Tag-Archive for » Last-minute deals «

How Fast Can You Pack For A Deal?

Everybody loves a deal. That used to mean taking advantage of last-minute sales that were sometimes the product of too much product. Too many televisions…too many optical mice…too many empty rooms. Take your pick.

On cruise ships, empty rooms generate no income. Then, along came Royal Caribbean, earlier this year deciding not to bow to the lure of slashing prices to fill some beds.

End of last-minute deals?

Maybe. Maybe not. This week, Windstar Cruises has last-minute bargains in the name of Veterans Day, which is Wednesday. The sale continues until Thursday and it applies on cruises in Europe, Costa Rica, the Panama Canal and the Caribbean.

How good a deal is 81 per cent off?

Whatever Windstar’s motivation, there are some real bargains, with an additional $100 off Windstarfor vets and active-duty military personnel. Sail (and it is sailing as these are yachts) around Tahiti, or Costa Rica, or the Caribbean for seven days for $1,299. That’s less than $200 per day with a premium cruise line.

The European cruises are less attractive but, by Windstar prices, good deals. A week in the Greek Isles and Turkey goes for $2,599, a cruise with a sticker price of $7,399.

Granted, the deals are on select cruises. Granted, you do have to fly to the embarkation and disembarkation ports. Granted, you may have to book tomorrow, pack Wednesday and leave Thursday. But for a chance to sail on a ship most of us can only admire from the shore…

Isn’t that what last-minute deals are?

In the news…

Emiel de Vries named Captain of Holland America's new Konigsdam
• No decision yet about sending SS United States to ship scrapyard
• Privately owned islands in Papua New Guinea to open for cruising in 2016

Today at portsandbows.com: First look at Anthem of the Seas


Norwegian Epic
10 nights
December 9, 2015
Barcelona (return): Cagliari, Palermo, Naples, Rome, Florence
Inside: $559
Cost per day: $55
www.ncl.com

Concerts, Cruise Ships Share Philosophy

Last week, we tried to see Neil Diamond in concert (yes, at 74, he’s still performing). A quick check of tickets delivered the news that they weren’t in our budget, unless we wanted to sit where you need binoculars to see the stage. Aha, we thought, there’s sure to Neil Diamond-Eva Rinaldibe a last-minute deal.

There wasn’t.

Standing at the box office five minutes before the show was supposed to start, the $191 tickets were still $191 and, we were politely told, that wasn’t going to change.

Maybe cruise lines are getting tips from ol’ Neil, who at 74 continues to play to nearly sold-out houses. If everybody thinks last-minute deals are the way to go, most people will wait until the last minute and the “gate” will suffer.

Translating that to the current cruise climate, it means last-minute deals are disappearing. Last month, it was Royal Caribbean that decided to rid itself of what CEO Richard Fain called the “used-car salesman kind of mentality.” This month, it’s Carnival. Both consider the strategy a profit-killer and, yes, cruise lines are in the business of turning profits.

- Eva Rinaldi photo

So both would rather have empty cabins on ships more or less full of passengers paying the “going rate” than fill up the ships to have heads in every bed, as they say. This is a major philosophical shift and it’s likely to spread so that there are almost no last-minute deals anywhere.

The same goes for the concert crowd. If a 74-year-old entertainer selling out on his past sets the standard for the non-discounting of tickets, it’s likely to be the case for all entertainers.

If, of course, it isn’t already.

In the news…

• Over a million people welcome Cunard Queens on the Mersey in Liverpool
• Windstar christens Star Legend after $8.5-million refurbishment and name change
• Royal Caribbean to make Aklan, Philippines its hub for Asia region

Today at portsandbows.com: Luxury cruising on the move

Carnival Liberty
7 nights
August 23, 2015
San Juan (return): St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, St. Maarten
Inside: $419
Cost per day: $59
www.carnival.com

Armageddon For Last-Minute Deals? 

In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, Royal Caribbean CEO Richard Fain indicated that the party may soon be over when it comes to last-minute cruise deals.

Richard FainFain told Bloomberg the reasons will be:

• More ships moving to Asia, reducing the capacity in the Caribbean, where most last-minute deals surface

• Attempts by cruise lines, notably his, to stabilize pricing that alienates cruisers who book early and wind up paying more

He agreed that cruise lines risk having fewer passengers on ships to, as he put it: “…raise the satisfaction level of our guests and strengthen the perception of our brand superiority.”

Hmm, interesting.

Three thoughts come to mind:

One, cruises are like most businesses, with pricing dictated by supply and demand. If fewer ships in the Caribbean create more of a demand, prices will surely go up and there won’t be as many last-minute deals. That’s just business.

Two, why do the “early bookers” complain? If they don’t like the fact that “late bookers” may get a better deal by waiting, all they have to do is change their tactics and take a chance on booking a cruise at the last minute. Certainty comes with a price.

Three, the whole empty-cabin issue is problematic. There aren’t fewer cabins when a ship departs, and having nobody in them at least looks like lost revenue, since the savings from fewer bed changes, or less cleaning and electricity, or even less food on the ship is minimal.

Will cruise lines be able to resist sailing with more empty cabins?

And if they do, will the segment of the population that “bargain shops” — be it for almost-expired yogurt or last-minute cruises — be alienated by a change in cruise policy?

Today at portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Holland America Amsterdam
14 nights
December 8, 2014
San Diego, Puerto Vallarta, Huatulco, Puerto Quetzal, Corinto, Puerto Caldera, Panama Canal, Cartagena, Fort Lauderdale
Inside: $1,199
Cost per day: $85
www.hollandamerica.com

Sampler Cruises in Faraway Places

 

Last week, we wrote about "sampler" cruises on the West Coast of North America. It also applies on other coasts.

If you happen to be going to London after the Olympics are done and you're not sure how you feel about cruising, or you want to take somebody who is a reluctant cruiser, here's one way to find out…

You can take the Grand Princess (above) on a three-day, round-trip cruise from Southampton. The ship makes stops in Guernsey (England) and Paris. Departure is September 1 and fares start at $499 per person.

Think of it as a weekend in Paris (even if you don't get to Paris until Monday).

If you happen to be going to Australia next year, P&O has all kinds of sampler cruises to introduce you (or your companion) to cruising.

The most attractive one we found — at a reseller called cruisesalefinder.com.au — was Sydney return, three nights sailing off the east coast of Australia for $398 on the Pacific Jewel. Besides the attractive pricing, it's a food and wine cruise, leaving March 28 — like late August in North America.

Think of it as a weekend picking grapes in an Australian vineyard.


Norwegian Sun
9 nights
August 2, 2012
Copenhagen (return): Berlin, Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm
Inside: $699
Cost per day: $77
www.ncl.com

Chasing The Sky's Best Cruise Prices

I’ve spent the last couple of days trying to find the “right deal” on a cruise.  I was quite specific about what we were looking for — specific time, specific port, specific ship. Since it’s only a few weeks before that “specific date” it seemed reasonable that I would find a “last-minute deal.”

Here were my specs: November 22, Miami, Norwegian Sky (above).

It’s a five-day cruise and the prices seemed to be starting at under $200 per person (double occupancy). This was looking good. I called some of the cruise agencies listing prices on line — CruisesToGo, iCruise.com and CruiseDeals.com. I also called Norwegian, where I’d developed a phone relationship over the past few months with “Jason.” These things happen when you’re phoning about cruises.

Rather than bore you with all the details of my day on the phone, here’s the long and short of it:

• Starting prices are for inside cabins and, being the princess (or queen) I am, I wanted an oceanview, so I knew going in I wouldn’t wind up with the lowest price available.

• The prices at each level are not always available. For example, the best oceanview price I found was $259 but that “category” of oceanview wasn’t available, and the “next” one (different location, different deck) was more.

• Once the starting price gets us to phone, the people at the agencies have to try to convince us to pay a little more for the category that is available. It seems to me that the advertised prices are often sold out.

• There really were no last-minute deals, perks or onboard credits…and in the final analysis, cruise agents all seem to wind up having about the same price.

• In the end, I wound up calling my friend Jason, who sold me an oceanview for $269 (plus taxes, of course).

• It’s really not a good idea to look for a last-minute deal the week of Thanksgiving.

Oops.

  • Categories

  • Archives