Do you live in a snowy section of the country? It’s been said 50=60% of Americans do. The snowbelt stretches from the Pacific to the Atlantic Oceans. If you are stuck indoors because it is snowing outside, this is a great time to plan your next cruise.
- You can leave now and be in someplace sunny. Some people are retired. Others are in a similar situation where their time is their own. You can lock the front door, hop on a cruise and be in warm weather before you know it. You do not need to endure cold weather until Easter. You can book a “sailing soon fare” and be in warm weather within days.
- There are plenty of deals out there. Sailing soon fares are an opportunity deserving attention. If you are planning for months from now, there is new capacity coming into the cruise industry. Cruise lines need to fill those cabins. Certain voyages are cheaper than others. Repositioning cruises bring the ship from one market to another. You can enjoy the resort amenities of the ship at a more reasonable price.
- You have time for your passport renewal or visa applications. Passports have an expiration date, but the fine print in the entry requirements of many countries either require three- or six-month validity before they will let you in. You do not want to discover this at the last minute! 148 countries allow Americans to visit without requiring a visa. 20 additional countries issue eVisas, 35 countries will issue visas on arrival into the country and 22 countries require Americans to have a valid visa before entering. These are details you do not want to leave until the last minute.
- Travel in the shoulder season can be attractive. The peak cruising season is July and August. That makes sense because school is out for summer. That is when airfares and cruise fares are often highest. May/June and September/October are the shoulder seasons. Weather is still good and the crowds are thinner. Knowing the “sweet spots” on the calendar helps when looking to get a good deal.
- Getting time off from work is often easier with advance notice. You have seen what happens at the office when people talk about Thanksgiving weekend. It is tough on managers when everyone wants Friday off. Some companies require employees to plan vacation time far in advance. If you do some advance planning, you will likely get the dates you want.
- Your spouse might be more agreeable when the ground is frozen. It’s been said all relationships have a kite and a string. You have the dreamer and the practical one. Assuming you can afford it, would it be easier to win the practical one over to a sunny vacation if you enter the planning stage when there is snow on the ground?
- Airfares are more attractive when you plan far in advance. We had the opportunity to sail from Athens to Istanbul last summer. It came up at the last minute! When we initially looked at airfares, they were close to the price of a cruise! A friend recently needed a one-way London Heathrow to JFK ticket on a few weeks’ notice. The one was fare was about $1,250 and did not allow any checked luggage! When you plan far in advance, you (or the cruise line) should be able to get the airfare under control.
- It gives you something to look forward to. One year my wife and I gave each other a summer cruise in the Mediterranean as our joint Christmas present to each other. The package we unwrapped together on Christmas morning was a framed photo of the ship, which we placed prominently in the living room. We looked at that photo and smiled for months!
- A small deposit should hold your trip. When booking an airfare, they want full payment up front. When you book a cruise, a small deposit gets the ball rolling. The balance of the cost is collected later, which gives you time to plan. Planning a spectacular trip does not require a huge immediate cash outlay.
- The research can be fun. We enjoy researching ports of call in advance. We approach the project with the assumption: “We might never pass this way again. What are the must-see sights and activities?” We find friends who have been there. We get restaurant reservations. We get maps. The excitement of the trip begins early.
- The cruise line will keep in touch, raising the excitement level. We sailed on a Caribbean cruise over Christmas with Cunard. We booked in February for our December departure. As the time got closer, Cunard was in touch every couple of weeks. They wrote about shore excursions and dinner reservations for Christmas and New Years Eve. The excitement builds.
- You should be able to get good hotel deals too. In cities like New York, it can get expensive if you want to book hotel reservations at the last minute. Hotels often cater to business travelers. If you can plan months in advance, you can often find much lower prices.
It can be grim to go from day to day during the winter waiting for Spring but getting news of the next upcoming storm. Planning your next cruise can lift your mood considerably.
Ed. Notes: CruiseCompete and its member travel advisors provide many curated cruise and land deals, offers and amenities on over 50 cruise lines with over 500 cruise ships sailing all around the world.
Cover Photo: St Maartin Oyster Bay Photos ©Dennis Cox/WorldViews©