How far in advance do you book?

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#1
984 Posts
Joined Aug 2008
Having a discussion with my wife about when to book our next river cruise. Have a question for all who care to respond.

For our upcoming December 2012 Uniworld cruise we booked 15 months in advance and paid in full at that time to get an additional discount. For our next cruise I'm trying to figure out whether to book sooner to departure date (9 months or so out) rather than far in advance.

How far in advance do you typically book your river cruise?

If you book more than 9 months out, is it to gain a further discount, to lock in your travel dates and cruise itinerary, to get a less expensive room category, or some other reason?
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#2
Largo, Florida U.S.A.
578 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
We have in the past booked about one year in advance but as we get older we find that 7 to 9 months seem to work for us. Never know with the "aging process". Willard
#3
nemo, texas
1,254 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
For our May, 2013, riverboat cruise through Russia, we had to book by July, 2012, to lock in a very good price.
Not a riverboat cruise, but for a Sept., 2013, transAtlantic cruise, Copenhagen to NY, we booked in June, 2012, again to lock in a good price.
#4
Long Island, New York
4,359 Posts
Joined Nov 2007
Originally posted by npphotog
We have in the past booked about one year in advance but as we get older we find that 7 to 9 months seem to work for us. Never know with the "aging process". Willard
We tend to do what Will does and book a year out. Since we're frequent cruisers with same company a lot of the time we book early to preserve the discount we get from the trip just completed but most of the time it's to lock in the dates and cabin we want on trips that generally sell out early like Russia, China, Holland during tulip season. We like to plan ahead BUT we do not pay ahead because discount we get is less than interest we earn! One thing we do at our age is purchase trip insurance...for two reasons: at this age you never knowwhen sudden illness or injury will occur and if I'm in a place like Egypt., Russia or China I want assurance that I will be airlifted out and brought home!
#5
London, England
231 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Booked my Russian cruise for next September in August as soon as I got the tour operators brochure. Likewise my Adriatic trip this year and my Danube 2 years ago (both with Croisi) were booked 13 months in advance. Mainly because I always cruise solo and single cabins need early booking.
#6
Ohio
768 Posts
Joined Apr 2009
For my end of May trip this year, I booked in Feb 2011. By booking before the 2012 dates / rates came out, we were able to lock in 2011 rates, which was a nice discount. I think our final dates moved by 1 or 2 dates, but we knew these by June or July 2011. We then received an additional discount due to one of the offers. We only had to put a minimal deposit down to book and secure the best rate. Another option of booking early is that it allowed us to make incremental payments to the cruise company. This worked better for us than having one large charge to the credit card at 90 days before sailing.
#7
2,146 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
oysterdam, No matter if it's a river or ocean cruise we have found financially it is better to book earlier rather than later. It also allows you the flexibility to choose exactly the cabin you want. I was interested in your question about getting the lowest priced cabin, because on an ocean cruise they do sell out first, probably because many cabins are the same size, but location matters. On a river cruise the biggest cabins, read most expensive, are booked first; there are very few of them and some people-us included-want the extra space. As they say "you pays your money and you makes your choice."
Whatever, it is still fun
#8
372 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
We usually book not earlier than 3-4 months before the cruise. That's the time when a lot of people start canceling their bookings and you can easily get best price with the best air promo for the date you want.
I'd not recommend booking more than a year in advance for many reasons but the main is: you'll never know what would happen. And I am not talking about health: people buy a travel insurance for that. I mean life events: e.g. lost of work, divorce, marriage...You can also find a better itinerary, ship...Other cruise company can offer better deal...The chance of bankruptcy is much higher...
#9
984 Posts
Joined Aug 2008
Originally posted by Aragon
We usually book not earlier than 3-4 months before the cruise. That's the time when a lot of people start canceling their bookings and you can easily get best price with the best air promo for the date you want.
I'd not recommend booking more than a year in advance for many reasons but the main is: you'll never know what would happen. And I am not talking about health: people buy a travel insurance for that. I mean life events: e.g. lost of work, divorce, marriage...You can also find a better itinerary, ship...Other cruise company can offer better deal...The chance of bankruptcy is much higher...
That's interesting.

Which river cruise line offers these types of deals closer to the departure date?
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#10
984 Posts
Joined Aug 2008
Originally posted by newlondon
oysterdam, No matter if it's a river or ocean cruise we have found financially it is better to book earlier rather than later. It also allows you the flexibility to choose exactly the cabin you want. I was interested in your question about getting the lowest priced cabin, because on an ocean cruise they do sell out first, probably because many cabins are the same size, but location matters. On a river cruise the biggest cabins, read most expensive, are booked first; there are very few of them and some people-us included-want the extra space. As they say "you pays your money and you makes your choice."
Whatever, it is still fun
A bit of context on this. We have only cruised on Christmas markets cruises (3rd one coming up soon), so we have always booked the least expensive cabin category as the need for a french balcony or larger window is less of a need since it can be quite cold and daylight hours are usually 8am to 4pm that time of year.

Our cabin selection would change if we were traveling during a warmer time of the year.
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#11
372 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
Originally posted by oysterdam
That's interesting.

Which river cruise line offers these types of deals closer to the departure date?
I'd say all of them: e.g in August AMA did a nice promo for 3200 off the cruise price for certain October/November cruises. Viking always does a free air promo closer to the cruise date. The problem is they do not always advertise them, so you need to call and check it out...
#12
Ontario, Canada
2,725 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
We have been all over the map.

Shortest time to booking was mid-July for October 2nd fly-out. There were a few cabins left on an AMA sailing that a company here in Canada had completely booked - and not sold - so were able to get a great deal. But - had to pay all at time of booking, as we were less than 90 days out. Then had to call in some favours to get coverage at work. Pure luck that it all worked out.....

But - mostly we book about a year out (10-14 months...). We usually book Aquarium class, and with the limited number of cabins, we don't want to miss out.

We have paid up-front in full to get a good discount - and it usually does give us enough of a saving to make it worth while (ie: wouldn't make as much in interest).

If I see a sale (and am on the mailing list of all of the major players) then I research to see how much of a sale it really is. If it looks like a great sale - and it is an itinerary that I am interested in - then I discuss with my husband. After our 1st river cruise, I had hoped to be able to do one every 2 years. But - by watching for sales - and keeping an eye on the flights - we have managed to do one every year.

I realize Aragon has found last minute sales - but most of my great prices (except for the AMA one listed above) have been early bookings. Also - do need some lead time for vacation time, as I have not yet retired.

The longest lead time for us is 2 years!!! Put a deposit down in Sept this year for a cruise in early October 2014. Scenic has guaranteed the 2013 price and EBD for our 2014 cruise - but we can have next year's EBD if it is better than what we currently have. Also - we do have an option to cancel and get our deposit back if we change our mind next spring when the brochures come out.

We always have travel insurance - as we do book so far out. Even though we are both in our 50s, I am highly aware that youth is no protection against a life-changing medical event.

Fran
#13
2,146 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
Fran, You and I are on the same page, except we gamble on the trip insurance. We're in our early 70s and in good health and, therefore, have not lost yet
#14
Ontario, Canada
2,725 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
Originally posted by newlondon
Fran, You and I are on the same page, except we gamble on the trip insurance. We're in our early 70s and in good health and, therefore, have not lost yet

We buy a yearly package - medical and cancellation. So just top up if we need to.

We visit close friends in the US - so it is nice that we do not have to buy insurance every time we decide to cross the border. I work in health care - and have seen how an unexpected health situation can impact travel plans.

Just a bit afraid to travel without it...

Fran
#15
Long Island, New York
4,359 Posts
Joined Nov 2007
Originally posted by franski
We buy a yearly package - medical and cancellation. So just top up if we need to.

We visit close friends in the US - so it is nice that we do not have to buy insurance every time we decide to cross the border. I work in health care - and have seen how an unexpected health situation can impact travel plans.

Just a bit afraid to travel without it...

Fran
I agree with you 100% Fran, we're in our 70's and both very healthy, but you never know when you're going to have a medical emergency and if you're in the US or Canada or Europe you'll get great medical care, but if you're visiting a third world country you're taking a chance. Besides, medicare doesn't pay for out of US so you could be required to pay a huge chunk of change in cash and upfront!!

I'm interested in what you said about buying a yearly medical and cancellation policy....I never heard of that and I would love it if you could tell me about it, like where I get it, what it covers and how much it costs. We travel a lot outside of the US and Canada so an annual policy would have to cost less than buying it every time we go to Europe, Asia or Africa.
#16
Ontario, Canada
2,725 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
Originally posted by Hydrokitty
I'm interested in what you said about buying a yearly medical and cancellation policy....I never heard of that and I would love it if you could tell me about it, like where I get it, what it covers and how much it costs. We travel a lot outside of the US and Canada so an annual policy would have to cost less than buying it every time we go to Europe, Asia or Africa.
Our TA suggested this a few years ago. Our policy is through RBC Insurance in Canada. Last year's premium was $230/pp - and covers us for unlimited trips - as long as we don't travel more than 16 days on each trip. The coverage is for $1500 until departure - and unlimited after.

Our premium is based on our age (up to 59 years old) and the number of days it covers. It was a bit cheaper for the first year or two - as we only took 10 day coverage. If we book a trip (ie: river cruise) that is pricier, we will bump up the insurance a bit more. But - we didn't need to for our recent trip to England, our trip to New Zealand last year - or any of our trips to the US. Our provincial medical will cover us out of country - but only for the amount that it would pay here. And, the costs are often much higher - so don't want to have to remortgage the house for pay for hospital bills!!

Not sure if a similar item is available in the US - but it might be worthwhile looking into it.

Fran

P.S. Was talking with our TA last week - and one of her other clients had to pull out of their river cruise the week before due to health issues, and did not have insurance. Cruise and flight were $11K. That's a big "ouch"....
#17
Long Island, New York
4,359 Posts
Joined Nov 2007
Originally posted by franski
Our TA suggested this a few years ago. Our policy is through RBC Insurance in Canada. Last year's premium was $230/pp - and covers us for unlimited trips - as long as we don't travel more than 16 days on each trip. The coverage is for $1500 until departure - and unlimited after.

Our premium is based on our age (up to 59 years old) and the number of days it covers. It was a bit cheaper for the first year or two - as we only took 10 day coverage. If we book a trip (ie: river cruise) that is pricier, we will bump up the insurance a bit more. But - we didn't need to for our recent trip to England, our trip to New Zealand last year - or any of our trips to the US. Our provincial medical will cover us out of country - but only for the amount that it would pay here. And, the costs are often much higher - so don't want to have to remortgage the house for pay for hospital bills!!

Not sure if a similar item is available in the US - but it might be worthwhile looking into it.

Fran

P.S. Was talking with our TA last week - and one of her other clients had to pull out of their river cruise the week before due to health issues, and did not have insurance. Cruise and flight were $11K. That's a big "ouch"....
That certainly is a big "ouch" Fran! I am looking into it, although we are in our 70's and our trips are usually 15 days or more, so it might not work for us. We have medicare and private insurance but a serious illness requiring medical evacuation could be bankrupting. Thanks for the info. I'll let you and other cc posters know what I find out.