Ah cruising. I love cruising, my wife loves cruising, and most of my family loves to cruise. So, of course, the more we cruise, the more we are looking for the best cruise deals in Australia. Why Australia? Well, quite simply, we live in Australia, so we need to be able to book from Australia. If we can’t book from Australia then it doesn’t matter how good the cruise deal is.
So, with that in mind, here is my list of the top 6 sites to check for the best cruise deals when booking from Australia. These sites include cruises all over the world from pretty much every cruise line you can think of!
I use all of these sites when researching cruises we are thinking about going on and I use them to find the best prices. I have booked with some of them, but not all of them. I have, however, found that each one does at one time or another has had the best prices for specific cruises we were looking at. So why this disclaimer? Well, simply put, if you click one of these links and then make a booking, I might receive a commission for sending you to them. This has no impact on the prices you pay, or on the recommendations (in fact, I don’t get anything from many of these sites) but you do need to be aware of it nonetheless.
1. Vacations To Go
This company is based in the USA and I have not placed a booking with them, but they often have amazing cruise prices and do accept bookings from Australia. Most of the time, their best cruise deals are last-minute ones and you do need to be subscribed to their newsletter to get the absolute best prices.
It’s worth noting that to check any of their prices, you do have to give them your email address. It’s kind of annoying, but you can unsubscribe from the emails they send if you just want to check prices yourself when you are researching cruise prices.
Also, make sure you are aware of what currency you are using while browsing their deals or making a booking. You can choose to browse in AUD, but payments will be in USD so the final price you pay may be different from the AUD estimate.
2. Cruise Sale Finder
These guys are owned by Webjet and allow you to search cruise deals all over the world with many different cruise lines, including lesser-known ones. I originally started using these guys to find cruises because their search filter is one of the best in the Australian market making it really easy to find cruises that meet very specific criteria.
However, they have some great pages for deals that highlight two great sets of deals.
Of course, you need to have some flexibility to get the most from these deals, but there are often some really great deals here. The best ones are usually in the under $100/night category and the absolute best ones I’ve seen tend to be on cruise lines that are typically more expensive 6-star ships from Holland America and Celebrity, but you can find some great deals on other cruise lines too.
OzCruising is great for Australian departures and their prices can be better than booking directly with the cruise lines. I once found an amazing last-minute deal here with them at $10/night on a repositioning cruise from Sydney to Singapore. No, that is not a typo, $10. Ten dollars. One zero. $10.00. I wasn’t working for myself at the time and I seriously considered taking unpaid leave from work for that cruise. I still slightly regret not doing so.
I find OzCruising works best for identifying cruises leaving from specific ports around Australia and New Zealand in a particular month when we don’t care what cruise line it is with. They do often also have great cruise deals in their hot deals section that are around $100/night.
The thing I don’t really like about OzCruising though is that their cruise range is fairly selective. In other words, they curate the cruises that they are offering, which means you will not find every cruise that is on offer by the cruise companies.
We have booked with OzCruising once before and found they were great to deal with. Their booking system is the closest we’ve found to booking directly with the cruise lines (which we think is a good thing).
4. Qantas Cruises
Qantas Cruises is operated by Cruise Guru. You won’t find Cruise Guru on my list though. This is because I’ve found some excellent deals via Qantas Cruises that I couldn’t find anywhere else, including directly with Cruise Guru.
We’ve found a number of fares in the past (including one that we booked) with deals that were around $20/night cheaper than anywhere else. The one we booked, we actually spoke to a travel agent about it who is a family member, they indicated the pricing was $20/night cheaper than they could get it for no matter what they tried (including showing it to Royal Caribbean directly and asking them to give them the same price).
For those interested, the response from Royal Caribbean according to our travel agent family member and when we spoke to them as well was that the pricing offered by Qantas Cruises was being sold below cost. In other words, Qantas Cruises may have previously held rooms at a cheaper price OR were running a promotion where they absorbed the cost difference themselves to attract new customers (also known as a loss leader).
While I have come across companies holding rooms at a price below the current market rate, Qantas Cruises rate schedule showed prices matching those publicly available as well as a special sale fare (the one we booked). So I believe Qantas Cruises were indeed selling these fares as loss leaders, which makes it the only place I’ve ever come across fares sold this way.
So, combine the fact that Qantas Cruises do have great deals, you earn some Qantas Frequent Flyer points on your booking as well, not heaps, but those points all add up.
The caveat with Qantas Cruises, that I really don’t like is that while you don’t pay any credit card fees on any payments you make upfront (either your deposit or the full booking amount), they do charge card payment fees on your final payment. You can pay via POLI without fees.
This does bring me to the other thing I don’t like. At booking, you can pay the deposit or the full amount but nothing in between. If you don’t pay the full amount upfront, there is no way to make part payments along the way, it will all be billed at the final payment date.
5. Booking Onboard
There are many divided opinions about booking cruises onboard, and admittedly this isn’t a site you can just check for prices, but some of the best deals we’ve found have been on board. I wrote a blog post previously about the benefits of booking onboard with Royal Caribbean.
The big thing to remember here is that the pricing is not necessarily better than elsewhere on its own. However, it’s the other inclusions that can make it great value. This can include extra onboard credit or increased flexibility in the booking.
Every cruise line we’ve sailed with offers future cruise bookings onboard and the deals do vary, but you will want to know what kind of prices you are looking at with what inclusions before you hop on the ship. Taking this approach can require a bit of advance planning and time onboard though.
6. Cruise Line Direct
Last but not least, I always check directly with the cruise lines. I’ve found some great deals directly that were not available on other websites, and if you are looking at a last-minute booking, you can get even better deals using room holds and guaranteed rooms
There is a risk that your booking will be cancelled close to the cruise when you book a guaranteed room category if the ship is overbooked. If you are flexible enough to be booking last-minute deals though then this probably doesn’t matter so much.
One example we’ve found was a Royal Caribbean repositioning cruise from Sydney to Singapore on Ovation of the Seas. Two weeks out from the departure date, interior “guarantee” rooms were being advertised at $1100 for 12 nights. If you’ve spent much time researching prices on Ovation of the Seas, you will know that prices at $100/night or below are about as frequent as a blue moon.
Guarantee rooms are typically allocated an actual cabin number close to the sail date. It does vary though. we’ve seen them allocated from as early as 6 weeks out to as late as 1 week before sailing.
So, when you place a hold on a guaranteed room very close to sail date, you may be allocated your room number before you need to pay. On the Ovation of the Seas example above, we placed a few holds over four days while we debated whether we could actually do the cruise or not and were allocated balcony staterooms on three holds and an ocean view room on one hold.
If we went ahead and placed one of those bookings we would have gotten a balcony stateroom for less than $100/night on Ovation of the Seas.
You don’t have to be booking last-minute cruises to get a good deal when you book directly though.
I like to browse all cruises that meet the criteria we are looking for and sort them by price. I’ve often found suitable itineraries this way for around $100/night. Sometimes this works out better than other booking sites, sometimes it doesn’t.
Make sure to check current deals and last-minute pages on the cruise sites. Here are the deal pages of some of the cruise lines that operate regularly in Australia:
Got a site you check for the best cruise deals in Australia that I’ve missed? Let me know your top cruise deal websites in the comments below!