So You Want To Cruise For Free?
There are a few ways to get concessionary cruises which I will cover in later posts, but with the exception of being a Captains’ wife, a cruise ship Godmother or winning a free cruise in a competition, there is only one way I know to actually cruise for free.
Free cruises are usually given by the cruise line to members of the press or media. This falls under five categories. A journalist, a photographer, an influencer, a blogger or a vlogger.
So let’s take a look at these in more detail.
1. Journalists and Photographers
The first two are really career paths. Something you have to train for and work your way up to over years of hard work.
Even then, only the creme de la creme will be selected for press trips. So there is no guarantee, if you do become a journalist or photographer, that you will ever get an invitation to cruise for free.
If you do want to take this route, there are plenty of resources online these days, so you can learn remotely. You don’t necessarily have to attend a college or university anymore, and if you really put in the work and have a natural flair, you may get there quicker. It’s a changing world and if you can prove you have exceptional writing or photography skills you don’t necessarily need a degree. You will, however need a platform to showcase your work and this is where your own blog can help.
2. Cruise Line Employee or Travel Agent
Most cruise lines will offer their staff stand-by cruises. These are free cruises but you do have to pay port taxes, fees and gratuities. I managed to cruise on Allure of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas when I worked for Royal Caribbean.
You also get familiarisation cruises when you are a travel agent as well as working for the cruise line. These are usually a portion of a whole cruise which is part of an escorted group by the cruise line. It gives staff and travel agents the opportunity to experience the brand for themselves, which helps them sell it more effectively to customers.
Blogging is a great way to put yourself in the game, if you have a serious passion for cruise. However, I don’t recommend you start blogging with a sole aim to get free cruises. If you do this, your content will be flat and uninteresting and your audience will see through it.
Do it because you have a burning desire for cruising. Your passion and your experience is what makes you unique, and this is how to grow a loyal audience.
You don’t have to be an amazing wordsmith or a whizz at building websites. It’s all done-for-you these days. You do need the patience to learn by your mistakes and the determination to see this through until you succeed.
Why do some bloggers get invited on cruises and others don’t? You need to have two things. Good engagement with your cruise audience, which gives you influence, and a good relationship with the cruise lines’ Public Relations or Media team (use Google to find these but don’t do it until you have something worth showing them). Pick up to five cruise lines in your niche and build up your relationship both online and offline. Ask to be added to press distribution lists and share the cruise lines’ updates with your audience.
It is important to note that PR and Media Teams get bombarded with email requests, as you can imagine. Get your blog right first. Start getting them to notice you by posting your content and tagging the cruise line in it. Once you have built up your audience, you need to put a media pack together and then send this along with a covering letter introducing yourself and explaining why you see that cruise line as a good fit for your blog.
Imagine being able to invite someone onto your cruise ship and in return they create an amazing video that shows off your ship, and then make it available to millions of cruise fans. Why wouldn’t you want them on your ship? Look at the value the cruise line is getting by giving them a free cruise.
Who are you most likely to trust when it comes to getting honest cruise reviews? The cruise line or a cruiser? That said, there are many cruise vloggers nowadays, but in my opinion only 2 or 3 really great ones. So if you have a keen interest in videography and editing, this could be your niche.
If you think being a blogger requires dedication and commitment, you ain’t seen nothing yet. An influencer is someone of virtual celebrity status on social media. Generally they are the people who take 500 photos to get that perfect selfie.
They are experts in social media algorithms and work, work, work to grow their audience, consistently and relentlessly.
So now you know how to get free cruises, you might want to check out my post on How To Start Your Own Cruise Blog