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Booking last minute.....great deals???

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Curious if anyone here makes it a point to book some cruises last minute to get a very good deal. I am not just talking about HAL  but other lines as well.

I have made some mock bookings and noticed that within 2 weeks of a cruise;  some cruises are deeply discounted.  Makes sense as the line wants to fill the ship.

 

Obviously, I know two issues might be :

1) Trying to get decent airfare prices  on short notice.

2)  The risk that the cruise might be fully booked.

 

For use, we can travel one hour to a major metropolitan area if airfare would be an issue.  Plus we can drive to one port an hour away for some cruises.

Not talking about every cruise.....but from time to time if a great deal can be found last minute.

 

For those of us retired  and with time on our hands ….seems like a good option. 

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Definitely a strategy.  I've booked several that way.  As long as it's not a super-unique itinerary that may fill up, and you're ok with room selection being more limited, it can be a great way to book.  We don't have issues with airfare as we are near several major airports.

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This is how we book most of our cruises.  We follow two or three ships plus air if required.  We typically determine our buy price and hit the button when the price shows up.  We always have a backup plan.  

 

Usually, on our extended land trip we look for last minutes if we are near a port.  Our travel schedules are usually flexible.  We have done this in Europe several times and in FLL/MIA. Plus one from San Diego.   More challenging fr us because we always want a verandah.  There is a 90 day list that I peruse from time to time but it is by no means complete.   We get last minute offers emailed from Princess.  Celebrity and RCI have last minute deals posted every week.  Over the last year of so we have seen some very attractive HAL late booking prices.  Especially Alaska and Caribbean.

Edited by iancal

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Most of our late bookings have been 3-7 weeks out.  A few were 3-5 days out.  We have had a few during prime vacation periods-over Christmas and Easter/March break.  If the cruise departs from a non NA port we also check pricing on non NA web sites.  Sometimes there can be significant price differences for the same cruise simply by not booking in NA.

Edited by iancal

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I’ve seen great deals but we have not been able to take advantage of them because of work schedules.   Next year, hubs retires and I promise I’ll be watching certain cruises after final payment day!   The air may off set the savings- but t until you check, you never know.  

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For us. the airfares seem to jump up about 2 weeks out, so we would book before that.  We use SW alot and they are great about letting you cancel at anytime for no penalty, so we can book the air and rebook/cancel later if need be.  You have one year to use the credit from cancellations.

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On one occasion we cancelled a cruise just prior to final payment and re-booked it several weeks later.   Our TA gave us a heads up that it was not selling well so we took a chance.  We realized a  substantial saving over our initial booking cost.  That helped to switch us on to late bookings when possible.  Sometimes it isn't depending on the itinerary.

 

We  shop based on ship instead of cruise line.  That widens the field for us plus we get to travel on several cruise lines and appreciate the differences between them.  We do not really care what name is on the funnel.

Edited by iancal

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Always.  We are not set on anything in particular at any particular time, so what is available at a good price can work for us. 

Air can be a problem, but if you book HAL FlightEase, the pricing is often very good, comparatively.  What you save in cruise fare easily covers any extra cost for air.  Once in a while there is a promo, too, but that is not often. 

This is not for pax who want a specific cruise at a specific time.  But if you are flexible, the deals can be very good.  In the past year we sailed 88 days (all 5 HAL cruises) booking from 45 to 25 days out and were very pleased with all.

Edited by SilvertoGold

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We were heading next week to the Galapagos for the Celebrity Xpedition.  They have had to cancel all sailings (just last week) through the end of the year, so we were canceled.

A quick search for "Plan B" as our vacation time was locked in found four great options from MIA/FLL.  B2B on Veendam, Panama Canal on Rotterdam, an "X" cruise, or a B2B on Azamara.  As we always wanted to try Azamara but their prices are typically outside of our budget, when we saw prices around $100/pp/night we jumped on it.  The return airfare from San Juan was reasonable through the cruise line as well.  Hoping Azamara reminds us of our now gone favorite, Prinsendam.

I have cruises penciled in next year that I will only book if prices are in our budget past final payment.

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4 hours ago, StartrainDD said:

We were heading next week to the Galapagos for the Celebrity Xpedition.  They have had to cancel all sailings (just last week) through the end of the year, so we were canceled.

A quick search for "Plan B" as our vacation time was locked in found four great options from MIA/FLL.  B2B on Veendam, Panama Canal on Rotterdam, an "X" cruise, or a B2B on Azamara.  As we always wanted to try Azamara but their prices are typically outside of our budget, when we saw prices around $100/pp/night we jumped on it.  The return airfare from San Juan was reasonable through the cruise line as well.  Hoping Azamara reminds us of our now gone favorite, Prinsendam.

I have cruises penciled in next year that I will only book if prices are in our budget past final payment.

Excellent!  Good for you!   Hope you enjoy the Azamara cruise and win with some of next years's picks. 

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You can get some very good last minute fares through the various cruise air programs.  On our last med cruise was a last minute.  We were ending in Sicily with no air home. We had some options. We then saw an extremely attractive offer on a Rome-Barcelona cruise four days out.   

 

The even larger bonus for us is that we were able to secure cruise air home from BCN at a great price on BA with excellent connections.  Saved us casting around for other one way air home options or having to resort to an LCC flight to London or Paris in order to catch a reasonably priced one way flight back to Canada.   Bottom line....cruise air is well worth looking at in a late booking situation.

Edited by iancal

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8 hours ago, StartrainDD said:

They have had to cancel all sailings (just last week) through the end of the year, so we were canceled.

 

Can I ask why they cancelled?

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19 minutes ago, *Miss G* said:

 

Can I ask why they cancelled?

 

Ship ran aground in the Galapagos on a previous cruise.

 

 

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On 11/15/2019 at 11:57 AM, DaveOKC said:

For us. the airfares seem to jump up about 2 weeks out, so we would book before that.  We use SW alot and they are great about letting you cancel at anytime for no penalty, so we can book the air and rebook/cancel later if need be.  You have one year to use the credit from cancellations.

When we canceled a SW flight the credit needed to be used 1 year from the Booking date of the canceled flight.

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Late booking cruise opportunities is one of the reasons why we focus on the ship and itinerary rather than the cruise line.

 

Any benefits that accrue for frequent cruiser programs pale in comparison to some of the late booking cruises that we have been able to take advantage of.  Plus, we have experienced some cruise lines/ships that we might not have otherwise experienced.

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We have gotten some really good cruise rates by booking at the last minute.  However airfare tends to be more expensive.

 

It is very pricey to use airline miles last minute.  

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We have found lately for some of the more exotic itineraries the price has gone up.  If there is a cruise I am interested in, I book it and watch it and reface along the way.    

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