Last Minute Cruise Deals?

Last-minute in the sandI am often asked if you can get the best deal on a cruise if you wait until the ‘last minute’ to book it.

More often than not, that is a myth. Actually, the earlier you book, the better the rates and the better your chance of getting the room type you want in the location you want on the ship.

If it is an itinerary that is only offered once or twice, the chances are that the ship will sell out, especially in the least expensive inside rooms and the most expensive suites.

However, the same cruise itineraries that are offered week after week or every other week, might not sell out as quickly. But you still run the risk of not getting the room location you want.

For example, a Caribbean cruise that sails for seven nights from Florida, week after week, may not be full so the cruise line will discount the rates. However, you have to be very flexible and able to travel at a moment’s notice. This might work well for those who live close to an embarkation port like Miami. But if you have to fly across the country with just a few days notice, the airline cost will likely be more than the cruise savings. Also, the shorter cruise lengths, three or four nights, are more susceptible to these discount possibilities.Cruise lines, just like airlines, raise prices as the ships fill up. Here is a real example: in April, 2013, my customers booked a 9 night NCL cruise to Northern Europe that sails in May, 2014. They booked a mini-suite for $1,846 per person including taxes. If they were to book that same cabin category now, the rate would be $2,260. The couple saved over $800.

And if the price does go down, a good travel agent can usually get you the new lower price. It is my practice–after you have booked, I periodically check the rates and will get you the lower rate if at all possible.

Here is an example:

In June, 2012, my customers booked a 12 night Carnival cruise to the British Isles sailed in September, 2013. When they originally booked the cruise, the rate for a balcony cabin was $2,512 per person including taxes. Every so often, I checked to see if the rate changed. In February, 2013, I was able to get the rate down to $2,107, savings of $405 per person. Then, just before final payment was due, I checked the rates again and it went down to $1,687, an additional savings of $420 per person. Of course, the bad publicity that Carnival had in 2013 definitely affected the rates, but they would not have offered the lower rates–it was me asking, that produced the favorable results. Overall, they saved a total of $1,650 for the two of them.

Cruise lines will not contact you to tell you there is a lower rate.

On the other hand, maybe you don’t know if you can get the time off work or you might change your mind. Most cruise lines will let you cancel the booking and receive a FULL REFUND of your deposit as long as it’s before the final payment due date, usually 60-90 days before the sail date.

There is very little risk and you might just get to take the dream vacation you always wanted.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…my advice is to book your cruise as far in advance as you can.

What cruise are you dreaming of? Call Margaret now to get the best deal.

Copyright © Margaret Owen, Cruise Pro