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Last Minute Discounts

Are last minute cruises really cheaper?

In:
17Feb2020

When it comes to travel, booking at the last minute can sometimes offer a terrific value or a sky-high price.  In terms of cruising, people wonder are last minute cruises really cheaper?

What is considered a last minute cruise?

When we talk about last minute cruises, we are talking about any sailing that is past Royal Caribbean's final payment date. 

In most cases, the final payment date is 90 days prior to when the ship is scheduled to depart.

The closer you get to the sail date, the more difficult find a deal may be, but the rewards may be higher given the cruise line's desire to fill the room.

Do cruises get cheaper closer to departure?

In practical terms, last minute cruises are few and far between. 

Royal Caribbean cruises are as popular as ever, so last minute deals are not nearly as prevalent as they once were. More often than not, sailings sell out in the weeks and months before a cruise is set to begin, leaving little to no opportunity to book a cruise closer into the sail date.

Of course, there are still occasionally last minute cruise deals to be had, but you have to dig for them.  

Since last minute cruise pricing is so rare, I do not recommend it as a means of planning your family vacation.  There are too many risks involved with not getting a cruise at all, or perhaps at a bad price, to put everything in one basket like that.

Instead, last minute cruises are a good way to supplement your vacation plans, rather than a primary strategy.

How can I get a cheap last minute cruise?

They key to snagging a great deal close to sail date is being flexible.

Stateroom choices will be limited in the weeks leading up to a cruise, and you may need to look for sail dates that are during odd times (such as a departure on a Monday).

Around 60 days before the cruise departs, you can look to see what availability and pricing is present.  Around this time, cruisers whose plans have changed have already canceled, cruise lines have a good read on passenger load, and last-minute deals begin to emerge. The reductions may or may not continue as the sailing date draws closer.

You can also find deals during off-season and lower-demand times of the year.  Last minute deals and good pricing can be found during the cheapest months of the year.

Another strategy is to leverage social media. There are many Facebook groups dedicated to a particular ship or cruise line, and often deals are shared among the members.

Regardless of how you find a deal, you will want to act quickly if you discover a good rate. Accommodations are limited and deals are often short-lived.

Royal Caribbean sticking with no last minute discounts and extending the program to the UK and Ireland

In:
23Oct2015

Royal Caribbean is sticking with its policy of offering no last-minute discounts to protect its price integrity and expanding it to new markets.

During Royal Caribbean's third quarter financial results call with investors, Royal Caribbean Chairman and CEO Richard Fain highlighted the gains made by the company's "Price Integrity Policy", which promise not to drop prices in the days leading up to a ship sailing, even if it means unsold staterooms.

The rationale behind the program is two fold: First, it promotes higher guest satisfaction with the notion they do not have to worry that after they book a cruise, the price will drop and they will end up paying more.  Second, it has lead to higher revenue for Royal Caribbean.

Fain commented the policy gives,"our guests and our travel partners more comfort that when they book a cruise with us, we wont be dropping the price of that same cruise during the last few days before the ship sails."

"Depending on the itinerary, we have internally banned any new discounts in the U.S. and Canada in the last 10, 20, 30 or 40 days before the cruise starts.  The program has been in place for seven months or so and we have not granted a single exception to the policy."

The Price Integrity Policy is still progressing and that has cost Royal Caribbean money in the short term, "I acknowledge that is has cost us a bit, and is costing us a bit this year in revenue. And some cabins have gone empty, which could have been filled with dramatic last minute deals. But we stood firm and we have made zero exceptions."

"We believe our guests and our travel partners are beginning to respond as we had hoped they would and we are sticking with the program."

Fain also mentioned that Royal Caribbean has expanded the Price Integrity Policy to other the cruise markets of the United Kingdom and Ireland.  These policies extend the same policies about no new last minute discounts in Britian and Ireland that we have been applying in the U.S. and Canada.