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Does NCL just cancel a cruise that's extremely undersold? (I never see drastic last minute discounts!)


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After two other cruises we booked for October '21 were each canceled (Panama Canal and Hawaii POA), we've been eyeing the Encore to Alaska. We're feeling the fatigue (as most have0 watching our cruise plans evaporate so have been hesitant to book again till they actually start sailing (and prices have been steady).

 

The cruise is less than three months away and the cabins we've been looking at (Haven 2 bdrm with either balcony or large balcony) just aren't getting booked. In fact, only one cabin shows as occupied out of dozens. A quick glance at other cabins around the ship show a ton of them avail as well.

 

So - I know anything can happen these days, but historically - does NCL simply cancel a cruise if it will be half empty? I get that they have staff, port commitments, etc., but wondering if it's likely they'd cut the Alaska season short by two or three weeks and move on?!

 

Thanks for any experience you have in this situation.

 

 

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13 minutes ago, markdunn said:

After two other cruises we booked for October '21 were each canceled (Panama Canal and Hawaii POA), we've been eyeing the Encore to Alaska. We're feeling the fatigue (as most have0 watching our cruise plans evaporate so have been hesitant to book again till they actually start sailing (and prices have been steady).

 

The cruise is less than three months away and the cabins we've been looking at (Haven 2 bdrm with either balcony or large balcony) just aren't getting booked. In fact, only one cabin shows as occupied out of dozens. A quick glance at other cabins around the ship show a ton of them avail as well.

 

So - I know anything can happen these days, but historically - does NCL simply cancel a cruise if it will be half empty? I get that they have staff, port commitments, etc., but wondering if it's likely they'd cut the Alaska season short by two or three weeks and move on?!

 

Thanks for any experience you have in this situation.

 

 

I do not have experience with Alsska, but I have sailed three times between Thanksgiving and Christmas when discounts run deep. There are very few kids on board, and each time we sailed half empty. Never cancelled despite the small numbers.

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54 minutes ago, markdunn said:

So - I know anything can happen these days, but historically - does NCL simply cancel a cruise if it will be half empty?

 

No, that would make no financial sense and also alienate a whole bunch of customers from booking with them ever again

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Thanks to you both for those insights.

 

Sounds like NCL wouldn't just bail on Alaska and hightail it to the Caribbean. (But I do wonder where the Encore will be between its final 10/23 arrival in Seattle and first 11/14 departure from Miami since the Panama Canal was canceled)

 

Given that only one(!) of the twenty four cabins we're interested in are booked, I may continue to just monitor prices. I know they don't do huge discounts, but seems like prices may budge a bit since we're already less than three months away. 

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12 minutes ago, saltsandknit said:

I don’t think there will be a lot of interest in an Alaskan cruise in October and I don’t think NCL is booking full ships until after October 31st. A few more things to think about 

https://secureservercdn.net/198.71.233.51/2xl.54d.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/KTN-2021-Ketchikan-1.pdf

 

October is very late to sail Alaska.  The attached shows Ketchikan port arrivals.  Notice virtually only Encore for the final 3 cruises of October.   Most shops and services will shut down before this.  

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NCL definitely does drop prices as the sail date approaches, if the ship isn't filling up. I have gotten a few decent deals that way. Another thing they do, though I don't see this happening as much on Alaska sailings, is offer free or deeply discounted prices to Casino at Sea players, if the ship isn't filling.

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Isn't it possible one of the reasons the ship isn't "filling" is the likely restrictions on capacity at the outset? I'd also say that whatever the practice was in the past, all bets are off for 2021 due to Covid. This is anything BUT a typical year, so don't expect things to be as they were in the past, at least for now.

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22 minutes ago, DCGuy64 said:

Isn't it possible one of the reasons the ship isn't "filling" is the likely restrictions on capacity at the outset? I'd also say that whatever the practice was in the past, all bets are off for 2021 due to Covid. This is anything BUT a typical year, so don't expect things to be as they were in the past, at least for now.

 

 

Completely agree.   This is a new universe we are in right now.  Or to reference my old Superman comics, this is "Bizarro" world.   🙂

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As mentioned, what has been done historically is no longer in play.

 

I would be VERY hesitant to book an October Encore sailing at this point for a few reasons. Negating that NCL has yet to actually sail, the price of October last minute is going to be excellent. I suspect balcony cabins will go less than $500 pp. 

 

In addition, October is exceptionally late (even for shoulder season) in Alaska. I have had doubts these late sailings will actually happen since the day they were announced. Maybe the first week of October. But the 2nd and 3rd is getting loco in terms of both weather and sunlight.

 

Time will tell of course, but I'm keeping my eye on a last minute Encore sailing. IMO, If the ship sails it's going to be at extremely deep discounts. 

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The cruise industry business model is really interesting if you've ever seen it and the algorithms that they use to calculate prices for cruise are also.  They plan for this type of thing so that they are maximizing their revenue/profits during peak seasons knowing that they might be making less revenue/profit on other cruises.  My wife and I have mostly cruised off season where ships were not full and the discounts on cabins were pretty deep.  Sadly, I have to change that now that I have kids.  But either way, this is still somewhat normal for them and is expected with how they are ramping up capacities and such with COVID.

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Posted (edited)
27 minutes ago, Zippeedee said:

In the “olden times” last minute cruises would be dumped on a travel auction site. I retired so I could grab deals like that. Oh well…

 

I use that site (even when I wasn't retired)...... I actually think last minute prices will be lower than before (at least for a bit while the companies reorganize).

 

Example, prices for the Gem are dropping like a rock for August and early september because final payment is past. Prices on the Encore are firm yet, but I think that will absolutely change for end of Sept/october cruises.

Edited by BermudaBound2014
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Also, remember that guarantee cabins don't count as "occupied" until they are assigned. It's entirely possible, and has occurred for a cabin category to go from mostly open to sold out in one booking. If they have 25 cabins of that category and sell 24 as "guarantees". Once the 25th cabin gets booked the computer knows they are out of cabins and to close that category.

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1 hour ago, BermudaBound2014 said:

Example, prices for the Gem are dropping like a rock for August and early september because final payment is past.

You are SO right about that. I just looked at the Gem and prices are as low as $399pp for an inside. Even the balconies can be had for $699. Alas, our cruise on September 19 isn't cheap yet. Maybe later...

 

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1 minute ago, DCGuy64 said:

You are SO right about that. I just looked at the Gem and prices are as low as $399pp for an inside. Even the balconies can be had for $699. Alas, our cruise on September 19 isn't cheap yet. Maybe later...

 

 

Didn't you just make final payment for the 19th departure? If so, it will take about two weeks for prices to really drop. If you are checking inventory like we discussed earlier you can get a good idea how much to expect. Also, keep an eye out for an invitation to bid. If you don't get one, keep an eye on your roll call for when bidding starts. That's whey you really see inventory flying off the shelves.  

 

Aren't you booked in a club balcony? If so, this is what I'm seeing for the first week of September. I have no reason to believe your week will end up pricing higher. Of course, these prices don't include 10% OBC which is standard in the industry for the big agencies and if you play the competition game, I suspect the the final price will be closer to $800 pp for a club balcony with about $175 in OBC.

 

image.thumb.png.f6059c5c8826ad360950371941c842f0.png

 

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I am curious about all this as well. Would you get a refund back if the cruise price drops before you sail? I also notice some of the vendors are closed end of September until May 2022, yet NCL is offering the excursion.  Would they stay open just for one ship? 

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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, BermudaBound2014 said:

 

Didn't you just make final payment for the 19th departure? If so, it will take about two weeks for prices to really drop. If you are checking inventory like we discussed earlier you can get a good idea how much to expect. Also, keep an eye out for an invitation to bid. If you don't get one, keep an eye on your roll call for when bidding starts. That's whey you really see inventory flying off the shelves.  

 

Aren't you booked in a club balcony? If so, this is what I'm seeing for the first week of September. I have no reason to believe your week will end up pricing higher. Of course, these prices don't include 10% OBC which is standard in the industry for the big agencies and if you play the competition game, I suspect the the final price will be closer to $800 pp for a club balcony with about $175 in OBC.

 

image.thumb.png.f6059c5c8826ad360950371941c842f0.png

 

Thanks for the information. We were in a Club Balcony on the Gem but they cancelled the sailing around Memorial Day. We then booked an Oceanview on the Norwegian Sky (no balconies left at that point), and then NCL changed the ship (back) to the Gem. Balconies were available but way too expensive. We paid $2800 total, for 2, for the OV including the FAS offers and airfare. The Club Balconies start at $1599 now, but that's just for the room. Once you add the gratuities for the FAS offers and stuff, it's well over $4,000. If prices come down to less than $1000 we'll bite. And good point on the upgrade offers, it's only 60 days before sail date right now so maybe a bit early yet. We'll keep an eye out and may upgrade if prices come down.

Edited by DCGuy64
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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, DCGuy64 said:

Thanks for the information. We were in a Club Balcony on the Gem but they cancelled the sailing around Memorial Day. We then booked an Oceanview on the Norwegian Sky (no balconies left at that point), and then NCL changed the ship (back) to the Gem. Balconies were available but way too expensive. We paid $2800 total, for 2, for the OV including the FAS offers and airfare. The Club Balconies start at $1599 now. If prices come down to less than $1000 we'll bite. And good point on the upgrade offers, it's only 60 days before sail date right now so maybe a bit early yet. We'll keep an eye out and may upgrade if prices come down.

 

My best guess.... balconies will end up in the $450 pp range with around $100 OBC. I don't believe you will have to pay any additional to end up in a Balcony (but you won't get a price reduction and get money back past final payment). Once prices drop, your agent should be able to get you a very nice complimentary upgrade (depending on the relationship they have with NCL of course, bigger playeres get bigger incentives). If this cruise sails, it should be very lovely with so few guests onboard!! 

 

Edited to add... I never use NCL air. I play the airline points game and rarely pay anything for flights.  Your air promotion may lock you in. I am just too unfamiliar with the free air to offer any information. 

 

Wishing you the best! 

Edited by BermudaBound2014
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2 minutes ago, BermudaBound2014 said:

Wishing you the best! 

Thank you! I appreciate the encouragement to keep checking back. It would be nice to score a balcony. I'll be on the lookout and will let our TA know if a good deal comes our way. Thanks again, @BermudaBound2014!

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3 hours ago, BermudaBound2014 said:

In addition, October is exceptionally late (even for shoulder season) in Alaska. I have had doubts these late sailings will actually happen since the day they were announced. Maybe the first week of October. But the 2nd and 3rd is getting loco in terms of both weather and sunlight.

 

Here's an interesting sight:

Alaska Vacations & Travel Advice from Trusted Alaskans | ALASKA.ORG

It looks like in mid-October, Juneau starts to get light around 7:00 am and it gets dark around 6:30.  That wouldn't bother me a bit.

 

Average daytime temp is 47 degrees.

 

If somebody lives in a cold, cloudy climate they will likely enjoy a Caribbean cruise much more.  For those of us currently in the Sunbelt, we enjoy less sun and some cool air.  Putting on a heavy jacket and walking around the deck will remind me of (original) home.  I can't see them cancelling the late October cruises.  Both crew and ship are sunk costs at that point.  The balance sheet is better off with 50% paying passengers than 0% paying passengers and a bunch of bad PR.

 

Do you live in a Northern climate?

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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, RumRunner2021 said:

Here's an interesting sight:

Alaska Vacations & Travel Advice from Trusted Alaskans | ALASKA.ORG

It looks like in mid-October, Juneau starts to get light around 7:00 am and it gets dark around 6:30.  That wouldn't bother me a bit.

 

Average daytime temp is 47 degrees.

 

If somebody lives in a cold, cloudy climate they will likely enjoy a Caribbean cruise much more.  For those of us currently in the Sunbelt, we enjoy less sun and some cool air.  Putting on a heavy jacket and walking around the deck will remind me of (original) home.  I can't see them cancelling the late October cruises.  Both crew and ship are sunk costs at that point.  The balance sheet is better off with 50% paying passengers than 0% paying passengers and a bunch of bad PR.

 

Do you live in a Northern climate?

 

I live in MIchigan, but I did live in Anchorage Alaska back in 1989. I've also lived in Oahu in the mid-80's and currently spend 4 months a year in Maui. There is a reason pre-covid Alaska tourism closes up shop by October. Let's just see what they do with the October cruises. I hope I'm wrong. 

Edited by BermudaBound2014
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1 hour ago, BarnCat1 said:

I am curious about all this as well. Would you get a refund back if the cruise price drops before you sail? I also notice some of the vendors are closed end of September until May 2022, yet NCL is offering the excursion.  Would they stay open just for one ship? 

Will they automatically give you a refund - NO!

Can you ask for consideration - yes.  You can upgrade and pay any difference OR you can get a 25% OBC for the price difference.  And usually you only get one bite of the apple, although I was able to smooze a double upgrade once (inside to OV to balcony).  On another cruise I simply upgraded to an aft balcony when the price for it dropped below what I had paid.

 

As to cancelling, I can't say.  But I do know that NCL has been known to do a lift and drop to another similar cruise - although the incident I know about was to put the Star into drydock for repairs, not specifically (as far as I know anyways) because it was undersold.  But the fact that they were able to move everyone kinda indicates that the involved cruises were at less than 50% capacity after final payment.  It affected NY to Bermuda plus the TA to Europe.

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