Windstar’s intimate yachts offer perks that are hard to come by on mainstream cruise lines: they hold less than 300 people, have a water sports platform, and can access small, off-the-beaten-track ports mega ships can’t reach. It’s no surprise, then, that the experience doesn’t usually come cheap — most sailings top out at more than $1,000 per person. But that doesn't mean you can't find a deal. Here are eight insider tips on finding a Windstar cruise that won’t break the bank.
1. Watch for promotions.
Windstar often runs a “Star Perks” deal that lets you choose one of four complimentary offers, including two free hotel nights, beverage package, unlimited Wi-Fi, and up to $1,000 onboard credit.
2. Look for all-inclusive pricing.
Sometimes, air and hotel are included in your fare with Windstar, which gives you the biggest bang for your buck. The price tag may be higher, but you get more value — and you don’t have to add those costs on later. We’ve seen a Tahiti sailing for $3,999, including price of air and hotel, as well as a seven-day Mediterranean “Grand Prix of Monaco” cruise that included a ticket to the Grand Prix as part of the $6,899 price tag.
3. Book in advance.
Next year’s winter voyages have just been announced — and since the dates are so far down the line and the ships are so empty, Windstar is offering reduced fare and a free perk on these cruises.
4. Better yet, book last minute.
Wait until a few weeks (or one week!) before a sailing and you could catch one of Windstar’s flash sales. We're seeing great rates on this year’s winter cruises, for example.
5. Pick the right itinerary in the right season.
Book your Caribbean itinerary in winter for the best prices. (Ee recently saw an inside cabin drop from $1,500 to $900 during this period.) And, if you book far enough in advance or last minute, you can score a great Europe deal in spring. We’ve seen prices drop by 50 percent, from $3,000 to $1,500. In addition, keep your eyes open for Tahiti deals in fall.
6. Consider a repositioning cruise.
You can catch a good deal on these itineraries, which often include many days at sea while the ship transitions across an ocean to a different part of the world. (Tip: We just recommend packing seasickness remedies if you get queasy easily — these are small ships.)
7. Traveling solo? Ask about single occupancy rates.
Occasionally, the line will waive the single occupancy fee tacked on when you’re a solo passenger who books a cabin for two. (That fee can often total up to 174 percent of the double occupancy rate, so if you're traveling alone, it's worth holding out for this option.)
8. Ride the Wave.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: book in the off-season. Most people who book their cruises in January, February, and March, are rewarded with cruise lines' lowest prices all year — and the cruise lines often sweeten these deals with extra perks, too.