One of the most frequent questions Key Traveler guests ask is “When is the best time to book my cruise or land vacation?” The question could pertain to the destination or the deal.
1. Booking far in advance
This is the most perplexing subject as there is no “set in stone” answer. The various scenarios depend on your own peace of mind. If you are the type of traveler that likes to plan ahead so you can better organize your schedule of events, then arranging your trip as much as a year or more from now makes the most sense. If your vacation choice is a smaller cruise ship or a guided group tour with smaller numbers of like-minded travelers, and you have been advised that your destination and date are or have been in great demand, then surely it would be in your best interest to deposit early to assure that you don’t miss out.
In many cases, particulary Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Viking River Cruises and Tauck Tours and small ship river cruises, early bookers enjoy the most lucrative benefits and the best selection.
On larger cruise ships, such as Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Avalon Waterways river cruises for example, it’s about the most popular time of year such as summer vacations and holiday time for families on larger ships, or exciting and interesting destinations such as the Fall Foliage cruises along the coast of New England and Canada, the old world charm throughout Europe, the ancient culture of Asia, or the enchanting islands of the Galapagos in South America.The window of opportunity starts closing in pretty quick.
2. Last Minute Travel Deals
Can you snag better deals by waiting, say a month or two or three before? Absolutely yes! You will need to put yourself in the “flexible” state of mind. A getaway trip to the Caribbean is the most plentiful, especially in the off-season. Perhaps the destination, say Alaska or Mexico or Hawaii, is not as popular as previous years but still on your wish list. As a travel agent and frequent traveler, I see these type deals come across my desk every day. You won’t find a Scandanavia cruise in July or August with Oceania Cruises or the lowest priced suites on Crystal Cruises from Miami to Lima in January of 2015 or a Christmas cruise on the new Celebrity Reflection on that list. A good deal is not a good deal if it’s not when and where you want to travel.
3. Price Goes Up. Price Goes Down
If prices rise after you book, obviously you made a good decision. But what if your friends and/or relatives decide to join you after prices have increased? The fine print always says “prices based on availability at the time of booking.” If you have friends or relatives that you think may want to go on the same trip, why not give them a call or send a text or email. Recommend they contact Key Traveler as it is more likely they can receive the same benefits.
The “prices reduced dilemma.” First, check that everything is the same. Same date, same accommodations, same or better benefits. Next, check the terms and conditions. Is it a “New Bookings Only” promotion? Are there restrictions like “may not be combined with other promotions?” Your Key Traveler advisor is your best advocate if an adjustment can be accomplished.
4. The Abundance Of Marketing
Most of us are in the “same boat.” We get overwhelmed with mailers, emails and TV ads. How are we to decide if these promotions are good deals or just more of the same? 2 For 1, Free or reduced airfare, extra credits.
If it’s such a good deal, why not just book it directly with the cruise line or tour operator?
Because you wouldn’t get Key Rewards!