Sailaway Sale of Savings of the Century
Written by: Kuki
Can you believe your luck? You’re getting ready to book your cruise and you find it just happens to be time for the “Sailaway Sale of Savings Lowest Prices of the Year or Ever Sale of the Century” with the lowest prices ever seen, plus reduced deposits, shipboard credits, discount coupon books, free upgrades, and a toaster oven with every booking, for one day only. And if you book in the next 7 minutes you get free air fare as well as pre-paid gratuities.
You make the calculations and find that it seems if you book right away they’ll end up paying you $17.97 for you to cruise with them. Sounds good! So you book it, and of course, to save a few dollars you don’t bother purchasing the travel insurance. What could go wrong, right?
Even to the most ardent industry watchers it can be quite a challenge sorting through all the promotions; everything always seems to be “on sale”, so how are we to know when there’s truly a great promotion for us to jump on?
I detest the promotions that advertise 50% , 60% or 70% off brochure rates. The last person who paid brochure rates was the guy who’d been found living in a cave with wolves for 38 years, and the first thing he did when found and once he learned to speak was book a cruise.
OK, I understand cruise brochures are printed so far in advance that the cruise lines don’t have any idea of what the price is really going to be. They are printed more to supply glossy pictures which will attract customers, and supply itinerary information (which often change as well). But, couldn’t they at least offer a glimpse or something closer to what the real purchase price may be?
Pricing is entirely dependant on “supply and demand”, and in no industry is this more true than with cruises. During this last recession prices have yo-yoed so dramatically you’d have to check pricing almost daily to watch for the bottom of the barrel price so you could jump to book, or get a refund or onboard credit as compensation.
This year the cruise industry executives are all telling us bookings are strong, price points are looking good (to an executive that means higher), and they are optimistic higher prices will hold and bring in more profits. And yet, the “sale” promotions run rampant; which to the layman should indicate somewhat the opposite.
So, what advice can I give to the potential cruise purchaser?
If your available vacation time is calendar specific, book as early as possible. That’s not to say you shouldn’t do a great deal of shopping, but if you’re dates are not flexible there is a good chance there will be high demand for the dates you need. It’s the cruise version of “Murphy’s Law”.
Even if you’re flexible in dates you can sail, but you do know where you’d like to sail to, booking early can be a very good strategy. Except in rare cases where the price quote you see is dependant on you booking and paying for your cruise well in advance, most cruise lines will allow you to cancel and rebook if a lower price is offered before your final payment is due ( historically 60-90 days prior to the cruise date).
Several cruise lines will guarantee you the lowest price right up until your sailing date. Carnival Cruise Line, for example, has an “Early Booking Rate” that offers that guarantee, and if the rate drops any time before your sailing date, and you notice it, and notify them, you get a credit for the difference. That’s a good deal. The only caveat is there is penalty due if you have to cancel the cruise, or even change your sailing date.
Price alone should not always be your sole determining factor. It’s equally as important to feel you got value for your money. Value is a indefinable term, as it means something different to each of us and is affected by our individual, and sometimes changing circumstances.
The most IMPORTANT advice I can give in sorting through all the “sales” is to do so with the aid of a well informed, experienced Cruise Travel Agent. Gone are the days that you can find the best deal simply by clicking on your mouse and surfing for prices. I believe it’s crucial for everyone to take responsibility and use the surfing as a tool to make themselves well informed before they book any cruise.
But today, to find out what the real “lowest price available” is from any travel agent is, you have to have to have direct contact; either via email, phone call, or face to face.
One of the most noticeable growing trends seems to be people booking directly with the cruise lines. In my opinion that is the very last thing you should do!! It’s as bad as acting as your own lawyer in court, if not worse. When you are booking directly with a cruise line you are “hiring” someone who already works for the cruise line. If you can’t see the conflict of interest in that then you should be running for public office!
– A View From the Kuki Side of Cruising –
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Posted: February 9th, 2010 under Kuki.