Aside from actually sailing, part of the thrill of booking a cruise is finding and snagging that irresistible deal that ticks all the boxes. And if 'never pay full price' is your mantra, then Black Friday and Cyber Monday cruise deals represent the ultimate path to enlightenment.
The sheer number of Black Friday and Cyber Monday cruise deals can be overwhelming, and figuring out which bargain makes most sense to you takes some dedication. To give you a head start, the following guide breaks down what to expect come late November.
Don't want to wait until Black Friday to find the best Black Friday and Cyber Monday cruise deals? Check out Cruise Critic's deal tool to peruse the current offers out there.
Officially the day after Thanksgiving in the United States, Black Friday marks the start of the holiday shopping season. It's the opportunity most if not all businesses capitalize on to roll out their biggest offers of the year, and cruise lines are no exception.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals have become a cornerstone for cruise lines to showcase their most enticing bargains. And they tend not to be shy about it, either. Norwegian Cruise Line, for example, dubbed their 2021 Black Friday sale as the 'Greatest Deal Ever.' Superlatives aside, the bottom line is not only do cruises have Black Friday deals, but they tend to offer perks and incentives to match.
You'd be hard pressed to find a cruise line that doesn't offer some kind of Black Friday or Cyber Monday deal. Sure, the details, discounts or inclusions of each will vary from line to line, but you can expect major cruise lines like Carnival, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean all have Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals in place for bargain-hungry passengers.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals aren't limited to the big cruise lines. You will find that luxury, river and expedition cruise lines will all offer some incentive to grab the attention of passengers during this busy shopping season. Ditto, too, for smaller lines like UnCruise and Star Clippers, proving that big deals aren't limited to big ships.
The days when Black Friday deals or the deepest 'door-busting' discounts were limited to the Friday after Thanksgiving have all but become a thing of the past. Most businesses have adopted the trend of stretching Black Friday into a week-long (or longer) affair, and cruise lines are fully onboard with this trend.
While exact release dates vary from line to line, you can typically expect to start seeing deals pop up a week or so before Thanksgiving and typically extend into Cyber Monday.
Although Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals vary from line to line you can generally expect them to fall into the following categories: onboard perks, fare discounts, cabin upgrades and reduced deposits.
Cruise lines will often include two or more of these categories in the same deal, giving you more incentive to book. Last year, for example, Holland America offered $99 deposits and its "Have it All" package of inclusions that cover shore excursions, drinks, specialty dining, gratuities, and onboard Wi-F as its Black Friday deal. And in 2020, Carnival's Cyber Blowout Sale featured up to 30 percent off cruises, $50 deposits, and complimentary room upgrades.
One thing to keep in mind is that cruise lines, particularly the major ones, will always lead with their most eye-catching deals. But often, these are the deals that come with the most restrictions. Typically, these offers only apply to new bookings; those with existing reservations are generally out of luck. And voyages on offer may be restricted to select sailings, so be sure to dig deeper into that headline offer before booking.
When it comes to finding a truly amazing Black Friday and Cyber Monday deal, the best offers are the ones that provide more value to you, the cruiser. Your personal preferences will dictate what constitutes more value for you.
In the big ship category, free onboard perks can represent the biggest value, so if you see a free drinks package or free Wi-Fi bundled together with the fare, they can translate to hundreds of dollars in savings. Luxury cruise lines, on the other hand, are mostly all-inclusive so here you'll be looking for deals that include generous sums of onboard credit, complimentary airfare deals and suite upgrades.
Solo travelers aren’t left out, either: some Black Friday deals can offer incentives for those sailing solo, including reduced or eliminated single supplements.
Originally, Black Friday and Cyber Monday stood apart as different opportunities to snag bargains, the former being more associated with picking up deals in person at brick-and-mortar stores while the latter -- as the name suggests -- would apply only to online purchases.
Although this distinction can sometimes still be found in certain retail sectors, in the case of cruise lines the two shopping days have largely morphed. It's not uncommon to see cruise lines use Cyber Monday as an opportunity to extend Black Friday sales beyond Thanksgiving week, so you can expect the deals to look the same.
Occasionally, however, you might see some added incentives offered for Cyber Monday to sweeten an already established Black Friday deal. Examples include extra onboard credit, cabin upgrades or additional discounts.
Cruise lines will typically display their Black Friday deals front and center on their websites as soon as they become available -- and we start our own coverage here on Cruise Critic the second they do, broken down by line.
This page links to our Black Friday cruise deals; we update it yearly, so check back in November for all the latest Black Friday and Cyber Monday cruise deals.