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LeeAnne writes, “My boyfriend and I (ages 50 and 41) want to go on a cruise from the NYC area this summer. He’s never been on a cruise and I’ve been on a few. We’re looking for a deal and can travel last minute. The websites and deals are getting a little overwhelming – so many and so varied. How far in advance should I get serious, look online (and where) and lock in a deal?”
Knowing when to book—anything travel-related, really, but especially cruises—is one of the great mysteries for most travelers. Since so many of my readers share in the same frustration as LeeAnne, and since cruises admittedly aren’t my specialty, I consulted Senior Editor, Erica Silverstein, one of my colleagues at our sister site Cruise Critic for a little more insight into booking a summer cruise.
“In the cruise world, two months prior is considered last minute for summer travel, so you should start looking at deals now. Summer is peak travel time, so by booking so late, you’re likely to see fares increasing rather than decreasing.”
It’s also important to consider how much you’re willing to spend. It’s best to have a number in mind before you begin your search, so you can tailor your itinerary around your budget. Once you find a fare that falls within your price range, go ahead and book it. “Under $100 per night is a good deal for an inside cabin,” says Silverstein, “though the fares I’m currently seeing for NY sailings are pretty much hovering just below or a little above that mark.”
Another thing to keep in mind is that most websites and travel agents offer similar prices as the cruise lines’ websites. Notes Silverstein, “Royal Caribbean and Celebrity usually have sales on Tuesdays, so definitely check then, and many cruise line websites have ‘hot deals’ pages you can check for sales.”
You also might be able to cut costs on the type of cabin you stay in (inside, outside, balcony, etc.) and the cruise lines. Cruise Critic offers ship reviews to help you decide. Plus, it never hurts to sign up for a cruise line’s email newsletters, because most will alert readers of any upcoming sales.
This may seem like just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to finding a good fare and booking, but these few suggestions are all you need to find the cruise that’s right for you.
Do you have some savvy booking strategies to share? Are you taking a cruise this summer? Leave a comment below!
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