Cruise experts generally advise travelers to grab any cruise that costs $75 or less a night, and then turn handstands to celebrate their good fortune. Right now, cruises to the Caribbean or Bahamas cost as little as $38 to $50 a night.
Prices dropped after the Trump administration in June banned U.S. cruise ships from visiting Cuba. The cruise industry doesn’t like to talk about it, but the change in policy left lines with empty cabins — lots of empty cabins. More than 800,000 bookings were affected, according to Cruise Lines International Assn., an industry organization.
So there are lots of deals out there just waiting for savvy shoppers to scoop them up. The lines are trying to recoup by slashing prices on itineraries throughout the Caribbean and Bahamas. And they’re not just offering deals during hurricane season voyages (June through November).
If you act fast, you can get bargain-basement prices on 2020 sailings too, including cruises for less than $200 per person.
“The cruise lines don’t want to sail with half-empty ships,” says Denise Bialek, director of Priceline Cruises. “So they remade their itineraries, choosing to visit different Caribbean islands other than Cuba.”
The new voyages also include some shorter itineraries with cut-rate prices. “With a number of the redeployed ships sailing shorter itineraries, you’ll notice a lower overall cruise fare than, say, a weeklong sailing” said Colleen McDaniel, editor of Cruise Critic. “It certainly is a great time to book in the Caribbean.”
In some cases, the cruises are hundreds of dollars less than they normally would be. Expedia CruiseShipCenters has seen average booking prices drop by 11% to 25% since early June, said Koreen McNutt, a senior director with the company. “If guests are looking to upgrade their experience to a suite, it’s a great time to book with an average price drop of 15%,” she said.
In addition, said Priceline’s Bialek, many of the deals include special perks, such as free prepaid gratuities, beverage credits and money to spend on board.
“The Cuba travel ban was certainly an unexpected disruption, but it has created a market where cruises are less expensive than they’ve been in years,” she said. “But it won’t last forever. I’m telling my friends and family to book quickly because time is of the essence.”
Here’s a look at some of the deals.
Carnival’s Valor will leave New Orleans on Oct. 21 on a five-night Western Caribbean cruise. Prices for an interior cabin start at $244 per person, double occupancy ($46 a night per person).
Norwegian Cruise Line’s Breakaway will leave Miami on Sept. 15 on a seven-night Western Caribbean cruise. Rates for an interior cabin start at $429 per person, double occupancy ($61 a night per person). Bonus offers included.
Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas will leave Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Dec. 9 on a five-night Western Caribbean cruise. Prices for an interior cabin start at $188 per person, double occupancy ($38 a night per person).
Princess Cruises’ Island Princess will leave Fort Lauderdale on Dec. 16 on a four-night Eastern Caribbean cruise. Rates for an interior room start at $246 per person, double occupancy ($62 a night per person.)
Carnival Liberty will leave Port Canaveral, Fla., on Nov. 18, on a four-night Bahamas cruise. Prices for an interior cabin start at $180 per person, double occupancy ($47 a night per person).