If you have ever served the United States in the military, or currently serve in the armed forces you may be eligible for a discount from your favorite cruise line. Some of the discounts are offered only to current armed forces member, while others offer discounts to retired military personnel. Some cruise lines even offer some discounts to all honorably discharged personnel. Sometimes quotes for the fares are readily available online by simply clicking a military box on a web page. Other fares are available only by contacting the cruise line directly or contacting a travel agency that specializes in military discounts. Sometimes your favorite cruise line may contact you with a special offer only for veterans.
Military discounts may be the same as other discount fares offered to a broad range of cruisers, but on occasion, those discounts are above and beyond the discounts that are offered to the general public. For example, a rate for residents of certain states could be the same rates as the military discount. However, a military discount either on top of that discount or that beats that rate may be offered. My parents took a recent Carnival cruise when contacted by their Carnival sale representative. He had some excess capacity that he was trying to book and offered them a very attractive price. That price was good, but then he asked if either of them were ever active military. My Dad was in the Air Force reserves and that qualified him and Mom for an additional discount on the already attractively priced cruise.
I also did a couple of online prices searches for sample pricing. For a November Transatlantic cruise, NCL showed a military fare of $40 less per person than their standard fare. For a 7 day Caribbean cruise in November of 2008, discounts are offered for as much as $140 per person depending on the category of cabin booked and cruise line. Cruise lines offering military discounts, some for nearly all cruises and some only for select cruises, include:
- Royal Caribbean
There are several steps to insuring that you are getting a good deal on your cruise. First, research prices from several sources online or by phone. Be sure to get a price for both military and non-military passengers. Look at direct prices from the cruise line and from travel agencies. Then make sure that you qualify for the military deal. Is the deal for all active, retired, and honorably discharged military, or just active and retired? Then find out what documentation is required to prove your eligibility. You most likely will have to bring this documentation with you to prove that you meet the requirements when you check in for your cruise. Next, once you know you qualify and have proof of qualifications, then either contact a travel agency specializing in military discounts, your regular agent, or the cruise line directly and ask for a final quote for the military rate for the cruise you have in mind. You can also inquire about a any special deals for other dates or itineraries that you might have missed when you did your initial search. Some of the large travel agencies have dedicated military discount specialists. You may want to request one of these specialist when you contact the travel agency.
If you have ever utilized a military discount program for your cruise, please share your experience with us. We’d love to hear how smoothly the process worked for you and how you enjoyed your cruise.