Up until recently, it was fairly common for cruisers to book well in advance of their sail date (sometimes up to a year!) to secure their plans and guarantee their spots. But with the pandemic and the unpredictability of the last few years, last minute cruises have become increasingly popular. That’s because booking closer to the sail date allows cruisers to keep a watchful eye on restrictions and travel when they feel comfortable. Booking last minute can come with a lot of benefits, but it pays to know how to go about it. Below are some tips for securing amazing last minute cruise deals.
Be Strategic About Timing
Cancellation policies for cruise lines typically go into effect 90 days prior to sailing, so it’s at this point that cruise lines become aware of how much inventory they have. Since they’re eager to fill those spaces, you can often get hugely discounted rates if you book between 60 and 90 days before sailing. This two-to-three-month period is without a doubt the best time to secure last minute cruise deals.
Be Open to All Cruise Lines
Though you may have pinpointed your favorite cruise line, try to avoid getting your heart set any on particular one when you’re on the hunt for deals. Being flexible opens up a whole world of possibilities to save and experience new destinations. When you book with Cruises.com, you have the luxury of exploring all of your options for cruise lines in just one place. That means you may come across a cruise line that has more inventory and therefore better deals.
Consider New Itineraries
Typically, popular itineraries are the first ones to get fully booked, so you may have to be open to an itinerary you hadn’t considered before. You might even find your new favorite vacation spot this way! And don’t forget you don’t necessarily have to go ashore if you’d rather skip a certain stop. Staying onboard during port days gives you a much less crowded experience, since there’s way less competition for seats at restaurants or loungers around the pool.
Tack on a Road Trip
If saving money is your primary goal with booking a last minute cruise, remember that driving to the cruise port is the best way to avoid costly flights. And you might be surprised to learn how many cruise ports are located throughout the country, including in the Southeast, Northeast, Gulf Coast, and the West Coast.
Did you know you can sail from Seattle, New Orleans, Tampa, and San Diego? Or even New York City, Boston, Galveston, or Mobile? Explore cruises from US ports at our site — you’ll be shocked by how many options you have, many of which might only be a day’s drive away or less, depending on where you live. Keep in mind you’ll still have to pay for parking while you’re away on your cruise, but even so, you’ll save a ton by avoiding airfares altogether.
Book Outside of High Season
Peak travel times are always going to be the most challenging when it comes to securing last minute cruise deals, simply because cruises during these dates are in high demand. Holidays, spring break, and the summer are all prime seasons for cruising. To secure the best last minute cruises, look at dates that fall outside of these times, even by just a few weeks.
Of course, you’ll need to be open to potentially less-than-favorable weather for a portion of your trip, as in the case of an early season Alaska cruise or late season Bermuda sailing. But if you don’t mind risking some cooler weather or the occasional storm, you’ll likely find a cruise for a steal. Plus, you never know how things will shake out — the weather might still end up in your favor!
Sign up for Our Emails
With our emails, you get updated on red-hot cruise deals and never miss an opportunity to save. We’ll send a wide selection in various price points that you can easily book. Cruises.com gets exclusive deals on last minute cruises you won’t find anywhere else, and with our emails, you’ll be the first to know about them. Sign up now!
For the best advice on last minute cruises, get in touch with the travel experts at Cruises.com. They’ll help you book a cruise the smart way and give you our exclusive bonus offers, plus all qualifying cruise line offers, plus all of the cruise line loyalty program benefits. Book online at Cruises.com or call 800-288-6006 today.