Sometimes, you just don’t know when you’re going to have your time off. Luckily, we have listed last-minute cruise opportunities that will set sail soon.
If you’re capable of leaving at a moment’s or a week’s notice, you could get huge savings on your holiday with last-minute cruise discounts. Sometimes, you’ll also be ready to score last-minute cruise deals because of a cancellation, so you might see yourself in the best stateroom on a fantastic ship for a tiny price.
Cruising away to amazing ports and countries is adventurous and loads of fun! When someone asks if you have plans for the weekend, wouldn’t it be awesome to tell them that you’re sailing on one of many cruises to the Caribbean or Europe?
How to Book a Last-Minute Cruise
Whether you’re looking for a great deal or hoping for a quick holiday getaway, there are reliable ways to secure a cruise at the 11th hour.
However, booking a cruise at the last minute isn’t as simple as it used to be. Would-be cruisers have been securing their trips earlier than ever, thanks to early booking notices.
At the same time, several cruise lines have walked away from the practice of offering large discounts to load empty cabins in the final weeks before sailing. Instead, they usually try to maintain their prices at a base level even if it expects some cabins to go unsold.
The effect is that last-minute bookers are having a tougher time finding the type of cabins they desire on ships and the itineraries they want for a better price.
Still, all is not lost for those wishing to catch the waves on short notice. Whether you’ve hesitated in making your cruise plans or just love to travel on a whim, there are various ways to find and book a last-minute voyage.
You should understand the “booking window”
While cruise ship cabins are always booked up further in advance, the cruise “booking window” or the number of days between the moment a customer settled his schedule and a ship sails has broadened considerably.
The booking window can be as long as six months. This means a large percentage of cabins on any given cruise is already booked up, even three or four months out. That said, the booking window fluctuates broadly by itinerary.
Michelle Fee, CEO of Cruise Planners, one of the nation’s biggest travel agency networks, announces that the booking window is now a full year out for extended itineraries in faraway places such as Asia. But it is three to six months for shorter or closer-to-home trips. The recent category of cruises is where you’ll find the most luck spotting last-minute cabin availability and deals.
Try to look at the slow weeks
You’re more likely to discover last-minute space on ships at fair or even rock-bottom prices during the slow seasons.
In the Caribbean, that would be during the fall season, when kids are back at school and hurricane-season worries are keeping some travelers away. In Alaska, where the cruise season only continues a few months between May and September, the first few weeks and last few weeks of that season are good hunting grounds for a last-minute deal.
Consider a repositioning cruise
Cruise lines sometimes require ships to move long distances between larger markets, resulting in “repositioning cruises” with unique itineraries that often are difficult to sell and, thus, available at the last minute.
Several lines move vessels from the Caribbean to Europe in the spring, for example, and then back to the Caribbean in the fall. These lead to long, one-off sailings with lots of sea days that only interest a small subset of cruisers.
Repositioning sailings between Europe and Asia in spring and fall are another ideal spot to try to look for last-minute deals. Some cruise-focused websites such as VacationsToGo.Com present tabs placing last-minute repositioning cruises that you can classify by date and price.
If a cruise line is doing its revenue management properly, there always will be at least a few cabins open on any given voyage as the sailing date comes near.
It might not be the sort of cabin that you desire (a coveted midship balcony, for example) or at the price you were expecting to pay. But if you don’t mind the cabin type, the destination, cruise line, or ship, you’ll have a much easier time obtaining a last-minute deal.
Cruise Planners’ Fee states premium cabins such as suites, connecting cabins (popular with families), and rooms that have a third or fourth berth frequently are the first to sell out for any given voyage. But you never know what will be open when it comes to the last few weeks before the actual cruise.
Keep it close to home
The biggest difficulty to booking a last-minute cruise sometimes isn’t locating the right ship at the right price. Rather, it’s finding flights to get to that ship at the best price.
This is particularly real if you’re buying for a last-minute cruise that is far from where you live. The solution? Try to look at sailings in ports that you can reach by car or via an air route that is quick and cheap.
For vacationers on the East Coast, that might suggest sailings out of New York or Boston. For a West Coaster, it could indicate sailing from Los Angeles or San Diego.
Watch the news
Nearly every year there are one-off events–a terrorist attack in a European city, a major hurricane in the Caribbean–that make cruise bookings in a particular area freeze up. Some situations cause waves of cancellations.
When this occurs, cruise lines normally roll out last-minute deals just to get people booking again. In the wake of this year’s ban on Cuba cruise calls, for example, cruise lines were forced to leave the island from itineraries on short notice, setting off a wave of cancellations for trips that covered at least one Cuba call.
To get passengers back on board the affected ships, now sailing shifted routes, the cruise lines have been offering pretty good deals.
The Best Last-minute Holiday Cruises
Whether you’ve had some free time suddenly come up or you’ve been expecting to book a late holiday, there is always something very exciting and spontaneous about choosing to jump onboard a last-minute cruise.
Maybe you already know where exactly in the world you would like to visit and you have been expecting the best, last-minute cruise deal, or maybe you’ve been encouraged by our series of last-minute cruise deals to visit a place you’d never been before. Wherever you choose to go, you’ll surely be amazed at how much money you can save.
Cruising aboard Carnival Conquest takes you on a holiday at sea to an art form. The ship displays genuine mastery of the craft with an onboard photomontage of comedy scenes for you to enjoy. There’s fun everywhere you look, from the dance club (excellent for people-watching) to the entertainment lounges (ideal for show-watching).
The Taste Bar presents small bites with great flavor, and the Alchemy Bar serves up not only one-of-a-kind beverages but a full experience for your senses. There’s even The Punchliner Comedy Club, which renders stand-up comedians a microphone and a spot to showcase their fun talents with puns for your enjoyment. And let’s not skip Seuss at Sea, which directs classic Dr. Seuss stories and characters into huge fun for all.
You don’t have to be able to describe a Monet from a Renoir to dine in the two cunning dining rooms, you just need to be hungry. You don’t need a performing arts degree just to experience lively musical shows onstage at Playlist Productions, but you can assume you’re encountering art from your seat.
You are not even required to learn a rule book just to enjoy Hasbro, The Game Show, where huge fun wins the stage in a live game show anyone can enjoy. With exquisite food, bars, and entertainment, Carnival Conquest has a spectacle for everybody.
MSC Meraviglia is full of extraordinary features for the entire experience at sea in any season.
Enjoy excellent dining options and out-of-this-world performance with new picturesque areas, an innovative ocean-view lounge, a two-deck inside promenade with an LED dome, and a thrilling amusement area connected to an outdoor water park. Also, MSC Meraviglia is one of the four ships that cruise to Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, MSC’s private Bahamian destination.
You can experience amazing shows that are presented in highly sophisticated venues like the Carousel Lounge and the multi-purpose karaoke bar, comedy club, TV studio and bar. Younger guests will enjoy the amusement park and sports center. The whole family can have hours of enjoyment in one of the most exhilarating water parks at sea.
Eco-ship MSC Splendida carries you on an enchanting voyage, bringing you to the very sought-after destinations in the world while being pampered on a beautiful destination in her own right.
You’ll surely enjoy the live music and the amazing variety of designer-themed bars and restaurants with various gourmet choices to explore, from genuine Mediterranean specialties to spicy Tex-Mex. End the night with a world-class show in The Strand Theater, a winning streak in the Royal Palm Casino, or sway in the Club 33 Disco.
There’s also a wide range of sports facilities that includes four swimming pools, a jogging track, a squash court, and a very modern gym with the latest equipment. Soothe your body and mind in the fascinating MSC Aurea Spa with indulging Balinese massages, thalassotherapy, high-level beauty treatments, a Turkish bath, sauna, whirlpool, and solarium.
Sunbathe in the tranquillity and privacy of the adults-only Top 18 sun deck allowing stunning sea views, its dedicated spa service, and bar menu with gratis fruit skewers, while Kids and Teens naturally enjoy marvelous facilities and clubs of their own.
Relaxing in the prestigious foredecks, there’s the private MSC Yacht Club, a luxurious ship-within-a-ship with 71 large suites with its Concierge Reception, 24-hour butler assistance, private Top Sail Lounge, pool deck, and bar.
With a whole length of 1,004 feet, this one exceeded the Dream class idea of a large-scale, bow-to-stern cruise ship. It also features the food-and-entertainment area Ocean Plaza, the splashy fittings of Carnival WaterWorks.
It also boasts The Lanai, a comfortable, picturesque half-mile outdoor wraparound promenade deck. In other words, a journey aboard the Carnival Magic has no shortage of its namesake!
It’s no surprise that Carnival Magic debuted all-new ways to have a good time onboard and keeps on proving it with the outdoor fitness-and-fun of SportSquare, highlighting the world’s first lines course at sea.
This is also the vessel that catered the world to Cucina del Capitano, which serves up Italian favorites suited for a captain. And who can skip their initial taste of RedFrog Pub, with its laid-back ambiance. There’s also the private, savory beer, ThirstyFrog Red.
Staying with the times, Carnival Magic now even features fleet highlights like Guy’s Burger Joint, BlueIguana Cantina, Alchemy Bar, RedFrog Rum Bar, and the first-of-its-kind Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse.
Carnival Magic has a tale of rousing good things while urging you to share them with guests.
Sail aboard Majestic Princess® and experience the top picks you’ve always loved as well as interesting additions including two specialty restaurants with dinner menus designed by two Michelin-star awarded chefs.
From the time you step aboard, it wants you to feel embraced and right at home. And with thoughtful service from a courteous staff that knows what hospitality means, you’ll find that the Princess® ship is your home away from home.
This is surely a “no” to FOMO. Independence of the Seas® is supplying the Caribbean with a dose of unique adventures on a holiday getaway.
Propel yourself into a virtual experience on the Sky Pad® bungee trampoline adventure. Then proceed head to head in a glow-in-the-dark laser tag encounter in Battle for Planet Z℠. You can spend your wonderful time and game-changing grub at Playmakers℠ Sports Bar & Arcade.
And while onshore, keep the adventure running strong at a private destination that’s ultimately blended with thrill and chill — Perfect Day at CocoCay.
The Augmented Freedom of the Seas® is truly as wow-worthy as the destinations it sails to. Top-rated shorelines. Bow-to-stern flourishes. The best of both worlds fused together for an all-in-one experience on the Amplified Freedom of the Seas®, sailing from Cape Liberty and Miami.
Explore postcard-perfect destinations in the Great White North and picturesque tropical destinations across the Caribbean in between exceptional thrills onboard. This includes adrenaline-pumping slides and rides directly on the deck.
There’s also a new pool scene that was created to level up your time in the sun and fresh, genuine flavors that will satisfy any craving.
As the $500 million fleet-wide modernization plan of Celebrity Cruises began, Celebrity Summit® has just created bigger waves in the cruise world.
From fitting a brand-new stateroom and upgrading the design concepts and technology all throughout the ship to uniting The Retreat, an exclusive type of suite, the new venues, coupled with the award-winning Luminae, are sure to satisfy.
Glide into new eXhale bedding highlighting CashmereSM mattresses that will girdle you in luxury—literally.
Marvel at entirely distinct bathroom modernizations. You can wine and dine-in at the refurbished restaurants and lounges, such as the main dining room, Oceanview Café, Sunset Bar, and Rendezvous Lounge. Abandon your senses in the recently redesigned spa. Shop in new retail boutiques.
The Celebrity RevolutionSM will surely transform the way you see the world aboard Celebrity Summit®.
With its brand new top deck dining areas, Slice Pizzeria, The Mix, Salty Dog Grill, and Coffee & Cones, you’ll surely have even more tantalizing possibilities to choose from during your stay on board Grand Princess.
You can relax at The Sanctuary, a peaceful haven only reserved for adults, you can also enjoy Movies Under the Stars® poolside, or watch an award-winning Broadway-style production program in the refitted and sophisticated Princess Theater, highlighting an even more immersive audio experience.
The innovative Costa Flagship will be the vessel of space and light. Its name signifies harmony and serenity. The tranquil Samsara Spa glosses over two decks and is a refuge of wellness and relaxation.
The stunning Samsara Suites have uninterrupted access to the Spa. Over 500 cabins will have balconies. Pick from 13 bars and 5 restaurants. There are 4 swimming pools, two of which have retractable glass roofs. The decks are large and panoramic, and the chic public areas are designed with your pleasure and relaxation in mind.
Which cruise lines are famous for last-minute availability?
Fee states that most last-minute sales appear on the larger ships leaving from U.S. home ports on Caribbean cruises. We’re talking cruising on the giant ships of the Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, and some other similar lines.
It’ll be more difficult to spot a last-minute spot (let alone a deal) on one of the smaller luxury ships operated by the likes of Regent Seven Seas Cruises or Crystal Cruises, which most passengers book up far in advance.
How to time your search?
A great time to begin looking for last-minute deals is about 90 days before the actual cruise. This is the “final payment” deadline for several cruises–the period where customers who have put down deposits on voyages must be settled.
After the deadline, cruise lines have a more solid idea of how many cabins they have left to be sold, and they alter the pricing accordingly. If a ship is heavily booked after the final payment, charges for the remaining cabins will stay the same if not higher. If there are a surprisingly large number of cabins left to sell, the price could come down.
The final payment deadline is modified by line and itinerary. At Royal Caribbean, it’s 75 days for a shorter cruise. Regent Seven Seas chops things off as far out as 150 days on some trips.
The pricing you spot online for last-minute cruises does not differ too much, whether you’re buying directly with a cruise line or at an online travel agency. But you sometimes can receive a greater deal if you pick up the phone to call a travel agent straight away.
Large cruise-selling travel agent networks, like Cruise Planners and Avoya Travel, frequently have access to lower “group rate” charges or added-value perks. This includes free beverage packages that cruise lines won’t allow travel agents advertise online.