Best Cruise Deals: How to Book Last Minute Cruise Deals

Last Minute Cruise Deals

Posted 05.07.2012 in Articles by Caitlin

  In the last several years, cruising has become the vacation of choice for people around the world. A cruise is like an all-inclusive vacation in which travelers purchase their transportation, food and entertainment in a single transaction. It’s a great way to relax and unwind as well as explore new corners of the world. Most people spend months planning a cruise, but the truth is that a cruise vacation can sometimes be even better when it’s planned on the spur of the moment. Booking a last minute cruise can save people significant amounts of money and allow them to travel in a style they never dreamed was possible.

Last minute cruise deals are typically available within about 60-90 days of the cruise departure date. It’s at this point that the cruise line becomes anxious to sell unsold cabins. If there is one thing the cruise industry dislikes, it’s empty cabins. Their aim is to have 100% of available space booked on every ship for every sailing. People may have made reservations for a cruise as much as one year to one-and-a-half years before sailing. However, some of the best cruise deals only become available when the cruise line starts to worry that the ship will be sailing with less than a capacity crowd.

That's why a last minute cruise deal has the power to save travelers so much money. The cruise lines start slashing prices in an effort to fill up the cabins. As long as vacationers are willing to be flexible, they can have an outstanding vacation for a surprisingly affordable price. Finding the right last minute deal on a cruise requires quite a bit of work, but the savings are definitely worth it. The first question the prospective cruiser needs to answer is where they would like to cruise. Cruises are available in every corner of the world 365 days a year. However, some cruises are seasonal in nature. For instance, cruises to Alaska generally only happen between May and September. If the last minute vacationer is hoping to celebrate Christmas in Sitka, they would be out of luck.

Choosing a cruise itinerary also involves considering the port of embarkation. A departure point located in the passenger’s hometown is both convenient and inexpensive. However, most people aren’t fortunate enough to live in a port city with a cruise ship terminal. That means that the cost of driving or flying to the departure city, and the cost of the return trip, should be factored into the budget for the cruise. Additionally, it may make sense to book a hotel room for a day or two leading up to the cruise to allow for additional sightseeing or to simply make certain to not miss the sailing. Many cruise ship companies offer package deals that include the cruise along with a hotel stay before or after the sailing. Some of the best cruise deals involve accommodations and a shore excursion in the departure port city before the cruise even begins.

The length of the cruise will also largely determine the price. It only makes sense that a two week cruise will be more costly than one that is only four days. However, it is sometimes true that the longer cruises offer deeper discounts because they are harder to fill at the last minute. Most people don’t have the kind of flexibility required to take off for two weeks at a moment’s notice, whereas a shorter cruise may only involve a long weekend and is easier to arrange. When people are looking for last minute cruise deals, it’s important to be able to have some latitude with respect to the length of the cruise in order to really capitalize on the specialized pricing.

Some cruise companies offer additional incentives or perks for passengers booking at the last minute. These perks may include onboard credits. A cruise ship is a cashless society. When the passenger makes a purchase at the boutique or pays for a massage at the spa, the credit card on file with the ship gets charged. Onboard credits help offset these costs. Some cruise lines offer sizable onboard credits in exchange for booking. It may also be possible to score a cabin upgrade at the last minute. Frequently, the best cabins are already booked long before the last minute passenger makes their reservation. Plans can change for other passengers, and that can mean an upgrade to a better cabin without additional expense. Other incentives may include a free or discounted shore excursion to help the passengers fully enjoy their cruise experience. Look for valuable additions like these when a last minute cruise is on the horizon.

The cruise is the most important component of this vacation. Book it first to ensure availability and guarantee dates. Next, work on reserving transportation to the departure port. This should be reserved in conjunction with a hotel stay before embarkation day. It may also make sense to reserve a hotel room for after disembarkation. Most cruise ships disembark passengers by about noon or one o’clock in order to be ready for the next wave of oncoming guests. Depending upon where the disembarkation city is in relation to home, it may make sense to stay the night there before going home.

Finding last minute cruise deals can be a thrilling experience. There’s the excitement of exploring new and wonderful places, and being able to do so at a deeply discounted rate. Additionally, cruise lines tend to offer extra incentives or perks, like cabin upgrades, to sweeten the deal. Vacationers who can be fairly flexible about where and when they travel will be able to take full advantage of some of the best cruise deals on the high seas. Locating a truly valuable cruise deal requires research and patience. Consumers hoping to snag a deal should make a habit of browsing cruise line offers so that they know when a truly magnificent opportunity comes along. 
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