If you find a better deal on your cruise fare after booking, you may think that there's no hope of saving the money already paid. However, according to a new analysis by leading digital cruise advisor Cruisewatch, there is still a potential to save a significant amount of money.
Why You May Want to Cancel - and Rebook
Recent research by Cruisewatch.com, a cruise advisor known for its innovative price prediction, has shown that prices on cruises can drop significantly as the departure date nears. "Most cruisers tend to book their trips four to six months in advance," explains Markus Stumpe, CEO of Cruisewatch, "but it could be very beneficial for them to cancel and then rebook their cruise at fares reduced up to 71%." This is particularly true if the chosen cruise offers less-strict fee structures.
Cruise Line's Cancellation Fees
Generally, cruise lines break down into three cancellation categories: soft, moderate, and strict.
Lines like Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Star Clippers, offer "softer" fees, and may charge only a 25% cancellation fee on average at least 30 days before departure.
Moderate lines, including Viking Cruises, Windstar Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, MSC Cruises, Costa Cruise Line, Hurtigruten Cruise Lines, Cunard, Crystal Cruises, SeaDream, Princess Cruises, and Disney Cruise Line, offer a little more wiggle room, though they also charge about 90% for cancellations occurring within 30 days of departure. However, cancellation fees average only 15% 90 days or more before departure.
Strict lines, on the other hand, like Oceania Cruises, Ponant, Azamara Club Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, Silversea Cruises, and Seabourn tend to offer little or no refunds unless you cancel at least 120 days in advance. Within the last 60 days you normally have to pay a 100% fee.
How to Save Money
To illustrate the potential savings, take this possible real-world situation: Someone books his/her dream cruise on Celebrity Eclipse 150 days before departure and pays a total of $5,000. Forty days before departure, this person sees an offer on the same ship with a savings of 40%. At this time the cancellation fee on Celebrity is 20%, so the person opts to rebook and saves $1,000.
What You Should Know About Cancellation Fees
Cancellation fee structures for most cruise lines are often very strict and difficult to understand, and multiple factors influence each policy. The length of the cruise, how far in advance you're able to cancel, destination, cabin type, or cruise category can all contribute to the final cancellation fee. Booking special deals may mean higher cancellation fees. In most cases, deposits paid are also non-refundable. Often you will also need to draft a formal written document in order to cancel the cruise.
Alternatives to Consider Before Canceling Your Cruise
If the cancellation fees are prohibitive, there may be alternatives for recouping the difference in prices. Some cruise lines offer onboard credit as reimbursement for price differences, or offer significant upgrades where available.
Concrete Fee Cancellation Calculator
The best way to determine whether it's worth it to cancel and rebook your cruise is to take a closer look at your cruise line's cancellation policy. However, if you're still in the planning stages, you are likely still comparing prices, policies, and packages. This time-consuming process is a must for those seeking the best deals, but using innovative new online tools can help save time in the short term, and money long-term.