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No tricks, just need flexibility.  Most of the best cabins will be cherry picked so what's left can be just about anything.  Search often, have an idea what you want, be flexible with itinerary and you can sometimes get a deal.  Often just after final payment due date has passed there can be some deals too.  Less likely to get deals during peak such as March, summer or holidays.  Shoulder season in Alaska can yield some deals too.  Cheap way to try Alaska.  

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Are they primarily discounted cabins that haven't sold? Sounds like you're suggesting that "last minute" would mean within 3 months of sail date. I had no idea if it meant like the week before or what, haha.

Cheap way to cruise Alaska (that was my first cruise, with Celebrity years ago), but airfare pretty much kills off any savings, hah. I'm thinking of easier ways to run up the points total and start getting some balcony discounts.

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13 hours ago, HtownHolly said:

Are they primarily discounted cabins that haven't sold?

Not always.  Cabins become available at the last minute for different reasons.  After the 90 day mark, you will often see cabins open up (that weren't there prior) because people who have booked far out decide to let it go at final payment.  Closer to the sail date, sometimes there are still cancellations (for various reasons) and a cabin may become available.  Another reason why cabins open up is that sometimes people upgrade and, in turn, that frees up their cabin that they held.

I still think the best strategy is book as early as possible and watch prices (like many of us do here).  Or if you cannot book early, then at least watch the price on the sailing that you are interested in, so you will know if it's a good deal or not when you are ready to book.

Hope that all makes sense.

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14 hours ago, HtownHolly said:

Are they primarily discounted cabins that haven't sold? Sounds like you're suggesting that "last minute" would mean within 3 months of sail date. I had no idea if it meant like the week before or what, haha.

Cheap way to cruise Alaska (that was my first cruise, with Celebrity years ago), but airfare pretty much kills off any savings, hah. I'm thinking of easier ways to run up the points total and start getting some balcony discounts.

This past summer my flights to Anchorage and from Vancouver were actually pretty reasonable under 60 days out.  60-90 days is a sweet spot for airline pricing because fuel prices have caused many airlines to increase prices far out as a safeguard to protect themselves.  Once they get closer they can adjust prices with more confidence and lately that has meant lower prices closer in.  

If it's points you seek, Vision class ships like Vision and Grandeur can be good ships to bank points if you can accept interior cabins.  I frequently go to the website and sort my price.  I first filter on 12+ nights, then 9-11 nights and so on.  When sorted by low price first the deals soon become evident and often Grandeur will show up in the results, for interior or oceanview.  

If you don't mind a transatlantic flight and sailing on older ships there are some great deals on Rhapsody, like around $1k for 14 nights transatlantic. 

The biggest tip I can offer is to search often.  Deals pop up and people like myself find them then they are gone.  Pricing adjusts daily and sometimes hourly as people consume the cheap cabins until they are gone.   

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I haven’t seen any discounts that made me change the cabin(interior) that I normally pick as I climbed to Diamond level C&A.    Maybe I’m missing something but in my experience and how I sail,  moving up the ladder is more hyperbole than anything.   Only mentioning because I hope your expectations are met as you move up.  I got caught up in the climb,  too, only to find that we haven’t realized any significant benefits in getting to diamond.  Just my experience.  

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Climbing to Diamond was a significant milestone for me.

  • Free nightly drinks and diamond lounge access with concierge¬†
  • Free photo (each for a couple)
  • Day of free internet (each for a couple)
  • Free entertainment tour
  • Coffee machine in lounge makes much better coffee than WJ coffee

Climbing to Dimond Plus also added:

  • Another free day of internet (each for a couple)
  • 30% off drink packages on board
  • Free bridge tours
  • Free laundry bag
  • BOGO specialty dining (buy one get one free first night)
  • Always have a bottle of sparkling wine waiting for me in my cabin upon boarding
  • Reserved entertainment seating areas (varies by ship)

The onboard drink package and Voom discounts translates into not having to search and hope for cruise planner deals.  I can wait until I'm on board and buy them typically as cheap as cruise planner sales ever goes.  With diamond happy hours drinks I often sail without a drink package.    I can wait until I'm on board and if I'm in the mood I'll buy the drink package, if not I don't or I can wait until day two and buy Voom or drink packages even cheaper.  When traveling as a couple we both get 2 days of free Voom.  That's four days between us.  For many cruises that's enough to avoid buying Voom all together.  

Plus balcony discounts start to mean something.  On newer ships that have higher balcony to non-balcony ratios that often means a balcony is cheaper than or near the price of INT/OV cabins.  Granted on older ships that have fewer balconies it doesn't do as much for you, but I generally now book more balconies because they are closer in price or cheaper than INT/OV.    

For a married couple since they will status match you, it only takes one sailing solo on a couple of cheap interior solo sailings and both people in the relationship are moved up the ladder due to double points.    

If we don't want to visit the over crowded diamond lounge during happy hour we both get 3 free drinks every night.  On a 7 night cruise that's 42 free drinks for a couple, including bottled water.  

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1 hour ago, Hutcherl said:

I haven’t seen any discounts that made me change the cabin(interior) that I normally pick as I climbed to Diamond level C&A.    Maybe I’m missing something but in my experience and how I sail,  moving up the ladder is more hyperbole than anything.   Only mentioning because I hope your expectations are met as you move up.  I got caught up in the climb,  too, only to find that we haven’t realized any significant benefits in getting to diamond.  Just my experience.  

It's not a prestige thing at all! Mostly, I'd like to see discounts on balcony bookings. No aspirations to be a regular "suite" sailer, or anything like that :)

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Can’t argue with @twangster on the benefits of reaching Diamond.   

For us- Biggest benefit to me seemed to be the hour hour drinks. ¬†I couldn‚Äôt wait to get to Diamond for the 3 happy hours drinks because I hoped it would eliminate buying the drink packages. ¬†As I looked deeper, ¬†it‚Äôs a limited menu. Not much on there appeals to my wife. ¬†Just my luck! ¬†She prefers¬†the practically unlimited options of the drink package. ¬†So I‚Äôm probably still buying two drink packages.¬†ūüôĀ

The free photos are a nice perk.  

No value in the Diamond lounge or internet for us.  Wasn’t unaware of the entertainment tour but that sounds like it might be interesting.  

So I guess it depends on how you cruise.   Twangster mentions some nice features of reaching Diamond.  

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10 minutes ago, HtownHolly said:
11 minutes ago, HtownHolly said:

It's not a prestige thing at all! Mostly, I'd like to see discounts on balcony bookingsÔĽŅ. No aspirations to beÔĽŅ a regular "suite" sailer, or anything like that ūüôā

 

I agree about the balcony discounts.  If I could get a balcony for close to the same as an interior  or OV then I’ll change my opinion of C&A because that is significant.     

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29 minutes ago, Hutcherl said:

I agree about the balcony discounts.  If I could get a balcony for close to the same as an interior  or OV then I’ll change my opinion of C&A because that is significant.     

Balcony discounts vary by ship.  When ships have a higher balcony count the C&A discount can work out well.  On ships like Vision class, not so much because there are few balconies and they sell faster so less inventory to discount.  It seems like there has to be lots of balconies available for the discounts to work out.  

Here is Ovation to Alaska in July 2020 (Peak):

No discount on top, C&A discount below.  

627451092_OvationBalconyDiscount.jpeg.08f75de4705d22bbd627fdab385df7e7.jpeg

Ovation has a lot of balcony cabins. 

Same week, July 2020 for Grandeur:

No discount on top, C&A discount below.

1621826396_GrandeurBalconyDiscounts.jpeg.e890f5f99f9f7b532d609962b1ac28e4.jpeg

Savings don't appear as enticing.

In the 1st case on Ovation the savings are $250 for two.  In the 2nd case on Grandeur just $174 savings for two but since there are so few balconies on Grandeur the already higher price for balconies make it look less enticing, granted in this case it's 9 nights on Lady G vs. 7 nights on Ovation.  

The point is that it's not a fixed discount.  It's one of those "up to" discounts.  Still for peak in Alaska saving $250 isn't bad.  Plus compared to OV it's just $51 per person to be in a balcony (probably an obstructed balcony but hey, it's a balcony).

For people who cruise just once in a while the discount may or may not seem like it does much when you just focus on one particular sailing.  For people who have the opportunity to cruise more,  the C&A discount will appear to mean something more often, depending on the ship, date and how far out you book.  

YMMV.

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I've bookmarked this page and checked it from time to time in the past:  http://www.creative.rccl.com/Sales/Royal/Multi_Dest/Special_Offers/rci_sales_event.pdf

It's currently showing January 8-9, but I think it gets updated every few weeks?  I can't say it's necessarily the cheapest or best deals as I don't spend much time pricing cruises out but I like being able to easily see prices laid out like this for different sailings.

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1 hour ago, twangster said:

In the 2nd case on Grandeur just $174 savings

Is my calculation wrong or for balcony C&A member is loosing $ 13 vs newbie, since there is no OBC credit ($100) that can be combine with C&A discount ? For suite loosing difference is $75 !!

Seriously Loyal to Royal ?

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Just now, Cez said:

Is my calculation wrong or C&A member is loosing $ 13 vs newbie, since there is no OBC credit ($100) that can be combine with C&A discount ?

Seriously Loyal to Royal ?

C&A discounts are not always combinable with every promotion.  In this case the current promotion is better than the C&A discount.  Wait a week and that will likely be different.  

Same with Next Cruise OBC - not always combinable with C&A balcony discounts or a different amount of OBC.  

Honestly this is where a travel agent comes in handy.  They see rates that aren't always offered on the website.  A good TA will flat out tell which is the best rate and it isn't always the C&A balcony rate.

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Just now, HtownHolly said:

So about the OBC... that can't be spent until you're actually onboard, right? Can you use it when booking excursions beforehand?

Usually any OBC offered by Royal will be available to spend in the cruise planner.

Sometimes a travel agency will offer their own OBC incentive that is usually available onboard on or after day two of the cruise.  

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Here are examples of Royal OBC showing up and being spent in the cruise planner months before sailing:

On this cruise I had $75 of Royal OBC to spend.

2055956586_RoyalOBC.jpeg.8c5a3cbd977e4a13eaf02888b8f0219e.jpeg

 

In this case I had $100 OBC and used it towards Voom internet:

905995468_OBCused.jpg.adc963f29eebde69734fabf4fdfb7068.jpg

In this case I had Next and other OBC totaling $231.

OBC-1.jpeg.3ac4ddb72cbc7646c923d3933d25a544.jpeg

 

I could have just left the OBC alone and once on board used it towards on board charges.  

EDIT - and the next logical question is... If I spend my OBC in the cruise planner then change my mind and refund that purchase, what happens to the OBC?   It becomes immediately available for you to spend on something else.  

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@twangster¬† ¬† gave some very good points on C&A benefits.¬† We enjoy going to breakfast in the dinning room every morning sitting in the Diamond section and being waited on.¬† We have found that being D+ we seem to get extra attention from the crew.¬† We get a lower number for disembarkation at the end of the cruise.¬† We get priority when a tender boat is needed.¬† ¬†Yes, the Diamond lounge is crowded but we still enjoy it.¬† ¬† The bartenders in the lounge work very hard at giving out free drinks but they will remember who is tipping and I have never had a short pour drink.¬† Most of the time my Jack and Coke is mostly Jack.¬† I'm not complaining.¬†¬†ūüôā¬†¬†

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