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Explore 4--Regularly scheduled, or random promotion.


TakesNotes
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Some of my favorite HAL sailings have been enhanced by the "Explore 4" pricing promotion. I don't follow the pricing and promotions continuously, but I wondered if "Explore 4" happens at set times (someone suggested every April and October), or if it's just when HAL is seeking some additional bookings on cruises a long way out.

 

I welcome comments from those who watch these things more than I do.

 

On what basis are the eligible itineraries selected for "Explore 4"?

 

Are there usually lower fares that exclude "Explore 4" while the promotion is on?

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I first booked my Rotterdam cruise last year on an Explore 4 promotion. I was pleased with the lower deposit and the Signature Beverage package and one Pinnacle dinner included. Nothing seemed to best that deal until the final payment date came around and Anniversary Sale promotion. Prepaid gratuities, (2) $50 beverage card and maybe something else. Lower deposit no big deal on final payment. $50 each of soft drinks (we don't drink alcohol) will do us and we saved $1,100 on the same cabin. Total savings almost $2000 on 18 night sailing. So make sure you just check out each promotion for what it means for your needs. I just ask my TA to run the numbers again. We were both surprised that Anniversary was more pleasing than Explore 4 which was good. I don't know but I am guessing that Explore 4 might be a regularly scheduled promotion -- most of them are variation on the same theme but hit different groups. Good luck on a deal.

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I first booked my Rotterdam cruise last year on an Explore 4 promotion. I was pleased with the lower deposit and the Signature Beverage package and one Pinnacle dinner included. Nothing seemed to best that deal until the final payment date came around and Anniversary Sale promotion. Prepaid gratuities, (2) $50 beverage card and maybe something else. Lower deposit no big deal on final payment. $50 each of soft drinks (we don't drink alcohol) will do us and we saved $1,100 on the same cabin. Total savings almost $2000 on 18 night sailing. So make sure you just check out each promotion for what it means for your needs. I just ask my TA to run the numbers again. We were both surprised that Anniversary was more pleasing than Explore 4 which was good. I don't know but I am guessing that Explore 4 might be a regularly scheduled promotion -- most of them are variation on the same theme but hit different groups. Good luck on a deal.

 

We experienced the same thing for our upcoming K-dam sailing. We had our cruise re-priced just before the final payment date and saved a bundle. The flaw in the Explore 4 promotion for us is that there's no way we could drink the beverage package when, like the above poster, a $50 soda card works for us.

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There is no telling when HAL will offer the Explore4 program or any other special offer.

I don't remember the one we asked about a few months ago, but we asked about what the cost of our cruise would be without the program -- about $2000 cheaper. HAL is basically raising the price of cruises (if you qualify) to cover the cost of these special deals.

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We booked two cabin sailing to Alaska when they had the Explore 4. When the veranda sale came out, I had that priced. It would have been more expensive to rebook for the veranda sale than to keep the Explore 4. I also asked for pricing without the Explore 4. It was a matter of $50/cabin, so we kept it. Going back to January when we sailed the Panama Canal, we had the Explore 4 removed and saved $1000/pp IIRC.

 

 

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We booked two cabin sailing to Alaska when they had the Explore 4. When the veranda sale came out, I had that priced. It would have been more expensive to rebook for the veranda sale than to keep the Explore 4. I also asked for pricing without the Explore 4. It was a matter of $50/cabin, so we kept it. Going back to January when we sailed the Panama Canal, we had the Explore 4 removed and saved $1000/pp IIRC.

 

Good reminder - you can often (not always) get your cruise priced with and without the current promotion, so check it out and see if the offer is worth it to you.

 

I like to book a cruise as early as possible, if I feel that the price is reasonable. Then I CAREFULLY watch pricing and offers on HAL's website (and here on Cruise Critic). If something looks interesting, I call and see about changing my booking to include the new deal/offer. Remember though, you generally cannot "have it both ways". You likely will have to pay a higher fare to get a good promotion. You just have to call and ask.

 

For example, I have two cruises booked currently. When the Anniversary Sale (current) came out I checked it against my cruises and both qualified! When I called and checked, the first cruise's price went up more than double what the new "perks" were worth, so I did nothing. On the second cruise, the fare price was exactly the same as I paid, so I was able to add the Anniversary Sale perks to my booking (worth about $600 pp) - Great Deal!!

 

It pays to pay attention.

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Some of my favorite HAL sailings have been enhanced by the "Explore 4" pricing promotion. I don't follow the pricing and promotions continuously, but I wondered if "Explore 4" happens at set times (someone suggested every April and October), or if it's just when HAL is seeking some additional bookings on cruises a long way out.

 

I welcome comments from those who watch these things more than I do.

 

On what basis are the eligible itineraries selected for "Explore 4"?

 

Are there usually lower fares that exclude "Explore 4" while the promotion is on?

 

Explore 4 usually kicks off in June. Last year they extended the Anniversary Sale beyond June 1 and Explore 4 started the very end of June and ran through Sept. The casino offers promos that net out all the other HAL promos and their costs. FYI...Last year when they first announced Explore 4, I saw the fares with and without Explore 4, and at least on Neptunes, they were adding the full cost of the Signature Beverage package to the fare.

Edited by blizzardboy
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When such offers come out, they don't necessarily apply to all cruises. One example is Alaska two week round trip cruise from Seattle. Only four sailings on that itinerary in 2017, fairly high in price, and the Anniversary promo isn't available.

 

Those are extremely popular sailings that usually sell out early. Hence high prices and likely won't see promos apply to them.

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One really can't say for sure which cruises will get a promotion AND a good price, too. For example we were able to book a transatlantic for a very decent price and the Explore4 package included because we booked really early and Holland America obviously wanted to push the sales a bit.

On the other hand, I spoke with a cruise sales representative on Eurodam about the Voyage of the Vikings and similar voyages and she told me that these popular cruises usually sell out quickly and are rarely given a special promotion. It's sometimes possible to get a good deal on that kind of cruises, though , with a special last-minute deal - of course that's rarely the best choice of cabins you'll have and no Explore 4 or similar.

But I agree that it would be great to know before booking what kind of promotion is next ( and whether the price won't change or be double :eek:) - right now I'm ogling a transpacific with lots of sea days and a chance to really enjoy a beverage package - even as a soda and coffee person...

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It seems this Anniversary Sale has gone on too long. I am anxiously awaiting a new promo and some new sail dates for early 2017. I hope there is an explore 4 promo coming. There are currently no promotions on the January 7th Eastern Caribbean I am eyeing up.

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It seems this Anniversary Sale has gone on too long. I am anxiously awaiting a new promo and some new sail dates for early 2017. I hope there is an explore 4 promo coming. There are currently no promotions on the January 7th Eastern Caribbean I am eyeing up.

 

There *was* an Explore 4 promo on the January Eastern Caribbean sailings a while ago. My understanding is that Explore 4 is somewhat capacity controlled. Hopefully they didn’t sell too many for that sailing.

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