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Book a Last Minute Cruise and Save Money

Aug 17, 2007
Many cruise lines, travel agents, guidebook writers, and "cruise tip" websites will try to convince you that booking a cruise as early as possible will result in the best discount cruise deal. Not true -- you'll often save more money when you book a last minute cruise.

Passengers who book a last minute cruise may save hundreds -- or even thousands of dollars -- more than passengers who book their cruise many months in advance.

That's because the hottest deals and deepest discounts in cruising are usually available within two to three months of sailing, or less. That's when cruise lines offer a discount cruise deal on the cabins they're afraid will go empty unless they cut their rates drastically.

It's not uncommon to see a "last minute" discount cruise deal as high as 60 percent, 70 percent, or even 80 percent off the brochure rate.

Choosing to book a last minute cruise is not for everyone. You need a fair amount of flexibility in your travel plans to take advantage of this tactic.

If you have to sail on specific dates, or over a busy holiday or vacation period, or if you have to have a certain type of cabin or are traveling with a large group, then booking your cruise early will better assure you of getting your top choices.

But if your main goal is to snag a bargain and you aren't too particular about where and when you sail, or on which ship, then patience can not only be a virtue but can help you land a great discount cruise deal.

The best last minute cruise deals are usually offered by big travel agencies -- especially Internet mega-discounters -- that have special relationships with the cruise lines.

The cruise lines make their best deals available to the mega-discounters, and the agencies pass much of those savings on to you. Sometimes the big mega-discounters will buy up large blocks of cabins from the cruise lines and then re-sell them to their clients at big discounts, making their profits from bulk sales.

Passengers may really benefit if these cabins don't completely sell out. Rather than risk getting nothing for their investment, the agencies are likely to offer them for sale at bargain-basement rates.

The result for you is the same -- you're likely to pick up a great deal when you choose to book a last minute cruise!
About the Author
Clark Norton is the publisher of SmarterCruising.com. You can read more of his tips on how to book a last minute cruise by visiting Smarter Cruising.
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