If you thought you could just show up to the port on embarkation day and negotiate a deal, we’re sorry to burst your bubble, but that’s not how you get last-minute deals. When you’re cruising, a last-minute cruise is anywhere between three months and a couple of days before the embarkation date. And you can, in fact, get an excellent deal if you know how.
So, whether you’re a procrastinator who just didn’t book his cruise early enough, or you have a lifestyle that allows you to go on a cruise on a whim, let’s take a look at how you can get some of the best deals for a last-minute cruise.
Consider a Private Cruise
Even though you might think that private cruises are overpriced, not worth it, and generally not a good idea for people looking to save a bit, they’re actually excellent if you’re doing things last minute. The thing with private cruises is that they oftentimes have dates on which nobody has booked a cruise. And the closer those dates are, the more of a discount you can get on a private cruise.
Compared to a regular cruise, a private one will get you a much more intimate experience in terms of the staff-to-guests ratio, and everything is just more luxurious. The ships are nicer, the cabins are better equipped, and you have less to worry about.
Be Flexible With Requirements
An important thing about last-minute cruising is that by the time you book your cruise, you’re usually left with the things nobody else likes. We’re talking cabin location, a cabin with a balcony, or even a prime table spot during dinner. That is one of the downsides of doing things last minute and is where early planners have a bit of an advantage.
But, not everyone needs those things. A lot of people are rather versatile in this regard and care more about the overall experience of the cruise, rather than the view from their cabin. You can enjoy a cruise without those things, and the more flexible you are, the more you’ll be able to enjoy your cruise, ignoring those details.
Use The 60 to 90 Rule
What is this rule, you might be wondering? Well, most cruises (not all) will allow you to cancel your existing reservation without a penalty, as long as you do that up to 60 days before departure. And within this timeframe, the cruise company has an idea of how many people have canceled, which means it knows exactly how many rooms it has available.
Now, some cruise lines won’t really care about this. But others will notice that they’ve got more spare room than they’d like, and will lower the fare (oftentimes significantly) in order to sell out the ship and have it completely booked. Who’s taking advantage of this? Well, you, of course.
Plan The Entire Trip
What a lot of people tend to forget is that they don’t really live in a port city. This means that heading out on their dream cruise means they’ll have to grab a flight, which is oftentimes rather expensive. Unless you’re adding this cost to your total trip costs, you’re making a mistake. What good does a 50% discount on a cruise fare do, when you’re paying more than that discount for your flight?
In many situations, such as when booking a private cruise, you can get a great deal on airfare costs if you book early enough. If this saves you a good amount of money, you can actually consider it a cruise deal since it’s still part of the total cost you’ll need to pony up. Of course, last-minute deals are available with airfare companies, too, so keep your eyes peeled for any promotions.
Keep Documents Up to Date
Last but not least, making sure all your documents are in check is critical if you’re doing things last minute. When you’re going out on a cruise, you should make sure you have a passport that’s valid at least a couple of months after your return date, as well as visas to any countries you’ll be visiting that require one.
With the visa, you can only get one after you’ve booked the cruise because it makes no sense to get a visa when you don’t know whether or not you’ll be going on that trip. But with the passport, having an up-to-date passport is critical and something you can easily keep in mind.
If your passport doesn’t have at least four to six months after your planned return date, go ahead and renew it in advance. This way, you know that you can literally pack your bags and be out on a cruise within 24 hours if an opportunity arises – and that’s perfect!
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