Q – Like everyone else, I love the better things in life but I also like to feel that I am getting the best deal. Yesterday, I called Silversea and they said that they had 14 cabins still available ion the three categories we would want with a veranda. But we did not commit because we don;t know the procedure to take advantage of the pricing for last-minute cabins that they can;t sell. What is the trick and is there an agency that really specializes in this sort of thing. I see online come-ons for lots of them that say that they specialize in last-minute but when I would call it sounded a bit shady. What is the best strategy. I want to be smart about this thing.
A – You are falling for the oldest travel agency trick. “Oh my – what are we going to do with all of our leftover cabins? Oh, we know, we’ll give them to you for less because you waited until the last minute.” One large agency places fake news stories all over the internet claiming to offer special deals on last-minute space. They are insulting your intelligence. Here is what you need to know:
01 – Any travel firm that claims to have last-minute exclusive deals is clearly lying. The industry just doesn’t work like that. Why would any sane person book a cruise months sometimes more than a year in advance to pay more?
02 – The fact is that cruise lines tend to regard those who book the first 25% of the ship with the best early-booking offers. Those who book later often pay more. The highest rates we see in the industry are those charged to guests who book their cruise between the time when final payment is collected and the actual sailing date.
03 – More than 90% of the cruises sold by Silversea and other top-tier cruise lines are booked by travel agents. No reputable travel agent would book a line that gave one agency different pricing than all of the other agencies that are top sellers of the brand. It just doesn’t happen. If it ever did happen it would become big industry news and large segments of the travel agent community would likely boycott the brand.
04 – The consumer assumes that filling last-minute cabins is difficult and that the cruise lines agonize about selling every single bed. They don;t. On many more exotic itineraries, the lines do not want to operate at full capacity fearing this could diminish service. There are always waiting lists for travel consultants, travel writers, and stockholders who the line would like to accommodate on-board. Every cruise line sales manager has dozens of potential sellers of their product they would love to have experience their product. Filling cabins is quite easy.
05 – Finally, the last-minute deals are almost always phony because no quality cruise line is willing to go back to all of the guests who were already booked to inform them that “despite your faith in us and the fact that you booked eight months ago and gave us your deposit money, we’re now going to punish you for doing so by giving some folks who waited until a week before sailing to book the same space you are holding at far less.” Cruise line executives are not idiots. They will never intentionally anger their best clients.
Our firm sells and represents every one of the top ten cruise brands in the world. Every one of them practices pricing integrity. All of the top agencies receive exactly the same price. But the online call center boiler room operatives keep telling the consumer otherwise. You say you want to be “smart about this” so we would advise you to book 8-10 months in advance next time you travel on the ocean or the rivers.