Have you ever booked a SD cruise on extremely short notice?

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#1
Germany
1,050 Posts
Joined Oct 2008
I ask, because I'm starting to hatch a plan for next year. As I mentioned in the crossing thread, my husband and I are about to experiment with taking our very first military hop in a couple of weeks. My husband is in the Army, so we can get extremely cheap flights to Europe. The only drawback is that the flights are not guaranteed. We have to be very flexible with our travel arrangements in order to take advantage of this deal. We'd also have to roll the dice on our departure point, since not all air bases have flights to every location. Chances are good that we could get a flight to Germany or Spain, especially at the time when the crossings take place. In late October or early November, demand for Space A flights isn't as much.

So... I was thinking, when we take our next SeaDream cruise in May 2013, I could pre-book for another cruise. Then we could plan time off for the time of the crossing and save up the rest of the fare. If we managed to get a hop to Europe, I could book the cruise days before it departs and we could cruise back across the Atlantic. If, for some reason, plans fall through, I'd still have my pre-booking credit. And if I wasn't able to book the cruise, but we still managed to get to Europe, we could just bum around for awhile and then either take a hop back or get a commercial ticket...

I'm working on convincing my husband of this plan right now. Wish me luck! In the meantime, can anyone tell me what it's like booking at the very last minute? Other than having to pay for everything all at once and not getting the fancy ticket holder, are there any caveats?
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Our first cruise- Vision of the Seas- June 4, 2009 Baltics
#2
665 Posts
Joined Dec 2004
Knothead,
Let me know how your Space A effort goes! Are you trying to go out of Charleston or where? We've not done Space A from CONUS and it's always scary trying to make schedules (and firm departures like a ship or timeshare reservation) work -- you can spend days in the terminal! So will be interested in how well it works for you.

As for booking a last minute cruise, I've never done it. I always book onboard and usually a year or more in advance. The fuller the ship is, the higher the prices go, so that might be a risk. Maybe others will chime in on this.

Vandrefalk
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#3
Germany
1,050 Posts
Joined Oct 2008
We live within a six hour drive from several places we could leave from... BWI, Norfolk, Andrews AFB, Pope, Dover and Charleston. We haven't decided where we'll try yet. We have a friend who just went to Ramstein and back out of BWI with his wife and two little girls and I think they spent $40 for the four of them. It was a Delta flight. My parents have flown Space A to and from Europe several times, though that was some time ago.

My husband has been monitoring several boards to get a sense of what the trends are. Looks like if you want to go to Germany, you go to Baltimore. If you want to go to Rota, you go to Charleston. For the last few weeks, planes have been leaving out of Baltimore with a lot of seats open... It's a crap shoot, though. For this initial trip, we're just trying it out and are open to going wherever we end up. It's exciting to think that in two weeks, we might be in Europe or on the West Coast!

As for the prices going up, it's true that they may be inflated as the ship fills. On the other hand, I think SD2 only has 28 people on the transatlantic and I see that for the fall 2012 crossing, they have GTY rates. And again, if I do this, I would do it with the understanding that the cruise might not work out. That's why I would wait until the last minute before booking. It helps that the crossing would be going on at a time when people aren't typically trying to go on vacation or PCS'ing.

We already have air booked for our trip to Scotland in November because we've already made a non-refundable deposit on the cruise. We will likely buy tickets for our spring trip to Italy next year, too, because we have a cruise already booked. The transatlantic would be something we would strictly try to do by chance... if it works out. If it doesn't work out, we'd still have the pre-booking.
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Our first cruise- Vision of the Seas- June 4, 2009 Baltics
#4
Hoosier in Maryland
496 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
I booked my cruise - January 2011, about 10 days prior. Like you mentioned, we only received electronic documents, and once on board the ship, they had to print out a contract for us to sign. The only other downfall would be extreme special requests (food or drink items that take a large lead time).

FYI- not sure how the military trans Atlantic rates work, but if they are ZED or ID90 fares like airline employees get, I would give myself plenty of time in the heavily booked Summer season. Some flights have standby embargoes, while others are weight restricted for cargo or other reasons.

BTW, very jealous of your upcoming sailing(s). We have done RCI recently, as we have taken our 3 yr old son with. Planning a trip without him this winter, hopefully on Seadream. While we do have fun on RCI (and save a lot of money), I miss the champagne, great food, excellent service, no crowds, no constant selling,etc.
#5
Germany
1,050 Posts
Joined Oct 2008
Originally posted by CFIGuy
I booked my cruise - January 2011, about 10 days prior. Like you mentioned, we only received electronic documents, and once on board the ship, they had to print out a contract for us to sign. The only other downfall would be extreme special requests (food or drink items that take a large lead time).
Thanks! That's what I was thinking. I strongly doubt we'd have any special food or drink requests, so that wouldn't be a major issue for us.

Originally posted by CFIGuy
FYI- not sure how the military trans Atlantic rates work, but if they are ZED or ID90 fares like airline employees get, I would give myself plenty of time in the heavily booked Summer season. Some flights have standby embargoes, while others are weight restricted for cargo or other reasons.
These flights are strictly military flights, so they're going on military orders. There is a chance we could be bumped for any number of reasons. However, since my husband is still active duty, we wouldn't be among the first to be bumped! And the heavy summer season is why we're going in two weeks instead of in two months. That's when people tend to do moves or need to travel on orders. It's possible we'd be traveling in a cargo plane, which could make for a miserable overnight flight, but you can't beat the price!

Originally posted by CFIGuy
BTW, very jealous of your upcoming sailing(s). We have done RCI recently, as we have taken our 3 yr old son with. Planning a trip without him this winter, hopefully on Seadream. While we do have fun on RCI (and save a lot of money), I miss the champagne, great food, excellent service, no crowds, no constant selling,etc.
Our first cruise was on RCI. We had a blast, mainly because of the itinerary. We were on one of the smallest ships and it still felt pretty huge. The nice thing about RCI is that it helped me finally convince my husband to try SeaDream. Now he's as hooked as I am! I am looking forward to trying Hebridean Island Cruises in November, though, and doing a comparison thread for my fellow SeaDreamers.

I like taking mystery trips. When we lived in Germany, we used to do blind bookings on Germanwings. You book a flight to some unknown destination and don't find out where you're going until you've paid. It was a fun way to see Barcelona and London.
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Our first cruise- Vision of the Seas- June 4, 2009 Baltics
#6
Hoosier in Maryland
496 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
I can't speak of the other airports, but for BWI, the flights to Germany are typically on a 747 (Delta or Atlas Air) or a MD1011 (World Airways). They have not been cargo combinations recently. The only cargo combinations I am familiar with right now are the flights to Greenland. Hope that information helps somewhat.
#7
Germany
1,050 Posts
Joined Oct 2008
Yeah, our friends who just hopped said they were on a Delta flight. I guess it just depends.

We'll probably go to Baltimore because there are several other options in the area, but there's also a chance we could end up in Charleston because we've been wanting to spend some time there anyway. If we got bumped in Charleston, we'd just make a party of it!
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Our first cruise- Vision of the Seas- June 4, 2009 Baltics