When you should buy a cruise predicted by new booking tool

In the not-so-distant past, booking early, watching for sales, using a Travel Expert or just being in the right place at the right time meant a good price on a cruise. A new website takes some of the guesswork out of the process by predicting when to buy.

Traditionally, cruise lines have appreciated those who book far in advance. Ships need to sail full to make money and those who booked early had historically been prized almost as much as past-guests coming back for more. If a lower fare that you qualified for came along after booking, the cruise line would gladly pass that price along.

That was then, this is now.

Now, a new web site claims to know that when you should buy a cruise can be predicted.Enter Cayole.com, a travel agency that uses months of historical pricing data to predict what is likely to happen to the pricing on any given cruise sailing from the U.S. Its predictions are similar to the Price Predictions that bing.com/travel provides for airfares and tell you what your Travel Expert already knows. Trends.

The information is no big surprise but to have and it does give a graphic illustration of what has been happening with pricing. Cruise brokers, like stock brokers, would like this.

With cruise lines tightening up booking rules, your travel expert is more important than ever. Any additional data you can easily get and use will be helpful in your research phase but it needs to be tempered with review by a competent advisor.

Some cruise lines are moving away from courting those who book far in advance. On Royal Caribbean, for example, you could always count on them honoring any lower price that might come along throughout the life of a booking. It was wise to book far in advance, take advantage of the best cabin selection and often the best price. But with few exceptions, the line would lower your price if it went down along the way, no questions asked. If the price went down after final payment, they would issue onboard credit for the difference.

Now Royal Caribbean line has slipped in a Best Price Guarantee Program which gives 110% of the difference if you find a lower rate…within 48 hours. Now all of the sudden when you buy is important. You’ll have to weigh if price or cabin selection is more important and up until now you would have to pull out the crystal ball to predict when the best time to buy was.

Flickr photo by CubaGallery