"Recommended" meant that was the hotel that was currently spending money advertising on Travelocity!
But you're right about the 'last minute' bookings. I get calls all the time from people thinking that if they wait till the very last minute to book a cruise that they'll get a huge discount on the price. It's just ain't so anymore. I also remember about 20 years ago when cruise lines would offer huge upgrades - you could pay for an inside cabin and get a balcony. That was their way back then of encouraging bookings instead of lowering prices. Trying to get the same results as today, but with different techniques.
People are always asking me when is the best time to book and I always give them the same answer; as soon as possible! Don't wait because the price right now could very well be the best price offered. If the price goes up, you're protected (unless of course they have to raise taxes or add a fuel supplement). But if the price goes down, most of the time we can get the reduction without any problems. Plus, if you wait, the stateroom you were most interested in may not be available. And this is extremely important if you need something special, like a cabin for a family, connecting staterooms, a suite, or a handicap accessible stateroom.
Earlier this year I had a couple call me and wanted a junior suite. I gave them the price and offered to put a suite on a complimentary hold while they considered it. They declined and when they called back two days later, the price had gone up $300 per person.
And if you wait until the last minute to book, not only could the price go up and stateroom availability no longer be there, but the price of airfare has definitely gone up. Plus, it's makes it more difficult to plan your time away from home and/or work.
You get all the advantages when booking early and none of the disadvantages.
Back in the day when I was the only breadwinner in our family of 5 and working 3 jobs, taking vacations required alot of pre-planning, especially when figuring out how to pay for it all. We would plan at least a year ahead of time, figure out where we were going, how we were going to get there, and how much it was going to cost. I would then set up a bi-weekly payroll deduction to go into a savings account so that when we went, it was all paid for and we didn't have to come home to a mountain of credit card debt. (I was in the mind that if I didn't have the money to pay for it ahead of time, we didn't buy it, except in the case of an emergency, so we could keep ourselves away from huge debt.)
So I guess my desire to plan ahead of time came out of necessity. Luckily, today I don't have to do that and we can pick up and leave on a spur of the moment. (Don't know too many people who could have planned a 25-day Asian trip that included a 17-night cruise from Hong Kong to Beijing with only 2 weeks notice, but we did it.) Sometimes there is a big benefit of being empty-nesters!
But for families, pre-planning is a fact of life. Unfortunately, cruises and places popular for families know when school is out and they adjust their prices upwards to take advantage of the situation. So booking early is really the only way to go for them.