Best Cruise Discounts for Federal Employees in 2018

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By on January 30, 2018 in Pay & Benefits with 0 Comments

Two small boats anchored in a harbor with a cruise ship docked in the background

Cruises offer one of the best vacation values, but it is surprising how many people are not aware of all the benefits of choosing a cruise vs. land vacation. What’s more, winter months offer some of the best discounts on cruises, and there are many deals that federal workers and retirees can take advantage of.

Here is a rundown of some of the best options to save on a 2018 cruise.

Caribbean Cruises

The Caribbean is the most popular destination for cruisers, and most cruise lines offer a variety of cruises ranging from 4 to 14 days.

Depending on where you live, you can board your ship from one of the main Florida ports (Miami, Tampa or Port Canaveral), or from other major cities like New York, Baltimore, Galveston or even Charleston, SC. For most federal workers, this means that a cruise vacation is just a drive away.

Palm umbrellas providing shade to two pairs of beach chair setups looking out onto a calm turquoise sea on a tropical beach

 

Caribbean cruises usually run between November and April, with many of the ships relocating to Europe or Alaska for the summer season. However, several cruise lines, like Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line, offer Caribbean cruises year-round – perfect for those who have kids in school and want to take a summer cruise with the family.

Right now, there are multiple amazing discounts and offers on Caribbean cruises, ranging from hundreds of dollars of onboard spending money, to “Kids Sail Free” promotions, major pricing discounts or things like free drinks or shore excursions to make your cruise even more affordable.

Travel Tip

September and October as well as early December are usually the best months for price-conscious travelers as they offer some of the best prices on Caribbean cruises. Yes, it is still hurricane season, but cruise lines can change ports of call or itineraries if an actual hurricane happens during your cruise dates.

Alaska Cruises

Alaska season runs from early May until the end of September, and a cruise is a great way to explore this state without paying high prices for airfare and hotels. What’s more, cruising is one of the only ways you can spend days sailing among glaciers and watching whales from the comfort of your cabin.

Most cruise lines offer Alaska cruises, varying from 7 to 14 days, and sailing from either Seattle, Vancouver or Seward/Whittier. Some cruise lines even allow cruisers to combine a cruise to Alaska with several days in a private lodge in Denali National Park, where they can observe wildlife up close, hike a glacier or even go on a dog sledding expedition.

Currently, many Alaska sailings are on sale until the end of February, with rates starting at just over $800 per person for a 7-day cruise and many extra perks like free upgrades, free drinks and free internet available on some sailings.

Travel Tip

The best weather in Alaska is usually July and August, but September offers some great prices and the weather is still in the 50s.

European Cruises

A cruise in Europe offers the most economical way to see a number of major European cities, where hotels and food, especially in the summer, are notoriously expensive. The added benefit is that you unpack your luggage only once, but you can visit between 5 and 10 different places with one transatlantic flight.

European cruises typically run from late April to late October/early November and they range from 7 to 14 or even 19 days, with the best pricing usually available at the tail ends of the season (April/May and October).

There are several main itineraries in Europe, with the most popular cruises being the Eastern and Western Mediterranean, closely followed by Scandinavia cruises, which usually make stops in St. Petersburg, Russia. Several cruise lines offer unique cruises with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to sail the Norwegian Fjords, explore Portugal and Spain or get an in-depth experience of the British isles.

Currently, some cruise lines, such as Royal Caribbean, are offering hundreds of dollars of discounts and onboard credit for European cruises booked at least 6 months in advance.

Travel Tip

Look for a cruise that offers an overnight stop in a city like Rome, Barcelona or Venice. Those cities offer so much to see, and an overnight stay will allow you to spend two full days exploring them without having to pay extra for a hotel.

River Cruises

While not as widely advertised as ocean cruises, river cruises are a great way to have an all-inclusive vacation while sailing on one of the world’s famous rivers. River ships are much smaller and more intimate than ocean ships, they are usually able to dock right in the middle of a city, and they often include things like premium drinks, shore excursions, concierge service, internet and all gratuities in the price of the cruise.

The most popular river cruises are in Germany and France, along the Rhine and Seine rivers, but there are many options for those looking for an exotic destination like China, Russia, Egypt or India.

Bridge over the Rhine River in Cologne, Germany

Cologne, Germany

Best Deal

Currently, Viking River Cruises has an amazing deal offering 2-for-1 fares and free airfare on many summer 2018 sailings. Because river ships hold only 100-200 guests, space is very limited and many popular itineraries sell out well in advance.

Group Cruising – Family Reunions, Anniversary Celebrations & Weddings at Sea

It is a little known fact that cruising with a group has many perks. Not only will you spend time traveling with your family or friends, but you might get your cabin for free if you gather a group of at least 16 people. That makes cruises a great deal for family reunions, anniversaries, birthdays and even weddings. Few people know that getting married on a ship is one of the most budget-conscious options out there, with onboard weddings starting at just $2,500. On some cruise lines you can even get the captain to marry you.

Travel Tip

In many cases, groups are able to receive a free cocktail reception, extra onboard credit, and can lock in a discounted group rates, which will not increase even when the regular of price of the cruise goes up.

Special Deals for Federal Employees

CruiseDealsforFeds.com is a web site created specifically for government employees. They work directly with a number of cruise lines to find the best cruise deals for government employees. They send out a weekly newsletter in which they feature the best cruise deals of the week. Government employees can save hundreds of dollars and also take advantage of limited-time offers like onboard credit and extra perks. They also reserve group rates on many cruises, and federal workers can book space in these groups to take advantage of free bonuses like extra onboard credit or a free tour.

Save More on Your Cruise with Hotel Discounts

It is always recommended to arrive in your embarkation port at least a day before your cruise so that you can avoid airline delays and last-minute stress. Many people also choose to stay a few days after their cruise, especially in Europe, where they can spend extra time exploring a popular destination.

Federal employees should know that many hotel chains offer great discounts for government employees that are very easy to find directly on the hotel’s website. Marriott Hotels, Starwood Hotels (operating Sheraton, Westin and W Hotels), Hyatt, Hilton, Best Western, Choice Hotels (operating Comfort Inn, Quality Inn and Clarion hotels), and IHG Hotels (operating Crowne Plaza, InterContinental and Holiday Inn properties) offer either a steep discount or a fixed nightly rate, sometimes as low as 50% off the regular rate. With hotels in Europe in the summer commanding high rates, this option is definitely worth exploring.

© 2019 Polia Marinova. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Polia Marinova.

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About the Author

Poli Marinova is a travel blogger, avid cruiser and a federal employee spouse who is always looking for the next best vacation deal.

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