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  #1 (permalink)  
Old June 11th, 2005, 02:21 AM
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Default Better rates at the last minute?

Should you wait and book at the last minute (taking a chance in hopes you can of course) or is it basically always the same price depending on the time of year generally?

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Old June 11th, 2005, 06:41 AM
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Default Re: Better rates at the last minute?

They can actually go either way, but waiting for the last minute will limit any choice of cabins...I always book as soon as I can.

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Old June 11th, 2005, 08:13 AM
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Default Re: Better rates at the last minute?

I have been cruising for >30 years. I used to wait until 6-8 weeks out to get the best prices. These days, however, with the increase in total number of cruisers and family cruising the best rates seem to be >6 months out in general and 12-18 months out over the summer, Thanksgiving, Winter or Spring break peak times.
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Old June 11th, 2005, 10:18 AM
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Default Re: Better rates at the last minute?

I usually wait until the last minute to book a cruise unless it's a family reunion cruise or something of that sort. When it's just the wife and I, we will wait until about 3-4 weeks out to book and take the best available cabin.

This is what we've found. You have to be able to drive to the ports to take advantage of this last minute discounting. You have to have flexibility in dates, and subsequently, your vacation schedule. You have to know which cruises don't usually sell out. You have to be flexible on which cruises to take. You can't be particular in which cabin assignment you want.

Generally we schedule ourselves this way: We want to go in the beginning of January somewhere out of Canaveral or Tampa. We want an outside cabin. Prefer to take RCI or Carnival. Hope to go to the Eastern Caribbean. Then in mid-November or later we start looking for the best and available cruises.

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Old June 12th, 2005, 02:49 PM
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Default Re: Better rates at the last minute?

Thomas is right, you have to be really, really flexible to take advantage of last minute lower rates.

That being said, we have taken our TA's advise about advance bookings. Her opinion is that the days of good last minute rates are over.

On our last cruise, the prices were higher - even a couple of weeks out - than when we booked (early). So far on our currently booked cruise, prices are higher than when we bought early. I'll continue to monitor prices and let you know.

dorothy

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Old June 12th, 2005, 04:49 PM
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Default Re: Better rates at the last minute?

On some sailing it seems that last minute discounts are returning BUT unless you are near the port of departure air fares will often negate any savings you may see.

You also can't be choosy about the cabin or ship you are sailing. Most of the time last minute deals are on inside and outside cabins.

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Old June 12th, 2005, 04:52 PM
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Default Re: Better rates at the last minute?

Hi,
I agree with Dorothy. I'm also a near-retired TA. W'ere also booked on
INFINITY, trans-canal 2nd April '06; we booked a '' 2-C '' cat, and the price we
booked at, in January of this year, is already hundreds lower than what you can
get now.
The days of '' last minute '' deals spreaded all over the TA's population the week
before departure have been over for a couple of years at least; the only exception
being the odd market or/and timing of certain sailings with a limited ### of lines.
Not a scenario you can count on anymore....
The Alaska market, for exemple, is literally devoid of any last minute deals,and prices
required now are at least the same you could have hadmonths ago....in some instances higher; in most instances, ships are simply sailing full.
The transAtlantic markete appears to be likewise.

Now....if you're a good gambler.....well....

Cheers
Happy sailing
CG
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Old June 12th, 2005, 07:24 PM
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Default Re: Better rates at the last minute?

I booked a year in advance for the Spirit Hawaii in Septemeber and it was sold out by January. Every once in a while you can find a cabin available for the sailing, due to a cencellation or a group giving up cabins, but it was to my advantage to book early. I booked this 12 night cruise for $1400 (only $200 more than my 7 night carib last august for the same cabin cat.) and when I saw they had the cat available about 3 months ago, I called and repriced it. It was going for almost $600 more than what I paid (this includes my single supplement). When I began cruising 10 yrs ago, it was to our advantage to book only a few weeks out, now we always book as soon as they open booking for the cruise we want to go on.

However, I do know people that have lately been able to get great deals for cruises about two weeks out, but we live in FL and they don't have to be concerned with airfare....

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Old June 15th, 2005, 11:21 AM
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Default Re: Better rates at the last minute?

Dittos to Thomas' remarks. We live in central Louisiana and are in driving distance to N.O., Galveston and Houston so we do stumble onto some last minute deals. However, if it's a cruise you've got your heart set on book it early, particularly if you find a deal you're happy with. Remember also, that if you do need to book air, those rates at last minute can be steep and will preclude your ability to use frequent flier miles on most programs.

We are booked with 2 other couples on the Adventure on Sept. 11 and got a PR category (inside but has a window overlooking the promenade mall) for $640. We booked that back in October. Another couple has decided to go with us and the best rate they can get on a lower level inside cabin is in the $800 range. Booking early can have it's advantage. We also booked onboard last week to do a British Isles cruise in July of '06 (yes, that's 13 months away) and several categories are already sold out. I'm sure that is probably tour companies such as Vantage or Grand Circle buying out blocks but if it is a cruise that has a short life like Alaska or Scandanavia they fill up quickly.

Now, last minute deals to exists. We booked our recent Alaska trip 10 days prior to sailing when I got an email from a TA I'd used in the past about a $399 7 night cruise on the Is. Prin. It was a ccategory L guarantee but we wound up with a II (highest level inside) when we checked in. I lead a charmed life, what can I say.

We have done some last minute deals out of N.O. and Galv. but they are getting more and more scarce. My favorite site to search for last minute deals is with Vacations To Go, who advertise on this site. They have a "90 day ticker" that will show you the deals.

Happy hunting!
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Old June 15th, 2005, 01:00 PM
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Default Re: Better rates at the last minute?

As I have to fly into ports I always book well in advance, most time 6 months to a year. This gives me time to get reasonable airfare.

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Old June 17th, 2005, 11:52 AM
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Default Re: Better rates at the last minute?

It's a matter of knowing what cruises do not sell out.

Right now the best deal is the 13-night Celebrity Constellation's 12 and 13-night Canada/New England cruise. They are offering it for $990. The 13-nighter for a Cat 9 is $1,105 that's about $85 a day. Last year I did this same cruise and I paid $1360. The ship was not full and obviously it is not filling up this year as well.

There are some good deals to Bermuda as well.

Now on the other side of the coin, the Infinity's Transcanal in April 2006's price kept going up and now it's sold out. I booked this one on my January Millie cruise and got a good deal with a shipboard credit. This cruise is a 15-nighter and ends in San Francisco, it's a repo cruise. It's only offered once a year, so they sell out.
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Old June 18th, 2005, 08:26 AM
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Default Re: Better rates at the last minute?

As an outside agent for a local travel agency. I found a great deal a year out. I reserved space on Carnival Spirit for the 12 day cruise from Vancouver to Honolulu for $806 per person. Adding in the port charges then air. from Boston still came to less that $2000 per person. Where else can you get a trip to Hawaii all food and entertainment included for that price?. I kept checking price and it went up as the trip got closer.

Laura

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Old June 18th, 2005, 10:56 AM
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Default Re: Better rates at the last minute?

We have booked for Liberty in March 06 and already the balconies and suites are sold out. The cabin we reserved is around 40.00 a person hire right now. Sometimes better to book ahead. But, this is the new ship and it won't be hard to sell out anyways. Might get a great last minute deal on an older ship. Happy Cruising!!
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Old June 19th, 2005, 03:35 PM
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Default Re: Better rates at the last minute?

For anyone that has to fly to the port it is always better to book early. If the price goes down then you get the lower price and you also have the best selcection of cabins and the airfare is lower. If you live close to the port it is a crapshoot as the last minute may have a big sale not available to those that booked early or the prices may be high or higher than those that booked early, sometimes by a considerable amount. If the price is good you also still have a limited amount of cabins to choose from but if you are like us we don't care.
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Old June 19th, 2005, 04:33 PM
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Default Re: Better rates at the last minute?

I just booked three cabins, outside, balcony and mini-suite, on the Norwegian Star for 9/4/05. The prices were about the same as you could have got last January. However they were higher than if we had booked in May.

At least sailing from Seattle the airfare isn't a "killer".

Take care,
Mike

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Old June 21st, 2005, 10:50 PM
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Default Re: Re: Better rates at the last minute?

Hi,

We're also booked on the trans canal INFINITY Apr 02/ 2006, and also
booked it in January for quite a good price; we also found out 2 weeks ago
that it is sold out as we were trying to get friends to join us in a '' 2-C '' cat....
Still is as at today. Prices had been creeping up since March.

Your remarks are right on !!!

'' last minute deals'' as a booking approach is defenitely not a good idea anymore.

Cheers
Sealegs
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Old June 22nd, 2005, 05:53 PM
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Default Re: Better rates at the last minute?

I disagree with that last statement Claude. Last minute bookings CAN be a good idea, if you can do it.

You won't find many, if any, last minute deals in the summer time. Most of the ships we've checked in the summer, RCI and Carnival, are sold out or not being discounted. Last minute deals do exist on certain sailings other times of the year but to take advantage of them you have to be flexible and not picky about which type of cabin you have.

Just in 2003 we sailed on a Carnival ship for just a little more than $55 per day by booking 3 weeks before sailing. The best time to look for last minute deals is to wait until the 60 day penalty has taken effect.

Regards,
Thomas
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Old June 22nd, 2005, 08:20 PM
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Default Re: Better rates at the last minute?

Thomas is correct that this still can be done at times and you can still run into a good deal. The key is to understand that it does not always happen with the ship you want to sail on next year during your vacation from Jun 2nd until the 9th and you may not get the cabin you wanted. Those of us who live close enough to the ports that we can drive down the last minute are at a definate advantage because the real killer is airfare which almost always is much more expensive as time get short.
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Old June 22nd, 2005, 09:12 PM
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Default Re: Better rates at the last minute?

Yep to Thomas and Jim. We book early for the big cruises, but are thinking about doing a last minute short one in February. It will just be me and my son, so we will probably wait and try to get a good deal. Hopefully, we'll find something on the Sovereign, but would also be happy on the Fantasy.

dorothy

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Old June 23rd, 2005, 07:20 AM
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Default Re: Better rates at the last minute?

As an example, you can sail on the Fantasy in August for $769 but wait until October and the same cruise is $409 for the same category room. There is not much discounting in the summer months, it's peak season and they don't have to discount to sell out.

Regards,
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Old June 24th, 2005, 08:49 AM
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Default Re: Better rates at the last minute?

I have a question. Does Carnival also do Flight reservations? Are the deals any better, than you would get from a TA or on your own?

Thanks,

Luanne

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Old June 24th, 2005, 03:35 PM
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Default Re: Better rates at the last minute?

Yes they do Luann but often it is better to book your own. Compare the prices and also keep in mind the route, planes, and number of stops. The reason I usually don't mention booking air through the cruiseline is simply because I think one should always fly down a day early to avoid any problems in flight schedules, especially in winter from the northern states!
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Old June 24th, 2005, 07:32 PM
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Default Re: Better rates at the last minute?

Thanks Jim One of these days I will run out of ships in Galveston, and have to fly somewhere else. lol I HOPE
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Old June 29th, 2005, 03:41 PM
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Default Re: Better rates at the last minute?

I learned a long time ago. NEVER compare prices with anyone on the cruise ship. I have heard people quote same catagory cabins for hundreds of dollars difference. I think this is changing some now that some cruise lines have gone to a one price policy.

Personally I find cheap airfare then I look for a ship. I have been on Costa 7 days Western Carb. for $299.00 with $114.00 round trip air from Nashville to Ft. Lauderdale. Booked that one 2 week before ship left. Now you must be very flexible and not too concerned where ship goes but cheap cruises are available still.

Just my opinnion.

Don
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