It’s no secret that most river cruise passengers pay a different price to get on the same ship.
How much different, you might think. It can get up to 25 to 50 per cent more for the same experience and the difference can be thousands of dollars.
With many luxury lines going all-inclusive, the shore excursions, drinks with your meals, WiFi and gratuities are already in your final bill.
This makes it easier to make price comparison across different lines and itineraries.
We’ll share a few tips how to get the best price for your river cruise so you can feel smug when passengers start comparing costs over afternoon tea in the ship lounge.
The best deals of the season are often found well in advance. You might still find empty cabins six months before the European summer cruise season but the early bird prices are found within 12 months and up to 2 years prior to sailing.
Some lines even have itineraries for 2022 already on sale.
Planning ahead pays off with the preview campaigns of river cruise lines offering up to 50 per cent off and other perks like complimentary flights.
Booking early will also give you your best chance of securing your preferred date, cabin category and cabin number.
Stay in the loop
Stay updated on early bird sales and any other special deals by signing up to newsletters by the river cruise lines or register your interest with a local travel agent.
You can also connect with the social accounts of the river cruise lines such as Facebook and Twitter to be first informed about their latest offerings.
Special promotions can include things like flash sales, flight offers, reduced/waived single supplements, free airport transfers and also deals on pre and post-cruise extensions.
Cruisers who can sail at short notice can also take advantage of last-minute deals.
However, these are much less common than it used to be and you might not be getting your choice cabin and destination.
Keep an eye on the exchange rate
You might want to have an idea of the exchange rate as you are often charged in Euros or American dollars on board.
Sailing with a favourable exchange rate can reduce the size of the final bill on your on board expenses.
In addition, if you think the value of the Australian dollar is going to keep weakening, you might consider booking your river cruise in advance to reserve your holiday at current prices.
Avoid peak season
Travelling at peak season requires you to pay top dollar, so avoid it if you can. The busiest months for European river cruising are in May, June and September.
Any savings to be had in July and August will also be undercut by higher prices on land due to the European summer holidays.
The lowest fares can be found at the start of the season in March and April and at the end in October and November.
However, sailing in these months can be a gamble as the rivers, especially in northern and Eastern Europe, might not have sufficient water levels for your ship to sail.
For Asian rivers like the Mekong and Irrawaddy, the cool months, from November to February, is the most expensive.
Sailing from May to October can save you money, especially if you enjoy the heat.
Select your cabin
You can find the cheapest cabins on the lower deck on river ships. In these cabins, you might be almost at water level and just have a porthole to let in daylight when cruising.
When docked, you cabin might have no natural light at all, as ships often dock against quay walls.
However, you might want to consider this option if you plan to spend most of your day off the ship when it is docked.
On the higher decks, balconies are coveted, but cabins without balconies often give you more internal space and go at a cheaper price.