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Casey & Kathy 09-05-2008 01:07 PM

We are doing panama canal mid April and have never used Priceline.How early should I bid? We were lucky to get air for under 200 from SF to PR but to get it we must fly in on Wednesday and I cannot believe how expensive the resorts are in April

Jim C. 09-05-2008 02:09 PM

I've never used Priceline (not yet anyway but soon) but the idea is that to get discount fares, you book late when they are trying to finish filling the ship. If they fill the ship with normal bookings, you are not going to be getting any discount over what you would get just calling the cruise line up and booking the cruise. So I guess I'm saying not to count on getting a cheap cruise and not book it normally if you have your heart set on going on the cruise. If you wait, the cruise may fill up and you won't get on. Panama cruises are popular and they fill up quick.

So you also run the risk of not getting on the cruise at all. AND April is a big cruise month (spring break) which further reduces your chances of getting a last minute booking.

They normally "close out" the cruise 30 days in advance. Meaning that they assign the "to be assigned" cabins then and create their preliminary manifests for the cruise. My guess is then they would release any open space to Priceline for sale at cheaper rates to fill the ship.

You can go ahead and try the priceline bid now and see if they take it. Go to the cruise website and price it out for what you see the cheapest cabin at and then bid lower and see if you get it. DON'T bid at the cheapest cabin price expecting a balcony....

Good luck, come back and let us know how it goes, I'm curious to see what happens.

Dave 09-05-2008 03:32 PM

I got interested and went to look. It seems you can't bid for cruises on priceline. Unless I'm missing something it is a standard booking engine that is used by many on-line cruise sites. The only bid options I saw were for air, hotels, and rental cars.

Casey & Kathy 09-06-2008 08:07 AM

maybe I was'nt clear in my original post.I am already booked on the Serenade and and have purchased my air.Now I need to find a hotel for 3 nights and they are expensive The Marriott for example upwards of 350 a night. I hope Priceline can ease my pain but I have never used them and looking for advice

Dave 09-06-2008 08:22 AM


maybe I was'nt clear in my original post
Either that or Jim and I need remedial training in reading for understanding.

Sonny uses Priceline for hotels all the time. Hopefully he'll reply with his advice.

In the meantime, this link has some good information.

Jim C. 09-06-2008 05:11 PM

Well, I just booked a San Juan hotel for one night next June. I agree, anything that looks good is expensive. I plan on trying Priceline "bid a room" thing once we get closer to our cruise fate.

Since you are going to be there for a longer period, consider staying outside of San Juan, maybe the hotels further away are more reasonable? I couldn't justify the expensive taxi ride from the airport to a hotel not in San Juan and then back to the ship for one night, but if you can save $300 on hotel costs, it might be worth it.

Lil' Lori 09-06-2008 08:35 PM

I have used Priceline often, for hotels only. A lesson I learned, is I always bid on a 4 star hotel and above. Once I bid on a 3 star and it was a complete dump, I was NOT happy with the choice. That sucked, cause the money is nonrefundable. But, at that point I didn't care. I rebid on a 4 star for the same trip, and was lucky enough to get the Marriott for $50/night in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The hotel was under construction. That is often the case. I have read that hotels often put there empty rooms on Priceline, when they are under construction. I have read on tripadvisor, where people have stayed in a room they bid on, and the construction was pretty significant, and to the point they felt it disturbed there hotel stay. They don't tell you that the hotel is under construction either. You find out when you show up. So, I guess if your willing to save some $, in exchange for possible some construction, go for it. I have also used Hotwire, with no problems for hotels also. You get a little more info about the hotel, before you book it. Another thing to remember, is that most other countries have lower hotel standards. What we in America would consider a 2 star, they call a 3. Keep that in mind when you bid. Hope this helps, Lil' Lori

Sonny V 09-07-2008 08:50 PM

I've never been unhappy with the rooms I got through priceline. Like Lil'Lori, I suggest bidding on a 4 star. I start about a month away from the date I want. I usually bid $65 and don't get it on the first or second try, but, I've always gotten by bid. I also book a hotel just in case, then cancel when I get my Priceline bid.


Hank 09-08-2008 08:15 AM

We have previously had good luck using Priceline for San Juan hotels. The last couple of times we bid, we simply went after 4 star hotels and got the Caribe Hilton. If my memory is correct, we did this last year and actually got a parking-lot room for about $70. When we got to the hotel we asked if it was possible to get an upgrade (also showed them our Hilton Honors Card...which is free to anyone) and the front desk put us in a beach view room for no extra charge.


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