As we explained in our previous article about family cruise packages, the word “package,” when used in a context related to vacations, tends to imply discounted travel. People look for “package deals,” like a cruise-flight combo, in the hope of saving money. However, there are few discounts for a group of cruise passengers that are offered only on the basis of that group being a family. Regardless, there are ways to save money while taking a family cruise, even if these deals aren’t marketed as a “family cruise package.” One can think of them this way, though, and below we show you how to find and book these family cruise packages.
Given that family cruise packages largely don’t exist as a standalone concept, what can you look for when trying to save on a family cruise? There are a couple of different strategies. First, and more difficultly, you could consider trying to get a group cruise discount. Unfortunately, these discounts are generally offered only to groups of about 16 passengers, so it’s hard to get a deal for a family if “family” is being used in the sense of “nuclear family.” But this strategy could work for a larger family reunion or if multiple families join together (not that a group discount is all that substantial anyway – see our group cruise packages article for more details). Group cruise deals can periodically be found on deal sites (e.g., Travelocity) or a dedicated page on a cruise line’s website, but it is often helpful to work through a travel agent, who can help you coordinate everything and work directly with his or her contacts at a given cruise line.
The other strategy is to look for deals that are associated with the type of room you book, as cruise lines occasionally offer discounts on certain room styles or classes. If these room types are larger, then families can book these cabins to get a better deal on their trip. Sometimes these deals take the form of “kids stay free,” which generally means that if a certain size room is booked by a couple, up to two young children stay free. These might be loosely classified as “family cruise packages,” and in any case they are a good way to save money, which at the end of the day is the only goal. These deals can sometimes be found on deal sites – at the moment, Orbitz is offering “up to $600” off particular staterooms on select Carnival ships – or they may be promoted on a cruise line’s website. Unfortunately, though, most websites that promote family cruises – whether cruise line sites or deal sites – are not advertising any sort of discount. They simply extol the virtues of family cruises while not offering any details about what kind of deal they are actually giving you.
As we have seen, family cruise packages qua family cruise packages do not really exist, or at least they are fairly rare (like the “kids cruise free” offers). However, there are ways to save money while booking a family cruise, even if these savings are generally not directly related to the fact that a family is cruising together. It is helpful to look for cabin deals for small families and group discounts for larger family gatherings. Either “family package” could save you money.