We have been looking at a Western Caribbean cruise for next March (09). Would we get a better deal booking it now or waiting awhile? I know we would get our choice of rooms if we booked early, but with 6 of us any way to save is kinda nice. Thanks, Gennine
Book now. I book early and my agent always keeps track of pricing and if it goes down she gets the new fare for me - usually surprising me with an e-mail congratulating me on saving X dollars. A good agent will do this for you too. Plus, as you noted you will have almost the run of the ship as far as booking a choice cabin now, as opposed to waiting.
I agree with Dave, early has not always been the best option. In years past many sailings dropped dramatically as the sailing got very near and the cruiselines were desperatre to fill the many empty cabins. Today almost every ship sails full and fills well before the period that those last minute bargains happened in the past. For verification look at this years pricing for Jan, Feb and Mar sailings. Those that are getting close are steadily climbing and many have sold out. There will still be the occasional last minute bargain on a few ships and sailing dates but as cruising becomes more and more popular, which is the trend and Baby Boomers retire in mass earlier is likely to continue to be the best way to find the best cabins and rates.
Yes, book early. We booked our April 28, 2008 cruise about 10 months in advance, and the price has gone up $60/pp since then. I saved $120!!!!! If it goes down, I will get the reduced fair by asking, so I figure I am in a win/win situation. Remember, you can book early with the minimum deposit and pay it later.
I would definitely book early. My husband and I always cruise with RCCL and book the cruise online. We keep an eye on the cruise rates ourselves, and anytime the fair goes down, we call for the lesser rate. Also, we always book the cheapest room since we take short cruises and do not expect to be in our cabin much.
On the last cruise, we had an interior stateroom on deck 2 of the Grandeur of the Seas and switched to an "interior stateroom guarantee" when the price went down. We saved $100 and ended up with a large interior stateroom on deck 8! It was awesome. When you choose the cheapest room to start with, you can only go up.
Also, on our Christmas cruise on the Sovereign of the Seas, our pay-off date had passed when the rate went down, but I called anyway. Within the month before we cruised, we called twice and saved $300 and moved from deck 2 to deck 4. I guess the moral to the story is "Don't be afraid to ask." The worst that will happen is that they might tell you no.
RCCL will lower your rate if they go down all the way up to 48 hours prior to sailing. Carnival, RCCL and Celebrity all do this. There are a few exceptions like their one day sale but very few. HAL, Princess, NCL and others will only lower the pricing for you until the penalty period begins. Then they put an asterisk beside their promos "*Rate available for new bookings only". Whether you booked direct or through your travel agent the adjustment policies remain the same so don't feel the only way to get this is to book direct.