Latest Cruise Deals for Federal Employees and Retirees

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By on April 11, 2018 in Pay & Benefits with 0 Comments

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

Whether you are looking for a romantic getaway, planning to take the kids on a family-friendly vacation or you are a retiree looking for a bucket-list trip, cruises are a great vacation option and right now, there are plenty of ways for Feds to save money on their next cruise vacation.

Bermuda Cruises

One of the closest warm-weather destinations to the US, Bermuda offers pink sand beaches, lots of history and culture and great golfing opportunities.

Cruises to Bermuda run May through October and leave out of Baltimore, Boston and New York. Most Bermuda cruises last either 5 or 7 days and, because of Bermuda’s proximity to the East Coast, cruises are able to spend less time at sea and more time docked in one of Bermuda’s ports, allowing guests to explore the island by day and night. 

Best Deals

Best pricing on Bermuda can be found in May and late September. September in particular is an ideal time to go if you do not have any children because the weather is still nice and the ships are less crowded with all the kids back in school.

Right now, Celebrity Cruises is offering amazing perks on select Bermuda cruises out of New York this summer. For any bookings made before April 19 on balcony cabins, guests will receive free drinks, pre-paid gratuities, $300 onboard credit, free parking at the port and a $100 gift card.

Caribbean Cruises

Caribbean cruises are one of the most popular cruising options and there are many different sailings to fit any style and budget. Caribbean cruises leave out of many US ports including the major Florida ports, New York, Baltimore, Galveston, TX, New Orleans, Mobile, AL and even San Juan, Puerto Rico.

While 7-day cruises are most popular, especially for first-timers and families with children, there are many 10-14 Day Caribbean cruises that allow you to travel farther down to the Southern Caribbean and reach exotic islands such as Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire and St Barts.

Because summer and fall are technically considered “hurricane season”, some people are hesitant to travel during those months. But rest assured that, while you may get some rain, the ships will never sail through an active hurricane and, if a hurricane falls during your cruise dates, the cruise line will change the ports to ensure that the guests have the best experience.

For families with children who will need a larger cabin, it is best to reserve your cruise well in advance because cabins accommodating 3 or more passengers are very limited and sell out quickly, especially during peak travel times like the Summer and holiday season.

Best Deals

Best pricing on Caribbean cruises can be found in September through mid-December. Currently, both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines offer some sailings where the 3rd and 4th passenger can sail for free. In addition, there are many cruise lines offering extra perks like free specialty dining, free drinks, pre-paid gratuities and even free taxes on various Caribbean sailings booked during April.

Canada/New England Cruises

If warm weather and beaches are not your type of vacation, you may want to consider a Canada and New England cruise for amazing scenery and culture. Get a chance to see Acadia National Park, Peggy’s Cove, historic Quebec City and have an Anne of the Green Gables experience on Prince Edward Island.

These cruises sail out of Boston, New York or Baltimore and they typically sail in the Fall in order to offer best viewing opportunities of the changing leaf colors. However, there are some sailings as early as May and some as late as early November. You can choose between 7-Day one-way sailings up to Montreal/Quebec City or 14-day round-trip sailings from one of the Northeast ports.

Best Deals

Best pricing on Canada/New England cruises can be found in October with prices as low as $600 per person. Right now, Holland America Line is offering pre-paid gratuities and reduced deposits on many Fall sailings and Royal Caribbean has an offer where the 2nd person in a cabin sails for 50% off the regular price.

Alaska Cruises

Alaska season runs from May until the end of September with July and August being the most popular months because this is when the weather is the warmest and there is a high possibility to see wildlife. While May and September offer the lowest prices of the season, May weather is unpredictable and shore excursions can be cancelled, and September is when the seas start to get rough so, if you are prone to seasickness, it may not be the best time to go.

Humpback whale jumping out of the water in Alaska

There are two types of Alaska cruises – one-way cruises from Vancouver to Seward or Whittier and round-trip cruises sailing from Seattle or Vancouver.

One-way cruises offer more time to enjoy the scenery and an opportunity to go deeper into Alaska and possibly combine your cruise with a tour of Denali National Park. However, the downside is that one-way airfare coming back from Alaska may be expensive in the summer.

The round-trip cruises are best for first-time Alaska visitors as well as families looking to get a glimpse of the glaciers without breaking the bank. If you are choosing a round-trip sailing, look for one going through the famous Glacier Bay as those offer spectacular opportunities to enjoy a full day of sailing among the glaciers.

Best Deals

Best pricing on Alaska cruises can be found on Inside cabins, as most people prefer a Balcony cabin, where they can observe nature and even spot a whale from the comfort of their cabin.

The most highly rated cruise lines that sail Alaska are Holland America Line and Princess Cruises. Holland America is currently offering reduced deposits and pre-paid gratuities and Princess has a promotion offering up to $300 towards airfare and pre-paid gratuities on select Alaska sailings. But keep in mind that due to the short season, many Alaska sailings sell out, so booking in advance is recommended, especially if you want to spend time in Denali.

Repositioning Cruises

Few people have heard of these cruises, but they offer the best value for cruisers who are flexible on time.

Repositioning cruises are offered at specific times of the year when a cruise line needs to move one of their ships from one destination to another. For example, each November and April, cruise lines move some of their ships from the Caribbean to Europe and back to avoid hurricane season in the Caribbean and offer European sailings in the Summer/Fall. Same thing happens in May and October when cruise lines move ships to and from Alaska for the summer season.

At various times, a ship may move to Australia, Asia and even Hawaii. Those cruises offer fewer port stops and more sea days and are usually longer than the typical cruise, averaging 14-20 days. For that reason, not everyone can take advantage of them. But for those who can, these sailings offer amazingly low prices, sometimes as low as $50 per day, and the opportunity to enjoy great food, entertainment and activities onboard the ships.

Best Deals

Because repositioning cruises offer really low pricing, they tend to sell out in advance. Right now would be a great time to book a November sailing coming back to the US from Europe or a Fall sailing from Alaska to California.

How do you choose the best cruise line for you?

With so many cruise lines, sometimes the choice is difficult, especially if you have never cruised before.

As a general rule of thumb, if you are looking for a fun, exciting, family vacation, especially if you have kids, your best bets would be Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines. These companies offer cruises out of many US ports, and some of their new “mega-ships” are like floating cities complete with water parks, climbing walls, mini golf, laser tag, surf simulators and the like. These cruise lines also offer the best options for budget-friendly travel with some cruises starting at a little over $70 per day.

If you are looking for an adult vacation and spectacular food, look no further than Celebrity Cruises and Holland America. While these cruise lines offer some activities for kids, their focus is on service, relaxation and offering some of the best food options at sea included in the cost of the cruise. Their price point is often slightly higher, starting at about $100 per day.

And for a truly luxurious experience, premium lines like Crystal Cruises and Oceania Cruises offer all-inclusive sailings that spend more time in the ports and include premium drinks, tips, concierge service and sometimes even the shore excursions into the cost of the cruise. Those cruises typically start at about $2,500 per person, but if you are lucky, you may take advantage of an occasional 2-for-1 or free airfare offers.

Are there any cruise discounts for government employees?

CruiseDealsforFeds.com provides exclusive cruise deals for government employees and retirees. They offer special fares and perks for Feds by working directly with many of the large ocean and river cruise lines.

Perks can range from onboard spending money, to pre-paid gratuities or specialty dining. A big plus for these deals is that they are combinable with any current promotions offered by the cruise lines, so federal employees can end up saving hundreds of dollars by combining the Fed offers with any cruise line deals.

All-Inclusive Vacations

If cruises are not your thing, there are several services offering discounts for Feds on all-inclusive vacations.

VacationDealsforFeds.com offers special discounts and extra perks to government employees and retirees on hundreds of all-inclusive properties in the Caribbean and Mexico. The owners of the site work directly with many properties to negotiate the best deals and send out a weekly newsletter featuring the best deals for Feds.

GovVacationRewards offers government workers and their family members discounts for booking vacation packages, resorts and hotels and accruing points for each booking that they make.

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

© 2018 Polia Marinova. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Polia Marinova.

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