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What You Need To Know About Booking A Last-Minute Cruise

By Kelsey Marie

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Booking a cruise vacation at the last minute was once pretty easy, believe it or not. There has been an increase in travelers choosing cruises as a means of vacation which is why it’s a gamble to secure a cabin last-minute.

If you’re a serial procrastinator or spontaneous traveler, all is not lost. Travelers can still find ways to secure their cruise vacation at the 11th hour. Here’s how

Become Knowledgeable About The “Booking Window”

Cabins are usually booked at a faster rate than airline seats and hotel rooms. This could be because of cruise’s “booking window” which, according to AFAR, is “the average number of days between the time a customer books and a ship sails.”

This means that there is always a large percentage of cabins already booked three to four months in advance.

Michelle Fee, CEO of Cruise Planners, reveals that the booking window is now up to a year out for faraway locations and six months out for shorter destinations.

You’re more likely to find available cabins on cruises traveling shorter distances.

Learn How To Perfect Your Timing

Knowing the right time to book is half the battle. You’re more liable to secure a cabin by booking around 90 days before sailing. This period is known as the “final payment” deadline, meaning that travelers who put down a deposit must pay the remaining amount or cancel.

After the deadline period, cruise lines know how many available cabins they have left and they adjust the prices accordingly.

For example, if a cruise is heavily booked after the “final payment” deadline, fares will increase or remain high. On the contrary, if a cruise is barely booked, pricing could be lowered.

It’s important to note the “final payment” period varies by the cruise line and itinerary.

Keep Your Options Open

As the sailing date draws nearer, most cruises will have a few cabins available. It may not be an ideal cabin but you will have better luck finding last-minute bookings.

According to Cruise Planners’ Fee, “premium cabins such as suites, connecting cabins, and cabins that have a third or fourth berth often are the first to sell out for any given voyage.”

The catch is, you won’t know a cabin is available until the last weeks leading up to the voyage.

Keep It Short

Booking a cruise close to where you live will make things a lot easier. Search for cruises leaving from ports you can get to by car or a short plane ride away.

If you live on the East Coast, sail out of New York or Boston. West Coast travelers should look from cruises leaving from Los Angeles or San Diego.

Call A Travel Agent

We’re all pretty much dependent on booking through sites and apps but sometimes the old-fashioned way is better.

If you call a travel agent directly, you can end up getting a better deal.

Avoya Travel usually has access to lower prices or packages not advertised online. Brad Anderson, co-founder of Avoya reveals that there are 1,500 travel agents affiliated with the company and they can all offer better pricing via phone calls.

So Which Cruise Lines Are Known For Last-Minute Bookings?

According to AFAR, most last-minute cruises happen on larger ships leaving from the U.S. to the Caribbean.

Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Lines, and similar lines usually have vacant cabins because of their large capacity.

Cruise lines such as Crystal Cruises or Regent Seven Seas Cruises will be more difficult to book last-minute because they’re smaller and book up far in advance.

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Kelsey Marie

Kelsey-Marie is an NYC girl who currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. You can keep up with her on Instagram at @kelseydashmarie

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