How You Could Save Big on Last-Minute Cruise Bookings
More ships and fewer passengers could mean lower prices on cruises in 2018. Here’s how to snag a deal.
Earlier in the decade, cruise lines took a hit. The unstable economy, skyrocketing fuel prices, and a few cruise mishaps made cruises a not only a luxury, but interest dropped along with that. Fast-forward to 2017 – cruises have become a tad more affordable and ships are starting to fill up once again. But that’s not always the case.
In 2017, 25.8 million passengers were projected to sail (according to the Cruise Lines International Association), causing cruise lines to invest over $6.8 billion in new vessels this year alone. With this influx of new ships, booking agents are tasked with filling up cabins faster than ever before.
And this doesn’t always happen. When cruise companies are in a pinch to get rooms filled, they are forced to sell them at a high discount, making all-inclusive cruises a financially feasible options for just about anyone.
So, When Do These Deals Happen?
The last thing cruise lines want is too many empty cruise ship cabins on any given sailing.
Empty cabins means less money spent on board. With a goal of approximately 107% occupancy for every cruise sailing (which means higher occupancy that 2 people for every 1 cabin available), cruise lines are banking on certain profit once the ship sets sail.
This need puts extra pressure on cruise lines to fill as many cabins as they possibly can before the ship sets sail.
Plus, consider this: if cruise lines don’t fill all of the available rooms, they lose a lot more than just 50% of the cost. Because unlike hotels, cruise ships can’t rely on last-minute walk-in customers. Once the ship sets sail – those empty rooms remain empty for the duration of the trip.
From a revenue standpoint, it’s worth pricing unfilled rooms at a huge discount, instead of letting them sit empty. Money-savvy shoppers take advantage of these incredibly low rates on a regular basis – now you can too!
How To Find Them
One of the most infuriating things when on a cruise? Finding out the passengers in the cabin next to you paid hundreds less for the exact same getaway. But, whether you are aware or not, it happens all the time.
Of course, most cruise lines don’t want you to know about their deepest discounts. You can’t go on just onto their website and expect to get the best rates up front. You’ll have to find the right sites – the ones that partner with cruise lines just to fill the cruise ship.
First step: scour the internet. Up until 72 hours before a cruise sets sail, you will be able to book online and also see how many rooms are still available. Do mock bookings to see what your chances are of finding a deal. If a cruise ship only has 10 empty rooms, you likely won’t find the lowest prices there.
Next, tap into travel agents. Some agents have the ability to hold a certain amount of cabins on a cruise ship. If some of their customers cancel or do not put down their deposit, these cabins will become available to everyone else. Cabins may also appear around the date of final payment due to some canceling their cruise.
Join email lists. There are email lists out there that share flash deals for cruise lines. These could be an easy foot in the door for you and could surprise you with a last-minute, unexpected trip.
Look at high-end cruises. It may sound counter-intuitive, but luxury lines frequently drop prices to compete with competitors. Some lines even eliminate the costs of alcohol and other amenities to appeal to more consumers.
Additionally, scheduling your vacation in the off-season can save you tons, even on all-inclusive cruises. The typical off-season is between late fall and early spring, regardless of destination. So, how about that Caribbean vacation while your neighbors are home shoveling snow? Just know that not all cruises will have empty cabins and not all cruise lines have the ability to drop prices drastically.
But, with a little patience, spontaneous nature, and some internet research you could swipe a deal too good to be true!
Now that’s something we can get on board with.
Like anything, it’s always a good idea to be aware of the latest research. We recommend comparing at least 3 or 4 options before making a final decision. Doing a search online is typically the quickest, most thorough way to discover all the pros and cons you need to keep in mind.