Sunday, October 7, 2007

Last Minute Cruises Save You Money BUT...

You've probably heard that signing up for last minute cruises can save you a lot of money. This is absolutely true. When a cruise ship approaches the sail date and all their cabins aren't booked, it's better for them to drop prices and get bodies on the ship than sail with empty staterooms.

So, yes, finding last minute cruise deals can save you money.

But--and isn't there always a but?--you need to realize a few things first.

You will probably NOT find last minute cruises available during the holidays and peak seasons. And there's no guarantee that ships won't fill up even during the off season.

Also, there's no way to plan a trip in advance if you're depending on saving money by booking at the last moment. You have no way to know if you'll get on a ship or what day it will leave until, well, the last moment.

And just because you got a good deal on the cruise doesn't mean you'll be able to get a good deal on airfare (granted, this is less of a problem if you live within driving distance of major port). You could actually end up paying a lot more on airfare because you waited until the last moment. Remember, cruise prices usually don't include airfare, especially last-minute specials and deals.

Last minute cruises are best for people who can be extremely flexible (i.e. retired folks or those who work from home and don't have to arrange for someone to watch after the kids).

Big tip here...

You can get good deals on cruises without waiting until the last moment.

In fact, the usual practice is for great deals to be available when bookings first open (booking through travel agents is the best way to stay on top of this). Once the opening flurry settles down, you'll have a harder time finding those cheap prices.

Ok, now that I've warned you that last minute cruises won't work for everyone, here's some information on how to find them anyway!

How to find last minute cruise deals:

--Plan to take a trip in the off-season. This varies depending on where you're sailing, so you'll have to do your homework. For example, cruises to the Caribbean have their off-season from September to the end of the year (excluding holidays).

--Shop online at sites like Travelocity. They often list specials on last minute cruises.

--Sign up for cruise line newsletters, especially if you've cruised with the company before (they often offer discounts to repeat cruises) and liked their service. The company will send you newsletters alerting you to last minute specials.

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