Here is an accumulation of advice from 18 years of cruising >124 times:
Search on VacationsToGo.com to find a good cruise & get an idea of pricing.
A good agent will always beat their price a bit via email.
Occasionally they don’t list some cruises, so check the cruise company web sites if necessary.
Princess.com lets you to save a list of cruises so you can easily see updated prices & estimate occupancy.
ALWAYS sign in to get YOUR price, as newcomers may be charged more.
Get quotes & find a good agent on CruiseCompete.com
I found him there & he’s booked the last 70 or so cruises.
A good cruise agent can ALWAYS beat direct cruise company prices.
Royal Caribbean & Celebrity may not allow agents to discount fares.
Really big agencies, like Expedia, Orbitz, Hotwire, AAA, AARP, VTG, American Airlines, or even Costco, etc will rarely match a good small cruise agent like JD.
Prices tend to drop 75 – 90 days before cruise begins. Some holiday & long cruises drop at 90 – 120 days, but virtually ALL holiday cruises are much higher. The later the cheaper, in general, at the risk of being sold out. Prices keep changing, based on how well the cruise is selling.
If you don’t care about cabin location, a “guarantee” cabin will always be a bit less than a specific cabin.
Cruise companies charge too much for transfers to / from piers.A taxi or Uber / Lyft is much cheaper for 2 or more people & much faster in most cases.
Cruise company excursions are virtually ALWAYS overpriced compared to local offers or compared to renting a car in most places.
Princess EZ Air has lately offered the cheapest flights to catch any cruise. They also provide next port transportation if the flights cause you to miss the ship.
“Insurance” is a big profit maker for cruise companies because it’s so overpriced. Regular cruisers will save a lot by self insuring.
Always have a few “future cruise” deposits for the first 2 cabin occupants.
Always own 100 shares of CCL and RCL for additional OBC.
Veterans get additional OBC on many lines. This is sometimes true for teachers, police & firemen. Senior rates & kids are sometimes discounted.
Occasionally rates are discounted for residents of specific states.
A Costco Visa card rebates 3% of all travel expenses.
Several other credit cards will rebate 1.5 – 2% cash back on any purchase, including Fidelity & Citibank..
For serious travelers, a Chase Sapphire Reserve Visa card is well worth more than the $550 annual fee. It immediately rebates $300 on any travel, rebates $100 for a Global pass OR $85 for Pre Check application, and gives 3 points / $ spent on travel. Points are worth about $.016 when transferred to Southwest Air, yielding effectively a 4.8% rebate on all travel charges to it. It has many other smaller benefits. This is far better than airline cards.
Note that all info is subject to change with time, but I believe it was accurate as of December 2019.