Thinking you will wait until the last minute to book your cruise? Think again. If you want the best deal, the largest number of options and a prime location on the ship then you need to book 12-18 months in advance. Surprised? Here is why planning in advance will pay off in big benefits.
Early Booking Incentives
When cruise lines release their inventory for itineraries 1 to 2 years in advance, they often run early booking incentives. These bonuses or perks can add up to substantial cost savings. Depending on your priorities, perks such as free beverage packages, pre-paid gratuities, onboard ship credits and internet packages can offer big savings. For instance if you are on a 10 day cruise and you were already planning to purchase an all-inclusive beverage package this would cost $50-$70 CDN per night. If you chose this perk over the course of a 10 night cruise, this would be anywhere from $500-$700 savings. Additionally, taking an onboard credit can cover your gratuities and still provide money left over for shore excursions, spa treatments or shopping onboard. Many times discounted deposits are also offered with early booking bonuses. This gives you the option to choose a trip and secure your cabin with only putting down a small deposit that is completely refundable until typically 60-75 days prior to sailing. Therefore if your plans change, you can receive your money back. This means no risk! Why not take advantage of these incentives?
The Best Choice
Booking early gives you the best choice of itineraries, cabin type selections and locations on the ship. This is relevant on large ocean ships but also particularly on small river ships where there are a maximum of 180 passengers and the number of cabins are small in number. This means that the most popular itineraries can sell out quickly since the number of cabins is so limited. If you have specific places you want to visit then make sure you are planning in advance to secure your wish list – not just what is left over.
Another benefit of working with an experienced travel agent means that if they specialize in cruises, they will often times have group space on specific sailings. This space is secured very early after being released and freezes the costs to the launch date pricing. When you take fluctuating currencies and supply and demand of inventory into account, this can sometimes mean substantial savings. I currently have pricing for 2017 sailings that are $500-$1000 per person less than the going rate with the cruise line or other agencies. And if a cruise line has a promotion or bonus running, I can often book you under the promotion and then move your booking into the group space so you can take advantage of both savings. Additionally, our agency has special sailings called Distinctive Voyages where you are included in a private onboard cocktail reception, a free escorted shore excursion and a dedicated travel agent on board to whom you can ask any questions. These are cost savings options but also give you peace of mind to have a friendly face while on board. I don’t know about you but when I am travelling it is nice to have someone that is looking out for you during your trip. That itself is worth its weight in gold!
To wrap up, your greatest take away is that cruising is not the same as booking land packages since inventory is handled very differently. Booking well in advance gives you choice, flexibility and significant savings. Where would you like to go next? Call me for some advice on your next adventure.
Sharing Our Travel Dreams
Sharing our personal experiences onboard and on the road, along with tips and insight for creating memorable vacations.