This subject comes up more often as travelers are overwhelmed with promotions for cruises, both by email and by brochures in their mail box. Yes, we still have physical mailboxes, until Amazon or Tesla figures out something different.
What is the right time to book?
I don’t mean to talk from both sides of my mouth, but the answer to the title of this article is…..depends.
The argument for booking early has more to do with the cruise line or the escorted tour line and how they run their business. And, lest we forget, it is a business.
Cruise lines need to fill their ships at the highest prices the market allows.
Competition, world events and the economy all come into play.
Unlike airlines, who are notorious for the price of the day or even of the minute, cruise lines need to be more sensitive to travelers who book early, only to find out closer in bookings are lower.
Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and a few others have recently discontinued last minute promotions to restore order to the market and to not anger early bookers. As a matter of fact, even though they still run aggressive promotions, the prices have been going up as inventory decreases.
Keep reading. It gets more interesting.
I have not discussed much about tour companies but I think it is worth mentioning in this article before I address more on the cruise segment.
The higher end tour companies such as Tauck Vacations, which, by the way, is also a major player in the luxury small, (very small) ship cruise marketplace. Tauck Tours and Cruises never, that’s never, runs a sale. So, it surprises a lot of people that call to book even six months or more in advance, only to find out that the trip they want for the date they want is sold out.
Collette Vacations, a premier tour operator in the mid-range price market, will run early booking promotions, but never last minute deals. Check out Collette Vacations on our website.
The same holds true for several small group tours from companies that offer unique trips. More on that in another article.
As for cruises, there is no easy answer. Our clients and the general public see all these deals coming at them and, often, can’t figure out when to pull the trigger and plop down their money.
The smart money goes to the early bookers
First and foremost is finding out how much inventory is available on the cruise line of choice for the date and cabin type that meet your requirements. Only a travel advisor can tell you this. Unless you call direct.
But, you don’t save money by booking direct.
Low inventory means you will not find a better deal down the line. Remember my previous remark. It’s a business!
You won’t get that advice from the huge agencies that are only interested in making a sale before you move on to check out one or more of their competitors. Shopping for deals is now ingrained in our culture. The Internet does not always tell the whole story. The idea is to get you hooked so you will call.
We are not in the car business either, where $199 a month will get you into a $20,000 car, AFTER you put a ton of money down.
Can you imagine if we advertised a $5,000 cruise at $199 only to find out you had to come up with all that extra money down?
Just yesterday one of my regular clients called about a Celebrity cruise and wanted to know how she could figure out the best promotion since she saw three different deals in the same week.
I explained all the options and disclaimers, which were confusing to her.
Another happy client booked.
Today, I booked a Viking Ocean Cruise with more favorable terms than the line offered.
Another happy client.
And, with our Exclusive” Key Cash Back”, travelers save more money.
As is our practice, we cross check all the qualifiers to come up with the best offer.
That is why we refer Key Traveler as Travel Advisors rather than travel agents.
I hope you enjoyed reading my blog.
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Check our website, keytraveler.com for your cruise or tour of choice. Then CALL US for the best promotions. Since the deals can change, we don’t post the best prices and promotions on our website or by email.
“Love to Travel. Love to Save”