Do I Get the Best Deal If I Book a Cruise… While on a Cruise?

For many people, being on a cruise is the highlight of their year. Finally being on a vacation they’ve been looking forward to for months, they can’t think of anything but having a good time right now (and where their next fruity drink will come from).

For lots of other passengers, however, they are already thinking of their next cruise.

Cruise lines love to cater to these loyal repeat customers. In fact, every cruise ship will have a location on the ship where cruise passengers can talk to a booking expert, select their next cruise, and pay their deposit for the trip.

But why would you want to book your next cruise while still on the ship? Many cruise lines offer special perks — such as onboard credit — for passengers who book while on the ship.

That said, it’s hard to price shop while booking a cruise in the middle of the ocean. When it comes to the price you pay, you simply have to hope you are getting a good deal.

That’s why we decided to investigate just how much difference there is between the price you pay if you book on the ship versus what you’d get back home.

Prices For Cruises Aboard the Ship

To give passengers a better idea of if they are getting a good deal, we came across a price list aboard a Carnival cruise for those guests wanting to book while on the ship.

At first glance, the offer seems pretty good. If you book onboard the ship at the Carnival Vacations Desk, Carnival will give you $100 in onboard credit for cruises that are 7-11 days in length and $200 in onboard credit for trips of 12 days or more.

Onboard credit flyer
This flyer advertised up to $200 in onboard credit for booking a cruise.

Meanwhile, the flyer listed prices for 15 cruises with every room option from an interior stateroom to a full suite. Take a look:

Onboard cruise prices
The price list for cruises sold on the ship. The red highlights are cruise fares we compared to online prices.

While prices can change day-to-day, we wanted to see how the prices listed on this flyer compare to what you’d find online if you booked through Carnival.com. Are you really getting the best price booking on the ship?

We took a look at the printed rates offered on the flyer and compared them to the current online rates. Keep in mind that rates can change based on when you look, but this should give a good estimate to how much you’ll pay depending on where you purchase.

Here’s what we found from mix of sample cruises listed on the Carnival Vacations flyer:

Cruise #1:
Cruise #2:

Cruise #3:

Cruise #4:

Cruise #5:

As you can see, there are some differences in rates between booking onboard and booking online, however, the difference is usually minimal. Furthermore, the difference appears to usually be in favor of booking onboard, even before the onboard credit is added.

In our opinion, this proves that you shouldn’t have concerns about the deal you’re getting if you book your next cruise while still on the ship. Your rate is likely to be the same (or at least very close) to what you’d pay online. In addition, you can also get perks like onboard credit if you book on the ship.

Keep in mind as well that if you do book and find a lower price later, you can call the cruise line and let them know. Often they will lower the rate for you or at least give you onboard credit up to the difference in price.

For more on getting the best deal on your next cruise, be sure to read our 10 rules for cruise buying.