You’ve got some extra vacation days to use and some money in your piggy bank, so why not check out some last minute cruise deals?
Before you start looking, here are five tips to make sure you get the best bang for your buck and enjoy the holiday of a lifetime.
Know what you want
Before you start looking, you need to have budget in mind. Remember to factor in your travel to and from the port plus any accommodation. It pays to think about your must-haves too. Are there any things you are willing to compromise on to get a real bargain? For example, you might be happy to have a small interior cabin or embark on a “cruise to nowhere” simply to experience the thrill of the ride.
The closer you get to the departure date, the less accommodation options will be available. So last minute cruise deals are generally more suitable for couples and individuals than for families or large groups – but there are always exceptions to the rule.
Look in the right places
The proactive bird catches the worm – the best thing to do is regularly check the cruise sites. Online cruise sites like Ozcruising list the hottest deals on their home page and update them regularly with the latest bargains. Be sure to sign up to the email newsletters too and scour them for deals.
It pays to have connections in the travel industry, such as a local cruise agent, who can keep their ear to the ground and let you know when something comes up. This is especially worthwhile if you live in a port city, as you are able to move quickly. However, using the travel agent will cost you more going through an online cruise agency.
Countdown from 60 days
There’s a magical period about 60 days before the cruise departs where some passengers will cancel their trip. The reason is that for many cruise lines, this is the last point at which they can cancel their reservations without incurring a penalty. If the line cannot sell on these cabins within 45 days of departure, they'll start arranging last minute deals with agencies. This means discounted cruises can be available months before the cruise sets sail. But you really get the best bang for your buck if you look a couple of weeks out from the sail date.
Read the small print
Before you commit, be sure to read the offer carefully and know what you are and are not entitled to. If it seems to good to be true, it just might be. That bargain exterior stateroom may have obstructed views, while other deals might not let you request a cabin location at all. Remember to factor in any added service fees too.
Now you see it, now you don’t…the best offers are usually only valid for a short period of time, so when you see one you like the look of, you need to move fast. Last minute deals are exactly that – last minute. So you can only expect to get a real bargain if you are flexible enough take advantage. In some cases, you might have less than a week before setting sail.
This means quickly organising someone to water your plants, feed your cat and watch over the house. The great thing about many cruise ships departing from the likes of Sydney and Brisbane is that they accept Australian currency on board, so you don’t need to rush around changing up money. You just need to make sure you have enough saved for a good time. Oh, and don’t forget to alert your boss that you’re off on holidays too!