You may have seen celebrities on TV talking about free cruises to luxurious beach resorts like the Bahamas. The first thing to note is that these cruises aren’t “free” in the traditional sense as government and regulatory fees are inescapable. But as long as you don’t mind someone trying to aggressively upsell you, these “free” cruises might be worth the small hassle.
What to Expect When You Call for a Free Cruise
If a free cruise advertisement has piqued your interest and you decide to call that 800 number, you should be aware of a few things.
- These cruises generally last for only two days. This is understandable as a company giving anything away for free doesn’t want to be too generous.
- These free cruise offers have an associated minimum daily government and port tax fee associated with them. These vary based on destination, but they are generally around $50 per day.
- When you call the 800 number and ask about the free cruise, a trained salesperson will try to get you to buy an upgraded cabin. These salespeople can sometimes be aggressive and will go by a sales script. They may also not reveal the total costs of your upgrade (there may be things like a daily gratuity fee that they might fail to mention).
- They may call you back if you don’t buy the upgrade the first time around. You can always request that they not call you anymore if you don’t want to be bothered.
- If you accept the offer for a free cruise, you may be routed to a “welcome center” to pick up your tickets. There will be more high-pressure salespeople there to greet you to again attempt to upsell you to a pricier cabin. Some free cruise line proprietors may also require you to sit through a timeshare presentation to collect your free cruise tickets. These timeshare presentations can go on for hours, so be prepared if you’re required to attend.
Legitimate Ways to Cruise for Free
Instead of trying to score a cut-rate cruise ticket from a scammy wholesaler, there are more legitimate ways to cruise the world for free. Here are a few ideas for those who don’t mind a working vacation.
- Get a cruise line job. Not only will you be paid, but you’ll get to travel onboard for free.
- “Work” on the ship as an entertainer or speaker. By sharing your gifts with cruise-goers, you’ll be providing a valuable service that cruise lines will reward you for.
- Arrange for a group to travel together and you’ll get to cruise for free. If you can arrange for a large group of friends to travel together, they’ll get a discount group rate and you could travel for free. That’s because for every 15 passenger staying in 8 cabins, the 16th traveler cruises for free. It’s a great way to be a tour guide for your church or another civic group that you belong to.
Maybe Just Stick with a Low-Priced Cruise?
Some people are understandably suspicious of free cruise offers. Here are some ideas on how to get a cruise for the cheapest price, which is the next best thing to free.
- Booking time is extremely important for getting a good deal. Sometimes cruise lines will incentivize cruise goers by offering a package that you will need to book months in advance. Another strategy is to wait closer towards the ship’s departure date as the cruise line may have rooms that it needs to get filled and will offer them at a reduced rate.
- Don’t purchase too many extras. Movies and shows are sometimes billed extra on a cruise, and of course you always pay for alcoholic drinks. You can prioritize free shows as well as bring a couple bottles of wine or liquor with you on board (check your specific cruise line’s regulations).
- Parlay your frequent flyer miles to get free or reduced airfare to your port of call. Credit card reward points are also great to put towards travel costs.
- Get a credit card that is issued by your cruise company of choice. Carnival offers their own MasterCard which will give you a voucher redemption certificate for completing a successful application and bonus points for using their card.
Whether you choose to sign up for a free cruise or not, don’t ever let a salesperson for the cruise line use high-pressure sales tactics on you. Don’t allow them to pressure you to try and accept an offer on the spot without allowing any deliberation on your part.