It makes me angry when the price of a cruise goes down after I book it. When and How can I get the lowest price when booking a cruise ?
Actually, the idea that you always get the best prices by waiting till the last minute is a bit of an elderly significant other's tale. Most cruise prices go up as time goes on. Gone are the days where you could go to the pier all packed and ready to go and they would put you on board for port charges only if there were no-shows. DHS has long since put an end to this practice. As for more conventional booking approaches, there are few advantages to waiting. Early bookers get pick of the litter on cabins, dining times, and, up until final payment is due, if a better deal comes along they can always cancel and rebook without penalty at the lower rates. Carnival has a booking category called "Early Saver," which guarantees that the cabin you book will never be sold at a lower rate, even to groups, military, resident discounts, etc. If the price does go down your travel agent can file a form with Carnival and get the price adjusted. As a matter of course, we check all our bookings every three weeks until final payment date. For cruise lines other than Carnival, if the benefits improve, we will either cancel and rebook, or, more commonly negotiate the better rates, which amounts to the same thing without as much paperwork. The one area where it makes sense to wait is if you are willing to put in a lowball bid for a top of the line suite, which can sometimes be had for a fraction of the FIT (retail) price if it looks like the ship will sail with that high-priced stateroom empty, but you will need a good agent and be ready to offer up your credit card number right away if the cruise line says "yes."
That somewhat depends on the route. If you want to do the Inside Passage to Alaska leaving from Vancouver, there are many sailing every weekend in the season. Book a couple of days out. If your want to catch a repositioning cruise going from Abu Dhabi to Singapore, you can still wait to the last minute but your choice of cabins may be a problem. We booked this one 14 months ahead and the best window cabins were already taken. Plus I needed to make the minimum $7500 spend on a new frequent flyer credit card. That 75000 point bonus will get us a free flight to Abu Dhabi with points left over for Singapore to Bangkok.
You can either wait until last minute to book your cruise or if you book ahead then watch for specials that can lower your price. If you book through a travel agent, that person should be doing that for you as I do for my clients. The cruise line can normally adjust to lower price up to the date of final payment but not after.
Thanks, Kristi. Booking a cruise is like watching the stock market. Prices go up when the ship gets full and goes down when the ship is empty. Costa is one of those exceptions - it holds its prices steady whether or not the ship is fully booked or not even the day before the cruise starts sail.