Can you really get a good deal if you wait until you get to the pier to purchase your cruise? I have heard different stories about it. My wife and I are planning to try that in March at Port Canaveral. There's a choice between two cruises - Disney and Carnival Pride.
Location: Wisconsin....about 100 miles south of the Frozen Tundra and 70 miles east of Camp Randall
Re: Puchasing cruises at pier
Since 9/11 - cruise lines must have their manifest (list of passengers and cargo) to the US government about 48 - 72 hours prior to embarkation or departure.....they do NOT sell cruises at the pier anymore. Best you can do is see if there are cabins available about a week before departure and do a pier-pick of the documents.
Carnival Breeze with Ray B and Aerogirl 5/4/14!
Truth is that the information required by the US Gov. is only 'required' to be sent to them 15 minutes before sailing but it is sent earlier simply because of logistics. Like Lisa said though, they will not sell you a cruise at the pier. You will still hear people say that they know someone that did or saw it themselves but is DOES NOT HAPPEN. They saw people picking up their documents or paying for an upgrade or something else. I have gotten last minute deals because of friends that work for the cruiseline or are TA's and notify me but it has never been less than 3 days out and since 9/11 never less than 5 days.
I does happen Jim, at least to me. My dad died a few years ago and it was very stressful. My handicapped sister moved in with me and we were trying to adjust to all the changes so one day I said lets go on a vacation. I packed our suitcases and we took off. We were going to Orlando but ended up at Port Canaveral to show her the ships, she had never seen one before. She was awestruck and said she wished we were going. So Joe asked someone outside if it was possible and they said if a cabin was available we could. He went in and they took him to a desk and talked to a lady. They had one cancelation and we could have it for, get this, brochure price. I said no way. It had been advertised everywhere for $299. each. She finally gave us a 25% discount so we did it. We ended up paying a lot more than if I had booked it in advance. I had mine and Joes Birth certificates in my purse still from a previous cruise, but I didn't have anything for Sandy, they just stamped her boarding pass ' no photo I.D. and we got on. This was before 911. I doubt you could still do it now. I wouldn't recommened it even if you could. The price we paid was awful. Not to mention I didn't have the right clothes packed. But we went and she had fun so that was all that mattered. I created a cruise monster tho. She has been with me 3 times in the last 3 years. This was Carnival Fantasy. She still has her pic of the pirate and her on her dresser. Maybe they just took pity on us because of our circumstances, I don't know, but we did it.
You are correct in that you can probably get a ticket IF the ship has a vacancy and IF you are willing to pay brochure or nearly brochure rates which is just plain silly. What I am referring to is those that claim they wander down and pick up a cruise for pennies on the dollar. Same for upgrades, you may be able to get one at the pier IF they have any cabins open but you will definately pay through the nose for it.