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Bagbabe53

Question about how far in advance to book river cruise. Please advise!

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Hi, We have had some very pleasant but very limited cruising experience (HAL to Alaska, and Variety to the Greek islands and Turkey). We are considering adding a river cruise to a trip I'm planning to Poland in October, 2018. Our friends have done two Uniworld cruises and have raved about them, and my husband's very interested in them. I am also looking at Viking. (Personally, I don't care about butlers, although the laundry service they offer on Uniworld would be a plus on an extended trip). We will likely do one of the Danube itineraries with a few days in Prague, either before or after our Poland leg of the trip.

 

OK, here's the big question: how far in advance do I really have to make a deposit for a fall cruise? I'm noticing that some October, 2018 itineraries have limited availability for some French balcony cabins already. One has a category already sold out! My husband seems to think we can wait several more months before committing to an itinerary and cruise line. I'm worried that when he's finally ready (say, after 1 January) we may be SOL. What's your experience?

Edited by Bagbabe53
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Welcome to Cruisecritic! I'm relatively new as well and tomorrow I will be putting my deposit on my first river cruise for December 2018, so I don't think it's too early to book for October 2018. Depending on the cabin level and cruise itinerary, they may sell out quickly. I'm doing a Danube Christmas market cruise on AMAwaterways and when I called last week to put a hold on a French balcony room, there were only a few left on the floor I wanted. I'm glad I decided to book sooner than later. :D

 

Have fun planning! This site has a wealth of information that I've found very helpful!

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We are going on our second Avalon river cruise in April 2019 and put a deposit down already. Mostly because I wanted to lock in the sale. We don't have to have it paid off until Jan 2019. Only had to deposit $500 so I'm not too stressed if something happens.

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River cruise ships are very tiny and have only a limited number of cabins. Certain sailings are more popular than others. If you have your heart set on a certain cabin class and itinerary, book it.

 

 

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My wife and I have taken two Uniworld cruises and are booked for our third in January. Uniworld is outstanding in their service, food and amenities. I'd book ASAP so you will have a better selection of cabins. With Uniworld you have to book thru a travel agent.

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I booked mine 13 months out and there was limited availability as well. I booked Emerald and they offer an additional discount if paid by end of October. Otherwise, I have to early next year before final payment.

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My experience is specific to Uniworld, since you mentioned them as a possibility. IME, Uniworld seems to not always sell out so early, compared to what others have said about other lines.

 

Our first two Uniworld cruises were booked in November/December for early Spring (March/April) of the following year. So, only 3-4 months in advance. The third one, we booked 8-9 months in advance.

 

Caveat: Early Spring is probably a slower time. I would not try this if I were looking at peak season (but then again I wouldn't look at peak season; would much rather travel off-peak).

 

I don't know if October is a similarly slow time. If it is, then your husband's timeframe is quite adequate.

 

However, I agree with what others have said. Your selection of cabins and itineraries will be better the earlier you book. Depending on how flexible you are, you may be able to wait longer. If you're only able to do one specific date and itinerary, book it as soon as you know that. There is little reason to wait if you are sure of what you want.

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It would depend on how flexible you are. If you have to have a certain cabin with that one cruise line on this date, then book early.

For Viking in particular, last year the best time to book was around the first of the year. They had a few perks around that time. If flexible and cruising off-peak, you can wait and see if additional perks become available like free or discounted air fare or free upgrades to higher class cabins(usually pricing is always the same, just different prices for airfare.) October has become fairly popular with cooler weather and lower pricing so again it comes down to flexibility. River cruising is getting more popular and each year cabins appear to fill up a little earlier. I would sign up with each company you are interested in for brochures that have specials or contact a TA for best pricing. If you sign up, you will not lack for mail.

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Welcome to Cruisecritic! I'm relatively new as well and tomorrow I will be putting my deposit on my first river cruise for December 2018. I'm doing a Danube Christmas market cruise on AMAwaterways and when I called last week to put a hold on a French balcony room, there were only a few left on the floor I wanted. I'm glad I decided to book sooner than later. :D

 

Hello Claypot77,

 

May I please ask, did you book directly with AMA or through a travel agent?

 

Thank you!

Brian

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Hello Claypot77,

 

May I please ask, did you book directly with AMA or through a travel agent?

 

Thank you!

Brian

 

I'll jump in to answer this based on my experience: we always book through a travel agent. We don't get much of a rebate on river cruises, but the service she provides is worth a lot to us: when we had to cancel a hiking tour this spring, she handled the insurance claim and made sure we got a full refund in a timely fashion. She is also always available with internet and phone access, in case something comes up while we are on a trip -- one call to her is a lot easier than trying to deal with airlines etc. on our own!

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Since you're wanting to coordinate your river cruise with your trip to Poland, and therefore need a specific window of dates, I would book now if not yesterday.

 

I've taken 1 Uniworld cruise and have another one coming up in September. I highly recommend them.

 

Roz

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Thank you all so much for your perspectives. As soon as we get back in September, I will meet with the local travel agent who did the Uniworld presentation we attended this year. They also book Viking and other lines.

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Hi, we too are new to River Cruising with our first one in May of this year. I booked that one in January and I knew I was darn lucky to get the dates and cruise line we wanted. Viking was offering tips included at that time but the only cabins available were the river level and we were not sure but it turned out fine for us because we spent so very little time in it. We found River Cruising very social.

 

We have already put our deposit down on the Viking Grand European Tour (Amsterdam to Budapest) for late May 2018. The deposit was $1,000 and locked in the included airfare. We don't have to pay the remainder until November. I checked a few days ago and that date/direction appears to be selling out fairly quickly which did surprise me. Anyway, have fun with the choices and we may see you on board sometime!

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October is a popular time to cruise. The weather has cooled, the kids back in school, and the crowds are a bit less.

 

Have sailed Uniworld four times with fifth booked. We booked that one 16 months in advance and got terrific deals.

 

My wife and I are relatively tall. There is no way we would wait until 3-4 months out to book airline tickets! If you're 5'2" and can fit comfortably in a middle seat in the middle section, seat selection might not be an issue, but it is for us. Also, ticket prices are not normally at their lowest that close to departure.

 

Book early as you feel comfortable in wanting to take the cruise. Buy trip insurance, if you have complications.

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Thank you all so much for your perspectives. As soon as we get back in September, I will meet with the local travel agent who did the Uniworld presentation we attended this year. They also book Viking and other lines.

 

I got a discount from my TA for booking within a couple of wks. of attending her agency's Uniworld cruise night where a Uniworld rep made a presentation. My TA took a solo cruise on Uniworld and thought I would enjoy it, which is how I ended up booking them for my first river cruise. She also was able to put together a pre-cruise pkg. for me in Budapest, based on her experience. A good TA can be a valuable resource, and save you time, energy, and money.

 

Roz

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I got a discount from my TA for booking within a couple of wks. of attending her agency's Uniworld cruise night where a Uniworld rep made a presentation. My TA took a solo cruise on Uniworld and thought I would enjoy it, which is how I ended up booking them for my first river cruise. She also was able to put together a pre-cruise pkg. for me in Budapest, based on her experience. A good TA can be a valuable resource, and save you time, energy, and money.

 

Roz

 

 

I'll second contacting your TA now to mention that you were at her cruise night. If there was any discounts for it, then you can get them, even if you explain that you have to wait for a bit to come in to actually book. I lucked out, got the discount that another agency was offering for a presentation, as I had been in to see my TA well before I booked...because I came back to her, we got the discount the other agency was offering.

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We always book at least a year ahead and take advantage of early booking discounts with Uniworld and our TA. We've already booked and paid for our third Uniworld cruise for December 2018. We like to be able to select our cabin and sail dates, and also prefer to book our airfare well in advance. I've noticed that the highest and lowest cabin classes seem to sell out most quickly.

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I'll jump in to answer this based on my experience: we always book through a travel agent.

 

Thank you Jazzbeau. I am enjoying your blog post (Rhine River Cruise 2013). Wonderful write-ups and pictures.

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Spring Tulip cruises and Christmas Market cruises sell out quickly because of seasonality - others sell out more slowly. I book 16 to 18 months in advance for dates and room availability.

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I reserved my Myanmar cruise (with Avalon) for November 2018 in January 2017. The deal was good, the deposit was only $250, and the balance is only due 90 days in advance. Uniworld has good discounts for early booking but require payment in full to take advantage of them. For $250 I am covered by my credit card's cancellation policy, and I won't buy cancellation insurance until I make the final payment. (That is what I did on my upcoming Vietnam and Cambodia trip.

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Thank you Jazzbeau. I am enjoying your blog post (Rhine River Cruise 2013). Wonderful write-ups and pictures.

 

Thank you!

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We just booked a 19 day land tour/cruise with Emerald for the Vietnam & Cambodia Explorer & Mekong River Cruise and this trip doesn't go until April 2018. We'd booked early for the "free" built in flight & early "built in" booking discount.

 

The ship we're going on is the Mekong Navigator, which has 34 suites for a capacity of 68 passengers. As such, if you really like the itinerary & want to go you have to book early. When we booked, there were only a few cabins left.

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We booked our May 2018 cruise as soon as it was on the website. I wanted a certain date, ship, and cabin. Looking at the bookings that are showing online, I guess I didn't have to worry about the date or ship, but I may have lost out on the cabin if I hadn't booked when I did. I watched the week we are going on last year and the cruise was pretty much sold out by this time, but Avalon seems to have added extra cruises so maybe passengers will be more spread out.

 

 

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