Top Cruise Discounts for Feds & Retirees for 2019

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By on December 12, 2018 in Pay & Benefits with 0 Comments
Cruise ship docked in Venice, Italy

Cruise ship docked in Venice, Italy

The beginning of winter also marks the beginning of the so called “Wave Season” – the time when cruise lines come out with their best promotions and lowest prices for the following year. From free drinks to free airfare, “kids sail free” offers and hundreds of dollars in onboard spending money, now is the best time for Feds looking to plan a cruise for 2019. 

Caribbean Cruises

Caribbean cruises run throughout the year and they are the perfect option for first-time cruisers or those looking for a quick and easy vacation.

Cruises to the Caribbean leave from many different ports including Miami, Orlando, New Orleans, Galveston, New York, Baltimore and even Boston, which means many Feds can easily drive to a cruise port near them.

Also, most cruise lines offer a large variety of Caribbean cruises, allowing everyone to find an option that works with their time frame and price range.

Feds looking for the best pricing and the most deals, should look for a cruise in early January through mid-March, as well as September through mid-November. 

For those who have kids and are looking to travel during one of the school breaks, when prices are the highest, do not book directly through the cruise line but instead contact one of the agencies specializing in deals for Feds. In many cases they have exclusive discounted rates for those peak times like spring break or Christmas that you will not be able to obtain on your own. In addition, families looking for the best deals should book early and focus on one of the kid-friendly cruise lines – both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruises have great discounts for children sharing cabins with their parents.

Right now, there are many Caribbean cruises priced as low as $499 pp for a 7-day cruise. In addition, several cruise lines are offering Senior discounts for Feds 55+ as well as a myriad of extra perks including free drinks, free Internet, pre-paid gratuities and hundreds of dollars of onboard cash. 

Bermuda Cruises

For Feds living in the Northeast, cruises to Bermuda are a great alternative to Caribbean cruises. Bermuda is easier to get to, offers some of the best pink sand beaches in the world and, for those looking for a shorter getaway, some Bermuda cruises are just 5 days long. You can leave from either New York, Baltimore or Boston, which means that many Feds located in the DC area can drive to one of the Bermuda ports.

Red phone booths pictured in Bermuda

Phone booths in Bermuda

The cruise season for Bermuda starts in late April and ends in early November, and if you are looking for a great deal, the best time to go is early or late in the season, though there are some affordable options in the middle of the summer as well.

Some of the newest and most impressive ships in today’s market are sailing Bermuda in 2019. Both the Royal Caribbean Anthem of the Seas and the Norwegian Escape are mega-ships built as much for the destination as they are to be a destination themselves. From car racing to surfing, laser tag, flying simulators and many other onboard entertainment options, to many outdoor and indoor pools and 20+ restaurants, both of these ships are a great option for families or multi-generation groups.

December is prime time for planning a Bermuda cruise for 2019 and current prices start from $399 per person. Many sailings also offer extras such a free drinks, discounts on excursions, and even an opportunity for kids to sail for free during the slower season.

Alaska Cruises

Alaska’s cruising season is quite short – from late May to the end of September – and that is why Alaska cruises command higher prices than the Caribbean. However, booking a cruise during Wave Season will help Feds take advantage of discounted early-bird prices. Choosing a cruise in May will give you the lowest prices of the season, with some Balcony cabins priced at less than $1200 per person. Most Alaska travellers choose a Balcony cabin because of the amazing opportunity to see wildlife and glaciers up close, but budget travellers will be able to get an Inside cabin for as low as $550 right now.

View from a rocky beach of a cruise ship docked in Sitka, Alaska

Cruise ship docked in Sitka, Alaska

Which Alaska itinerary you choose can also result in substantial savings. Most people prefer to cruise to Alaska from Seattle, however, choosing a one-way cruise from Vancouver to Anchorage will give you lower pricing as well as the opportunity to stay in Alaska for a few days after your cruise.

For those looking to spend time in one of the lodges in Denali and Talkeetna National Parks, several cruise lines offer “cruise-tours” combining a 7-day cruise with 3-5 days in Alaska afterwards. Space on those is very limited so booking early is advisable.

Alaska has traditionally attracted older travellers, but in the summer of 2019 there is a brand new ship that will be sailing 7-day cruises from Seattle and it will be perfect for families. The Norwegian Joy will offer all the activities and entertainment typically available only on Caribbean cruises including water park, racing cars, climbing wall, and much more. And while prices for the Joy are generally higher, current promotions offer heavily discounted rates starting at around $800 per person. Plus, it is one of the few ships that offers cabins that can accommodate five or six people which is perfect for larger families.

European Cruises

Independent travel to Europe can be pricey and hard to plan for, so a European cruise is the perfect way to explore several cities on one trip without having to worry about trains, hotels and driving around.

The most popular European cruises are those to the Mediterranean. Ranging from 7 to 14 days, those allow you to explore some of the best cities in Europe like Rome, Barcelona, Florence, Venice and Athens. Many people do not consider Med cruises because they think the price of the trip will be to high, but several cruise lines offer special deals right now with prices as low as $700 pp for a 7-day cruise. 

For those who have already explored the southern part of Europe, there are other options as well. Cruises to the British Isles, the Baltics and Scandinavia as well as the Norwegian Fjords and Iceland offer great value compared to exploring those expensive regions on your own. As these cruises grow in popularity, many cruise lines are sending some of their newest and largest ships to sail these itineraries.

This also means that there are some great deals to be had, especially if you can snag a special “group rate” thorough one of the Fed travel agencies. They can have discounts of several hundred dollars per person on the most popular European cruises, in addition to current offers for free drinks, pre-paid gratuities and up to $800 in onboard credits, that you can use for excursions in the different ports.

When booking a European cruise, do not forget to check the cost of airfare offered through the cruise line. In many cases cruise lines have contracted airfare that is hundreds of dollars cheaper than the current market price, especially if you book early.

River Cruises

Feds looking for a more intimate and culture-oriented cruise experience should consider taking a river cruise.

Contrary to the ocean cruise ships that hold several thousand people, river cruises feature small ships (average of only 150 people), gourmet food and most include drinks, shore excursions, internet and many other extras in the price of the cruise.

Because of their small size, river ships can stop in even the smallest towns and the included excursions provide a great way to explore the local culture, taste the local cuisine and there are even some river cruises that focus on wine, food, golf or history (like visiting WWII sites).

You can find river cruise options through Germany, France, Austria, Central/Eastern Europe as well as sailing the wine regions of Portugal or visiting Holland/Belgium during tulip time. 

While river cruises are typically more expensive than ocean cruises, there are some special deals right now, some of them called “secret deals,” meaning they are not available to the general public and only a few agencies have access to them. In addition to Free Airfare, those offer hundreds of dollars off the regular pricing for many European river cruises for Spring/Summer 2019. And if you book through one of the Fed-focused agencies, you may get even further discounts as well as various amounts of onboard money or pre-cruise hotel offers.

Special Deals for Federal Employees & Retirees is a web site created specifically for government employees. They work directly with most of the major river and ocean cruise lines to offer the best cruise deals, discounted rates or exclusive extras on hundreds of cruises each year. In many cases they can save you hundreds of dollars compared to booking directly with the cruise lines.

GovVacationRewards allows you to sign up with your government or military ID to receive vacation credits, points towards free travel and discounts on hotels, cruises and attractions.

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


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.