Passengers can enjoy big savings and cheap fares on Rhine, Danube, Rhone, Seine, and other European riverboat cruises by being flexible, informed, and booking cruises at the best time.
Big savings are often available on European riverboat cruises with special deals offered to passengers who book far in advance, book less popular cruises or cruise dates, or simply by booking at the best time of the year. Luxury riverboat cruise operators including Arosa, Avalon, Uniworld, Ama Waterways, and Viking all offer great deals and big savings off cruise prices if booked at the best time.
Save on Riverboat Cruise Prices by Being Fully Informed
A cruise on the Rhine, Danube, Seine, Rhone, Elbe, or any other European river is usually not cheap. Riverboat cruises are luxury vacations. Especially the all-inclusive cruise package deals that are routinely sold on the non-European markets are expensive but cover all expenses upfront and without foreign exchange risk. (Always read the fine print to see what is covered and at what date payment is due or when payment is considered final with no further charges possible.)
It is a good idea to be well informed of what cruises and deals are available. Compare prices across operators, riverboats, different cruise dates, and seasons. A week can mean little difference in weather but a huge saving in cruise price when sailing should season rather than high season.
Different cruise lines offer different savings deals. Summer season is usually expensive but sometimes savings are offered for families cruising in summer, which may work out cheaper than paying the full fare in the shoulder season for the children.
Subscribe to tour operators’ email lists – even Twitter accounts or Facebook pages to be informed of what savings are offered and when. Savings are often repeated annually more or less at the same time.
Even more useful, subscribe to the newsletters of travel agents specializing in riverboat cruises. These combine the best offers of all riverboat cruise operators. Specialized travel agents, whether traditional or online, can be invaluable in finding the best deals or advising how small changes in dates or itineraries may translate into big savings.
Always compare prices and offers by reservation agents. Do not try to play travel agents off against each other – this will bring you little if any savings. Rather indicate to an agent an interest in buying should the price be right.
When is the Best Time to Book European Riverboat Cruise Vacations
The best time to book a riverboat cruise depends on a large number of factors. However, some savings seem to be repeated annually providing the economy is not throwing up too many surprises.
Cruising on the Rhine or Danube rivers in July or August usually means the only realistic savings will be the early reservation deals. This is offered by virtually all cruise boat operators and usually means a few hundred dollar savings on a cruise. When the economy is good and bookings expected to be strong, the cut-off dates for early booking saving offers can be as much as a year in advance of sailings. However, never take the brochure as the final word – when bookings are slower than expected the dates are often extended by months.
The best dates to book a riverboat cruise on European rivers are often mid-November to mid-December. When the weather in Europe and the important North American market is bleakest, riverboat cruise operators often seem to get a bit worried. Bookings may be below expectations and amazing deals and savings offers flood into the email box.
During this period be on the lookout for special discounts, companion cruise free offers, discounts on air fares, or free cabin upgrades and transfers.
Most deals need to be booked by mid-December or even end of November but once again don’t take the stated date as final if missed by a few days. No harm in asking and offers are often extended. Savings may again be available mid-January but are unlikely to be as good.
Last-minute deals are not uncommon on boats aimed primarily at European cruisers but such deals are rarely available on the luxurious all-inclusive cruise deals sold in the American and other non-European markets.