It's not too late to get a deal on a cruise vacation for summer or fall. Cruise lines use yield management — increasing or (in this case) decreasing a price in response to demand, among other factors — to fill their cabins, so some of the best deals in cruising are offered within 90 days of the sailing if cabins need to be filled.
As is always the case with rock-bottom prices, there are a few considerations. The prices are almost always for inside cabins (as is the case of the ones we found here), which may not be the best choice for those planning to spend a lot of time in their cabin. If you want to upgrade to an outside cabin, you can usually get one for a bit more money. (A balcony cabin, however, is often substantially more.)
The rates listed are always per person, based on two people to a cabin, so you'll need to travel with someone or expect to pay a single supplement if you want the entire cabin to yourself.
These best-price sailings are most often out of Miami, where the biggest volume of cruise departures takes place, so you have to factor in the cost of airfare. (Fly.com's airfare calendar showed fares from
The sailings are usually short, and the vessels are often older ships. If you have heard that a line is known for, say, a partnership with a celebrity chef or a fun new water slide, don't assume you'll have these amenities.
Think too about what's included in the cruise fare and what's extra. These fares include the cruise itself, some entertainment, plus basic meals in the main dining room and Lido Deck buffets. If you want cocktails or beer, that probably will be extra, as are shore excursions, specialty restaurants, airport transfers and gratuities.
These offers tend to go quickly, so act fast when you see a deal you like. Sometimes, only a few inside cabins are available at the teaser price. Here are some of the best rates on offer right now. Note that because the fares go quickly, these may have expired, so try looking at fares just before and just after the dates you're considering.
Info: MSCCruisesUSA.com, (877) 665-4655
Info: Carnival.com, (800) 764-7419
Info: NCL.com, (866) 234-7350
Info: RoyalCaribbean.com, (866) 562-7625
Info: CostaCruise.com, (800) 462-6782