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Umbrella in the Rain

Our customers often ask us: “Should we wait until nearer the time and get it cheaper?” It may not surprise you, the answer is not a simple one. Today, we’re going to weigh up the options, and reveal the mistakes that cruisers make too often.  But first, let’s look at some facts:

  • FACT- we all want as much as we can get for our money.
  • FACT - nobody wants to be the couple at dinner who paid the highest price for their cruise.
  • FACT-  at some point, we’ll all be that couple.

Clear as mud, right? Let’s look at it in another way.

Supply and demand

Each day, we’re affected by supply and demand. We might not like it or be aware of it, but it’s a way of life: If there’s a fuel strike and fuel is in demand, the cost per litre shoots up.  When we have a scorching summer, fan prices go up. Then, there are those all too rare golden nuggets of joy, when we’re making a purchase and the price is cheaper than we expected due to a last-minute sale – it’s all about supply and demand.

Sometimes, it gets personal: I was holidaying in the south of France this summer, and during a walking tour of Carcassonne the heavens opened – I mean really opened. My friends and I sought shelter in a souvenir shop until the rain stopped. As I stood wringing myself out, I noticed the shop owner had emerged from the back office. Then, right before us he took the €3 sign down above his basket of umbrellas, and replaced it with a new sign, selling them for €7. In the space of 30 seconds, he’d inflated his umbrella prices by over 130%.  As I begrudgingly pulled a €10 note out from my purse and handed it to him, I kicked myself for not being there 30 seconds earlier – but of course it wasn’t raining then, so I hadn’t needed an umbrella! €7 doesn’t break the bank, and as you can imagine of course it stopped raining as soon as I put the damn thing up. But, let’s be honest, we’re all affected by this in several aspects of our lives: with property, with household appliances (they always break in threes!), and, with our holidays too.

So, should we book early, or wait?

This all depends on what you’re looking for. Here, we’ve looked at the top five cruising priorities that we’ve identified from arranging cruises for over a quarter of a million customers over a 20-year period. We’ve added to this, our thoughts as to whether you should book now, or wait. There will always be exceptions to these rules of course, due to the nature of the game, but these tips should at least help you get the idea.

Deal breaker #1: I will only cruise in cabin number 365 – book.

It’s close to the lift, at the right end of the ship for the theatre, and you like the size of the balcony.  If, like many of our customers you like a certain cabin or suite, there’s a chance other people like it too. So why wait for them to book it first? You could miss out altogether. Sure, you might still get on the cruise if you wait, but if not, (supply and demand again), just remember to pack your trainers for that walk to the theatre.

Deal breaker #2: We’re a family so we need adjoining cabins – book

These cabin types are in demand for families, and very convenient. They enable adults to have a separate cabin from their children, whilst being able to keep an eye on them through adjoining doors. This one is simple. Not all ships have adjoining cabins, and these are very popular due to the growing nature of family cruising, so we say, book. For information on the ships with adjoining cabins, give us a call, or request a call back.

Deal breaker #3: I need a cabin and ship that’s wheelchair friendly – book.

The cruise industry is more wheelchair friendly than it’s ever been, with a great deal of ships offering at least a couple of adapted cabins.  Whether you just need space to store a walking aid, or you’re confined to a wheelchair, you may need to book one of these specially adapted accommodation types. We can help with this, but we do advise you book early so we can make sure you have what you need.

Deal breaker #4: We need flexibility because we might have to cancel – book.

We know, that sometimes life gets in the way of things and our plans don’t always go to plan. This makes booking in advance a little daunting; particularly with cruising, because let’s face it, they have price tags. Cruise lines know this; therefore, most offer some flexibility within their booking terms. These terms differ from one cruise line to another, and cover (amongst many other things), cancellations and the transferring of cruise bookings. In most cases, when our customers call us to cancel their cruises, we’re able to secure them another voyage that meets their requirements. This not only enables them to go ahead and enjoy their cruise at another time, but most importantly, avoid losing their deposit. Our advice is to give us a call when you have an idea of the cruise you’d like to book and we’ll talk you through your options, including any cancellation or transfer charges if you are concerned that this could be a possibility. Of course, if you are flexible regarding the type of cruise you would like to go on, and your preferred cabin type, waiting is an option too. 

Deal breaker #5: I’m flexible, I just want the cheapest deal possible – wait.

If you know you’ll want to take a cruise at the end of next summer, you don’t mind where you go, and you’re happy to be in an inside cabin or a suite, it could well be worth waiting for a last-minute deal. This only applies really, to those who are very flexible, and open to trying different ships, cabins or cruise lines – it’ll be a case of choosing from what’s available at the time. Sign up to our mailing list if you want to be kept up to date with our best deals.

Deal breaker #6: I can’t commit until the last minute – wait.

Sometimes it’s easier when you have fewer options to consider.  If you are unable to commit to holidays until the last minute, you’ll usually experience less choice, but chances are you’re already used to this. You may also be used to paying a little more for flights, your accommodation choices on board will be more limited, or if you’re wanting to get away during peak seasons, you might not secure your first choice of ship. However, this does mean you’re able to take advantage of those last-minute fares which may be released by the cruise lines.

Finally, let’s talk travel insurance – a costly luxury? Or a necessity? – Necessity

Travel insurance is a big subject, and just recently, there was a fair bit of controversy surrounding cancellation charges in the news. For 85% or so of our cruise clients, it’s all plain sailing: they book the cruise of their dreams, they’re happy they made the right choice to book or wait, and they set off into the sunset on a voyage of a lifetime. If you book a cruise and things don’t quite go to plan, you’ll need to turn to your travel insurance provider for assistance. This could be because you need to cancel your cruise altogether, or you miss your departure at Southampton due to traffic. Our number one piece of advice, above all, irrespective of whether you book two days or two years in advance, is to have an adequate insurance policy in place.

Those were our top tips on whether to book, or wait. We hope you found this guide helpful. What do you do when you cruise? Book or wait? Have you always been happy with your decision?

Oh, and one final piece of advice, when travelling to Carcassonne, take an umbrella on your excursions, you’ll thank me. 

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