July 24, 2024

Getting a Deal isn’t always Good Value

A vacation is a time to relax the way you want.

When choosing a cruise, many of us are price driven but I sometimes wonder if we shouldn’t be a bit more value driven. The last-minute deals are tempting, for sure. But I’d rather book a cruise well in advance so I get the itinerary, the ship and the stateroom I want. After all, the main reason to travel is not so much about saving money but having a wonderful time.

Of course there are pragmatic reasons why booking early usually makes more sense, in dollar terms. When a ship starts filling up, the fares will rise, which means there are no last-minute deals on certain sailings. And then there’s the airfare. Timing your ticket purchase can be tricky, and you could end up paying more for a last-minute flight than what you saved on a last-minute cruise fare. Six weeks before a ship’s departure is when the best deals are usually offered if a sailing hasn’t sold out, but the best deals on airfare are often gone by then.

Airline sales come and go, so you have to monitor fares for the best price. If you’re travelling domestically during school holiday times, such as Christmas and spring break, it’s best to book early (watch for sales posted online on Tuesdays and Wednesdays). For international flights, the best fares usually appear about four months before the date you want to travel. To avoid the time-consuming process of monitoring airfares, you could consider booking your flight through the cruise line. These air/sea packages vary with each cruise line and don’t necessarily save you any money, but unexpected expenses due to flight delays and missed travel connections are covered by the cruise line.

Perhaps the best reason to book early is to allow yourself the luxury of anticipation. Studies have shown that most people enjoy anticipating a trip almost as much as the trip itself. If you book early you can spend happy hours reading up on the ports of call and looking forward to being pampered and entertained on board the ship. The pleasures of travel can begin long before you leave home.

Avatar photo About Anne Vipond

Anne Vipond is the author of several guidebooks to cruising destinations around the world. She draws on an extensive sailing background to impart her enthusiasm for cruise travel. From her home port of Vancouver, she travels by cruise ship to a wide range of destinations to keep her books current and useful for her cruise readers. Her cruising articles have been published in magazines and newspapers throughout North America and over seas.