On Booking Your Cruise Early or Late
The following cruise advice on the advantages and disadvantages of booking your cruise very early, or close to the sail date may assist you in finding cheap cruises.
This section brings you information about understanding the four W's. There are many scenarios used by the cruise lines that could provide cheap prices for you. Identifying only one such scenario (among the many cruise lines) is all you need. Applying the right information at the right time saves a lot of money.
The possibility of a great low price is, of course, the major advantage for booking your cruise very, very early.
This scenario requires that you start monitoring prices as soon as they are released for booking. You may also want to compare prices to previous sailings. The price, terms and conditions of booking (especially those pertaining to cancellation) will determine if and when you actually make the reservation.
Consider making the reservation if you are guaranteed the lowest price for early booking, which happens often.
This is not necessarily the same as an early booking or special discount.
Others may also get a special (or some other name) discount that is greater than the one you receive.
Therefore, look for a guaranteed lowest price. You (or your agent) must constantly monitor pricing, terms and conditions of any reservation you plan to make.
Another reason for booking your cruise early is to get a desired cabin and or location of your cabin on the ship. Therefore, you win in two ways.
You can purchase air tickets separately or as part of your cruise package.
Early booking of air travel separate from your cruise package can save you money. (For two or more people the savings can really add up).
The downside is that you pay for your air tickets immediately, even though your cruise is months away.
Another downside occurs if you need to cancel your cruise. You may escape with little or no penalty for canceling the cruise, but your air tickets are another matter.
You cannot cancel low cost air tickets; and, they are subject to change fees and any increase in price. Although you can fly to any destination, you must exchange your tickets and fly within one year of the purchase of your original tickets.
If you book your air with the cruise line, you will likely pay more.
The upside is that the air cost is part of the package and not immediately payable. Your cost will remain the same and any cancellation penalties include both cruise and air. Therefore, you are not stuck with unused air tickets.
The possibility of receiving a great low price is also a reason to make your reservation very late in the booking process.
Cruise lines give steep discounts on unsold cabins.
Another reason to make your reservation very late is that individuals or groups (due to many different circumstances) may cancel their cruise even though they lose money due to cancellation penalties. Cruise lines may then discount those cabins with little (perhaps no) revenue loses.
The downsize of the above information of course is that who still may not get a cabin.
A major disadvantage to booking your cruise late is that of air fares. Rarely will a cruise line have "air" to offer with a late cruise booking.
Normally cruise lines purchase large blocks of air tickets at a special price from various airlines. They must return unsold tickets by a certain date to avoid losing money (or losing additional monies).
Therefore, with late bookings you are often left to get your own air travel to the port of embarkation. This could cost you more money than any savings you receive from your cruise discount.
If you cancel you cruise you are stuck with the air tickets.
Also, if you arrive late and the ship has sailed, you must pay for your passage to the ship’s next port of call to avoid losing out on your cruise altogether.
For more information on the problems with air travel read "Have Your Cruise Agent Do A Double-Check" .
Still, if price is more important than other factors, then booking very late may give you the cheapest price between making your reservation early or booking late.
Just know the cost, and how you are going to arrive at your port of embarkation before purchasing your cruise.
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On booking early or late