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Old August 16th, 2007, 07:33 AM
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Default getting the best cruise price...

I know those who live near the coast can get last minute cruise deals - they don't have to worry about booking airfare first. But I'm in Chicago.

I went with a TA for my recent cruise, but do they get the best deals? For those of us who need to fly to the cruise port (therefore need to book airfare way in advance), is it best to just go through the cruiseline website and book as soon as a cruise is available to get the best price?

Also for me, since I use my American Airlines fequently flyer miles to fly for free, that also limits available flights so I have to REALLY book flights as far in advance if I want to get direct flights at a good time of the day for me. For now, I can't book anything past mid-July 2008. So I guess tht means I would be able to book a flight online in November 2008 for a December 2009 cruise (the earliest I think I can cruise again).

Has anyone been able to book a cruise online (i.e. expedia, vacations to go, etc.) 13 months in advance and get a really low rate? I'll be booking a category 1A guarantee and will be going solo!

Thanks!
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Old August 16th, 2007, 08:21 AM
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Michelle, I believe the only real "bargain" prices you can get when booking a cruise in any category is if you book with a group and divide the savings amongst all cruise participants which brings the individual pricing down a little. Over the years I have watched pricing and believe the earlier you book, the better price. If the ship is popular and books up quickly, the prices rarely go down unless they have a last minute sale on staterooms they are unable to sell. The only other thing I watch for is when Carnival has an upgrade sale...the price is still the same but you can upgrade to a higher deck at no additional cost...usually an apples to apples upgrade. As far as booking thru a T.A., if you use one that specializes in cruise bookings, they are able to offer additional perks that you cannot obtain thru the cruise line, i.e., transportation to the pier from a specified location, shipboard credits and coupons for merchandise, beverages, photos, etc. These travel agencies have developed a close working relationship with their counterparts at the cruise lines and can be your best line of defense should something go wrong on your cruise.
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Old August 16th, 2007, 08:36 AM
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Michelle, IMO it matters not when you book, but what makes a difference, is to watch the price of your cruise, and when it drops significantly (and it usually does if you booked early, as you must) contact your agent, or Carnival, or whoever you booked with and demand that your price be adjusted! If you have a good agent they will match a price drop, either by adjusting your price, if you haven't made your final payment, or by giving you on board credit for the difference if you have made the final payment.
Since I found the agent I've been using for the last year or so, and started getting the Military discount, (which other agents never told me about, and I learned about here at CruiseMates) I've never found a lower price than the one I've book for, but in the past, I certainly did.

Happy sailing,

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Old August 16th, 2007, 10:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skymaster
Since I found the agent I've been using for the last year or so, and started getting the Military discount, (which other agents never told me about, and I learned about here at CruiseMates) I've never found a lower price than the one I've book for, but in the past, I certainly did.
Ken
Hi Ken, when you book using a Military discount, if an upgrade sale or a price drop happens do you qualify for this also (before final payment)?
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Old August 16th, 2007, 10:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skymaster
Since I found the agent I've been using for the last year or so, and started getting the Military discount, (which other agents never told me about, and I learned about here at CruiseMates) I've never found a lower price than the one I've book for, but in the past, I certainly did
How did you go about finding your agent? Any tried and true secrets for know which ones to run from?

I tried to use on referred to on this forum but the communication was lacking and we ended up booking directly with a PVP. Thanks, Carla
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Old August 16th, 2007, 11:14 AM
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http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/...ectoragent.cfm
The link above is to a series of articles I wrote about booking (and best pricing) in the wake of many of the cruise lines changing their pricing policies.

One can no longer just surf the web and find the best available price. It takes a bit of work now, but you can certainly find lower pricing than Canrival direct is offering, it just takes a bit more effort.
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Old August 16th, 2007, 11:31 AM
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thanks Ken and Rosetattoo (hey, I got a rose tattoo on my Sensation trip!)

I will keep your advice in mind when it gets close to the time for me to book!

I noticed that my cabin category 6b actually went up in price by sail date, not down, so I saved a few hundred dollars by booking only 5 months out.
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Old August 16th, 2007, 12:06 PM
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I disagree with some of the posts on this topic. I have booked early, late, in the middle, etc. It takes a lot of searching and soul searching. If you are strictly concerned about price you must be flexible as far as dates, ports, ships, cabin type,etc. The last cruise I went on (Freedom OTS in June) I started with a date. I have to fly in so I knew the most opportunities would be to fly to southern Florida. Having free airfare with Southwest, I flew into Ft Lauderdale which allowed me Port Everglades, Miami, and even Port Canaveral. I wanted the Freedom as a first choice. Every two weeks or so the price would vary. It dropped a bit and since it was getting close I said I would book on Monday. That day the price more than doubled ($1500 for an interior cabin ???) I was ready to settle for a back to back (3 plus 4 to the Bahamas). Twelve days before the cruise date the price dropped by more than half. I went right to RCI and booked the cabin. We got a nice upgrade and had a great time. You cannot figure out the rhyme or reason for any of this but it does happen. I have a list of bookmarks on my computer for this-the mega sites, independent cruise sites, independent travel agencies, and the cruise lines themselves. About thirty in all. I have done this three times and have not been disappointed. However if you are set on a particular cruise line, cabin type,ports, dates, the best advice is to book early. What I call "cruise doc chicken" is not for everybody, and probably the first time it backfires on me will be the last time I try it. Maybe !
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Old August 16th, 2007, 12:53 PM
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I agree with subtropic. It takes A LOT of searching AND flexibility to get the best prices.

It’s worth it to me but it may not be worth it to someone else. You have to know yourself and be honest about the commitment you are willing/able to make in finding a deal. You have to be able to use a computer and search features well. (That means searching for more than just “cheap cruises? on Google.)

I for one really enjoy searching for deals on travel. Travel is my hobby and, even when I am not going anywhere, I keep up on the good deals. I check all the cruise web sites 2 times a week, every week. I check all the major travel consolidators weekly. Even if you don’t qualify for an interline rate I recommend you check them as these are a good indicator on how full the ships are and how likely they are to discount it. Some sites also email you fare alerts. Get on all the cruise lines email list so you know when sales are happening. Carnival is famous for its “one day sales?. All of these tips help you pick up on patterns. This sounds like a lot, but once you figure out how to check these things you can do it all in less than 1 hour, 2 times a week. I usually do it on my lunch break or right after work and once on a weekend.

You have to be willing to devote the time and patience in finding the deals. This includes searching, calling, emailing, etc and jumping back and forth between sites. Make sure the price is the same after taxes. Many places offer free shore excursions or onboard credit and the fare is the same price or only $10 more. $10 with $50 credit or a free $50 excursion is still a savings if you planned on buying an excursion or drinks/gifts on board.

Also find out what discounts you qualify for. Many people don’t realize they have special benefits and miss out on possibly $100’s of in discounts. For instance FedEx, UPS, DHL workers get the interline discount on many cruise lines since they are technically considered airlines. I have used this discount for up to 70% off. (Carnival stopped the shipping interline but other lines still carry it) You or someone in your party may have a similar obscure corporate discount. This is just one example but there are countless other discounts for corporations, past guest, frequent flier, hotel programs, associations, clubs, age, military, etc.

Also don’t be afraid to bargain with the person on the phone at Carnival/NCL/HAL/etc. This doesn’t always work but if they say the price is $350 pax tell them “that is more than you were wanting to spend? and do they have anything cheaper. I have had them “suddenly? find a $310 rate before. $40 pax savings buys a shore excursion! Be extremely friendly with them and try and use the same person each time you call to build a rapport. (my friendly carnival guy got promoted though )

Booking ahead isn’t always best either. Early booking on the Fantasy out of New Orleans was $399 last year, a month before sailing it dropped to $249. If you are going in the slow season watch your fares. If you over-paid you can talk to the cruise line about an adjustment. You can get some money or shipboard credit. Many people stop checking fares after they have bought their tickets.

Good luck.
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Old August 16th, 2007, 01:11 PM
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wow, thanks everyone, it sounds like it's a lot of work to try and find better deals. I use a TA that has an office in my home town. I actually emailed her back and forth with a few phone calls for months and finally met her to pick up my cruise tickets. She said she can work with vacations to go but my problem with them is they don't have rates posted for cruises far enough out that I can easily book my free airplane tickets.
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Old August 16th, 2007, 03:15 PM
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Have you tried using Cruise Compete. You can find their link here on CM.
You will receive several quotes through you CM acct. I have gotten several very good deals through them. Give it a shot.

Magnolia
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Old August 16th, 2007, 03:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magnolia Blossom
Have you tried using Cruise Compete. You can find their link here on CM.
You will receive several quotes through you CM acct. I have gotten several very good deals through them. Give it a shot.

Magnolia
We tried them for the holiday cruise but got very similar pricing to what carnival was offering. Are they better on off season?
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Old August 16th, 2007, 03:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michelle1959
wow, thanks everyone, it sounds like it's a lot of work to try and find better deals. I use a TA that has an office in my home town. I actually emailed her back and forth with a few phone calls for months and finally met her to pick up my cruise tickets. She said she can work with vacations to go but my problem with them is they don't have rates posted for cruises far enough out that I can easily book my free airplane tickets.
Im confused...you say VTG doesnt show cruises out far enough for you? They show the ones that are scheduled. No one has cruises showing for the end of 2009 which you mentioned above because the cruiselines have not yet released those dates.

Maybe Im not understanding you?

Iv used VTG 3 times, but now for Carnival I book with a PVP and then transfer it for a discount. For RCI I book different. It depends on the cruiseline how I book. Last minute used to work from Galveston, but its hot hot hot there, my PVP yesterday said they have not seen it book up like this for over 3 years. Florida has more competition so the prices are more competitive. So it also depends on the port.

I wish I got free airfare...that severely limits me too as getting to Florida from Texas for a bargain makes it not such a good bargain.

You have to find what works for you. If you cant cruise again until 2009, you have ages before those dates are even released and will know a lot more by next spring or whenever you can book those dates.
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Old August 16th, 2007, 04:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magnolia Blossom
Have you tried using Cruise Compete. You can find their link here on CM.
You will receive several quotes through you CM acct. I have gotten several very good deals through them. Give it a shot.

Magnolia
Thanks, I tried that, got a few quotes and have them looking for a better deal if they can find one.
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Old August 16th, 2007, 04:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flowers
I wish I got free airfare...that severely limits me too as getting to Florida from Texas for a bargain makes it not such a good bargain.
My citibank checking account works with my debit card to accumulate American Airllines frequent flye rmiles. So when I "charge" my rent, gasoline, groceries, fast food, restaurants, etc. it adds up the mileage. Takes 2 years to earn 1 round-trip ticket for myself.

I highly recommend that for those who have to fly to the coast. I'm definitely going to move to Florida when I retire so I can just drive to a port and go on a cruise (perhaps two!) every year!
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Old August 16th, 2007, 04:20 PM
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I personally take old chicken bones and put them in an earthenware pot and then throw them on the ground. That tells me when and with whom I should book to get the best price.

The truth is that cruise lines have put such tight restrictions on pricing that agents have little leeway in what they can charge for a cruise. There are some regional, military and other discounts available and any agent should be able to ask you if you qualify for them. You may be able to receive some "freebies" from the agents but the price is set by the cruise line and no matter what, that's that. That's why it's good to find a decent agent.

BTW: There are agents out there who will do their best to take as much money from you as possible and others who will work to get you the best price they can.

Go back to Kuki's post and refer to his article and you will get the best and most accurate information.

Or you can stick with the system you are currently using and no matter what, someone on the cruise will have paid more than you and someone else will have paid less.

Take comfort in the fact that someone paid more.

Take care,
Mike
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Old August 16th, 2007, 11:32 PM
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My two cents......Years ago my Dad told me that when you go to a new car, there is only way to know if you got a good deal. That is by the feeling you have six months after you have made the deal. I have only been on two cruises so far, but I cant tell you exactly what I paid for either cruise. I can tell you that both cruises were both well worth every penny I paid.
With that being said...I shop the heck out of prices for a cruise. Shopping, looking and researching is just part of the cruise fun for me. Personally, Cruise compete has proven useful to me and I'm about to book another cruise thru an agent I found using them.
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Old August 17th, 2007, 09:37 AM
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Shopping for the best cruise price is a hobby for me - although some of my friends would call it an obsession. I begin with my PVP at NCL who nevr gives me a good price although she can occasionally help me with an ugdrade or obc but the prices never come close to the discount online agencies.

I usually prefer to cruise with NCL becausse of the M/C program. I have several cards, so I rack up a lot of points but want to use them wisely and thus shop for the best deal.

i.e We are doing the Spirit out of N.O. on 11/30 of next year. I got quotes on a BC balcony from NCL that was approx. $850/pp. The lowest price I got was $704/pp. I did some further shopping with non-crusecompete vendors and could not find anyone below the $704 so I booked it.

I will continue to watch it for decreases (which I don't see as likely) and will wind up paying for it with certificates All I'll wind up really paying for will be ddriving epense to N.O. (about 200 miles for us) and parking.

Next month we are sailing Carnival's Freedom and I did book that one through my Carnival consultant Booked it waaaay out and received not only a good price but $200 obc.

It's all in the shopping and grabbing it when you think the price is right. Inn my experience you can get some great last minute deals but I wouldn't bet on them if it's a cruise you've got your heart set on Booking early seems to give us the best price.
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Old August 17th, 2007, 02:46 PM
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Michelle,

Was your Dad in the military? If so, you could book a cruise for you and your Dad using military rates. The military rates are usually quite a bit less than the regular rates. Your Dad would have to send in a form proving he was in the military. We took my 80 year old mother on her first and only cruise (so far) and she loved it.

Just a thought.

Libragirl
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Old August 17th, 2007, 03:13 PM
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My dad was either in the Army or Navy many, many years ago (he's 84). I'll check on that.

A cruise compete agency quoted me this: for a singles rate- is this good?
I'm actually hoping to find a cruise leaving Sunday instead of Sat so she's still looking for me:

Carnival Glory eastern Caribbean
Sailing December 20, 2008 out of Port Canaveral

Cabin cat:A1 (bunkbed)
Cruise rate $931.50
Port tax $159.00
Gov. tax $ 55.51

TOTAL $1146.01
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Old August 17th, 2007, 07:00 PM
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Looks like you already booked, congrats.
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Old August 17th, 2007, 09:20 PM
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actually they didn't have a sunday sail date, which I need to have so I didn't book yet. I have my TA looking at 12-21-08 on VICTORY out of Miami to eastern caribbean. I should have it booked by Monday. She quoted me prices equal to best deal on cruise-compete.
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Old August 18th, 2007, 01:01 AM
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Again - you never know ! One cruise three years ago showed the same fare by everyone except Expedia who offered a senior discount (55 & over) of $200 pp. No one else gave that deal. Another time a cruise I wanted was shown fully booked (even by the line itself (Carnival) I just happened to access a travel agency that had their own web page in N.J. which showed a cabin available at a lower price than had been recently listed. I jumped on it and had a wonderful cruise. I never found another deal like that from this particular agency again. So it remains search & enjoy !
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Old August 18th, 2007, 11:20 AM
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Hi Michelle,
Sorry about taking this long to respond, I did not get online much this past week, with family members visiting and me playing tour guide to the Los Angeles area

Anyways, I had posted this last week, I hope you find the info useful and of some help.

Captain


THIS WILL ONLY WORK IF YOU ARE TOTALLY FLEXIBLE WITH
YOUR TRAVEL DATES & CAN TRAVEL AT A MOMENT'S NOTICE.

I'll share with you what has worked for us for the last 4-5 years or so.
We always and without fail book our cruises last-minute, with Carnival we
have booked as close as 24 hours before the sailing. I can also confirm
that with Princess, as recently as 3 months ago we booked within 48 hours
of sailing. You will hear people mention a 72-hour cut-off period because
of Homeland Security this and Homeland Security that, it's pure urban
legend and heresay.

Once again, this assumes you are flexible with your travel dates and are not
set on any particular itinerary/cruiseline, although our favorite is Carnival. If
you set yourself up on a given itinerary/cruiseline and things don't work
out, you will disappoint yourself.

Travelling in summer, around holidays and the like is not the best time
for last-minte deals. I find that mid Sept thru mid Dec and late Jan thru
early May are the best times for KILLER deals.

Be flexible to the point where you will walk away if the deal is not
working out, mark my words, there will be plenty of opportunities that
come along.

Cabin availability: You must be willing to accept whatever comes, mostly
it's insides, but hey, you are on the ship, so what the heck, why not! How
bad can that be? I'll take any day in an inside cabin on a cruiseship rather
than be home, even though I can look out of my window over the beautiful
San Gabriel Mountains in Southern California as I type this response. You
may be pleasantly surprised. It does not always happen but how about a
7-day NCL Alaska Balcony for $449 or a 7-day Costa Caribbean Balcony for
$296!!! Those are actual prices we paid and unlike some travel agents.,
the Captain's prices always include port charges and taxes/fess. As I
said, keep an open mind on this one too. Despite what you may hear, upgrades
do and WILL happen and yes, granted, it's the exception and not the rule.

Last year we cruised 6 times like this and so far this year, we have 4
under our belt, and it's still early August! You also have to realize
that if you need to fly to get to your cruise, then cheap last-minute
airfares might be easier said than done! But it is still a possibility,
last December we booked an 11-day Hawaiian Islands cruise from/to Honolulu
on the NCL Wind for $399 each, taxes/port charges included. Airfare from
LAX set us back a whopping $219 each, return, taxes/fees also included!
How can you beat that, 11 days Hawaii/Fanning Island for $618.00 each
inclusive of air and taxes, port charges and fees!

Also, make it a DAILY ritual to check out the various cruiselines/online
travel websites for "FLASH" promos, Resident specials and Last-Minute
deals. I scour like 8 different websites RELIGIOUSLY each and every day.
That website which allows agents to compete for your business is
also a good source, we have made some fantastic bargains using travel
agents from that site. And you better believe that the Captain ain't NO
BIG FAN of travel agents in general. But like everything else, there are
exceptions to the rule.

I tell you, give it time and you will find opportunities aplenty to cruise
at $50 daily, $40 daily and also as low as $30 daily, port charges/taxes
included. And oh, btw, let the cruiselines build bigger and bigger ships,
the more they build, the more opportunities we get to cruise for cheaper!
The 4 cruises we have taken so far this year have only cost us a TOTAL for
for the two of us of $4540 including port charges, taxes and fees. One of the
cruises involved a cross-country return flight (included in that total) while another
was a 20-day cruise out of Los Angeles to the Panama Canal and back to LA.

As I said when I started, just sharing what we found has worked for us, others
may very well have different experiences to share.

Happy cruising everyone
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Cruise Price Timothy Carnival Cruise Lines 7 October 17th, 2001 08:31 PM
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