Jump to content

When is the Best Time to Book a Princess Cruise?


lv2cruiseanywhere

Recommended Posts

We recently returned from a cruise on the Golden, and we have a cruise booked on the Island (for Hawaii) in February '06, but we have a couple of other cruises we would like to take in the next year or so. What do you think is the best time to book the cruise? We have purchased open "future cruise" deposits while on board Princess. We are not particular about which exact cabin we have, we just feel fortunate to be on board. We like an outside cabin and have been upgraded to a balcony recently, but have not purchased one yet. I always ask the "experienced" cruisers when they book their cruise, but get different answers and vastly different prices. The Travel Agent says the cruises fill up fast so book early, but that's hard for me to believe when they advertise them so heavily up to the last minute and they have new ships coming on-line. What do you think? When do you book your cruise for the best price?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As far out as possible.

 

You'll come out ahead price-wise for sure. If you book at one price and it goes down before final payment, your TA should be able to have your price reduced

 

Also, if booking a guarantee, you have a much better chance of being upgraded by booking early. Each guarantee booking is assigned a sequential number at time of booking. When it's time for the cruise line to adjust available inventory they start at the top of the list. You want to be as close to the top as possible.

 

If you are picking a specific cabin then surely, early is better for better selection too.

 

Finally, remember, you can always change ship, sailings or cabin categories at any time without penalty from Princess. Right now, for example, we have a booking for the Tahitian Princess in September of 06. Odds are I will do something different with that booking before we step foot on the ship. But I am in the system with that booking and have the cabin I want right now.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, CruiseFever. I have booked Guaranteed cabins in the past and it seemed to work well for us, but didn't really know how the process worked. Thanks for the info. I don't have a Travel Agent that I use regularly; any suggestions for getting a really good one? I am in the Southern California area.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To find a travel agent, much like finding an insurance salesman, you can look to professional organizations like the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA, www.cruising.org ) who helps train and certify cruise travel agents, awarding various levels of competency. Look for one that's at least a Master Cruise Counselor(MCC) (There's also an "Elite" designation). They've gone through training, attended seminars and toured various cruise ships to get a goodunderstanding of what they need to know.

 

Personally, I'd find one that speicalizes in what you want. No travel agent can be expected to sail on all the ships, take all the tours and stay in all the hotels. One that specialzes in a certain area, cruise line, or the like is apt to have more first-hand experience.

 

Another professional organization that is a good indicator that an agency is at least doing some business is The American Socisty of Travel Agents (ASTA, www.astanet.com), the members here have rigorous criteria to meet in order to join and maintain membership.

 

If you do an Internet search for travel agents remember that in many cases the listings you see first are sponsored meaning those people pay the search engine to be listed at the top of the list.

 

Word of mouth, of course, is one of the best sources of finding a good travel agent. Because recommending specific travel agents on an Internet based forum such as this is NOT the same as a recommendation from, say, your neighbor we don't allow it on Cruise Critic and you should be happy that we don't. The people you come to "know" here could be travel agents, sales people, trying to make a sale without the best interest in mind that your neighbor might have.

 

My point here is to find neutral, unbiased sources, ones with documentation to support their recommendations if possible like your state attorney general or consumer affairs office.

 

Personally, I think its important to develop a good business relationship with your travel professional, be that an agent you find from one of the professional organizations, a neighbors recommendation or, yes, even an attractive yellow pages ad.

 

Armed with the right information about agents and the knowledge to ask the right questions you'll fare much better than blindly accepting somebody's suggestion.

 

Before you contact that agent get an idea of what you want. Search online or send off for some cruise brochures. Read reviews and other first timer information here on cruise critic. Ask questions (there are NO dumb ones) and get answers from the members here.

 

THEN make that call

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, Cruise Fever, for the detailed reply (even though it may be old information for some who post on this site). I have used AAA TA (with little support) in fact she told me I could do as well booking directly with Princess, I also used Travelocity (not sure if I can say that) with no reduced pricing for having the price drop later and some other problems with promised on-board credit. The Princess website is no help, and they don't seem to give you the best prices when you call them. So I will take your suggestions. I would really like a local Travel Agent that I can see occasionally, and one that would have my best interests in mind. We are Princess Platinum, but certainly not at the experience level of most of the folks that post on this site.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

lv2cruiseanywhere, unless you have very specific needs or desires, I don't think it is necessary to book several months or a year in advances. About 3 weeks ago we booked a Sapphire Princess cruise for January. We have a partially obstructed oceanview cabin and paid $1250 including taxes and port charges for two people. We also got a $100 onboard credit.

 

My husband and I decided we wanted to go to the Mexican Riveria in January and then started looking for deals. We were open to various cruise lines.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, Cruise Fever, for the detailed reply (even though it may be old information for some who post on this site). I have used AAA TA (with little support) in fact she told me I could do as well booking directly with Princess, I also used Travelocity (not sure if I can say that) with no reduced pricing for having the price drop later and some other problems with promised on-board credit. The Princess website is no help, and they don't seem to give you the best prices when you call them. So I will take your suggestions. I would really like a local Travel Agent that I can see occasionally, and one that would have my best interests in mind. We are Princess Platinum, but certainly not at the experience level of most of the folks that post on this site.
Unfortunately, we're not allowed to post TA recommendations here, so we can't really help you find someone local to you, or recommend our favorite TAs. But about booking in general, I've found that I can often find better pricing booking through a TA that specializes in cruising rather than booking with Princess directly. Some cruise lines don't allow TAs to sell for less than the cruise line is, but Princess does allow this, so TAs often have lower prices than Princess does.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Natasha and Calikak for your information. We have done both types of booking; very early and just weeks before sailing (of course that was to the Mexican Riviera and we live close to the port). I want to cruise through the Panama Canal again (the 15-day cruise) and since there aren't many cruises maybe I should be looking at that sooner. I would also like to do a 14-day Caribbean cruise. I feel disappointed when the cruise I have booked months earlier is now advertized for a much lower price (I have never had a Travel Agent reduce my price). Just me I guess.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We booked all three of our cruises through an online site. I called Princess and they could not touch the rate we got. I think it depends on how specific you are about your wants. We are happy to have a balcony room almost anywhere.

 

If you are interested in the sites we use please email and I will send you the links. I will say that none of them are 100% always the cheapest, we have booked through three different sites. Also, we find the rates online and then call to book. That gives us peace of mind.

 

jen_dalessan@adelphia.net

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi,

 

If you are not picky, booking at last minute (45-60 days out) is not a bad thing to do. I usually do this and have always saved money by booking after final payment. This is not always the case but I am not tied to any particular sailing or week. If I was, I would book far out.

 

Overall, there are less and less "great deals out there" compared to a few years ago.

 

There are agents who will discount from what Princess quotes you. If you search the net - you will find some very good ones (and probably some bad ones also). Good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you Natasha, Jennew and Coral for your suggestions. We are definitely not picky about where our cabin is located. We just prefer an outside cabin and a balcony is a special bonus.

 

I have also used an on-line Travel Agency that I called directly after doing on-line research. It made me feel more secure than doing it all on-line. Thanks again.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lvtocruise,

 

I second the idea of booking as early as possible to get the best deals. Look as much as a year out. If you have an Amex Platinum Card, use that card to make your booking. At your level, you will get a free upgrade. If you are in a mini-suite or higher, you will get a $300 shipboard credit. But you have to ask for the deal when you book.

 

Start looking at the discount cruise agencies that advertise on Cruise Critics. You might as well support the people who support this forum. Compare their pricing to the prices that Princess gives you. On our Hawaii Cruise, we are paying about $500 per person less than the cruise line is charging. It is a group cruise. Before you book with a discount agency, ask if they have a cancellation fee. I found that out about one agency only after booking with them. I don't usually cancel, but there is always that chance.

 

Agencies that do a lot of business with a particular cruise line will frequently be doing group cruises. They guarantee a certain number of staterooms and get a better price. Even the big agencies like AAA and American Express Platinum Travel Service have group cruises.

 

Another way to save money is to go when other people usually don't - like before Christmas and just after New Year's. The weeks just before and after Thanksgiving are a good time and the week after Labor Day is a good time.

 

You could also try using Google to find discount travel agencies. There are lots of them out there.

 

Whichever cruise you choose, make sure you look at several web sites. The prices are all over the lot.

 

Roberta

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If there is a particular cruise and itinerary you want to take, book as early as possible. As Chris said, your TA will be able to reduce the price of the cruise if the cost goes down. If you wait, two things can happen: the ship can be sold out and you won't have a cabin; or, the cost will go up because of demand. Even guarantees. :)

 

The cruise industry has changed dramatically over the past few years. It's still possible to find a last-minute bargain but you would have to be very flexible about where you want to cruise and when you can leave.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you Charliesmom, Pam and Ibrasu for your information. I am traveling from the USA, Southern California to be exact.

 

I will try to get a good Travel Agent to work with. From everyone's suggestions, that sounds like the best deal.

 

We are not particular where we are on the ship (just on it); however, we like an outside cabin and have been upgraded to a balcony (which is great). We are also recently retired and able to go at any time. We don't like to be away from home from mid-November through December. Any other time is okay.

 

Thanks to everyone.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From Southern California, you can get great deals on repositioning cruises. We book early because we are particular about our cabin choice, and, as others have said, if the price drops after you book (and sometimes even after final payment), your TA should get you the difference. But there are often drastic price drops about a month out.

 

Some itineraries will sell out faster, too. Panama Canal, Northern Europe, the exotic itineraries all seem to go quickly. So I would recommend booking those early.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Forum Assistance
      • Holiday Exchange - Jingle and Mingle 2021
      • ANNOUNCEMENT: Enjoy the Gift of Travel with Regent Seven Seas Cruises
      • Cruise Critic Live Special Event: Q&A with Silversea Cruises Nov 29th at 3 p.m. EST
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • Canadian Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...