More often than not, trying to figure out when to buy a cruise package and get the best deal on the market is like predicting football score. Simply put, all you can do is look over the various options available with different travel agencies and make an educated guess. Take note that cruise prices will always fluctuate based on supply and demand. In addition, the cost of a cruise to the Caribbean or Europe is influenced by the following factors:
• Fuel costs
• Time of the year
• The popularity of the route
• Geopolitical issues
• Overcapacity in a region
Timing is everything when it comes to obtaining big discounts on a deal. Following are some tips and tricks for timing your purchase and booking a more affordable cruise.
1. Don’t pick a particular destination for your vacation
More often than not, when they decide to go on a cruise, people start thinking of a convenient period to take some time off from work. At the same time, they erroneously believe that cruise prices are calculated similarly to a train fair, meaning based on mileage, routes and timetables. In reality, cruise packages’ prices are established two years in advance and are based on supply and demand. The deals will remain the same until six months before the ship sails out.
Whether the prices will go up or down depends on the popularity of the destination. If there are numerous unoccupied cabins on the ship, then the cruise provider will surely offer a discount, whereas a spot on full ship will always come with a premium price.
2. Plan your trip in the off-season
As with any other vacation packages, the time of the year when you choose to go on a cruise ultimately influences the price. To be more precise, if you schedule your trip during the Christmas holidays and during summer, then you should expect to pay more for the package. To reduce the costs of your cruise, you should plan your trip right after the summer holidays, meaning September through mid December. Historically speaking, travel agencies tend to offer the most affordable cruise packages the first three weeks in December and the first week of January.
3. Find out which cruise region is not selling
Another notable method of landing a substantial discount on the package entails learning which cruise region is not selling. Take note that travelers’ preferences in terms of vacation destinations tend to change yearly and are affected by recent events happening in that particular geographic region. For instance, in 2012, the Western Mediterranean cruise demand was relatively slow because of the political turmoil in Athens, Greece and the conflicts in Libya, Algeria and Egypt. To get a bargain, it is recommended to follow the industry trends instead of thinking where you want to go first.
4. Wait until after the full payment due
In general, to book a spot for a cruise you will have to make a small deposit, sometimes even as low as $100 per person. However, there will come a time when the travel agency requires you to pay in full, a payment that is non-refundable. Knowing when the full payment is due is important because many travelers tend to back out of the vacation package. Therefore, there’s a good chance that the cruise will become considerable cheaper the week after the final payment has been done.
On a side note, the full payment due varies from each travel agency and it is established in accordance to the length of the trip. To find out the exact date, you should check out the cancellation policy of the travel agency you’re buying the package from.
5. Look for packages that offer incentives
To find out the real costs of a cruise and avoid overpaying for your trip, it is highly advisable to talk to a representative of the traveling agency directly. While some may offer you incredibly low prices, do some research and find out what the full cruise package actually includes. Some agencies will give you incentives to book with them, spurs that can include anything from free trip insurance to shipboard credits or airline miles. Don’t disregard these incentives, especially if they are included within the full quote of the cruise package.
6. When you see a bargain package, buy it!
Irrespective of how much research you do and how many travelling agencies you visit, you will never know when a fantastic price pops up. The simplest of getting a bargain for a cruise in a top destination is to shop for short sales. Subscribe to as many cruise and travel agencies’ newsletters as possible and you can get notifications when such sales are available. Most importantly, don’t hesitate to grab that bargain when you see a cruise sailing to one of your favorite destinations.