The bargain finder feature on this web site is great. But is there a "best" way to get the best fare?
Such as: 1) Book early through web site
2) Wait until the last minute
3) Stick with same cruiseline, i.e. repeat customers
4) Bargain prices in the Sunday paper ads
5) Play one TA against another TA
6) Book with a cruise-only agency
7) Be a Cruisemates.com staffer
Pretty much all of the above Tom. What I do is determine where and when I want to go and what I wish to do and see. After that I of course post in the bargain finders, check all the major online websites that sell cruises and give prices, check the bargain area and classifieds on this website, and then take what I think will be the base price and try and see if I can get it for $100 cheaper or who can give me the most bang for the buck including incentives. This COULD be my local TA, a internet agency, or even a Cruisemates Cruise. Now there are times that you will get offered a last minute deal that is wonderful and if you can take advantage of it, then do so. Mostly I book early and make sure that the agent is willing to honor any price reductions. It also pays to subscribe to the Cruisemates Newsletter, keep track of the bargains on the site, and subscribe to a number of anegcies that send you information on deals they currently have.
Sorry, didn't make myself real clear on that one. CM staffers usually get the best rates, but it has nothing to do with being a staff member. It has everything to do with reading all the tips and advice that is available on these boards that enable us to know HOW to go about getting the best price for our chosen cruise which is exactly why others need to keep up with what is posted here. This information is posted right there for everyone to read and some of these tips are worth there weight in gold!