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Last Minute Best Deal Strategy


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My wife and I are both retired and very flexible with our schedule. I would appreciate any suggestions for making a great last minute deal. Rarely, but on occasion, I've seen voyages with openings in many cabin categories, just weeks before departure, promoted on the Cunard web site.

Do prices ever drop dramatically, say 3-5 days before a departure? Is it best to go through a travel agent or Cunard when it gets down to the wire?

Historically, is there a golden window when Cunard prices are at their lowest? Do they ever take an offer?

Any advice would be appreciated.

 

Thank,

Jack

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I don't know about "offers," but apparently there can be "negotiation."  Last year we were booked in PG on a westbound TA on QM2.  A couple of months before sailing, the Cunard website-advertised price for PG dropped considerably.  We asked our agent to refare or rebook.  Cunard came back with an offer to upgrade us to Q5 if we stuck with the superseded price. Of course we said yes.  (And QG was a terrific experience.  We are hooked for life.)

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You don’t have to wait until a few days before sailing for these FLASH Rates ( category guarantee’s )  that may become available after Final Payment date passes.

TA’s will see these FLASH Rates but you may not .

No goodies (like OBC) like in Cunard Sales but a low rate “if” the sailing needs help to fill.

Of course Air Fares May be out of site .

 

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1 hour ago, MCC retired said:

You don’t have to wait until a few days before sailing for these FLASH Rates ( category guarantee’s )  that may become available after Final Payment date passes.

TA’s will see these FLASH Rates but you may not .

No goodies (like OBC) like in Cunard Sales but a low rate “if” the sailing needs help to fill.

Of course Air Fares May be out of site .

 

If you are indeed flexible, and willing to pay high last minute air fares (assuming pre- or post-cruise travel is involved), you can see substantial savings in the last weeks before sailing.  You should, of course, hedge your bets by checking both Cunard and an agent you are comfortable with. 

 

We sometimes check last minute cruises prices if we have nothing else in the pipeline, but with many children/grandchildren to visit, plus our own regular scheduled trips we have yet to see anything that great to jump on just to save a few dollars. And we have no interest in just cruising because it’s cheap - it has to be an itinerary on our bucket list.

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There is no "golden window" because Cunard uses the POLAR booking algorithm that adjusts pricing according to demand.  Historically some bookings will open up right after final payment date but that might not be the lowest price if people are on to that and thus drive up demand. 

 

You can sign up for email promotions from Cunard or your TA and be ready to pounce once you see a good deal.   If you really want to sail don't wait and wait and wait for an even better deal that might never happen.  The price could instead go up.  Or the ship sells out.  Once on board it's best not to play the "How much did you pay?" game.  There will always be at least one liar who will want to boast of their superior intellect, skillful price watching and masterful negotiation skills.

Edited by BlueRiband
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Jack- on our upcoming Cunard voyage I have watched the prices like a hawk this year, just for kicks- see how we did... it was a popular port-driven cruise... in the end, our deal we got with the perks still was better than the lowest cost I saw after final payment before it sold out...

I don’t know about Transatlantics and how they typically fill up

Now... I’ve seen some last minute deals on other cruise lines that have unreal low pricing for “drop and go”- but again, if you can’t drive to the start of the cruise you must swing the airfare price last minute. That is where you must weigh the balance of it all.

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18 hours ago, navybankerteacher said:

And we have no interest in just cruising because it’s cheap - it has to be an itinerary on our bucket list.

 

This is very good advice navybankerteacher. We will certainly add that to the equation should we find that special sale. The cost of last minute flights and taxes/port fees will be added in as well. 

 

Thanks,

Jack

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On a side note, is Cunard like other operators such as Princess where the price for the same cruise will differ depending on which website you access, or possible where you are accessing the site from or what currency option you choose?

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30 minutes ago, astera said:

On a side note, is Cunard like other operators such as Princess where the price for the same cruise will differ depending on which website you access, or possible where you are accessing the site from or what currency option you choose?

 

The currency, prices, deposit amounts, special promotions, and other terms and conditions do vary based on where you are accessing the Cunard website from. In the US, we are automatically redirected to their US website showing prices in US dollars and bookings made there would be under the US terms and conditions. In the UK, customers are automatically redirected to their UK website showing prices in pounds sterling and bookings made there would be under the UK terms and conditions. The situation is similar for customers in Australia/New Zealand who are redirected to the Australian website and in Germany where customers are redirected to the German website. In Canada, it initially looks like customers are directed to the US website based on the URL that is displayed, but prices are displayed in Canadian dollars there.

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Thank you for your reply - that is interesting indeed. Are the prices the same throughout or are there significant differences between different markets?

 

When booking with Princess for my parents I have always done the entire round of checking both the US, UK, continental Europe, plus Australia and have found some serious differences - usually when selecting a specific cabin class: for instance the last time around suites were heavily discounted but only via the Australian website.

 

Does the same apply to Cunard or would I be wasting my time shopping around?

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34 minutes ago, astera said:

Thank you for your reply - that is interesting indeed. Are the prices the same throughout or are there significant differences between different markets?

 

When booking with Princess for my parents I have always done the entire round of checking both the US, UK, continental Europe, plus Australia and have found some serious differences - usually when selecting a specific cabin class: for instance the last time around suites were heavily discounted but only via the Australian website.

 

Does the same apply to Cunard or would I be wasting my time shopping around?

 

Yes, there can be considerable differences among the various markets, both in terms of the base fares themselves and in additional perks (included OBC, pre-paid gratuity offers, free drinks package offers, included flights/transfers, etc.) that vary among markets.

Edited by bluemarble
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Many thanks Bluemarble, I took your advice and did a US/UK/EU (Germany)/AU search though I did forget to check Canada. The UK site came up with the best price and in this case the AU one was most expensive overall (maybe because the ship sails from Sydney?).

 

My parents instructed me to book this today aka "without delay" so I didn't have much leeway to dig into any additional benefits, though in their case they will be in Sydney at the time (so no additional flights required) and only drink the good stuff that they pay for (so packages might not be needed) though I should have looked into prepaid grats as they need to cover that. A bit of an oversight on my behalf as it's quite a long cruise...

 

P.S. I promised I'd greet them in Southampton so now I need to make my own arrangements to get there on the day. Luckily the wonderful cities of Bournemouth (and Poole) are close-by so I might end up flying over well ahead of their arrival. 🙂

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 8/9/2019 at 10:53 PM, astera said:

Many thanks Bluemarble, I took your advice and did a US/UK/EU (Germany)/AU search though I did forget to check Canada. The UK site came up with the best price and in this case the AU one was most expensive overall (maybe because the ship sails from Sydney?).

 

My parents instructed me to book this today aka "without delay" so I didn't have much leeway to dig into any additional benefits, though in their case they will be in Sydney at the time (so no additional flights required) and only drink the good stuff that they pay for (so packages might not be needed) though I should have looked into prepaid grats as they need to cover that. A bit of an oversight on my behalf as it's quite a long cruise...

 

P.S. I promised I'd greet them in Southampton so now I need to make my own arrangements to get there on the day. Luckily the wonderful cities of Bournemouth (and Poole) are close-by so I might end up flying over well ahead of their arrival. 🙂

 

I think the reason for this is most likely because Cunard doesn’t update its exchange rates very often.  The £ has fallen this year for reasons everyone will know, so the outdated rates Cunard were using made the £ rates appear more favourable.  

 

In a different year with different exchange rate movements, you’ll probably find a different pattern.  If there have been significant exchange rate movements in the months before a booking, try looking at the currency that has been falling.

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Something to think about if you use "dummy bookings" the check on cabin availability is that there are guarantee bookings that you can't see. It may look like many cabins are available, but some of them will go to guarantees. The cruise lines show  all unassigned cabins as available to give people more choice. So if there are 10 cabins in a particular grade showing, but 8 guarantees at that grade, there are only really 2 cabins left for Cunard to sell. When they start assigning guarantees, all those cabins you thought were available disappear.

 

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