When it comes to cheap cruise fares, we think that Carnival leads the pack. With tons of ships operating from ports all around the country, Carnival offers up all sorts of cruises — from short three-night trips to longer journeys that are gone for 10 days or more.
And to fill those ships the cruise line offers some amazing discounts. It’s not unusual to find a fare for $50 per night on some select cruises, or even finding short trips that are less than $300 per person.
To get those cheap fares, however, Carnival has a number of different “sale” categories that can be a little tricky to understand. The most common ones you’ll find include Early Saver, Super Saver, and Pack & Go rates.
These fares are cheap, but passengers should know that they come with some stipulations and fine print. For most passengers these rules regarding these fares will never come into play, but for a few people they could make a big difference. Here are details on each…
If you find an Early Saver rate, then you are likely booking your cruise well in advance and getting a great deal as well. These rates offer the ability to choose your room location (a big plus for many people). As well, you have “Price Protection” included with the fare.
Price Protection is exactly what it sounds like. You can go ahead and book the fare you find and not worry if the price changes in the future. If you find a better price down the road, you can let Carnival know and the difference is given back to you in the form of onboard credit or a free upgrade.
With the Early Saver rate your deposit that you put down is considered non-refundable. If you have to cancel your trip, you’ll receive your deposit (less a $50 service fee) in the form of a cruise credit. So if you put down $300 as a deposit and then have to cancel, you’ll have $250 for use on Carnival in the future. This credit is good for two years from the cancellation date.
Next on the list are Carnival’s Super Saver rates. You can usually find these rates using this calendar, which highlights Super Saver deals.
When you book one of these rates, you can get a great deal, but more rules apply. First, while you can select the type of cabin (such as a balcony or interior), the cruise line will assign the actual location on the ship. As well, these rates don’t qualify for Price Protection. If the price drops later after you book, then you are out of luck. There is no reimbursement for price differences.
Finally, deposits are non-refundable. Unlike the Early Saver rate, there is no mention that you even receive the deposit in the form of cruise credit should you cancel. In other words, if there is even a hint that you might not be able to make a cruise, you likely want a different fare.
Pack & Go
Finally, if you are traveling at the last-minute then you could run across a Pack & Go fare. These are specials that run close to the sailing date to fill up the ship. When you book the full fare — not just the deposit — is due. The entire fare is non-refundable.
Like the Super Saver rates, you get to pick the type of room, however, Carnival will select the actual stateroom on the ship. As well, this fare does not have price protection. If you find it priced lower later on, then you aren’t eligible for a refund.
To sum things up, Early Saver rates offer the most benefits of the three options, including price protection and the ability to pick your room location. Both of these benefits are lacking in the Super Savor and Pack & Go rates. If you have the option, we suggest booking with the Early Saver rate when possible.
Keep in mind that Carnival has other rates available that you might see. Be sure to read the terms of the rate before booking to see if it’s the right fit for your trip.