Updated August 21, 2018
In acknowledgement of the various sacrifices active, retired and veteran military personnel have had to make in order to serve their country, most cruise lines offer some form of cruise discount or deal to members of the military. Perks can come in the form of discounts, special rates and onboard credits to spend on the ship and might be offered on every sailing or select sailings only.
Cruise Critic rounds up the military cruise discounts and deals offered by popular mainstream cruise lines.
What: In addition to military cruise deals offered in May and November for Memorial Day and Veterans Day, Carnival also offers a discount of up to 20 percent off brochure rates on most sailings.
Who qualifies: The Military Program is available to active, reserve and retired personnel within the United States military, as well as cadets, U.S. Coast Guard personnel, active members of the National Guard and uniformed members of the U.S. Public Health Services, as well as veterans (defined by Carnival as individuals who have actively served in the military for at least two years or during a wartime period and have been honorably discharged.)
Active, reserve and retired members of the Canadian National Defense also qualify to receive the discount.
Required documentation: Cruisers applying for a military discount must provide one of the following: a copy of the military LES (with Social Security number blackened out), a copy of the military retirement papers (DD214 or DD256) or a copy of proof of honorable discharge (form DD214). Cadets must provide a letter from his or her commander or a copy of a military paystub (with the Social Security number blackened out).
What: Celebrity offers special military cruise rates on select sailings year-round.
Who qualifies: Active personnel serving in the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard or National Reserves or in the Canadian National Defense qualify for the military cruise rate. Veterans and retired members of the military also qualify.
Required documentation: Proof of active or retired military status is required at the port during check-in.
What: Holland America offers sporadic military cruise deals throughout the year. Always check with the cruise line before booking to see if any discounts or deals are available.
What: MSC Cruises offers active and retired military personnel up to 10 percent off almost all sailings. Specifically, a five percent military cruise discount is offered on interior and ocean-view cabins, while 10 percent is given on balcony, suite and MSC Yacht Club staterooms. Multiple rooms may be booked using the discount. MSC also offers a 100 percent future cruise credit good for two years to all active military personnel who are redeployed or have their leave revoked and cannot make their cruise. (Cancellation must be accompanied by a letter from the commanding officer, and must be no later than 15 days prior to sailing date.) The military discount cannot be combined with any other offers or used on already reduced fares.
Who qualifies: MSC's cruise discounts for the military may be claimed by retired and active U.S. and Canadian military personnel in the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard, National Guard, Army Reserve and Department of Defense. Spouses, parents, parents-in-law and dependent children of retired and active military personnel also qualify for the discount. Police offers and firefighters also qualify for the discount under MSC's Civil Service discount program.
Required documentation: Qualifying cruisers must present an ID badge from their respective military company at the time of booking.
What: According to Norwegian Cruise Line, the line offers military cruise deals from time to time. Always check with the cruise line before booking to see if any rates are available.
What: Princess offers up to $250 in onboard spending money to veteran or active members of the U.S. and Canadian militaries. The credit can be used on any cruise at any time of the year. The OBC (up to two military personnel per booking) is awarded as follows: $50 for sailings of six days or less; $100 for sailings of seven to 13 days; and $250 on sailings two weeks in length or longer. The Military OBC offer is combinable with other OBC offers, combinable with most cruise fares and may not be used in the casino.
Who qualifies: Veterans, plus active, retired and disabled military personnel in both the U.S. and Canadian militaries, qualify for the onboard credit. Retired personnel are defined as "enlisted personnel with a minimum of 20 years of service, medically retired or 100 percent disabled." A veteran is a member of the military who has been honorably discharged after serving a minimum of two years or six months in an active war zone, or has received an educational discharge, if within 90 days of their normal separation date in any of the applicable service divisions.
Required documentation: Applications for the benefit must be sent in no later than two weeks prior to sail date. All applicants must fill out a Military Benefit Application Form and provide required proof of eligibility that might include a U.S. military verification certificate confirming active duty status, a Canadian NDI 20 identification card, a United States BLUE uniformed identification card (front and back of card), a Canadian NDI 75 record of service identification card or CF75 certificate of discharge, a U.S. DD 214 form with the Social Security number blackened out or a Canadian VAC health identification card.
What: Royal Caribbean offers occasional military rates (not a discount) on select bookings at various times throughout the year. The rate usually applies only to specific types of cabins on select sailings. Additionally, Royal Caribbean offers extra cruise deals for the military at various times of the year. In 2015, for instance, the line offered up to $50 in onboard credit during Military Appreciation Month.
Who qualifies: To qualify for a military rate, a Royal Caribbean passenger must be classified as an active personnel serving in the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard or National Reserves, or Canadian National Defense. Retired members of the military and veterans also qualify for the rate. Retired is defined as "enlisted personnel or officers with a minimum of 20 years of service, medically retired or 100 percent disabled."
Spouses of actively deployed military personnel can also qualify for the special rate at time of booking so long as their qualifying spouse will occupy the cabin at the time of sailing. This rate can also be applied to other passengers traveling in the same cabin. Also qualifying for the military rates are spouses of deceased military personnel.
Required documentation: For active duty cruises, identification in the form of U.S. uniformed services WHITE identification card or a WHITE ND 21 identification card with a red Canadian Flag must be presented at time of check-in. For retired members of the military, a U.S. uniformed RED, BLUE or TAN identification card, or a Canadian green NDI-75 card must be presented at check-in. Veterans who have been honorably discharged after serving at least two years (of six months in a war zone) must present a DD 214, plus current photo at time of check-in. Spouses of active duty and deceased military personnel must present a PINK or TAN dependent military ID at check-in.