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I have a number of good friends who live relatively near major cruise ports. They have many days at sea as they are retired and have the chance to pull up to a cruise ship and roll the dice to see if any last (and I mean really last) minute offers open up and then they jump on and enjoy the cruise at a super low price. If nothing is available they simply go home.
Now most of us do not have either the time or the location to try the above and have to very carefully plan our cruise vacations including arriving at the port city early (a day or more) as well as flights and transfers. Few of us would fly to a port just for the hope of getting a cheap last minute cruise.
Well Holland America is rolling out, per Business Insider, our shot at sailing like a local.
You can have a chance at any cabin they assign you, maybe an inside maybe something much better, for just $50 per person per day and they will let you know about a week before the cruise if you “won” the deal.
Here are the things I love and hate about this interesting idea.
If you are a Delta frequent flyer, and especially if you book with award points, you have lots of flexibility to cancel a flight departing from the USA up to 24 hours before departure. Or if you are a Southwest flyer (and collecting their points) they have the very generous rule that you can dump a flight up to 10 minutes before departure. You see my point, that you can book flights expecting to get the $50 per night deal and if it does not happen you can simply cancel the flights – no harm no foul.
The same with “most” hotels, that is, you have up to the night before or maybe two to cancel and not have to pay anything out of pocket.
With transfers you can likely, once you score the cruise, book with Holland America if you want to use their partners or simply Uber or Lyft or Cabify or whatever.
But here are the downsides of the very interesting idea. I am a huge fan of private space like “The Retreat” that Holland America offers for an upcharge. The chance that an open cabana will remain that close to sailing is slim (but still possible). Sailing anywhere warm I want this for my cruise.
Next up is drink packages and other perks. Do not expect to get any of the nice treats you can often get when booking one of the cruise lines “sale” offers. This means, while your cruise may be cheap, you may end up at the end of the voyage with a large bill.
Another negative is if you bid for this, and you win, and want to cancel you are not going to get your money back – so plan to go if you try for one of these.
Lastly keep in mind you would still have to pay daily tips fee and port taxes and more so while still a great value there will be more costs involved. A plus is for family travelers passengers 3 and 4 with you in the same cabin are free.
While I am intrigued by this plan and offer I don’t think it is for me as the negatives simply outweigh the cost savings. I would love to know what you think about this plan – would you try for one of these cheap cruises and hope to score a balcony or better room for an ultra cheap price per day? – René
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