What are Back to Back Cruises as deals and prices/savings, why to book a "B2B Cruise". Some special hints, tips and tricks on last-minute "Back to Back" cruise deals.
Taking Back to Back cruises (on the same or different ships) is way more than just fun. It's a special discount cruise offer with reduced rates and a great option for budget-minded travelers with a long and cheap cruise ship vacation in mind. So we decided to make a review of all the information available on various online travel forums and websites. Our survey will save you a whole lot of browsing/reading time. Plus it's all real-life experiences of people who actually have done the B2B cruise travel - some of them many many many times!
What are "Back to Back Cruises" (officially known as "Consecutive Cruises")?
The definition says it's a combined voyage consisting of two interlinked sailings on the same ship (with favorable pricing) or on different ships (usually combining different destinations/regions). It simply means taking 2 or more voyages - one right after the other. In most cases, back to back cruise deals are specials boasting cheapest-cheap discounted fares (due to the "doubled" length of the voyage) combined with last-minute discount rates. As an example, you can enjoy the following "back to back cruises Princess" ship rates with this promotion (all prices are per guest per day, double occupancy, rates don't include Gov taxes and port fees): Interior cabin ($20), OceanView ($35), Balcony ($50) and Mini-Suite ($80). Back to Back cruises on Royal Caribbean, Carnival or HAL ships will cost you less than $40 PP pd for a Balcony stateroom. To be eligible for such indecently low prices you simply must postpone your booking thrill and wait until you're ready to book two cruises, one right after the other. Again, that second sailing has to be on the same ship and also during the following week.
Back to Back Cruises - general questions
What are the b2b destinations? Some of the most popular ever and more readily available are the Back to Back cruises in the Caribbean and the Back to Back Transatlantic cruises (as part of the Ship Relocation Cruises group, available mostly in late Spring/Fall each year). The best B2B Caribbean deals are between September and December (excluding Thanksgiving and Xmas). These deals are perfect for schedule-flexible passengers and are most likely to be offered on 7-day sailings (but not exclusively). Since these offers are always based on availability, vacancies may be rare on high season sailings (especially during Christmas/New Years or Spring Break holidays).
You must know that these are normal/regular cruise lines last minute deals, but most personnel (headquarters-purser staffers and reservation agents) may be very reluctant about the details. Most of the websites are absolutely not user friendly when looking for B2B cruise deals - so you're going to have to ask about them. The proper places to ask are the purser's desk, the onboard sales consultant and your travel agent.
- on the same or different cruise ships: booking on the same ship works great if the ship changes its itinerary. For example, 7-days to Eastern Caribbean followed by another week to the Western Caribbean. If you really like the amenities on your ship, this is your best option to enjoy them almost to the full. On the other hand, booking on 2 different ships provides an amazing opportunity to enjoy 2 different sets of amenities, dining and entertainment options, new staff, new faces, new friends - which means an absolutely exciting as events and changes sea vacation.
- same or different cabin: in most cases (but not always) you'll have to switch rooms. You can have the same stateroom if it's available for both legs at the time of booking. In the perfect case, if you have to change cabins sometimes lines may give you an offer you simply could not refuse - a free cabin upgrade.
- all B2Bs are counted as 2 separate cruises. This pertains to issues, such as onboard credit, guests loyalty programs points, etc, and you'll have two separate booking numbers. Two separate sailings on different ships are not considered "B2B".
- you can't add a second deal to an existing booking. And if you have one booking for both sailings you can't cancel one without canceling the B2B.
- on the 2nd part of your B2B you don't have to go through Customs. However, depending on your turnaround port, you'll have to get off the ship and re-board (this is for Immigration). This is a relatively quick and easy process, plus you don't have to take your luggage off the ship. B2B passengers board before any new passengers. You'll have about 1 1/2 to 2 hrs to enjoy roaming the ship with only staff and crew there - so coooool!
- let Guest Services know that you're on a B2B. They'll send to your cabin a new cruise card and a letter with exact instructions the day before arriving at the turnaround port (at the end of the first leg). And yes - you'll have your picture taken twice, for each one of the legs.
- of course, you can stay on the ship, but if you wish to disembark (say, for sightseeing, shopping, etc) you'll exit the ship with your old sail card and re-board with your new card.
- Another bonus is maximizing the value of expensive airfares (USA-Europe or the reverse, for example). You get much more for the money you're spending on air tickets. B2Bs are longer itineraries for a more complete European tour with just one round-trip flight ticket.
- speaking of destinations - Repositioning Cruises! Combine a relaxing Transoceanic crossing (limited number or no call ports) with another, more port-intensive itinerary.
- And yes - some folks do even B2B2B cruises, combining three different sailings into one!
Back to Back Cruises - additional information and tips
- book early so that you can be in the same room for both legs.
- packing/re-packing (on the same ship): Generally, you disembark, clear Customs & Immigration, then re-board. This is done without your luggage, but don't forget to bring your passport with you, along with other identification documents (driver's license, medical insurance card, VISA/immigration documents, etc). Let your cabin steward know that you are on a B2B. If you're in the same cabin, you can leave your stuff there. If you're changing cabins, just pack all your belongings in drawers and on shelves and leave all the clothes hanging in the closet. Your steward will move them for you. If you're changing ships, you'll have to go through the usual disembarkation/boarding process.
- alcohol: if you've purchased alcohol from the ship's duty-free shop on the first leg, it will be held and delivered to your stateroom the last night of the sailing to have it available during the entire second leg of your B2B. Know that if the liquor is purchased ashore, it will be held until the end of the 2nd leg. Often, if you buy early in the 1st leg, there's a good chance your bottle(s) to be held until the end of your B2B. All forum guys advice to wait and buy it the last full day of the 1st leg so you can take it with you to your cabin.
- food: you'll get back on board around 11:30AM and no food service will be available on the ship from 9AM to 11:30AM. Make sure you eat a good breakfast that morning!
- if you have some wine left (from a wine package on the 1st leg), the main dining room steward will carry it over to the 2nd leg for you.
- if you change cabins, you (may) have to go to the lifeboat drill again.
- on Back to Back Carnival Cruises you'll receive a fruit basket and a bottle of champagne the 1st day of the second leg as a gift for doing B2B. Also, if you like and want the same table/wait staff during the 2nd leg - just tell the head-waiter in the Main Dining Room sometime during leg one.
- We strongly recommend using the services of a travel agent to do the B2B work for you. All you need on this type of deals is time and money, so the "big tip" is: do the right thing to make more money to buy yourself more time for fun!
Back to Back Cruises deals are cost-effective
- it's cheaper to book b2b than booking each one individually
- a better choice of staterooms since many cabins are reserved for such deals
- B2B's also help maximizing the value of airfares to or from popular destinations, such as Europe, Asia or Alaska. A b2b can help you experience a more complete tour in that particular region with just one roundtrip air ticket added to the price of your vacation.
Back to Back Cruises - disadvantages (cons & risks)
- if you book 2 deals separately, depending on line and the cruise length, you can get some benefits on each deal, like an onboard credit (OBC, given as a promotional offer or as a shareholder perk), or if you use a future cruise credit (FCC) to book each one separately, you can get another OBC for using the FCC (again, the amount of the credit depends on the length of the trip). You can also get additional credit for each segment by the line's past guests/loyalty program perks. So always check your options considering a possible OBC you get/lose by booking each way.
- if you book a b2b and there's a price drop for one of them, you are absolutely not eligible for that fare reduction. The same goes if you've booked a pre-b2b cruise tour and there's a price drop on that tour.
- if you've booked a b2b and decide to cancel one of its segments, you have to cancel the whole b2b and re-book everything - that way you'll most probably lose your cabin as location.
Back to Back cruise reviews
- "Two weeks on the ship, I know for sure I won't want to go home!"
- "I love B2Bs, it's so cool staying on board!"
- "It's a simple math - if 1 cruise is so much fun, wouldn't 2 cruises be much much better?"
- "B2B's are great deals - if you have the time for them! Especially with different ships and itineraries - like combining Eastern and Western Caribbean, or Alaska with passing through Panama Canal on repositioning".