By Aimee Heckel
You always hear the tales. Magical myths of people scoring ridiculous deals on last-minute travel. But then you go sit down to book and end up blowing up your budget.
There’s a strategy to this, folks. Tips and tricks. Lucky for you, we’ve got them all.
Here are seven must-know, must-dos to help you get the best deal possible on a last-minute cruise.
1. Timing is everything. Cruise Critic says the best time to get a deal is usually 60 to 90 days before departure, because this time is last-call for other passengers to cancel reservations. A last-minute cancellation means a last-minute deal for you, because the ships want to stay full.
2. But don’t wait too long. Cruise ships must have a list of their passengers one to two days before departure.
Save the most money by selecting companies that offer cash back. For example, CruiseDirect offers a variety of deals that you can book easily through ShopAtHome.com and get 1 percent Cash Back.
4. Travel in the off-season. It’s harder to find great deals around Christmas, New Year’s, Easter or other times when a lot of people have time off work. Look for deals to the Caribbean from September through early November, or the first few weeks of December, right before Christmas. Right after Christmas (when everyone else is exhausted and broke) is another good time to book a cruise.
5. Be prepared and ready to pounce before you even start looking. Have your passports ready, the money set aside, the PTO stocked up — so when you find your perfect deal, you won’t have any unnecessary stumbling blocks.
6. Shop around. Check last-minute deals and specials on cruise websites. Become familiar with Priceline.com’s last-minute cruise deals page, so you know a good deal when you see one. Check out Cruise Critic’s deals page.
7. You can also sometimes get good deals by booking far in advance. Not always, but sometimes, companies offer discounts for booking ahead. For example, click here to see Carnival’s book ahead offer and save 20 percent.
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