Q –  We have to tell you that your industry is really confusing. We get all these mailings with all these “deals” and it is impossible to tell which ones are really true deals and which are old, repackaged pricing. We want to book a cruise to the eastern Caribbean this fall. We’ve been on NCL twice and we’re thinking we would do something much nicer, on a smaller line, this time. But when should we book to get the most favorable pricing? No one seems to tell you that. It is not that we are cheap. But like everyone else we like to feel that we’ve gotten the best price available. 

A – You used a term we really like, “repackaged pricing”. In the majority of cruise ads that is exactly  what you are seeing. It is the same casserole but they’ve renamed it. The answer to your question involves a proper sit down or extended phone call. But fro our readers who might be wondering the same thing it is important to know one general rule: Mass market cruise lines do change their pricing, offer last-minute as well as Early Booking deals, and feel no obligation to pass any new offer on to all previously booked guests. In other words, it is a free market sales economy.

The cruise lines that have made our Top Ten list operate in a different sphere. Their cruises operate worldwide and they want to keep their guests happy and loyal. They generally would go back and offer all previously booked and deposited guests any new offers currently being advertised. This is costly for them and sometimes they do not let booked guests know there is a better offer. That is one of the functions of a good consultant – the monitoring of price changes applicable to clients already booked. In other words, guests will not get the new offer unless their agent specifically contacts the cruise line to request it. 

Let us put it another way – On a four thousand passenger ship it is assumed that some folks paid a different price than you did. On a five-star vessel with several hundred guests it would cause a small insurrection if one of the suite guests discovered over dinner than someone in a similar suite had paid less than they did. The story would travel faster than a Trump tweet.