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Cruising strategy?


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OK, I am interested in whatever strategy people use in selecting and booking cruises. Here's mine:

 

I can cruise around the 4th of July or Christmas. So my strategy is to book out as far as I can with those dates, pay as little as i can on deposits, and then set up an autodraft check from the bank to pay for each cruise over time. A little out of every paycheck.

 

(I usually design the payment level to allow us to have enough money for specialty dining, excursions, whatever we want to do.)

 

Anyone else do that? Or is it just me? What do you do?

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We try and sail in early April and late October/early November. I use the current offerings as a guide to know which itinerary and ship I want to try to book. I wait VERY IMPATIENTLY for the new itineraries to be released (feb-april) and book both cruises the day they are opened (18 to 24 months out). We usually make 3 large payments while leaving $100 to pay when final payment is due.

 

I am already figuring out what we will try and book for fall 2018, spring 2019 and anxiously awaiting the the deployment announcements!.

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I book approximately 8 to 10 cruises a year. As soon as the itineraries are released I start looking and booking. I create a spreadsheet with all cruises listed, price, pay date, etc., then I figure out how much I can pay a month. I sometimes will book one or two cruises I am not sure I will get to take in case I can go I will have what I want reserved.

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Definitely book early. I booked a Celebrity cruise a couple of weeks ago for Europe and it's already gone up over $1,000. When Celebrity released their 2018 itineraries last week, I jumped on their Italy/Greece itinerary mainly you secure over of the cheaper and very limited triple interior staterooms.

 

I've also been booking multiple cruises knowing that I can decide later which ones to take. For instance, this summer I have the Vision booked out of Amsterdam for a Scotland/Ireland cruise. I also have the Silhouette booked out of Amsterdam for an itinerary focused more on Ireland. At some point I'll need to pick one out the other, but either way I'll get the deposit back. SNSD given that there Vision is older and has fewer verandas, the pricing is actually better on Celebrity.

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My plan involves checking daily.....but its never really about the deal on the cruise for me. It's the airfare to get there from Canada which can be insane.

 

I do try to book out as far as I can, with  low deposit deals and lots of time to watch for price drops or upgrades and keep an eye on flights.

 

However, my most recent booked cruise for January  was booked early in the morning after a few bottles of wine...and it turned out to be my cheapest flight and cheapest cruise yet....so maybe there is something to Klaconqueso's method of booking!!..haha

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Booking early is the best advice.

 

I also do, as you suggest....and pay on the cruise as I go along.  I don't have an autopay (I don't have ANY of those for any reason) but I do pay from the bill pay function of my bank and send them a check every so often so that I'm not faced with a big bill at the end.

 

I check my cruises a couple of times a day but it's usually not to look so much at the price.  Since I book through the casino the price never EVER drops below that rate but I do check to see if there are any discounts on "add-ons" and to see what the inventory is doing.

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Booking early is the best advice.

 

I also do, as you suggest....and pay on the cruise as I go along. I don't have an autopay (I don't have ANY of those for any reason) but I do pay from the bill pay function of my bank and send them a check every so often so that I'm not faced with a big bill at the end.

I do this, too, but by credit card as I get 3â„… back on travel purchases. The key, of course, is to pay off the balance each month or the rewards end up costing you more than what they're worth.

 

One of the things I like about cruising is that the bulk of the expense is paid up front so that you don't return home from vacation with a huge bill.

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I have only booked two cruises and both of them I booked anywhere from 10-12 months in advance. I found the low deposit deal and paid payments of my own. I am sailing in March 2017 which I booked in March 2016. So, what if I see that the price has dropped? Does that mean anything to mean if they are now advertising a cheaper rate than I paid?

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If the price drops on your cruise before final payment date, you can call and have the cruise rebooked at the lower rate.  You must be aware, however, that any promotions that were in effect at the time you originally booked (OBC, grats, bev pkgs, etc.) would be forfeited unless they are also in effect when you rebook.  In other words, you will rebook under whatever prevailing promos are being offered.

 

If the price of your cruise goes down below what you paid after your final payment date you can still rebook at the lower fare but whatever applicable cancellation penalty is in effect will be applied so it is rarely profitable to rebook after final payment has passed unless the reduction is REALLY substantial (and they never are).  What you CAN do after final payment date has passed is upgrade to a higher level cabin if the higher level is less than what you paid originally for your lower level cabin.  In other words, if you originally booked an inside cabin for $500 and the price dropped to where an oceanview cabin was now going for $499, they would upgrade you from the original inside using the current rate to an oceanview cabin with no additional charge.  The same rules apply regarding promos though.  It is rare for prices to drop that much but it does happen occasionally.

 

Cruise lines do not want to rebate money to you that they have already collected (or that you have already obligated) so they make it as difficult as possible for you to rebook at a lower rate.

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If the price drops on your cruise before final payment date, you can call and have the cruise rebooked at the lower rate.  You must be aware, however, that any promotions that were in effect at the time you originally booked (OBC, grats, bev pkgs, etc.) would be forfeited unless they are also in effect when you rebook.  In other words, you will rebook under whatever prevailing promos are being offered.

 

If the price of your cruise goes down below what you paid after your final payment date you can still rebook at the lower fare but whatever applicable cancellation penalty is in effect will be applied so it is rarely profitable to rebook after final payment has passed unless the reduction is REALLY substantial (and they never are).  What you CAN do after final payment date has passed is upgrade to a higher level cabin if the higher level is less than what you paid originally for your lower level cabin.  In other words, if you originally booked an inside cabin for $500 and the price dropped to where an oceanview cabin was now going for $499, they would upgrade you from the original inside using the current rate to an oceanview cabin with no additional charge.  The same rules apply regarding promos though.  It is rare for prices to drop that much but it does happen occasionally.

 

Cruise lines do not want to rebate money to you that they have already collected (or that you have already obligated) so they make it as difficult as possible for you to rebook at a lower rate.

Yes. On our next cruise (19 days!) we took advantage of that. We were upgraded from an Inside cabin to a Promenade View cabin. And we had to forfeit the $100 OBC we received from the original booking. Glad this doesn't work the other way, because the prices are now going up. We might be moved to a broom closet! :-)

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I do this, too, but by credit card as I get 3â„… back on travel purchases. The key, of course, is to pay off the balance each month or the rewards end up costing you more than what they're worth.

One of the things I like about cruising is that the bulk of the expense is paid up front so that you don't return home from vacation with a huge bill.

HEY! Totally unrelated to this thread... I'm going to be in San Diego for work again in a couple of weeks and staying around the Gaslamp neighborhood.

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Last couple of cruises I have booked the Next Cruise onboard. I have paid a $100 deposit, but then get a $100 OBC for the current cruise, so it's pretty much like booking without a deposit and then getting $100 off the next cruise (because I would have otherwise had to pay that $100 to my bar bill on the current cruise).

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HEY! Totally unrelated to this thread... I'm going to be in San Diego for work again in a couple of weeks and staying around the Gaslamp neighborhood.

Awesome part of San Diego, but not very close to Stone. Of course, you could head to the tasting room at Liberty Station.

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Awesome part of San Diego, but not very close to Stone. Of course, you could head to the tasting room at Liberty Station.

 

I saw that! It looks walkable from where I'm staying so that'll probably end up being a thing that happens. 

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I paid for trip and airline tickets all at once on a travel card that gives me a big multiplier for hotel points, and then I am using those hotel points to go for a week in Hawaii this year. I funnel all expenses through a single card to max my points out for travel and maintain a high "club" status to get perks and more points. But in advance of anything I sock away enough cash to pay it all off the month the bill comes due so in a way I save early but just use the card to get the points...it's not that different I just like getting the points for stuff I"m going to pay for anyway. 

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DocLC,

 

I just booked a Celebrity 2018 cruise to Norway out of the new port Dublin Ireland, did you see it? I got my email from Celebrity on November 28 and they sent it to their top tier members on Thanksgiving day so a lot of the inventory for the Norway cruise was already booked. I am so excited to be going to Norway, it has been a dream of mine for a long time. Like your cruise it has already gone up in price about $500 for an interior.

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Whenever possible, we try to book any new cruises onboard a RC ship to take advantage of NextCruise.  It's "free" money, so why not.

 

This was something I just started doing - I was able to move my Anthem booking on board to my Cuba Empress sailing without any extra deposit and hanging on to that OBC!

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I wonder if Royal Caribbean will have released their July 2018 and December 2018 dates by my sailing on 12/26/16?

I doubt it. I think they'll wait until January as most people aren't thinking about booking cruises at this time of the year. Of course, I could be wrong. Celebrity just released their 2018 schedule and I booked for next summer 2018.

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I doubt it. I think they'll wait until January as most people aren't thinking about booking cruises at this time of the year. Of course, I could be wrong. Celebrity just released their 2018 schedule and I booked for next summer 2018.

You are probably right. I have noticed that Carnival is slowly releasing all of 2018. It looks like they are releasing their harder-to-sell cruises first. (My opinion only). Norwegian hasn't released 2018. Mostly my concern is specifically with the closest ports to me: New Orleans and Galveston. I likely will need to book a cruise for the reduced on-ship deposit, and then switch it when the schedules become available. I lost my OBC upgrading the rooms on this current cruise, so I'm not really worried about that. I'm already booked for 2017, or this wouldn't be an issue. Geez, is this becoming an addiction? Is there a 12 step group for cruising? Can they meet in the ship's library?

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I always to just put money each month into a savings account leading up to the final payment date of the cruise.  Then I charge the total balance to my credit card for the rewards points.  When the statement comes, I just pay it off with what I have saved in the cruise savings account.

Are you using a Royal Caribbean credit card? Best card to use for RC charges. The points can be used for on board credit. 10,00 points = $100.00, etc. 

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Are you using a Royal Caribbean credit card? Best card to use for RC charges. The points can be used for on board credit. 10,00 points = $100.00, etc.

I'll disagree as cards like the Costco Visa pay 3% cash back on travel purchases, whereas I believe the Royal card only gives 2% when spent on Royal purchases.

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I always to just put money each month into a savings account leading up to the final payment date of the cruise.  Then I charge the total balance to my credit card for the rewards points.  When the statement comes, I just pay it off with what I have saved in the cruise savings account.

Unless you are in the UK, then they charge 2-3% extra to use a credit card (and 1% to use a debit card).  Really beginning to rethink my decision to settle in the UK after I retired from the US military 15 years ago. (I'm a transplanted american citizen)  Seems they are always trying to get more from the customer with little returned.

 

Rant over.

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I'll disagree as cards like the Costco Visa pay 3% cash back on travel purchases, whereas I believe the Royal card only gives 2% when spent on Royal purchases.

 

I too, do not think the RCCL Credit Card provides the best reward per buck as the Bank of America Travel Rewards Card that I have.  I get 2% on every purchase (+ bonus depending on my daily average balance in my savings account).  I can use these points to "reimburse myself" for travel related expenses for up to 1 year after the travel related charge posts to my account.  I did get the RCCL Card though just for the 10,000 bonus ($100 OBC) points for the first transaction, but I haven't used it since.

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I'll disagree as cards like the Costco Visa pay 3% cash back on travel purchases, whereas I believe the Royal card only gives 2% when spent on Royal purchases.

 

I have a Capital One Venture card that gives me 2% back towards any travel-related purchase (or I can get 1% cash, which would be dumb).  I charge *everything* on the card - literally, everything other than my wife's car lease payment and my property taxes goes on the card.  After I get a pile of points I use them against airfare tickets or pre-cruise hotel stays.  But never the cruises themselves - they're worth what I paid for them.

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I did this once as it worked out in my favor as I booked in CAD, but got a OBC in USD...so I "made" money. I still haven't actually taken the cruise I booked and have moved it around a few times now. But no harm in taking advantage of it when its a really good deal or offer.

 

I will prob look into seeing what they are offering during my next cruise again

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I never thought about it that way

 

"I'll probably spend as much on board as the OBC I'll get anyway"

 

So rather than spend $500 of my own money on my seapass card...why not get $500 in OBC credit from them to spend...and you walk off the ship not having spent any more money that way and now you have cruises booked and deposits made!

 

I like that way of thinking!!

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I never thought about it that way

 

"I'll probably spend as much on board as the OBC I'll get anyway"

 

So rather than spend $500 of my own money on my seapass card...why not get $500 in OBC credit from them to spend...and you walk off the ship not having spent any more money that way and now you have cruises booked and deposits made!

 

I like that way of thinking!!

 

... and even if you end up not going on the cruise (which we know won't happen) and you lose the deposit, you're no worse off than if you had never booked the cruise in the first place because you would have otherwise had to pay that amount to your seapass bill on the current cruise.

 

The only thing is, the deposit and corresponding OBC is more likely to be $100 rather than $500 ... but the logic still applies.

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