Should I wait for last minute cruise price drops?

On Facebook, CruiseDeals.com gives their fans alerts about huge upcoming cruise price drops that only last for a day or two.  

An example of these short-lived price drops is the 10-night Royal Caribbean Summer Greek Isle Cruise dropping $1244 per person down to $645.   This will only last a few days and is a 68% price drop. 

In regards to these HUGE 1 day price drops, Sharon O. on CruiseDeals Facebook page asks this excellent question:

 “If the price dropped, do the people who booked earlier get any money back?”

As I was writing this post, I had an idea for those who are flexible with their travel plans and want to pay the lowest price possible for your vacations… I share it at the bottom

Answer to Sharon O’s Question:

The cruise lines are using short-lived flash sales to sell excess inventory.  These flash sales are occuring on select cruise departures where the cruise lines are having trouble selling the remaining cabins.  These 1 – 2 day price drops are typically for cruises departing 4 to 5 weeks out. 

When these one day price drops hit, the passengers currently booked are locked in because they have past the full-payment date and cancellations get penalized, so the last-minute lower rates are for new bookings only.   If the rate drops for an extended period of time after the final payment date then we can typically get clients upgraded to a category of cabin that is selling for what they originally paid. 

You may be asking yourself: Why not just wait and book 4 – 5 weeks before the cruise to book?

It is a legit question in the current cruise booking environment.   For cruisers who are flexible with travel dates, destinations, cabin type, and cruise ship my opinion is that there’s a great chance it will work out well for you to wait to book during a 1 day cruise sale [these are the best deals].  I can hear travel agents across the country gasping for air after reading that advice.  No, we want everyone to book now.  :)  

If you want to cruise on specific ship and sail date… it is difficult for me to recommend for you to wait for a one day price drop because most sailings will never see a flash sale.   Each week, there are only about 15 total cruises that have these huge 1 day price drops.   

So if you have a specific week you are available to travel, then you probably should not gamble by waiting…  

If you have to buy airfare, you may not want to wait.  Airfare is going up as we get closer to the travel date, so any savings made on the cruise could easily be lost in the airfare going up.   

Basic Rules when not to wait for these 1 day flash sales:

  • Want to cruise during a peak time [typically if schools are out, it is peak]
  • Need a specific ship and sail date
  • Want specific cabins or cabin types.  Suites are not typically part of the 1 day sales.
  • Booking a large group, there are benefits to book far in advance. 
  • If the cruise you are looking at has a past guest rate, resident rate or senior rate that applies to you [go ahead and book that special rate]
  • If you want the lowest rate on Carnival Cruise – it is best to book Early and use the Early Saver rate. If rates drop at any time, you are guaranteed the lowest rate.  Early Saver rate requires a non-refundable deposit. 

Basic Rules: when is OK to wait on one day price drops

  • Retirees with a flexible schedule are ideal candidates to use this strategy
  • You are able to cruise during off-peak season
  • You cruise mulitple times each year & saving $500 – $1000 on each cruise means more cruises. 
  • BUDGET, the only way you can afford what you want is for it to be part of a one day sale.  And you are OK with staying home instead of vacationing if it doesn’t happen. 
  • You are within driving distance of the port, or have airline miles that you can use if airfare goes up too much.
  • Work with a travel professional who understands the current cruise price market.  It is CruiseDeals.com’s expertise – call 800.668.6414 to get personal advice

MY IDEA

So, I mentioned an idea that I had while writing this article.   Do you have a flexible schedule and are you able to plan 4 – 5 weeks in advance for your vacations?   Great.  We’re already doing the price drop research for our clients on Facebook and Twitter.  

For those who perfer to get the alerts via email – starting this Friday, I will send it out via email each week.  It will look a lot like this: [click here for sample] – so that is the idea, to start offering the upcoming cruise price drop alerts via email. 

I’ll send the email on Fridays giving you the weekend to prepare before the rates drop.   Click here to sign up to have this email delivered to your inbox. 

Author Note: Rich Tucker, founder of CruiseSource, is one of the most quoted in the cruise industry in regards to cruise pricing trends thanks to his research at CruiseDeals.com.  The weekly price drop email will come directly from Rich and you’re welcome to respond back with questions about the deals.

 

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About Rich Tucker

Rich Tucker is the Social Media Manager for Travel Leader's Leisure Group and Founder/Editor of CruiseSource.us. Rich has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Wired Magazine, BusinessWeek.com, USA Today, ABCnews.com, and several other major media outlets either as a cruise pricing expert or for his use of social media in the cruise industry.

3 Responses to “Should I wait for last minute cruise price drops?”

  1. Rich,

    You hit the nail on the head with this article.

    Many people prefer to book early because they want a specific cabin, but many times my wife and I have waited until the last minute so we can just get on the ship!

    We are fortunate that we can go at the drop of the hat and since we live in Jacksonville, Florida, we can drive to Jaxport, Port Canaveral or Ft Lauderdale without hassle.

    I would also remind your readers that just because the cruise line offers you an “upgrade”, it doesn’t mean it really is an upgrade! You can be trading your cabin for one under a casino, near an elevator or right underneath the jogging track!

    Tell your travel agent if an upgrade is available, to let you know first so that you aren’t disappointed later!

    Scott Lara
    @scottlara1961 on Twitter

  2. If you plan to take a last minute cruise and need to fly, keep in mind that you may end up with some outrageous flight prices. It would be difficult to find a good deal on air at 4-5 weeks out, at least in my experience. If you can drive, it’s a non-issue.

    • So true, Skipper… An awesome price drop 5 – 6 weeks from the cruise departure date can easily get ruined by high airfare. Waiting is a good strategy for those who live by a port or have a lot of airline miles.