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Don’t miss the boat with great last-minute cruise offers. It's never too late to snap up a great short break or spontaneous getaway.
Booking at the last minute can be a great way to wangle a cheap cruise. Depending on the cruise line, the best time to make a late booking can be between 90 days before to just a couple of days before the ship sails. Many of the usual offers will still be available, and at about 60 to 90 days before sailing you stand a good chance of snapping up prime cabins that other holidaymakers have had to cancel. You may also find cruise packages that have been heavily discounted at the last minute to fill empty cabins.
But make sure you don’t leave it too late to book a last-minute cruise. Sometimes cruise ships are required to submit a list of all passengers up to 48hrs before departure. Once that inventory has been submitted, there’s no getting on the guest list.
To grab the best last-minute deals, you have to be on the ball. Sign up for newsletters from your favourite cruise lines and agencies, follow them on Twitter and Facebook, and search through the cruise lines featured on TravelSupermarket to find last-minute cruises departing soon. Even if you’ve left it exceedingly late, you may still find bargain-basement prices without sacrificing on choice. Don’t be shy of picking up the phone to haggle too – you might find that there are even better deals available, or you could request an upgrade or all-inclusive bundle to add even more value to your last-minute cruise.
Your chances of bagging a cheap cruise improve enormously if you’re flexible about your departure date. Bear in mind that you’re much more likely to find a bargain cruise if you sail out of peak season. Waiting until the last minute for a Christmas, New Year, Easter or summer cruise is best left to hardened risk-takers! Having said that, demand changes from year to year, so if you’re feeling (exceptionally) lucky, go for it!
It also helps if you’re not too fussed about the position of your cabin as the popular suites and cabins will likely have been snapped up long ago. The same goes for the in-demand dinner tables and sittings.
Once you think you’ve found a fantastic price, make sure you’re confident that there are no hidden costs and that the port of departure works for you. Having to book a last-minute flight to catch the ship could make that too-good-to-be-true price exactly that – too good to be true. Sometimes it’s more effective to search for last-minute cruises leaving from a port within driving distance of your home.
Also, go through the fine print in minute detail. You want to know exactly what is and isn’t included in that awesome price. Does the last-minute package skimp on the extra luxuries such as all-inclusive drinks, or does it throw in bundles to add even more value to your booking? Check for hidden fees such as government taxes and port charges too – they can add a hefty amount to the advertised price.