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Convenient methods for researching cruises and tracking prices


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I looked through recent topics and didn’t see this covered. What are people’s preferred sources for researching potential cruises and also tracking prices?

I currently use Americas Discount Cruises. I have many future sailings and it takes more time than I think it should each time I want to check prices and consider changing cabin categories.  I don’t remember how I stumbled upon this website but even though they have not let me down, I’m interested in a better way.  I do like the ability to quickly make a booking online as hard to find cabins disappear quickly.

I would also like to hear others strategy on the “all cabins in category booked” price adjustment strategy. I understand Royal maintains a price in their system if a sold out cabin category were to again become available. Like others I have read about on this blog, I follow prices of other suites from the time of booking. This has provided many false alarms as lower cost suites have gone down in price, triggering an inquiry, only to be told that my cabin has in fact not changed or even increased in price. It has also worked a few times. Although part of earning their commission, I would like to avoid the impulsive price check request I often submit to the agent managing my booking if there is a way to verify myself.

I have read a lot of posts since recently joining this blog and have gained much value from the wisdom and experiences of so many of you, thank you for this.

Scott

 

 

 

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5 minutes ago, AlmondFarmer said:

What are people’s preferred sources for researching potential cruises and also tracking prices?

You're going to hate me, but...

One tab open for each cruise line I want to check, and go through each one every morning to see if new itineraries are released yet and, once out, what the options are. And once I have options, I either use the Notes app on my phone / Mac to record the itinerary, port stops, and the price / cabin category for a mock booking; or I do it using a spreadsheet app like Numbers or Google Sheets.

This is what I've been doing for the last month, while I was waiting for all my candidate lines to finally get around to releasing Mediterranean itineraries for 2022. Even though I've had one of them booked for almost 2 weeks now to lock in the cabins I wanted, I've still been doing this daily check that whole time because the other lines were a lot slower to get their options out there.

It's a pain in the butt, and it's time-consuming to get done. But I'm not out for hard-to-get suites, just balcony cabins or maybe mini-suite category (if it's in my budget) in a good mid-ship or aft location. So I may not get my exact first choice but I'll still get something I'm happy with. In the case of this next booking, I got exactly what I wanted. Two aft-facing balcony cabins, where the cabins are semi-covered for protection from possible soot (and any prying eyes from upper decks), and I can expect to have fantastic views while sailing the Mediterranean.

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@AlmondFarmerI hate to say it, but you might want to dig deeper when your agent tells you it doesn’t apply to you.
 

Many of the suites that I book there are not many of them in the same category. I can tell you that after years of tracking my pricing, if the price goes down on one suite, it almost always follow suit for the sold out ones. I think there was only one or two times for me where it has not. 
 

There once was a time when I was stuck with a not so great agent where I would notice price drops and proceed to message them and was told, no, yours went up or it did not apply.  This was early on when I first started booking suites. One time I was so annoyed that I actually called Royal myself and told the rep that I believe my pricing went down and thought that my agent wasn’t being honest with me. I told Royal that I was aware they could not discuss pricing with me but asked if they could at least tell me if it was worth a call back to my agent. They said most definitely. The rep made a note in my reservation that I had called and I called my agent back to check the notes. I ended up saving about $500 on that one particular re-price. Needless to say, I am no longer with that agent. Lol

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Thank you Lovetocruise2002. I thought maybe correlation doesn’t mean causation. After analyzing countless potential bookings I have noticed that although there is a definite trend, the pricing spread and even position on price ladder can vary between sailings. Example, sometimes on some Oasis class sailings an owners suite is priced lower than crown loft, others it isn’t. 
I dislike the adverse selection problem having an agent poses. I respect and will likely do what you did and try reaching out to Royal directly next time I’m suspicious that my representation is giving me the easy answer and not advocating on my behalf. It is awkward to ask someone to effort to lower my trip cost when the result of this effort may result in a lower commission for them. To me this demonstrates the problem with commissions being based on cruise price.

if you don’t mind sharing, what sources do you use to research itineraries, obtain prices and track bookings? Based on what I have read from you, we seem to share a similar interest in accommodations. 

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20 minutes ago, AlmondFarmer said:

If you don’t mind sharing, what sources do you use to research itineraries, obtain prices and track bookings? Based on what I have read from you, we seem to share a similar interest in accommodations. 

Lol. I am quite simple when it comes to  price tracking and booking. If you want spreadsheet advice, @JLMoran and @twangsterare your guys for that. 
 

I use Royal’s website to look for prices and itineraries. Once something is booked, all I do is take screenshots of the suite pricing and save it in a folder. I price check every few days. If the price has gone higher or the same, I do nothing.  But if I notice a drop, I ask my agent to check and if in fact there is one, I take a screenshot of that round of suite pricing and note the date. Sorry it’s not more fancy but this has worked for me so far and I don’t see a need to make it too complicated. 😉

My TA also sets a price drop alert on all my bookings. Sometimes she catches them before I do, and sometimes I catch them first because I usually check early in the morning.

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I do so the old fashioned way.  I have a spreadsheet for each cruise and keep track of prices not only of my stateroom category, but other categories as well.  This lets me see the going price for other rooms in case we want to switch.  I tend to check Wednesdays and Fridays as these seem to be when prices change.  Before covid, I checked every cruise every week, but now I only bother checking the ones that have potential to go down or if watching other rooms (which at this point is none 😞).

We book directly with Royal so the price we see if the price we get.

I also use a website that notifies me when there is a price change, but I find that by the time it notifies me (which is just the next day), I already know about the change.

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1 hour ago, WannaCruise said:

keep track of prices not only of my stateroom category, but other categories as well. 

This is a very good strategy.  Not only does it give you a head's up in case you might want to upgrade, but as @Lovetocruise2002mentioned, it will help alert you to a potential price drop for any category that might be sold out.  After MANY years of trial and error, this is the only way I know of to be alerted to a potential price drop on a sold-out cabin category.  It doesn't work 100% of the time, but at least it lets you know when to check.

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So there is no public access to pricing of sold out cabins, only an agent can request this information directly from Royal Caribbean? This opacity likely keeps many people from obtaining price reductions or even knowing they exist.
 

Agent recommendations? My current representation makes me feel like I’m asking a lot when I request that a price drop on my sold out cabin category be investigated.

Benefits to agency I have been working with is ease of making a booking, (available on website without phone call) and on board credit (6-9% of total cruise price) 

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I would rejoice if there was some kind of aggregated data Royal could put on a FTP server every time they do price updates. I could download it, parse it, and track it. 

But there isn't one that I know of. I track the sailings I am interested in with a spreadsheet.

Currently, I am tracking MLK Day, President's Day, and Labor Day cruises out of Galveston. I took a MLK Day cruise on the Liberty this year as my birthday was that week and it was great.

I like the inside cabins. Is there more than one cabin category for those? 

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38 minutes ago, AlmondFarmer said:

So there is no public access to pricing of sold out cabins, only an agent can request this information directly from Royal Caribbean?

Correct.  Once it's sold out, it can no longer be viewed by the public.  If you booked direct through Royal, they can price check a sold out category for you.  If you booked with a TA, only the TA can request the price check.  This is why a good, trustworthy TA is so critical.  Once you find one, they are worth their weight in gold.

39 minutes ago, AlmondFarmer said:

Agent recommendations?

MEI is the official agent sponsor of Royal Caribbean Blog. 

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There used to be some good automatic tools for detecting price drops but I found many online travel agencies would lower price by a very small amount knowing it would tickle the automatic tools and trigger them to send alerts.  They turned them into marketing spam alert generators on their behalf.  

Now I just check often.

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The problem with the automatic price checking sites (at least, the ones I've tried to use in the past) is that they only track the lowest cabin type in a category...for example, they only track Junior Suites in the suite category, so if I have a Grand or Owner's Suite booked, I will only know the current (which is often NOT very current) price on a JS.  The same logic applies that we discussed above, so if the price has adjusted on a JS chances are they have also adjusted for the upper level suites but there's really no way to know without calling....so the value of the price checking site is limited.  I have given up trying to use them and just check the Royal site religiously.

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Thank you all for your responses. I was hoping for someone to say go to blanketybkank.com, enter sail date and price adjustments are done automatically. I will stick with the tried and true traditionally method explained above.
I read the fine print and Star class Genie managing my booking for me is not listed as an service/amenity, bummer.

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15 minutes ago, AlmondFarmer said:

Thank you all for your responses. I was hoping for someone to say go to blanketybkank.com, enter sail date and price adjustments are done automatically. I will stick with the tried and true traditionally method explained above.
I read the fine print and Star class Genie managing my booking for me is not listed as an service/amenity, bummer.

I'm hearing business opportunity...for someone with time. @Lovetocruise2002?? 😄 😄

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1 hour ago, AlmondFarmer said:

I read the fine print and Star class Genie managing my booking for me is not listed as an service/amenity, bummer.

Most definitely a bummer, but like I said, find yourself a good TA and it's almost like you have a Land Genie.  No joke.

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29 minutes ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

find yourself a good TA and it's almost like you have a Land Genie.

But will they check the price periodically and if the price has fallen?  I check it once a week or more, I should get a job that keeps me busy, I then call RC if it looks like the price is cheaper.  I have gotten a price cut twice so far.

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5 hours ago, Cakemeister said:

I like the inside cabins. Is there more than one cabin category for those?

Depends on the ship. Voyager and Freedom class have Promenade Interior category along with the basic interior. Quantum and Oasis class have Studio Interior for solo travelers (usually with a virtual balcony, IIRC). And Oasis also has the boardwalk interior and Central Park interior.

Some ships also have "Spacious Interior" or "Family Interior" that are significantly bigger. Discovered this just last week when I was briefly contemplating a 2021 booking to Bermuda on Freedom.

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