How To Find The Best Last Minute Cruise Deals

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We all know that you shouldn’t put something off for tomorrow that you can do today. For instance, if you have a test coming up, you shouldn’t wait until the last minute before you start reviewing. Or, if you have to cut the lawn, you shouldn’t wait until a few minutes before it gets dark. This is an important life lesson that you are likely to have learned from your parents, and one that you will teach your own children as well. Yet, there are times where procrastinating is exactly what you should do.

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If, for instance, you want to go on a cruise holiday, you have two options available to you. The first is to plan and prepare well in advance. You save up all the money you need for the cruise, choose a destination, book it, get your insurance in place, purchase the clothes you need, develop an itinerary for the days you are on shore, and more. Or you can do exactly what you technically shouldn’t do, which is to wait until the last minute. The reason why this latter option may just be the best one is because of the fantastic last minute cruise deals that are out there. What this means is that you could save a great deal of money if, for once, you decide to book last minute instead.

Once upon a time, last minute cruise deals meant exactly that: find a trip on the day you want to travel. However, since 9/11, things have changed substantially and last minute no longer means literally “last minute”. You simply cannot go to the dock anymore and ask whether there are still some cabins available. This is because the passenger list, or manifest, has to be submitted to all the relevant authorities at least 48 hours before the ship sets sail.

How To Find The Best Last Minute Cruise Deals:

While the definition of “last minute” has changed, this does not mean that the deals are no longer out there. Rather, it means that you pick your cruise and book it around two months in advance. In other words, you get the best of both worlds: you can procrastinate, but not entirely either. So now that you know this, how do you get the best deals out there? The first thing to remember is that you can implement these steps anytime within the six months before you plan to travel, and that doing so can save you a lot of money. Some things to look for include:

According to CruiseCritic.com, one of the best times to find last minute rates on a particular sailing is 60 to 90 days before departure. The reason? This is the last call (for most, but not all, cruise lines and itineraries) for travelers to cancel existing reservations without penalty. At that point, the cruise line will know exactly how many cabins are left — and if there is more space available than the cruise line would like, it will quickly (and often heavily) reduce the fare so that it can sell out the ship. (1)

1. Repositioning cruises. If you ever come across repositioning cruises, you need to book them straight away. Sometimes, but not often, a cruise ship will reposition. What this means is that they change the location in which they sail for their cruises. For instance, during the hurricane season, a lot of Caribbean liners will sail the Mediterranean instead. This means that you can sail along with them, and make many stops along the way as well. Usually, these trips last for two weeks and they can be as much as 85% cheaper as a regular cruise. There is a major catch, however, and that is that the port from which you depart will be different to the port at which your cruise will end, and you will have to find your own way home. Hence, you do also have to add the price of a one way airline ticket to the overall deal.

2. Forget about peak season. If you’re hoping to get a brilliant deal during Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year, forget it. While you might be able to strike it incredibly lucky and book a cancellation, the reality is that you are far more likely to find a great deal if you go outside of those popular times. Cruise liners want to fill their spaces up, just as airlines do, which means they will attract people to them during times when most people can’t travel. Sometimes, this means a discount on the price of the cruise, but you can also find other amazing deals. For instance, you could have a free upgrade to a better cabin, or you might be able to get an exclusive all inclusive deal instead.

3. Remember the 60 days opportunity. The best time to find the best possible deal is within 60 days of the ship departing. Most cruise liners have cancellation policies in places that state someone can cancel their trip without paying a penalty within 60 days of departure. If, therefore, they have any spaces available within those last 60 days, it would be impossible for someone to cancel them without paying quite a bit for it. Hence, those trips tend to also be a lot cheaper. They will be a whole lot cheaper, in fact, if you can get hold of someone else’s cancellation. Those are perhaps the cheapest of the cheapest deals out there.

Always Check the Fine Print:

Now that you know the best ways to get great last minute cruise deals, there has to be a small word of warning, and that is that you should always check the fine print of your booking. Specifically:

1. Make sure that you know what you are paying for – is it for one person or for two, and is the price for double occupancy?

2. Check the type of cabin that you will get for your last minute deal.

3. Know exactly what the associated costs and fees are there. For instance, you may have to pay government taxes, port charges, and service fees. You don’t want to find that the deal looks really good on paper, only to discover that the associated fees suddenly make it a whole lot more expensive again.

The traditional last minute cruise deals no longer exist. If you were looking forward to going to a dock, suitcase in hand, and hoping for the best, then you will find yourself disappointed. But if you are happy to procrastinate a little bit less and snag yourself a fantastic vacation at a much more affordable price, then the above is the way to do it.

Sources:

1.) https://www.cruisecritic.com/articles.cfm?ID=68

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