Price Drop on a Cruise? Here’s How to Get Your Money Back

If there is a drop in the price of your cruise, can you get your money back?

When you’re excited for the cruise you just booked, there’s hardly a worse feeling than checking back later and seeing that the price has dropped… after you’ve already paid.

Book a cruise and then see a price drop? Here’s what to know about getting the difference refunded or as onboard credit.

In fact, we see this sort of thing happen across many industries — from airline tickets that get cheaper after you’ve bought to discounts on cable or cell phone plans for new customers while you’re stuck paying a higher price. It can be infuriating to know that you’re paying more than someone else who is getting the exact same service.

The good news? While you might be stuck paying more with other companies, we’ve found that many times (although not always) you can get cruise lines to match their new lower prices after you book. You can sometimes get the difference refunded to your credit card, or the refund might be in the form of onboard credit. Either way, you stand a good chance at getting something back.

Now as you might expect there are tips you can use to increase your chances of getting a refund on the amount you paid. Here’s what we suggest to get the best outcome…

The First Thing to Do: Check Cruise Prices Within Two Days After You Book

When it comes to getting a refund, there is an advantage to seeing a price drop right after you book. Many cruise lines have price guarantees in place as a way to give passengers confidence to book. If you book and then find a lower advertised fare within 48 hours, you can submit a claim and receive the lower price or the difference in onboard credit.

The specifics will vary by cruise line. For instance, Carnival offers 110% of the difference as onboard credit. Celebrity offers the ability to move to the lower price. 

These sorts of offers apply to several lines, including Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Carnival

For all of these situations the websites say that you’ll need to file a form (available at the links above). If you’d rather call an agent, that may speed up the process without having to worry about forms.

The bottom line: If you book a cruise, it pays to check back within two days to see if the fare has dropped. If it has, check to see if your specific cruise line has a best-price guarantee. 

Even if they don’t, it’ still worth a call to see if they can adjust the price.

Know That Different Fares Offer Different Options for Adjustments

Carnival Horizon docked in Nassau
Some cruise lines like Carnival sell different types of fares that have different rules when it comes to price drops. You’ll want to know which type of fare you booked.

Believe it or not, there are often several types of fares offered by the cruise lines, even for the same type of room. For example, Carnival has different fares like Early Saver, Super Saver, and Pack & Go rates. Different fare types usually have different fine print — especially when it comes to price protection.

In this case, the Early Saver rate from Carnival offers price protection. If you find a lower price (even after the initial 48 hours), then you can get the difference back as onboard credit or a free upgrade. This rate is only available for those booking early — usually a minimum of 2-3 months in advance of sailing. Other rates like the Super Saver and Pack & Go aren’t available for the price protection.

This isn’t to single out Carnival. Other cruise lines also have different fare options across rooms. But before you book, it’s a good idea to read through the terms of that fare and see if it offers any sort of protection should the cruise fare drop.

Typically, the lowest bare-bones fares will offer the least flexibility to get a refund of a price difference.

Early Bookings & Slow Paying Offer the Most Flexibility for Getting Money Back

The rule of thumb is that the earlier you book, the more flexibility you will have in getting a reduced fare. That’s because of deposit dates. Most cruise lines require full payment of your fare within 60-90 days of the departure. But book earlier than that and all you need to pay is a deposit.

With only your deposit at risk, it’s less of a financial burden for you to cancel your cruise and rebook at a lower rate. So if you put down a $200 deposit, but then see your cruise for $400 less a couple of weeks after booking, you might lose the deposit as a cancellation charge but gain $400 from the lower fare to come out ahead.

That’s why even though there may be a charge for cancelling, it could be worth it. Waiting and booking later leads to higher cancellation penalties, making it less likely to be worth the change in fare.

In addition, it’s a good idea to pay your cruise slowly if possible. Just like only paying a deposit instead of a full fare, paying a little bit at a time gives you more flexibility in getting a refund if the price drops since you don’t have as much money at stake.

See Price Drop? Call the Cruise Line (And Be Polite)

No matter when you see a price drop, it’s worth a polite call to see if the cruise line will work to refund the money. Often (though not always) it will work.

As you can see above, if the price is lowered within 48 hours of your booking, you can fill out a form to get your refund. But what if it’s past the 48-hour mark? We highly suggest giving the cruise line a call — even if it’s after any sort of price match deadline or even if you have a fare that is supposed to not have any price protection.

We’ve found that you can sometimes get an agent who is helpful and that can pull strings to help you out to get a refund of the price difference or onboard credit. This certainly isn’t always the case, but it never hurts to ask.

For example, we’ve personally had a great experience with Norwegian Cruise Lines, who refunded us a $40 price drop. And all it took was a phone call. Other times we’ve received onboard credit from cruise lines when the cost of the cruise gets marked down. However, it doesn’t always work.

Remember, the cruise lines want to have happy passengers that are excited to cruise with them time and again. Making exceptions for small amounts of money can go a long way in keeping guests happy.

The important thing to remember is to be polite to the agent and realize that just because the price dropped doesn’t mean you are always eligible for the difference to be refunded.

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Price Drop on a Cruise? Here\'s How to Get Your Money Back


  1. We booked a cruise on Royal Caribbean and put down a deposit. About 2 months later, I noticed a $400 price drop. I called them and they credited me the money (dropped my bill). The agent told me that if I see it drop again before I make my final payment, just call and they will lower my bill again. If it is after the final payment, they will give me cruise credit. I highly recommend Royal Caribbean!

  2. Booked Norwegian cruise 2/8/23 price £4256 today price£256 cheaper rang cruisenation (part of hays travel)said they would not match price drop making their own rules up to suit themselves These travel companies just do whatever they like they are a law to themselves I’m disgusted

  3. We booked (and paid for) a NCL cruise for this November through Priceline a month ago (6/26/23) and today we discovered it went down about $260 pp! We just got off the phone with Priceline’s Cruise Dept and our rep was able to speak with NCL directly to find out our options.

    After reading all the comments here, we weren’t sure we’d have any options. But, to NCL’s credit, they gave us the choice to upgrade our interior cabin to an Oceanview stateroom for free OR we could receive a FCC for the total fare difference.

    It was a no-brainer for us— we upgraded to an OV without hesitation! Plus, we asked about a free Wifi and $50 shore excursion credit (as offered in NCL’s current promotion) and they honored that as well! Total win today! : )

  4. Norwegian Cruise Line which also owns Oceania is the hardest line to make a change with to get a deal after you are under deposit. They don’t budge and don’t care. Their excursions and daily service fees even cost more than other cruise lines. So unless you really want a certain itinerary, go book with another cruise line.

  5. I booked an NCL cruise yesterday and paid in full since it’s 70+ days from sail date. Half a day later, the price of the cruise dropped by over $500 (ie, over 10% of cruise total). I called NCL immediately but they won’t work with me since I bought the cruise via Amex. I called Amex and they said the cancellation penalty is greater than the drop in price, but they would submit a request for waiving the penalty. I wonder if I would have better luck if I had booked directly with NCL. I’ve sailed NCL half a dozen times totaling over 3 months, and I’m about to book another cruise. If I don’t get a refund, onboard credit or future credit, I would be reluctant book with NCL again.

  6. I had a cruise booked with Norwegian where the price went down a few hundred after final payment, and they told me that they could not do anything unless it was the same EXACT “type” of sale. I had booked under a rare 40% off sale apparently, which never happened again, I guess. BUT another option to get value out of the money that you already spent is to upgrade your cabin type. I went from a Balcony to a Club Balcony Suite, which was originally priced out of my budget, but that price also went down a lot! Yay! It did cost me $100 more, but I was very happy with the upgrade at a price that was in my budget!

  7. My cruise went down $300 and ncl would only give me that for future cruise. One thing I have learn in planning for this cruise, never, ever book early. Everything I booked went down in price as I got closer. But I listen to all I was told and read. Stupid

  8. It seems that Norwegian tells everyone something different. We booked a cruise and had to make final payment 120 days out. The price dropped significantly in recent weeks ( We cruise in September)I have called 3 different times and heard 3 different things. One agent said there was nothing she could do. Another agent said we would get onboard credit and the last agent said they would give us the credit AFTER we cruise.
    This is my first (and probably my last) cruise with Norwegian. I don’t think they really care about their customers. I NEVER had such a run around on Carnival or RCC. I booked directly with Norwegian and highly recommend using a TA instead. This has not been a great experience.

  9. My Norwegian price dropped less than $100 so I thought I would call them and get that small $ difference as on-board credit (it was a small amount but still something!)
    They wouldn’t do anything to credit or give me that amount in onboard credit because I was less a week from sailing. They did not care that I was polite or happy to take on-board credit for such a small amount. I likely would have spend a lot more money on-board just to use my small on-board credit so it ended up being NCL’s loss.

    Update: This is NOT published on the website but phone rep told me: Prices change daily for their cruises. For cruises booked 120days in advance, they will credit as many times as you call them to request a price adjustment. Anything between 90-14days before your departure date, they will do a one-time courtesy adjustment if your appeal is approved. So, it is worth is to monitor your NCL cruise constantly so see if there are price drops.

  10. We are booked on an Oceania cruise. We paid a $2000 deposit 10 months ago and now see available cabin prices have dropped by 45%!!!!!!! They say they don’t have availablity in our class if we cancel and want to rebook at a the new low price but we have photographed their website today showing they do have a cabin available. What can we do next. The agent is polite but says the website has an error so not her fault. Thanks Ni k

    • Ouch, that’s no fun. They won’t work to give you the new price because they say it is an error?

      If the new cabin is available on the website, you could book it and then cancel your first reservation to ensure you have the room. But not sure of the cancellation policy, so it might not be worth it.

  11. My Norwegian cruise dropped by over 900 (and I’m already paying 2x as a solo traveler.)

    They are being difficult because I said can I get a credit toward an upgraded category and they said no.

    Not a good experience at all.


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