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How To Get Last Minute Cruise Deals

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Tweet Your Way To Savings

Last Minute Cruise: How to Get a Great Deal

Tech-savvy shoppers can try Twitter for last-minute cruise bargains. Just about every agent and agency — including , and Best Travel Deals — is tweeting its best cruise deals. Take it a step further by customizing a list of deal tweeters using Twitter’s list function, in essence creating your own deals aggregator.

Tips To Helps Enjoy A Cheap Cruise

Tip 1: Cruises are not often all-inclusive and become increasingly less so each year. Chris states, the gravy is what people spend on board. Cruise ships want you spending, since thats where they have the best margins. However, if you are smart and disciplined, cruises dont have to cost much more than the price of the cabin itself. Heres how to save money while on board:

Tip 2: Skip the soda A long time ago, soda was free. Now, you have to pay around $3 USD for a tiny glass, or you can pay $45-60 USD for a soda card that gives you unlimited soda for the duration of the cruise. Youd have to drink a lot of soda to make that worth it. Instead, stick to the free water, iced teas, and juices on the ship. Your wallet and insulin levels will thank you.

Tip 3: Say no to photos Do you really need some cheesy professional photos of your family? I didnt think so. Get them done back home for less or take a digital camera and have someone take them for you on the ship.

Tip 4: Avoid the restaurants On most cruise ships these days, there are specialty restaurants that you can book for an added cost. Some are à la carte, some charge a set fee. Avoid these specialty restaurants. The food in the dining areas, the buffets, and the other shops is just as good and less costly.

Tip 6: Bring your own supplies Cruise companies will let you bring one case of your own water, soda, and beer, as well as a bottle of wine onto the ship.

Tip 8: Avoid the casino This goes without saying.

Look At The Slow Weeks

Youre more likely to find last-minute space on ships at reasonable or even rock-bottom prices during the slow seasons for travel in various destinations. In the Caribbean, that means the fall, when kids are back at school and hurricane-season worries are keeping some travelers away. In Alaska, where the cruise season only lasts a few months between May and September, the first few weeks and last few weeks of that period are good hunting grounds for a last-minute deal.

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Rule #: Dont Buy The Wave Season Hype

You might have heard of wave season. This time of year running from January through March is supposed to be when the cruise lines offer the best deals. Thats due to the cold weather in most of the country making people think of warmer places combined with the passing of the Christmas holiday.

Our take? Wave season is hyped up, similar to Black Friday. Sure there may be good offers but not enough to keep us from booking a good deal when we see one a different time of year.

Remember, if everyone waited until the wave season deals, then the cruise lines wouldnt have anyone book the other nine months of the year. Youll find that the deals offered arent that much different than those found the rest of the year.

Rule #: Do Sail On Older Ships For Cheaper Deals

How to Get An Unbelievable Discount in a Last Minute ...

Its not written in stone, but you will usually pay much less to sail on an older ship compared to a newer one. Older ships are still kept up and comfy, but simply cant offer the space or amenities as the larger, newer ships.

Over the past decade ships have seemingly transformed from seagoing vessels to floating amusement parks. From huge waterslides to walking promenades, robot bars, ice rinks, and more, its hard to believe what they can put on a new ship these days.

If you dont need these sorts of things on your cruise, then look for an older ship to get a much cheaper cruise.

Its difficult to compare apples to apples as different ships sail to different ports at different times, but we found two similar cruises to compare.

The first was a 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise aboard Royal Caribbeans Symphony of the Seas from Miami, departing April 2020. Symphony of the Seas is among the cruise lines newest ships, and its priced accordingly.

The cheapest price we found for an April sailing on this new ship was $997 per person.

Compare this rate with a 8-night Eastern Caribbean cruise aboard another Royal Caribbean ship Empress of the Seas. We found this cruise departing Miami during the same month . Despite being one night longer, the trip was priced at just $439 per person for an interior cabin.

In other words, sailing the older ship in this example costs less than half the new ship despite the cruise on the older ship being a day longer.

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How To Time Your Search

A good time to start looking for last-minute deals is about 90 days before a sailing. This is the final payment deadline for many cruisesthe point where customers who have put down deposits on trips must send in the full amount due or cancel. After the deadline, cruise lines have a much better idea of how many cabins they have left to sell, and they adjust pricing accordingly. If a ship is heavily booked after final payment, fares for the remaining cabins will remain high or go higher. If there are an unexpectedly large number of cabins left to sell, pricing could come down.

The final payment deadline varies by line and itinerary. At Royal Caribbean, its 75 days for shorter voyages. Regent Seven Seas cuts things off as far out as 150 days on some trips.

Go For The Cabin Guarantee

If cabin location isn’t important, you might want to opt for a “cabin guarantee,” which basically means you’re assured to get a cabin in at least the category specified — and, if you’re lucky, even get an upgrade. However, you can’t choose your exact stateroom.

Many lines typically discount guaranteed cabin bookings about $50 to $100 per person off the advertised fares. However, if you’re prone to seasickness or sensitive to noise, you might want to reconsider the value of choosing your own cabin location so as to not end up near the elevators or riding the wave near the bow. Also, not all guarantee fares are eligible for booking perks, so ensure the value tradeoff is worth it before you commit.

If you’re willing to book in bulk, most cruise lines will offer free berths, depending on the number of passengers in the group. For instance, book seven or more double-occupancy cabins on Norwegian Cruise Line, and for every 10 passengers booked, one passenger can cruise for free. Each cruise line has its own threshold for groups some lines consider 10 guests/five cabins to be a group, while others require 16 guests/eight cabins.

Group leaders can choose to spread the savings across the group or keep it all for themselves. Groups can get other perks, as well. Norwegian offers group members a choice of complimentary amenities beyond its Free at Sea promotion, such as extra onboard credit or a cocktail party for the group.

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Be Flexible With Stateroom Options

Inside Stateroom

In addition to being flexible about sail dates, keep an open mind regarding the kind of staterooms and destinations youll find when booking a cruise at the last minute.

Certain itineraries have coveted staterooms that sell out months in advance. For example, veranda staterooms on Alaska cruises sell out quickly since everyone wants to see wildlife and glaciers from the comfort of their room during their trip.

If youre more concerned about how to find last-minute cruise deals than having a particular stateroom, then a discounted cruise deal is a good fit for you.

Risky Bets For Last Minute Cruises

Cheap Last Minute Cruise Deals. The 10 Best Ways To Find Them!

As booking a last minute cruise is a bit of a gamble anyway, never rule anything out. Sometimes fortune simply favours the bold but be aware that hanging around waiting for a last minute deal in Summer, Easter, Christmas or New Year should only be considered if youre willing to take the risk of not getting on the cruise at all.

The demand of guests on cruise ships vary from year to year, for example, it is currently affected by issues such as Brexit. So, if youre feeling very lucky, simply go for it. Maybe youre lucky enough to find a bargain on normally popular.

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First Understand The Booking Window

While cruise cabins have always booked up further in advance than hotel rooms and airline seats, the cruise booking windowthe average number of days between the time a customer books and a ship sailshas widened considerably in recent years to well over six months at many lines. That means a large percentage of cabins on any given sailing is already booked up even three or four months out.

That said, the booking window varies widely by itinerary. Michelle Fee, CEO of Cruise Planners, one of the nations largest travel agency networks, says the booking window is now a full year out for long itineraries in faraway places such as Asia. But its three to six months for shorter, closer-to-home voyages. The latter category of cruises is where youll have the most luck finding last-minute cabin availability and deals.

Defining Value Is Key

How much of a bargain is a cheap cruise that requires you to spend twice as much on airfare? For instance, you’ll typically see more Anchorage-to-Vancouver voyages on last minute lists than the more affordable round trip Seattle itineraries. Why? Air is typically cheaper on the latter, which sails into and out of the same city. The former has you flying in and out of different airports, including one in Alaska where fares are often high. Account for that cost before committing.

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Flexibility Is The Key For Last Minute Cruises

If you dont need to book in advance and if youre flexible about where youre cruise might take you, then youre halfway there. The nearer you get to the departure date, the more likely youll be able to pick up a real bargain.

Its not good business for cruise ships to depart with empty cabins. That means any cabins that are unsold at the last minute are more likely to be sold off at a cheaper price.

This does mean that you may not get exactly the type of cabin youd prefer. The payback though is, of course, a lower price.

Dont Leave It Too Late

Last Minute Cruise: How to Get a Great Deal

Be sure not to leave your last minute booking until too late. Unlike aeroplanes, you cant simply book a ticket the day before or of the cruise. The ship sometimes needs a list of all passengers around two days before departure and once that list has been submitted, no one else can sign up for the cruise.

The reason we recommend sixty to ninety days is that this is usually the last call for passengers to cancel their reservations without having to pay a penalty. The cruise line will then calculate how many cabins they have left after the cancellations and do everything they can to sell out the cabins that are still empty. And if they have more space available than they like, you should be able to get the cruise at a reduced fare.

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Want A Cheap Cruise Study This Chart

Before we get into the rules, we want to walk you through some of the research so you can see exactly what weve found.

First, we want to show you the most important resource when it comes to what you will pay for a cruise.

The chart below shows the per-person cruise fare for both an interior cabin and balcony room for a 3-day Carnival cruise during the next two years. This particular cruise sails from Miami, with a stop in Nassau, Bahamas.

We selected this cruise because it runs weekly, giving us a chance to compare the price of the trip over multiple years and see the trends in the fare.

There are a few things to point out in this chart, which we will detail later on

First, you can see from the blue line that prices to travel last minute are consistent with the same time a year later. In other words, you dont see that much of a discount if any by waiting until the last minute.

Second, notice the trends in the rise and fall of the prices. Cruise fares see large spikes during holidays and the summer. The basic rule of thumb is that if schools are out, then cruise fares are high. Cruising off season can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Of course, there is so much more to learn about finding the best rate on your next cruise. We go into full detail of all the rules you should follow to find the lowest rate possible

How To Get Last Minute Cheap Cruise Deals

Doug advises that you start with a travel agent, as they have relationships with the cruise companies and can often get better rates and last-minute deals. And my experience has me agreeing. While there are many do it yourself options, travel agents often can find much lower prices and can act as liaison to cruise companies when something goes wrong.

If you want to go with the do it yourself angle, you only need to go to these three best websites for finding a cheap cruise:

These websites do a detailed job of scouring the web for cheap cruise deals. Vacations to Go is more of a travel agent/operator and thus often has better deals since they can negotiate with the cruise lines directly, but keep in mind that they add a lot of fees. Cruise Sheet is simply a website aggregator that crawls the web and then displays cheap last-minute fares. This is my favorite cruise site, as it seems to find all the deals and makes finding a cheap cruise easy.

In terms of timing, dont book early. As Doug states, the only benefit to booking early is to secure the room you want. If you want a specific cabin, book early. Otherwise, wait until the last minute. As I said in the beginning, cruise companies dont want to sail empty ships and so do heavy last-minute discounting be sure to sign up for cruise company newsletters to stay informed!

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Contact Cruise Guru Today For Last Minute Cruise Deals & Offers Australia Wide

At Cruise Guru, we like to make the process of finding and booking your cruise a simple one, but if you have any questions about any of our cruise offers, we are here to help. The best place to start is our FAQ section which has many of the most commonly asked questions and their answers. Alternatively, you can also use our convenient online contact form to send us your enquiry and we will get back to you as quickly as we can. If you would like to speak to one of our travel experts and have them assist you with your booking, and fill out the details to request a call back. You can also follow us on and to keep up to date with all the latest special offers, promotions, and last minute cruises. No matter where in Australia you are looking to embark, Cruise Guru has some of the best last-minute cruise deals you will find anywhere, with options to suit all tastes and budgets.

How To Book A Cheap Cruise

Last Minute Cruise Deals (2020)

Booking a cheap cruise is actually quite easy and requires only one thing: flexibility. See, cruise pricing is similar to tour pricing. The closer you get to the departure date, the cheaper the cruise becomes.


Because cruise ships dont want to depart with half-empty boats, so they drop prices steadily until that boat is leaving port, since for them empty cabins mean less money.

Cruises make the majority of their money from what people purchase on board, so they want bodies on those ships.

You can also book early, but I find last-minute bookings to be the best. And since you are booking close to departure, you need to be flexible with where you are willing to go or OK with not booking the actual cruise even if you booked your flights.

Another tip comes Doug Parker of Cruise Radio, When the kids are in school, the rates are the best. This holds true in all travel but especially cruising, because it is such a family activity. Dont travel when everyone else is traveling! If you do that or travel during the shoulder season, you can find the best rates. Chris from Chris Cruises also reiterates my recommendation: Book far in advance or last minute for the best fares.

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Rule #: Dont Get Distracted By Cruise Line Sales

The cruise lines are like department stores they constantly run sales and special offers. Sometimes it is 50% off the second fare. Sometimes its lower deposits. Sometimes its onboard credit.

Weve found that there is a constant flow of deals, and they usually are all about the same. In other words, we dont really think you should let it influence whether or not you buy or let it affect the timing of your purchase.

Yes, it is possible that one deal might be better than another. However, they typically end up around the same price. If a cruise line really needs to fill rooms, they will simply lower the price of the specific cruise instead of offering a fleetwide discount.

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