Hi, all. Our family has cruised 2x before...Paradise in 04 and Inspiration in 06. We are hooked. We are eagerly looking forward to a cruise in june/july/or/august of 10 and are wondering if you have any recommendations on getting the best deal for that high priced time of the year. How early should we book? does that always mean a "better" deal. any advice you have would be much appreciated.....thanks!
I've noticed the Western Caribbean cruises are cheaper than the Eastern and cruising after August is the best deal (as compared to your initial choices above). If you cannot wait until after August, I'm not sure...I've cruised mid to late Aug twice now and felt I got a pretty good deal. It's sickening though when you peek at prices like 2 weeks after your date and see the drastic price drop. Good luck! I leave on Saturday
Carnival Inspiraton, Feb 2006
Carnival Glory, Aug 2007
Carnival Liberty, Aug 2009
We generally buy 6 to 8 months out to make sure we can get all the arrangements made to go on the dates we want. I’ve never seen any significant price savings for booking earlier than that. If you book early make sure that you can take advantage of the price changes. Sometimes 1 to 3 months out the price takes a dip if the ship isn’t selling out fast enough.
Watch the price on Carnival.com and if you see an advertised price lower that what you paid call your travel agent or Carnival to get credit for the lower price. Move quickly though some of the price dips go back up by the next day. Remember that the “Early Saver” fares are non-refundable so make sure your cruise insurance will pay for any reason that you may cause you to cancel or change your vacation.
Speaking of insurance shop the web instead of taking Carnival insurance. If you use a travel agent sometimes they will include insurance at no additional price.
Need sodas on the cruise? Grab a few bottles or cans before getting to the port and put them in your carryon luggage. I’ve seen families board with 2 or 3 12-packs with no problem. 3 or 4 bottles each were enough for us on a 7-day cruise with our nieces. Mostly for them, we did fine with the ice tea and lemonade on board. By the way, even though it is not overtly offered you can request ice tea or lemonade from your waiter in the dining room. After the first or second day our waiter usually has it on the table by the time we arrive.
Once you become comfortable on your own in foreign ports you can take advantage of the cheaper tours offered on shore or set up your own agenda with local taxi drivers. Make sure you feel very comfortable with any operators you deal with and allow plenty of time to get back to the ship. You can save a lot of money, but you are also taking on full responsibility for your own safety and timely arrival back at the ship. Sometimes there will be beaches and shopping within walking distance of the ship and that makes for a really nice day for a small amount of cash.
I like booking early, even up to a year prior to a cruise, because I know exactly which deck, location and stateroom I want to stay in and booking early affords me a better opportunity to nab the room I want. Also, after the initial downpayment, it gives us a whole year to save money for the balance, spending money, etc.