Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Early booker or last-minute bargain hunter? Survey reveals UK cruise-buying habits


Cruise Critic revealed that 27% of cruisers are last minute planners, booking within weeks of their cruise, while 33% book a few months out. Over a third of respondents (40%) like to be more organised and make reservations at least a year (or more) in advance, according to a recent poll.

Whether you’re planning for next year, looking for a last minute summer deal, or a winter break, Cruise Critic gives tips on how to catch the perfect deal:

- For first-sailing announcements, book in advance

For those who are able to plan a year (or more) ahead, which accounts for 33% of cruisers polled in Cruise Critic’s survey, savings can be found as and when the cruise first goes on sale. Cruise lines tend to offer a number of added-value promotions, which includes anything from drink packages to gratuity or airfare – all added costs that cruisers will usually end up paying anyway, and could save hundreds of pounds.

- Book anytime for off-season savings – but be flexible!

Destinations have high and low seasons – with cruise fares following suit. By booking a cruise during a destination’s low season, cruisers may have the option to visit their destination of choice at a much lower cost - and without the crowds. Examples include Alaska in May and September, the Caribbean in late spring or winter (holiday weeks, excluded) or the Mediterranean in the autumn.

Repositioning cruises also offer money-saving opportunities. From September to November numerous ships cross from Britain to the US to follow the sun, while during the Spring many ships travel back to Britain via the Azores and the Iberian Peninsula after spending winter months in the Caribbean and South America.  These one-way voyages are often sold at a discount, as they’re not part of regular sailing schedules.

Ideal for: All types of planner – but only if you’re flexible

- Look for industry-wide sales in late September and January - March

Two of the biggest industry-wide cruise sales are held in late September and January - March. The cruise industry’s national cruise week will be held September 27th – October 5th, 2014 in the UK, with cruise lines and agents offering a wide range of promotions. “Wave Season,” beginning in January, is an annual period of three months where cruise lines offer special promotions during one of the more popular times for cruise shopping to begin.

Ideal for: All types of planner

Book a few months or weeks out for last minute deals  

For those who like to be spontaneous, good bargains can be found on a sailings leaving within 90 days. This is the deadline for those who book in advance to cancel without penalties so cabins often open up at the last minute.  However, don’t forget to factor in last minute airfare, which may cancel out any savings, plus you may have the limited selection of cabin locations and dinner seatings. But, if you're flexible and can sail from a UK cruise port, it's a great way to save. 

Cruise Critic



Subscribe to World of Cruising magazine here.    

 Follow us on Facebook  www.facebook.com/WorldOfCruisingmag