport
- Athens to Atlanta via Doha, Our First Experience in QSuites
- Katara Hills Doha, LXR Hotels & Resorts Review – Booked Using CC Free Night Certificate
- Lounge Review – Qatar Airways Al Mourjan
In my last post I provided a bit of background on our Oceania Cruises, the new Vista, and a bit about how and why we booked. In this post I want to share some of the tips and tricks for how we book our Oceania Cruises sailings to maximize discounts and perks.
I often book a cruise while on a cruise and I’m not alone in doing so. Why do so many cruisers to this? The reason is simple – to save money. Oh, and it’s also fun to have another cruise on the horizon and it helps with the “cruise blues” you can get at the end of a cruise.
Book On Board
Every cruise line is different in how they incentivize passengers to book their next cruise while on board, but nearly all lines do it in some way. In this article I want to highlight what Oceania Cruises does to make it worth your while to spend part of your precious time on board with an Oceania Club Ambassador (what Oceania calls future cruise booking agents) booking your next cruise.
On every Oceania Cruises sailing one of the Oceania Club Ambassadors will hold a presentation in the ship’s theater to promote future voyages, informing passengers about special promotions on certain cruises, regions, or times of the year. These are generally well attended. Why? Because Oceania cruisers are a loyal bunch with most having sailed multiple cruises with the line and are looking to sail more. Oh, and Oceania Cruises always have a raffle for a cruise credit to be used on your current voyage. The raffle tickets are dispensed at the beginning of the presentation and the drawing is held at the end; you must be present to win.
But this isn’t the real reason smart cruisers book onboard. The real reasons are the following:
- Cruises are discounted by what they call “Onboard Booking Savings.” These are typically based on some percentage of the cruise fare, factors include the length of cruise and level of cabin. Based on my past bookings this is typically in the range of 3-5%. On this particular booking our Onboard Booking Savings was $300pp or $600 for both of us.
- You receive a $100 shipboard credit for each booking you make onboard that you can take on your current cruise or have it applied to your future cruise booking.
- Deposits are much lower, sometimes as low as $250 per person.
- Onboard bookings include a “Best Price Guarantee” which is good up until the sailing date.
- You can change your booking once you get back home by moving the deposit to another sailing.
- Your booking gets transferred to your travel agent so they get credit for your booking and will provide you with the services and perks they would provide if they had made the booking for you.
Book Early (or Really Late)
For those that cruise regularly this one isn’t a surprise, but for those new to sailing it’s a helpful tip – book early. What does early mean? Book as soon as a cruise is announced if you can. Typically cruise lines start with their lowest fares when they launch the next season’s cruises and then prices steadily climb as the sailings fill up. But what if prices go down? Most cruise lines provide a price match guarantee where you can contact them if you see the price has gone down and they will provide compensation. But what about all those deals I see for cruises coming up in the next couple of months? For cruise lines there’s an opportunity cost to sailing with empty cabins, so they will often sell those cabins at a discount.
Close-in booking sales aren’t terribly common with Oceania Cruises or many of the other upmarket lines. What’s more common is that if a cruise isn’t selling well the line will add additional perks like more onboard credit, a beverage package, included gratuities, etc. in order to keep the ticket price in line with what passengers have already booked, but to encourage more bookings. Obviously you need a good bit of flexibility to benefit from last minute booking opportunities. For us, scheduling is important, so we stick with early booking. On this cruise we were able to save $3,000 by booking as soon as the sailing was announced.
Become a Shareholder
Want to save more money on your Oceania Cruises booking? Consider becoming a Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. shareholder (Disclosure: I’m just a frequent floater and not an investment advisor and as such am not offering investment advise). All three of the major US-based cruise companies – Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian all offer some form of Shareholder Benefit. This is typically in the form of an onboard credit, determined by the length of your cruise, just for owning shares in the company.
Oceania Cruises, as part of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd family, along with Norwegian Cruise Line and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, offers onboard credits for those that own 100 or more shares of NCLH as described:
Cruise company stocks were pummeled during the pandemic as cruises were shut down for many months and all of the lines had to take on major debt in order to stay afloat. NCLH for example was trading at more than $60 per share pre-pandemic and have traded as low as $10.83 over the past year. At more than $6,000 it could take MANY cruises to recover your purchase of 100 shares purely through onboard Shareholder Benefit credits. At $1,083.00 (100 shares x 52-wk low of $10.83) it’s much easier to see how the math could work in your favor. On this cruise we received the $100 onboard credit.
Take Advantage of Credit Card Deals
Another way to save money on cruises – is to keep an eye out for credit card offers including American Express Offers. In the past year they have offered deals on Norwegian, Holland America, Carnival and Oceania Cruises. Just last week AmEx introduced a Sweet Seabourn deal. On a recent Oceania Cruises booking we were able to earn a bonus 5 American Express Membership Rewards Points per $1 spent up to a maximum of 50,000 points. We conservatively value 50,000 American Express Membership Rewards points at $750 (1.5cpp) or 15% back in points.
Book Your Own Flights
Another thing that we do on all of our Oceania Cruises bookings is to decline the included airfare. You receive a reduction in your cruise fare for an amount of money determined by Oceania Cruises. These vary widely depending on the embarkation and disembarkation ports with the largest credits tending to come with the furthest destinations from the us like Asia and Australia while the smallest credits are for those cruises departing from the U.S. On our Vista sailing we received credits of $1,100pp or $2,200 for both of us. Beyond the “savings” assuming you can purchase flights with miles and points or at a lower cost, the other benefit is being able to pick your airline of choice, schedule, how many days pre- and post-cruise that you wish to stay to explore the destinations.
All of these opportunities can add-up making your Oceania Cruises sailing a bit more affordable. For us, we were able to save more than $6,750 on this cruise through these strategies, offers, and booking choices. – Michael
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