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BellaOnline's Cruises Editor


12 Insider Ways To Save Money On Hotels

Many vacationers book hotels in conjunction with their cruise travel plans. These days, it's smart to arrive in your departure city a day before your cruise to eliminate problems caused by transportation delays. Having time to enjoy the area's sights and attractions is also an added plus.

If you're thinking about staying in a hotel as part of your next vacation, here are twelve insider tips to help save money on your next hotel booking:

1. Score Unpublished Rates. There are numerous hotel booking sites on the Internet promising great prices. Review the rates at,,,, and others and then head to to check out their deals. Once you have checked out the deals, call on their toll-free line to check out special unpublished rates. Make sure to compare any deals offered to rates being offered on the hotel's own website.

2. Bid for Travel Using Insider Information. Many travelers use online sites like Hotwire and Priceline to bid for and purchase travel at low cost. Savings on hotel can be substantial, with room rates sometimes as much as 60% off. It can be disconcerting to buy a hotel room on these kinds of opaque bidding sites though, since the name of the hotel is not revealed until after the room has been purchased. If you’re considering Express Deals or bidding on your hotel room on Hotwire or Priceline, check out sites like, and These sites use information obtained by previous bidders to help identify the likely hotel names as well as successful bidding strategies. Families and those requiring special arrangements should be careful, however, as bed types and other amenities cannot be guaranteed.

3. Play Your Cards Wisely. Membership in clubs such as AAA, AARP, Costco and Sam’s Club can generate substantial savings on hotel room rates. Make sure to inquire about reduced rates and remember to bring your card along with you to the hotel. Some frequent travelers also sign up for credit cards affiliated with certain hotel chains, allowing them to earn points towards free stays.

4. Save Money With A Package. Many hotels located in U.S. and Canadian homeport cities offer packages for guests wishing to arrive the night before their cruise. While the room rates are often attractive, another money-saving aspect of these packages is free parking for those driving to their cruise vacation as well as complimentary shuttle service to and from the cruise pier. Sometimes you can save money by purchasing your airfare and hotel room together, too.

5. Be Social. Some hotels offer special rates via Facebook and Twitter, so make sure to follow your favorites on social media. You may also find great local deals by searching using the name of your destination and the “hotel deals” search term. Cruise lines occasionally offer low social media rates as well.

6. Get On The List. Join hotel guest rewards programs and sign up for their newsletters. There’s absolutely no cost to join and the benefits can be substantial. Hotel chains often sent out e-mail newsletters with special savings offers. In addition, membership in hotel guest loyalty programs can often come with additional special perks such as free Internet, room upgrades, continental breakfast, late checkouts, and other amenities. You'll also get points to use for a future free hotel stay.

7. Skip Hotels Entirely. If you’d like to save money and get more space, consider bypassing hotels completely. Instead, choose to stay in a resort residence, condominium, villa or other type of accommodation. Rates for these properties can sometimes be 40-50% less than those charged by nearby hotels and many offer a wide range of exceptional amenities. Check out sites like,,,, and others. Some options may require a minimum booking of two nights or more.

8. Go Local for Deals. Research your city or destination online and scout for savings on hotels, restaurants and attractions. Check out local versions of Groupon and LivingSocial as well as regional papers and their online sites. Entertainment books can sometimes be helpful for hotel deals as well.

9. Use a Travel Agent. Travel agents can often help you find excellent hotel deals and evaluate packages. They can also be aware of unique money-saving strategies, like staying across the river in cities like New York. More importantly, a good travel agent can match the right options with your needs and help you plan the best travel experience for your family.

10. Get the Code. Hotels sometimes offer special booking codes for great deals. Check out sites like,, and to see what's available.

11. Grab Last-minute Steals. If you're making a last-minute or same day reservation, check out sites and apps like HotelTonight, SnapTravel, and for low rates. These are good tools for vacationers who change their plans or for those who are playing the last-minute vacancy game in hopes of getting an exceptionally low rate.

12. Make the Call. Once you've done your research, call hotels directly to ask for their lowest room rate. Most hotels would rather have you book directly with them than through a third-party, since it nets them more money. By speaking directly with a hotel staff member, you may get a better rate or a free room upgrade.

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Content copyright © 2018 by Nancy Schretter. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Nancy Schretter. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Nancy Schretter for details.


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