How You Can Take a River Cruise for Free

If you're someone who enjoys river cruising, you may wonder if there's a way to earn a FREE river cruise. Well, there are actually a few ways. We're not going to look at entering sweepstakes, because that's actually winning - not earning.

Most river cruises companies offer past guests a discount for subsequent travel with them and many will also reward you for your referrals when new travelers book a cruise with their company. This can add up to savings for you but not necessarily a free cruise. 

However, there are a few companies that will reward you with a free river cruise after so many referrals for new travelers who actually book a trip with them. Let's take a look at which ones.

Grand Circle Travel

Grand Circle has a Vacation Ambassador Program, which allows you to earn a free cruise or $4500 cash after you've referred 8 travelers who book a cruise. And each new traveler can also save $100 when they book their Grand Circle river cruise by providing your name and customer number.

You don't have to wait until you've referred 8 travelers before you cash in if you prefer cash to a free river cruise.

Vantage Travel

Vantage Travel has the most generous program. Its Diplomat Club Referral will reward you with a river cruise valued at $5200 plus $1200 cash for your 8th referral who books a cruise.

The company also allows you to earn rewards with the very first traveler you refer who ends up booking a river cruise with Vantage travel. You'll receive $100 per each new traveler for the first two and $200 per each new traveler for your 3rd through your 7th referral. Not bad!

One of the few river cruise companies that does not work with travel agents, Vantage Travel is able to pass on more of a savings on to its guests as well as to those who refer other travelers because it is not paying commissions to travel professionals.

Viking River Cruises

Viking River Cruises has an Explorer Society program that will let you earn Referral Rewards for travelers who book a river cruise with Viking. You can earn a FREE cruise valued at up to $4500 after your 13th referral. Up until that point, you will receive a $100 credit for each new referral. Credits must be used within the calendar year that they're earned.

What A Free Cruise Does Not Include

While the cruise itself may be free and would be treated similarly to paid cruises, there will still be expenses associated with your trip. In other words if things, such as shore excursions, port charges or airport transfer fees are included in a cruise package, you will not have to pay for them or for any other items that are included in a paid cruise fare. 

However, there are things that you will still have to pay for, including air fare and probably gratuities. That shouldn't stop you from making those referrals, though, if you like to encourage others to take a river cruise. Earning a free cruise for your recommendations is certainly a nice exchange.

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Lauri Wakefield is a travel writer who specializes in river cruises in Europe and the U.S. Connect with her on FacebookTwitter and Google+.

[This page may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here.]

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