With the price drop alert tools such as Cruise Watch on the market, it is possible to track ticket price reductions and take advantage of them – even if you’ve already paid.
If the price of a ticket on your cruise drops, some cruise lines will offer upgrades or benefits such as onboard credit to compensate you, while others will actually give you a partial refund to make up some of the price difference.
But numerous websites extol the virtues of cancelling and rebooking to game the system and get a better deal on cruises.
Even the CEO of Cruisewatch, Markus Stumpe, recently suggested that if you cancel your ticket, and rebook at the reduced price you can get your cruise a lot cheaper the second time around.
“[Guests] should cancel and then rebook their cruise at fares reduced up to 71 per cent.”
But should they? In a word, maybe.
Kathy Pavlidis, manager at Travel Associates, warns that, while cancelling and rebooking can save her clients “thousands of dollars”, it’s not always that simple.
First and foremost, she says, “every line has different terms and conditions. Each cruise line has their own policy on price drops, and an experienced cruise consultant can advise you of these.”
Pavlidis says it’s important to read the fine print to find out whether a line charges fees to change cabin type and sailing date; what their schedule is of days before departure that attract various penalties; and whether the line offers a deposit protection plan.
You should also check whether any benefits you got with your booking – earlybird discounts, onboard credit, drinks packages, fly-free deals – will be applicable to your new booking. It’s no good saving $1000 on a new booking if you lose flights and $400 onboard credit.
Additionally, some lines’ sale fares may only be applicable to new bookings, leaving you out of pocket if you cancel your fare. And on top of cruise line fees, it’s worth asking if the booking agent charges a fee.
“Consumers need to understand that if the cruise line charges a fee from date of deposit then travel insurance is recommended from day of deposit,” she adds.
Booking a cruise is complicated, with lots of moving parts, so it’s important to understand all of them, or discuss them with your agent, before you go ahead and cancel anything.
Pavlidis’s advice is that “the luxury cruise lines have the most flexible attitude towards price drops. My top cruise lines for being the most favourable are Regent, Oceania, Crystal, and Silversea.
“We all want to cruise for the best possible price and the cruise line wants to sail full, so hopefully we can keep all parties happy.”