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How to Decipher Cruise Line Marketing Lingo
UP TO $600 OFF | 30% Off | BOGO | FREE AIRFARE | KIDS SAIL FREE!… ENDS FRIDAY!
We all see these amazing sales cruise lines use to get us to hurry up and book now, but the reality is that these offers, while they work out mathematically, are not exactly all that special or all that limited.
Cruise lines have what is known as the “brochure rate” that nobody ever pays, and they have the “going rate” that they are actually selling the cruise for. So let’s say the “brochure rate” is $6,000.00, but the “going rate: is $2.000.00. The $4,000.00 difference is the money they use to apply these marketing specials to.
So when you see a special like “Up to $650 off, plus 30% off and Kids sail free,” it will add up to the difference between the “brochure rate” and the “going rate” every single time, but it sure causes a sense of urgency!
Usually, when you see these deals are valid up to a certain date, you can rest assured that when that date passes you will get an email telling you the offer has been extended. If they don’t extend it, they will come out with a new sale that has different number calculations like “60% OFF, and Second Guest Free,” but still calculates down to the same “going rate” when it is all said and done.
2nd Passenger Sails Free!
Once again, this is the same as what we mentioned above. In the end, same “going rate,” but there is an additional little hidden point in these offers. “Free” is never actually “Free.” There is always an asterisk, and when you read the fine print, it will always tell you that taxes and port fees are not included. You may not think that is much, but when you look at some of those 3 and 4 days cruises, or 7 days cruises in the Caribbean, those taxes and port fees can easily be 80% of the price!
Kids Sail Free!
Much like the 2nd Passenger Sails Free offers, these never include taxes and port fees. But in most cases, these deals will only apply to dates when the kids are normally in school, they are often restricted to very young kids, will require two full-fare paying adults in the room, etc. So even when they don’t have this kind of sale, if you do the math, the price is almost always the same.
Free Drinks & Wifi!
When a cruise line offers free drinks and Wifi, that is always a nice perk, and certainly has value. However, it is important to know what that actually means. To begin with, free drinks does not mean all drinks are free. There are usually low-level and high-level drink packages, and this will always be the low one. This will be that select drinks are free, but most will have an additional charge. Some cruise lines just charge you the difference, while others make you pay full price for the more expensive drinks.
The Wifi is similar. It will always be heavily restricted wifi that is generally enough to send and receive emails and text ,messages. You will also find that on cruises that offer free Wifi, you have a ship full of people sharing very limited Internet, so it will not always work.
So how DO cruise prices go up and down?
It is actually pretty simple. The cruise’s “Brochure Rate” never changes, but cruise lines will raise or lower the “going rate” of a cruise based on a variety of factors:
Booking Far in Advance is Usually a Better Value
As The Cruise Fills, The Going Rates Go Up
It is simple supply and demand. if lots of people are snatching up rooms, they will raise the rates on the remaining rooms in order to try to get more income per person. This is why over time, the price tends to get higher, not lower.
Roughly 120 Days Before the Cruise
This is something of a “magic” moment in time. Agencies and travel agency consortia all over the world grab up blocks of rooms on practically every cruise sailing. They do this because they know that the price tends to go up. So if they have 50 rooms on a ship locked in at a lower price than the current “going rate,” they can often get you a better deal than you would get from the cruise line by booking you into one of the rooms they are holding.
In fact, this is exactly how CDV Cruises has special rates and offers on thousands of cruises per year. Furthermore, the more of those blocked rooms they fill, the more of an added bonus they get from the cruise line. BUT… At around 120 days before the sailing date, it is time for them to pay up or let go. So if they blocked 50 rooms and only sold 25, they need to either pay for 50 rooms they have not sold, or release them back to the cruise line.
If a larger than expected number of rooms are released back to the cruise line, they may have a fire sale to fill up the ship. This does not happen particularly often, but it does happen, and this is where we see those “last minute deals on cruises.” They are not actually all that last minute, because as those rooms fill up, the pricing will tend to go up again.
So With All Of This Sales Jargon, How Do You Get The Best Price?
It’s really hard to know, but there are some best practices. To start, at any point in time, we have access to the exact specials the cruise lines offer at any given time. But the first thing is to try to book your cruise as far in advance as you possibly can. Remember, the deposit is usually a small portion of the full price and is usually refundable for a great deal of time should you change your mind.
But more importantly, this is one of the great advantages of booking through a company like CDV Cruises, because we can help with Price Protection. Simply put, most cruise lines will honor lowering the price of pre-existing bookings if they lower their prices. But they are never going to call or email you to let you know the price went down. Furthermore, if you book direct, it will be extremely difficult to get them to do it.
To Sum it up…
Don’t get sucked into those impulse-driven marketing programs. When it is all said and done, talk to us and we will help you know what a real deal is and is not.
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Why Always Book with CDV:
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In addition to the CDV Tour credit, we have special offers you cannot get directly from the cruise lines on thousands of sailings every year. When you search for a cruise on our website, look for these badges next to a sailing : and – These indicate a special group offer that can provide you with free onboard credit, free excursions, or included gratuities.
The special and exclusive CDV offers can almost always be combined all with current qualifying national promotions offered by the cruise line, as well as full credit toward cruise line status.
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Book cruises with CDV and you can get credit of up to $10,000 for each cruise to use toward any CDV land vacation!