How to Get the Best Cruise Value

| 08.05.11

The trick to finding cruise values is to think like a "contrarian" so you can "buy low and sail high."

How to Get the Best Cruise Value

With the stock market in the news this week it is very likely you will hear a lot of conflicting opinions about whether you should buy stocks right now. People who recommend buying things of value during hard times are known as "contrarians" - and when it comes to buying cruises thinking like a contrarian can also be very beneficial.

Let's contemplate "Buy Low and Sail High," today's cruise mantra. The best cruise values come on the ships with the lowest demand. There is little rhyme or reason to cruise pricing other than the lines' ability to maximize revenue. Of course, you want to know something about the ship you are considering. Newer ones fetch higher prices and deserve them, but the demand and value proposition still remains.

Just like with the stock market, if you didn't book a cruise in 2009 you missed the bottom in terms of cheap cruise prices, but there are still bargains out there now, especially with this "double dip" we are currently experiencing. Like the stock market, you watch for buying opportunities. If you only check once a month you will only get a snapshot, but check daily and the price picture starts to looks completely different.

For example, this summer Holland America's Zaandam sails round trip on 7-day Alaska cruises from Seattle every Friday. This cruise was as low as $349 in 2009, but the lines reduced the number of Alaska sailings for 2011 allowing them to maintain a 100% capacity without dropping prices drastically.

But right now the Eastern Mediterranean has far too many ships - and the bargains for cruises to the Holy Land are astounding, for example.

Mexico prices have recovered since they cut back the number of ships going there, but even more ships are about to reposition to Australia from California soon which will reduce Mexico capacity even more. It is all about supply and demand, so expect the price of Mexican Riviera cruises to get surprisingly more expensive in 2012 and beyond.

Other places to watch for bargains include all of Europe in October and November, ships are returning to the U.S. later in the year in 2011 than in previous years. But as soon as they return look for bargains in the Caribbean, especially on cruises sailing out of Florida. There is going to be a LOT of capacity there this autumn and they will lower the prices to fill the ships.

Don't forget that Autumn is considered "value season" in the cruise industry because it is the slowest period of the year. Kids are just starting back in school, and the holidays are keeping people busy. So "value season," September through December, is one of the best times to book a cruise.

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