Cruise Line Price Protection Policies
In this newsletter, I'll answer one of the most common questions our customers ask: "If I book my cruise now, and later the price goes down, will I be able to get the lower price?"
The first thing to keep in mind is that, unfortunately, the decision of whether to allow a customer to re-ticket at a lower rate is never made by Vacations To Go. Every cruise line has a specific policy that they do not deviate from, and we must abide by their policy. We always look out for our customers and make sure they have the maximum flexibility and protection that the cruise line allows.
Each cruise line has adopted one of three price protection policies.
First, there are a few cruise lines that will, in most cases, adjust the price for your cruise if a lower rate becomes available for the category you've reserved, but only upon request, and only if the lower price is still being offered for new bookings at the time of the request. These cruise lines do not notify their already-booked customers of price reductions, but if you find on our website that the price for the category you reserved has been reduced, our cruise counselor can request the new price on your behalf.
Cruise lines that fall into this category include Crystal, Cunard, Disney, Regent and SeaDream.
Next, several cruise lines will, in most cases, adjust the price for your cruise if a lower rate becomes available for the category you've reserved as long as you have not yet made final payment and are still outside the penalty period, which typically begins 75 to 90 days in advance of departure. Once you have made final payment and are within the penalty period, the price is locked in. If prices are reduced inside this time frame, these cruise lines may let us cancel your reservation and rebook you at the lower rate, but you would have to pay the applicable cancellation penalties before rebooking, and the penalties almost always outweigh the savings.
Cruise lines that fall into this category include Azamara, Carnival, Celebrity, Costa, Fred. Olsen, Holland America, Hurtigruten, MSC, Norwegian, Oceania, Paul Gauguin, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, Silversea and Star Clippers.
Please note that for both of the above price protection policy types, exceptions can apply when a cruise line introduces a promotion that they specifically state is for new bookings only.
Finally, some cruise lines have gone the way of the major airlines, which do not reduce the fares of ticketed passengers when they cut the price for new bookings. On these lines, prices are locked in at the time of booking, and if the price subsequently falls, the new lower rate applies to new bookings only.
Cruise lines that fall into this category include American, Blount, Lindblad, P&O, Pullmantur, Swan Hellenic, Voyages of Discovery and Windstar.
From the time a cruise itinerary is first released until the ship actually sails, there may be several price fluctuations and therefore several opportunities to snap up a bargain on any specific cruise. I list the best new price cuts every week in my newsletter, in my Top 10 Cruises list and elsewhere. In addition, here are some tips for when to book that should help you secure the lowest rate.
For cruises departing from ports on the US mainland or in Canada, I generally recommend staying flexible on ship and departure date and waiting until 60 to 90 days before departure to book. Cabins on most ships, though not all, will be marked down during this time, and these prices will frequently prove to have been the lowest ever offered for that departure -- lower than early-bird discounts, and lower than prices available within the last couple of weeks prior to departure.
Our 90-Day Ticker is the only list of all of the best cruise deals remaining between 90 days and 1 day of departure. Please click here to see current discounts now, up to and exceeding 80%.
Note: Since 9-11, it has not been possible to show up at a port on the day of departure and stand by for a "deal." You must book at least one full day in advance, and even these close-in sailings are available on the 90-Day Ticker if the discount is sufficiently large.
If you are interested in a one-way Gulf of Alaska cruise, a Hawaii cruise or any cruise that will require you to fly internationally, I recommend booking at least 4 to 6 months in advance of departure to assure airline seat availability and the best price on your total vacation package. Ticket prices on such flights typically increase as the departure date approaches, so any savings on the cruise may be more than offset by increases for air.
Chairman & CEO
Vacations To Go
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