Hello Peter. I cruised fairly often in my 40s and 50s. I am now 63 and have been on Social Security Disability since 1999 and am considered indigent (below the national poverty level). Are there any cruise lines that have senior-citizen prices and/or disability rates specifically for those below the poverty level? I have surely missed cruising and would love to be able to go again.
–Christine, Richmond, Va.
A: A few cruise lines (such as Royal Caribbean and Carnival) offer senior discounts on select cruises to passengers 55 years of age or older. You’d have to call customer service to find out which sailings offer the discounts and what the price is. Bear in mind that the discount is not simply a fixed percentage—say, 15 percent off—but rather, it’s a promotional rate intended to fill a ship that’s not selling well.
I was not able to find any discount programs offered by cruise lines that might apply to those considered disabled or indigent. However, with the economy the way it is now, many cruise lines are offering huge discounts, particularly on sailings to the Caribbean and Mexico. Cruise lines depend on passengers’ onboard spending to earn revenue, and that can’t happen if the cabins aren’t full—which is when they start discounting like crazy, as in under $50 a day.
Check online resources such as CruiseCritic.com, which compiles hot deals from various sources, and CruiseBrothers.com, which is a discount cruise broker. Additionally, cruise consolidators often receive limited amounts of deeply discounted cabins when the cruise lines want to unload them—GalaxSea Cruise and Tours (www.cruisestar.com) and Cruise.com are two major ones. So keep your eyes open and you may eventually find something within your budget, especially if the recession continues.
Finally, AARP Cruise Travel Partners such as Disney, Holland America, and MSC offer great deals year-round through Expedia.