I was wondering if there was an acceptable deadline in advance of a cruise, in which one should make the booking and not any later?
- Two months in advance?
- One month?
- One week?
I wonder if it would be possible just to show-up at the pier, while the ship is embarking, and just say "Hey, I am not booked on the cruise, but do you have any empty stateroom you would like to fill?". I am not sure if that would be possible, especialy after 9-11?
Not sure about acceptable deadlines (and I am sure one of the TAs can fill you in here), but these days booking after final payment date has passed for a cruise really pays. Many of the lines, especially Celebrity, have been lowering prices for new bookings only to crazy low levels about 6-9 weeks before embarkation date, and some just a week or so before the cruise.
Let me repeat over and over again the same answer every time this question comes up.
How much do you want this vacation? Is it a family vacation or celebrating a special occasion? How important is this vacation to your family as a whole? Will other family households or friends be traveling with you? How important is it that you take your vacation around a specific date or time frame? Is the type of cabin (balcony,outside,inside) and location on the ship important to you? Do you have special needs (handicap cabin, adjoining, connecting)? Even other special needs (physical, dietary) may need to be submitted to the cruise line weeks in advance. Is the sailing you're looking at a one time sailing, seasonal, or is it a year long itinerary? Do you have to fly to your port of embarkation? Will you have the money to pay it all at once if booked last minute? Or is paying a deposit, saving for final payment or making payments better for your finances?
These are all questions that can be arguments why you should book early. You lock in your date, ship, cabin, and location. You then can lock in better airfare by booking early. Then you can sit back and feel good knowing your vacation is planned.
You take a gamble either way. Book early - Price may go up or price may go down. If it goes down you may or may not get a refund/credit/upgrade. But if the above issues are important to you then it was worth the gamble. If you don't give a rat whether you even take the cruise, don't care about the type of cabin, have all the flexibility in the world, and can drive to the location, then you can take the gamble that the price may or may not go down. NO, you can't walk up to the pier and say "Here I am."
If you book a cruise and discover the price has gone down check and see if you can get some type of adjustment. But understand different cruise lines have different rules, and before final payment or after final can make a difference. After final payment penalties start and re-booking under a new promotion could be considered a cancel/rebook. If you bought an automobile and six months later saw it on sale do you expect the dealership to send you a rebate check? On the same token if your cruise price goes up, are you calling the cruise line to pay more? NO, your smiling gleefully that you got the better deal.
If you can pack and leave on very short notice there is some fantasic deals to be had, as SD Cruiser said a TA can help you out and if you ask the TAs to put you on the short list they will be calling you with good deals. Just for information, pick any cruise and cruise line sailing in about a week and call them up and ask if they have any cabins available. You won't get a choice of cabins but will get a good deal and a cruise. Let me know what they said.
There most definitely are some outstanding deals out there this year for last minute cruises. Four night cruises going for $212-$224. The fuel supplement, government taxes, and port fees, make up the majority of that and the cruise rate itself a whopping $9-$29 dollars. I wish I had all the time in the world and didn't need airfare because I'd be on a 9-nt cruise November 14th at $501 to celebrate my upcoming birthday.