Booking a last-minute cruise doesn’t have to be stressful. In fact, many people choose to book at the eleventh hour on purpose.
Whether you’re booking last minute due to some unexpected time off or you’ve been waiting to nab a cheaper deal, last-minute cruising is a great way to spend your holiday.
There are both benefits and drawbacks to waiting later to book your cruise. In this blog, we’ll give you some inspiration and show you how to find the best last-minute Fred. Olsen cruises.
Are last-minute cruises cheaper?
Generally speaking, last-minute cruises can be cheaper than booking in advance. Most cruise liners want to have as many guests as possible onboard, so if there are cabins available close to the departure date, they’re likely to start dropping their prices.
We offer a number of last-minute cruise deals throughout the year, giving our guests the opportunity to experience a new destination and the Olsen Way at a discounted rate. There’s a deal for everyone, with cruises to exciting destinations all over the world.
However, it’s important to think about the value you’re getting when looking for a last-minute deal. Consider your options and the flexibility you need to have to get the best deal. If you have to compromise on your travel dates, destination and room type, is it worth it? If you’re happy to be flexible, then last-minute cruising is a great option for you.
Do cruise prices drop last minute?
Compared to flights and hotels, cruises are unlikely to drop in price at the last minute. One reason for this is because cruise lines are required to give their passenger manifests to national coast guards within 24 to 48 hours of departure. However, there are deals to be had if you book at the right time.
How to find last-minute cruise deals
In cruise terms, ‘last minute’ can refer to anything up to three months before the departure date. This gives you a good window of opportunity to find a last-minute cruise deal. However, finding a good deal and ensuring it’s what you want requires a bit of planning. Here are our top tips for finding a good last-minute cruise deal.
Get the timing right
The best time to find a last-minute cruise deal is usually 60 to 90 days before the departure date. This is because many cruise lines use this as their ‘last call’ for cancellations that incur no or low fees. At Fred. Olsen, we’d recommend looking at the 90-day mark as this is the time where our guests can cancel for the lowest fee should they need to.
At this time, the cruise line will have counted up how many cabins are available, and if there are more rooms than they hoped for, most ships will offer a discounted rate to fill the space.
Flexibility is key when it comes to booking at the last minute. Cruises sail on different days of the week, with differing lengths for each itinerary, so ensuring your dates are flexible can really help you find the best deal. If you’re limited to departing on a Saturday during a specific timeframe, it’s unlikely you will find a cheaper dealm compared to if you could sail on a Tuesday at any time in a particular month.
It’s also worth being flexible with the type of cabin you'd like to stay in. Most of the premium or sought-after cabins will have been booked well in advance, so you might be restricted to the types of cabins available. Keeping an open mind and opting for any type of cabin can help you get a much better deal.
Look for 'off peak'
If you can travel in ‘off-peak’ or quieter times of the year, you’re more likely to score a better deal on your last-minute cruise booking. If you have a specific destination in mind, consider looking at cruises during the low season. For example, in the Mediterranean, this would be from October through to April.
It’s also worth looking for cruises during ‘shoulder season’, which is the period between the high and low seasons. For example, Christmas cruises are often fully booked months in advance, but travelling a couple of weeks before Christmas is generally quieter, so there could be some last-minute deals to be had at this time of year.
If you’re travelling without children, you can take advantage of cost savings during term time when fewer families will be holidaying. Prices tend to be cheaper at this time as cruises are less busy, so last-minute deals are quite common.
Consider less popular destinations
If you’re not fussy about where you’d like to go, but know you want to cruise soon, we’d recommend having an open mind when it comes to your destination. With cruises travelling all over the world, there are so many options available to you. Sometimes, the destinations you would be unlikely to book any other time turn out to be the best places you’ve ever travelled to!
Less popular destinations don’t get booked up as quickly, so you’ll have more chance of finding a last-minute deal to these if you leave it a little later.
Take advantage of a repositioning cruise
With high and low seasons being different all over the world, it’s not unusual for cruise lines to change regions for a season and sail different routes to get to their new “home port”. This is known as a ‘repositioning cruise’ and, if you get it right, there are big savings to be had.
Repositioning cruises can sometimes be much longer than your average sight-seeing cruise, with lots of sea days and a mixture of ports you wouldn’t typically visit on other trips. However, because they are so unusual, there are usually good last-minute prices to be found.
At Fred. Olsen, some of our repositioning cruises are shorter, offering a quick weekend break or short journey between UK ports. These are ideal if you’re new to cruising and want to sample what we have to offer.
The catch with these types of cruises is that you will be travelling from one port to another as opposed to a round trip. This means you will be responsible for your travel home and will need to factor this into the cost when you decide to book. However, these types of cruises can be great if you’re looking to explore a certain destination for longer.
How to book last-minute cruises
When you’ve done all your research, it’s time to get booking! Most cruise lines enable you to book directly with them online or over the phone. However, some cruises are only offered to travel agents to ensure a quicker sale, so it may be worth getting in touch with an agent to see what deals are available.
When booking your cruise, remember to check all the fees to ensure you’ve got the best deal. While your cruise price might be cheaper, airfare costs, taxes, service charges and any spending costs might mean it’s not as good a deal as you first think.
What last-minute Fred. Olsen cruises are available to book now?
If you’re ready to start your search for a last-minute cruise, we’ve got a number of deals on cruises departing in the next couple of weeks and months. If you’re looking to escape the cold British winter, a cruise around the Canaries over Christmas and New Year is a perfect choice. Or perhaps you enjoy colder climates and love to explore? In this case, a cruise around Arctic Norway to see the Northern Lights might be just what you need.
No matter what type of cruise you’re looking for, we’re sure to have a last-minute cruise deal to suit. Or, if you’re still not sure what you’re looking for, why not browse our cruise destinations and soak up some inspiration?