The holiday gifts have all been opened and some of Santa’s “nice” kids received exactly what they wanted. Others, leaning a bit towards the “naughty” side, not so much. If a cruise vacation was on that gift list for you, all hope is not lost. It is indeed possible to actually buy a cruise and get it for a price that adds up to a great travel value.
We are right around the corner from what travel agents call “wave season.” That’s the January through March flurry of sales that travel agencies see as many cruise travelers plan a cruise for 2013 or beyond.
Getting the best value depends on which cruise line, ship, sailing date, or itinerary you choose. Still, universal among most major cruise lines, some common-sense tips can bring home the best offer.
- Holidays are popular- Christmas Eve/Day and New Year’s Eve/Day are the four most popular days to sail and command a premium price, year-round, with few exceptions.
- Cruise lines commonly discount the third/fourth or more passengers in a cabin, making cramming kids a popular sport, subject to cruise line rules.
- Cram as many kids as possible into a cabin- Most will hold up to four and while four large adults would be challenged, four average-size kids ages 10 to 21 will fit just fine. But in the same breath we say…
- Be realistic about cabin size- A decade ago, I booked four large adults in a cabin for four people, and those four people called/screamed at me from the ship after boarding. Apparently, the discounted upper berths that looked so attractive when buying were only about half the width needed for our fluffy cruise traveler friends.
- Be aware of the cruise line rules for traveling with kids- There is a minimum age. There are a limited number of cabins that will accommodate three, four or more people.
- Book as far in advance as possible, especially if traveling with kids and/or your needs require cabins in a specific location (like next to each other), cabins that connect (like a door between them), or any cabins that have three or more guests in them, as these are in limited supply.
- Book at the last minute- I had to force my fingers to type that. After decades of suggesting “buying far in advance is a good idea,” cruise lines may be changing their tune, awarding those who book at the last minute (30 days or so prior to sailing) some of the best values.
Frankly, the way cruise fare pricing is going right now, one of the best suggestions might very well be to book a flexible fare now and then lock in to a lower, restricted fare later. That action now would get travelers the cabin location they want with an opportunity for a better price down the road. Your travel agent can help with that. Not ready for a travel agent yet? Leave your questions here.
[Photo Credit- Flickr user peter.clark]