Here are the best cruise deals on Black Friday — and why you may want to skip them

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When purchasing a cruise vacation, getting a good deal is the top priority for a majority of travelers. And Black Friday can be a good time book a cruise — if you know what to watch out for.

A new survey from travel insurance marketplace InsureMyTrip found that 58% of travelers were most excited by scoring a deal when booking a cruise vacation. Discounts proved more popular than finding a cruise that spent more time at port than at sea (28%) and having updated WiFi technology on board (10%).

For these travelers, it may pay to book a cruise this weekend, especially if it will be a holiday gift for a loved one. “We are seeing some Black Friday rates around last-minute ranges — with some fares coming in at under $70 per night,” said Colleen McDaniel, Editor-in-Chief of travel website Cruise Critic.

Also see: How ‘dry docking’ could ruin your $10,000 cruise vacation

Here are the best cruise deals available on Black Friday and Cyber Weekend

Princess Cruise Lines is running two different “Cyber Event” offers. The “Sail Soon” deal includes up to 40% off select cruise itineraries and free WiFi for all guests in the stateroom (limited to four devices per room.) The “Sail Later” offer, meanwhile, includes up to $800 in on-board spending money (depending on the size and location of the stateroom and number of guests traveling together), a free room-location upgrade, two bottles of wine at specialty dining locations and up to $200 off airfare to cruise launch locations. This second promotion also includes free WiFi for one guest, limited to four devices.

Norwegian Cruise Lines NCLH, -1.83%  is running a deal for Black Friday only where travelers can get 30% off all cruises they purchase. Travel packages booked on Black Friday will include other free add-ons including free open bar and WiFi packages, free specialty dining and free shore exclusions. Kids can also travel free for families who book on Black Friday.

Carnival Cruises CCL, -0.31%  is offering up to 30% off cruises through Dec. 1 for sailings beginning February 2020 and beyond. The deal also includes a two-for-one offer on deposits, up to $50 in credits for on-board purchases, discounts on room upgrades and free price protection.

Royal Caribbean RCL, -1.06%  meanwhile is offering a Black Friday deal where when one guest pays full price, the second guest’s travel will be 60% off. Like with Norwegian’s offer, kids can sail free if families book on Black Friday.

Disney Cruise Line DIS, +0.07%  is offering discounts on specific itineraries for Cyber Week this year. The biggest discount they’re offering is 25% off “Oceanview” staterooms for the seven-night Western Caribbean Cruise that departs from New Orleans on Feb. 14. They’re also advertising a 20% discount for numerous cruises for their “Verandah” and “Inside” categories of staterooms.

Travel website Cruise Critic has a round-up of discounts on specific sailings from various cruise lines that are very competitive offers. For instance, Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line is offering a special where a two-cruise from West Palm Beach, Fla., to The Bahamas is only $79 a person. And while it’s not advertised as a Black Friday special, Cunard is advertising prices from $599 per person for a seven-night transatlantic cruise on its famous Queen Mary 2 liner.

Read more: Trump administration bans cruises from traveling to Cuba — leaving passengers high and dry

Why you should think twice before booking a cruise this weekend

People dreaming of sipping mojitos as they sail the high seas should double-check that the deals are all they’re cracked up to be. Here are some factors to consider before booking:

Will prices be better during “Wave Season?” The time period between January and March is the most popular time to book a cruise, and many cruise lines will offer competitive discounts during that time period to seal the deal. “The savings associated with Black Friday cruise deals are very similar to those offered during Wave Season,” McDaniel said. “The biggest difference is the time availability for the deals. A lot of the Black Friday deals we’re seeing are time-sensitive — leaving a week or less to book.”

Are the discounts actually discounts? Many cruise lines’ deals during Black Friday primarily include “free” add-ons, such as free drinks packages, or on-board shopping credits. But as travel expert Stewart Chiron put it, “the cruise lines’ sales are offering lots of stuffing but little meat.” These add-ons are of little value if you don’t make use of them. Chiron recommended that travelers look at the price per person for cruises first before considering any add-ons.

Consider last-minute deals. For travelers will flexibility, booking a cruise within 90 days of its departure can provide the biggest discount. Cruise lines aim to get as many people on board their ships as possible, so they will bring prices to rock bottom in the weeks leading up to a sailing to ensure maximum occupancy. There’s of course a trade-off to this. “You might not have top choice of cabin, and activities and restaurants requiring reservations might be booked, plus there will be fewer available sail dates — leaving you at the mercy of whatever is still available,” McDaniel said.

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