Cruising has long been considered a luxury vacation, but that doesn’t mean you have to pay luxury prices. USA River Cruises’ cruise experts always try to pass on the best deals we can find. These are our 5 Top Tips for saving money when you book a river or small ship cruise.


Booking Early vs Last Minute

Many cruisers rely on the rule that cruise ships put last minute cabins on sale, hoping their late decisions will work in their favor. This isn’t always a good plan with small ships. Booking late risks the losing your cabin all together because of limited space on the small ships. Also, you could miss out on the category of stateroom you’d prefer. Last minute bookings also causes problems with arranging airfare or rail. In recent years, most river cruise companies have chosen to move away from last minute specials, unless absolutely necessary. Early bird discounts are more popular, giving those who book early the preferred pricing. Some early bird discounts could be as early as a year in advance.


Compare & Save

Most of our small ship destinations have more than one cruise line that visit. Unless you have a specific cruise line that fits your vacation style that you want to stick with, comparing prices of more than one ship will be beneficial to you. There are four cruise lines on the Columbia River, two cruise lines currently on the Mississippi River (with one more coming), four cruise lines in the Great Lakes, etc. Our cruise experts will work with you to find the right ship for your vacation style and budget.


Pay Attention to Amenities

Most small ship cruise lines are all-inclusive, or mostly-inclusive. But when you’re comparing cruise lines for the best deal, make sure you know what’s included with each cruise line. All onboard meals should be included, and some drinks and alcohol. Some cruise lines include shore excursions, or have pricing levels for them. Comparing stateroom conditions can also be helpful. A top category on one ship could be comparable to a lower, cheaper category on another ship – meaning you could choose the lower category and pay less, or get an even better stateroom for the same price!


Using Your Rewards

If you find yourself comfortable onboard a specific cruise line, you could be eligible for loyalty rewards. Working with our cruise experts doesn’t compromise your membership in the cruise line loyalty programs. If you cruise on American Cruise Lines, you can still use your Eagle Society benefits. If you cruise with Viking, you can book your subsequent Viking cruises with USA River Cruises and still use your loyalty benefits. Plus, once you’ve booked with us, you become eligible for USA River Cruises loyalty discounts.


Referrals and Groups

USA River Cruises will pay you $100 for every confirmed referral you send our way. You can use them as a discount on a vacation you already have booked with us, or we can send you the $100. Our loyal clients are the best marketing we have, and we appreciate when you speak highly of us to your friends and family.

Also, traveling in a group could be financially beneficial to everyone. Generally, cruise lines define a group as more than 8 or 10 passengers. River cruises are fantastic for celebrating birthdays, reunions, anniversaries, holidays, and more. Plan to travel with friends or family, and see if you qualify for a group discount or special amenities.