I'm gaining a wealth of valuable knowledge here.
I didn't know you could put a "courtesy hold" on cabin(s)/suite(s), as an example.
I also didn't realize rates were so volatile....even changing by the hour, which really makes no sense to me. The ship sails one way or the other. Either they're full, or their not. You aren't going to be able to tell that from one hour to the next (unless you're within 72 hours of sailing). So, how fares affect occupancy this far in advance befuddles me.
The Carnival agent said it was like the airline industry fares. As I told him, no...I disagree. They're nothing like airfares. If a person needs to fly to a destination, they ordinarily have to go on a particular date and time, to a particular destination. At least that's true of business travelers (which comprise most of airlines' business).
A cruise, well destination isn't nearly as critical. Plus, it's a luxury. One can choose whatever ship they want, to go anywhere they want, and have a ton of choices (ships, destinations, cabin types, etc) to do so.
As I think about this, from now on I'm recommending "pack and go" cruises. I may end up doing that on this particular occasion. Just be ready to go, scan the cruise lines a few days in advance, save a bunch of money, and get ready to rock and roll.:-D