Are you dreaming of a vacation and wondering how to get last-minute cruise deals? Like all travel deals, there are several tricks of the trade to help you score the best possible price on an upcoming cruise.
Hunting for cruise deals when you want to sail with little advanced planning requires a bit more knowledge and strategy than searching for a discounted plane ticket or hotel room.
Here are a few tips on how to find the best last-minute cruise deals for your upcoming vacation.
1: Timing is everything
With flights and hotels, you can wait until the very last minute, even 24 hours before, to book a reservation or ticket. Unfortunately, the same doesn’t apply when looking for a last-minute cruise deal. For starters, cruise lines need to give their guest roster to the coast guard before a ship’s departure date. More importantly, cruise prices don’t tend to fall dramatically right before a ship’s sailing.
Read: What Is Wave Season?
The best time to look for a last-minute cruise deal is around two to three months before a ship is set to depart. Celebrity Cruises’s cancellation policy allows guests to cancel their trip without penalties from 75 – 90 days before traveling. Therefore, if a number of travelers go ahead and cancel their trip, we will want to fill up those newly opened staterooms quickly and sometimes offer a reduced fare in order to fully book a particular sailing.
2: Don’t limit yourself to specific sail dates
If you are set on finding a last-minute cruise deal for an upcoming vacation, one of the most important things to remember is to be flexible. If you are looking to travel to one destination during a limited timeframe, your chances of getting a stellar deal become much more limited.
If you remain open to multiple destinations and have flexible travel dates (try to keep at least a two- to three-month window open), then you’re much more likely to find better cruise ship deals.
3: Be flexible with stateroom options
In addition to being flexible about sail dates, keep an open mind regarding the kind of staterooms and destinations you’ll find when booking a cruise at the last minute.
Certain itineraries have coveted staterooms that sell out months in advance. For example, veranda staterooms on Alaska cruises sell out quickly since everyone wants to see wildlife and glaciers from the comfort of their room during their trip.
If you’re more concerned about how to find last-minute cruise deals than having a particular stateroom, then a discounted cruise deal is a good fit for you.
4: Consider less frequented itineraries
If you’re looking to find a good cruise deal, try exploring some less-visited itineraries instead, which will increase your odds of finding a discounted cruise rate.
5: Consider airfare costs
If you’re thinking of how to get last-minute cruise deals in order to save money, it’s important to take into account the cost of airfare, too. Even if you find a great deal on a last-minute cruise, the price of a ticket to get to your embarkation city might not be as much of a steal.
Search for last-minute cruise specials while simultaneously checking flight prices to your embarkation point with our Flights by Celebrity tool in order to make sure you’re getting a deal and not spending more overall on your trip.
6: Search for cruises close to home
You can also skip the hassle of booking a plane ticket entirely by searching for cruises with embarkation ports within driving distance of your home. This way, if you do find a great last-minute deal on a cruise, you can simply pack your bags and jump in your car instead of having to worry about finding a low-priced plane ticket to the departure port.
For U.S. residents in the Pacific Northwest, look for a round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle, Washington. If you live in L.A. or San Diego, you can book a Pacific Coastal cruise or a Panama Canal cruise without worrying about airfare to the port.
East Coast residents can find Caribbean cruises leaving from Cape Liberty, New Jersey in the north or last-minute cruises from Florida departing from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Tampa in the south.
7: Cruise during shoulder season
Cruises departing during prime travel times, such as Christmas, spring break, or the middle of summer, have a good chance of selling out long before you even start searching for last-minute cruise deals. Instead, look for cruises that sail during shoulder seasons (the time period just before or after peak travel seasons) when you’re more likely to find a steal.
For example, if you want to get a good Mediterranean cruise deal, look for dates during mid-September or early October when schools are in full swing and most families with kids are back at home.
Those searching for a cruise around Australia and New Zealand should try and book a last-minute cruise from Sydney during the cooler months of October or April.
If you want to try finding a deal at the last minute on a Caribbean cruise, searching for dates during hurricane season (June to October) is your best bet.
In general, it’s wise to search for dates on all cruises a few weeks before the holiday break (December 1st to 15th) or the weeks immediately following (January 6th and on), when fewer people are looking to sail.
8: Add up additional fees
Before you book a last-minute deal, make sure you consider all of the other fees that come with it, like international taxes, port fares, and service fees.
9: Consider repositioning cruises
A repositioning cruise is when a ship relocates to a different region after a cruise season ends. For example, a ship sailing in Europe might cruise to the Caribbean once the Mediterranean cruise season is over. Since repositioning cruises involve sailing across an ocean on a long journey, these cruises are often available at a discounted price.
While repositioning cruises often come at a wonderful price, there are some things to keep in mind. These cruises are much lengthier than regular cruises and usually last a minimum of two weeks, so you have to have the time to sail before booking.
Also, since these ships depart from one port and end in another, you’ll need to buy one-way airfare to your departure port and from your final port home.
How to book your last-minute cruise deal
Now that you know how to find last-minute cruise deals, it’s time to book your vacation. Browse our itineraries and start planning your next trip. It’s easy to filter by date, length of cruise, and embarkation port, so that finding that last-minute cruise deal will be as easy as possible.