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Last Minute Booking Strategy?

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Hey NCL Cruisers!

 

Over the years I have often seen posts by people picking up "last minute" cruise booking for great rates.  This has never really fit into our vacation strategy in the past as we like to plan and typically book our vacations 9-12 months out.  However, have a unique situation where we know we will have some free time after a work project I'm completing in Amsterdam.  There's a NCL Getaway itinerary departing Copenhagen on August 27th that would be a good way for us to see some of the N. Europe ports, but we're kind of take it or leave it about booking.  We'd equally be happy to fly into Copenhagen and then just meander around Scandinavia on our own.  

 

So, here's the question...what's the best way to monitor rate drops and when typically do things start to drop?  The 120 day payment just passed yesterday and I didn't notice a price change.  There looks to be quite a bit of cabin availability in all categories.  Just out of my depth on strategy here (or even when/how often to take a look).

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Hi. Really no strategy involved. If I want to cruise in two weeks, I jump on the website 5-7 days prior to the date I want to sail to see what ships are available. Then, I start working on airfare if flying, car rental if driving or bus.

 

I don't start with a destination in mind though. I let the pricing guide my decision on destination. If you look on NCL.com tonight, you'd see a three-day Bahamas for $129 leaving Sunday, a 7 day Alaska cruise leaving May 20 or May 27 for $329 and $349, a 7 day New England cruise leaving May 11 for $399,  7 day Bermuda leaving May 10 for $469, etc. Of course, these are no frills, no perks, inside guarantee rooms. But there are often similar deals for other categories.

 

I recently picked up a seven day cruise for $299, inside sailaway guarantee. I ended up with a midship interior, IE on the lowest passenger deck and was quite pleased with that location given the price paid.

 

This is how I do it. This only works if you can be flexible, patient, and won't be too disappointed if a ship sells out. Something else will become available. Hopefully, you will get some other strategies from other members. Good luck with getting some good deals.

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Being proactive and YOU keeping track of pricing trends is essential.    There is no magic formula and every "claim" is simply hindsight.     Figure out what you will pay,  and if that rate comes up,  then  consider booking.  You've already  stated the cruise isn't essential-  which,  frankly is necessary.    

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How much additional money do you think you will save waiting for the last minute?  Or do you really want to take the cruise?  If you wait to long the cruise always has a chance to sell out.  If it is a popular itinerary start monitoring the earlier cruises and see if there prices are dropping the closer to their sailing date.  That should give you a good indication if prices drop or just stay steady for your cruise.  If you are looking for the best price, be prepared to get an IX and just be happy you are on the ship.  By the way welcome to the game of last minute deals.  But be prepared to be bummed out when you do pull the trigger only to see the price drop lower.  But still 😊 you are taking another cruise and you will do better the next time.

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Since it sounds like you'd be rather restricted with your last minute cruise - maybe one or two sailing options probably just one ship - it's easier to just periodically check that one sailing that try to set up alerts in my opinion. That's what I did for my Alaska sailing - I was looking at like 3 options and then one dropped $200 over the course of two weeks so I chose that one. But prices really do change and you can never quite tell for sure which way it'll go. I was still watching prices since they had been going down for ~3wks and I was hoping to score a nice upgrade. About a week after I booked anything non-sailaway non-studio suddenly jumped up big in price. I'm guessing a lot must have booked on the lower prices. It's now a couple days out and 1 inside non-sailaway rate popped up at a decent price and everything else is showing sold out besides 1 haven, but I'm keeping my studio since it has the virtual window. 

 

I know a couple places supposedly watch for you, but I don't think they work as well. Especially with NCL if you want the non-sailaway rate because the low price watches the lowest available price which 99% of the time is sailaway. 

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12 hours ago, blcruising said:

Hi. Really no strategy involved. If I want to cruise in two weeks, I jump on the website 5-7 days prior to the date I want to sail to see what ships are available. Then, I start working on airfare if flying, car rental if driving or bus.

 

I don't start with a destination in mind though. I let the pricing guide my decision on destination. If you look on NCL.com tonight, you'd see a three-day Bahamas for $129 leaving Sunday, a 7 day Alaska cruise leaving May 20 or May 27 for $329 and $349, a 7 day New England cruise leaving May 11 for $399,  7 day Bermuda leaving May 10 for $469, etc. Of course, these are no frills, no perks, inside guarantee rooms. But there are often similar deals for other categories.

 

I recently picked up a seven day cruise for $299, inside sailaway guarantee. I ended up with a midship interior, IE on the lowest passenger deck and was quite pleased with that location given the price paid.

 

This is how I do it. This only works if you can be flexible, patient, and won't be too disappointed if a ship sells out. Something else will become available. Hopefully, you will get some other strategies from other members. Good luck with getting some good deals.

Great step by step instruction on booking last minute.  Fairly close to the same steps I take.

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Posted (edited)

What "blcruising" said, on one of what's mentioned above, the IX was actually at $299 p/p yesterday ... and, as of this morning, solo deals kicked in for OV & higher. For a 7 nighter on a great refurbished ship that we missed, solo Sailaway GTY deals with port taxes/fees ... just $574 for OV, $674 for Balcony & $774 for a Mini.  Just add DSC, pay Specialty Dining if a must - toss in a CruiseNext Certficate, optionally submit a claim for NCLH benefits for $100 OBC - and, for Platinum status, bottle of house wine & free bag of laundry & 2 comp'd dining.  

 

Just booked 2 more cabins yesterday, IX and this morning, two ID assigned on Deck 9 Fwd ... we should've waited a little longer ourselves, but.  

 

@graphicguy - this one is for you !!  Short hop to LGA or EWR with your rollerboard.  (Hint: P.S.  sailing north ... port intensive) 

Edited by mking8288

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2 minutes ago, mking8288 said:

What "blcruising" said, on one of what's mentioned above, the IX was actually at $299 p/p yesterday ... and, as of this morning, solo deals kicked in for OV & higher. For a 7 nighter on a great refurbished ship that we missed, solo Sailaway GTY deals with port taxes/fees ... just $574 for OV, $674 for Balcony & $774 for a Mini.  Just add DSC, pay Specialty Dining if a must - toss in a CruiseNext Certficate, optionally submit a claim for NCLH benefits for $100 OBC - and, for Platinum status, bottle of house wine & free bag of laundry & 2 comp'd dining.  

 

Just booked 2 more cabins yesterday, IX and this morning, two ID assigned on Deck 9 Fwd ... we should've waited a little longer ourselves, but.  

 

@graphicguy - this one is for you !!  Short hop to LGA or EWR with your rollerboard. 

Oooohhhh...don’t make me look that one up, Henry.  

 

I WILL give it a look tonight and maybe pull off a “last minute” booking.

 

Thx!

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Posted (edited)

We usually book at least nine months out. Because Alaska itineraries are so expensive, I'm considering waiting until 4-5 months out (that's why I'm reading this thread). So not really last minute, but  much later for me than usual. I tested a booking today and here's the comparison:

-Book today for 9/2020 and it's about $1100pp for an inside with one  perk plus $100 credit

-Book today for 9/2019 and it's about $900pp for a balcony with all perks (unsure about $100 credit)


Since we don't really care about our stateroom and would pick the beverage package regardless of the number of perks, it's pretty clear I should wait! *sits on hands and credit card*

In others experience, is this pretty typical for Alaska? 
 

Edited by weltek

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Book today for May 27 2019. $249 inside sailaway, or $299 with one perk. No need for $100 OBC at this price point. Put a cruise next certificate and shareholder OBC and you are cruising for the cost of port charges.

 

Alaska is way oversupplied in general and specifically with NCL. They have two mega ships up there plus the Jewel.

 

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1 minute ago, weltek said:

We usually book at least nine months out. Because Alaska itineraries are so expensive, I'm considering waiting until 4-5 months out (that's why I'm reading this thread). So not really last minute, but  much later for me than usual. I tested a booking today and here's the comparison:

-Book today for 9/2020 and it's about $1100pp for an inside with one  perk plus $100 credit

-Book today for 9/2019 and it's about $700pp for a balcony with all perks (unsure about $100 credit)


Since we don't really care about our stateroom and would pick the beverage package regardless of the number of perks, it's pretty clear I should wait! *sits on hands and credit card*

In others experience, is this pretty typical for Alaska? 
 

 

I believe it's looking to be typical this season. NCL threw a second mega-ship in Alaska and Royal is bringing in their Ovation which is actually a bit bigger than Bliss or Joy. Add in HAL & Princess & Celebrity (I know HAL has at least 2 ships in Alaskan waters as I saw two separate ships on my cruise last week) and there's a lot of cabins sailing in Alaska this year. 

 

I booked only 33 days in advance and only started looking a week or two before and I got a good deal. But the prices started jumping back up a week or so later when the cabins started sailing - the only cabin whose price drop stayed until sailing was studios. So if the pattern for May cruises holds the season, it looks like there's a sweet spot when NCL goes "holy crap we have a lot of rooms" and drops the prices, but then they jack them back up as soon as rooms start selling.

 

If you want the perks though you should probably figure out a price to pull the trigger on as it was definitely the sailaways that were dropping in price the most. Actually, I'm not sure the regular balcony got to $700pp. I know I had a balcony available I could have upgrade to for $1499 but that was with the solo discount, I don't think it was $750pp for double occupancy but could be wrong. 

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Posted (edited)
On 5/2/2019 at 12:40 PM, mking8288 said:

What "blcruising" said, on one of what's mentioned above, the IX was actually at $299 p/p yesterday ... and, as of this morning, solo deals kicked in for OV & higher. For a 7 nighter on a great refurbished ship that we missed, solo Sailaway GTY deals with port taxes/fees ... just $574 for OV, $674 for Balcony & $774 for a Mini.  Just add DSC, pay Specialty Dining if a must - toss in a CruiseNext Certficate, optionally submit a claim for NCLH benefits for $100 OBC - and, for Platinum status, bottle of house wine & free bag of laundry & 2 comp'd dining.  

 

Just booked 2 more cabins yesterday, IX and this morning, two ID assigned on Deck 9 Fwd ... we should've waited a little longer ourselves, but.  

 

@graphicguy - this one is for you !!  Short hop to LGA or EWR with your rollerboard.  (Hint: P.S.  sailing north ... port intensive) 

Wow other last minute travelers, this is great, Are you looking on the NCL site for this information or else where? sign up for any alerts?  in addition to the OP, that time of year prices may indeed drop because the kids will have to be back in school so the last part of August/early SEP is prime for deals.

Edited by Newleno

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On ‎5‎/‎1‎/‎2019 at 9:16 PM, blcruising said:

Hi. Really no strategy involved. If I want to cruise in two weeks, I jump on the website 5-7 days prior to the date I want to sail to see what ships are available. Then, I start working on airfare if flying, car rental if driving or bus.

 

I don't start with a destination in mind though. I let the pricing guide my decision on destination. If you look on NCL.com tonight, you'd see a three-day Bahamas for $129 leaving Sunday, a 7 day Alaska cruise leaving May 20 or May 27 for $329 and $349, a 7 day New England cruise leaving May 11 for $399,  7 day Bermuda leaving May 10 for $469, etc. Of course, these are no frills, no perks, inside guarantee rooms. But there are often similar deals for other categories.

 

I recently picked up a seven day cruise for $299, inside sailaway guarantee. I ended up with a midship interior, IE on the lowest passenger deck and was quite pleased with that location given the price paid.

 

This is how I do it. This only works if you can be flexible, patient, and won't be too disappointed if a ship sells out. Something else will become available. Hopefully, you will get some other strategies from other members. Good luck with getting some good deals.

Thanks for posting this!  Getting a last minute deal on NCL is on my bucket list (lol).  Just got back from a 15 day TA that I way overpaid for I plan on using your above strategy.  I bought 2 CN certificates and I do have stock so for next year let's see where I can go for cheap.

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We have done it twice. The first time we booked a 17 day cruise out of NYC ( panama Canal) on the Jewel for 599 dollars inside cabin, the cruise was 2 weeks out, we booked it because it was only a train ride hop away. The second time just recently, April 27 on the Epic for 14 days. We booked it 3 weeks out and we paid 649 for an inside guarantee which then got upgraded to a Balcony guarantee because the price went down. Checking the price is essential, also we do use airline miles so is easier and don't have to worry about paying high prices for the plane ride. There is really no strategy,  is all about having the time to do it.

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