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It's not too late to book your winter holiday cruise

Among the most popular cruises any given year are those at Christmas and New Year with the latter being typically the most expensive. These holiday cruises are often booked well in advance by those who desire a specific cabin and those who want several cabins close together. Also, typically, with the exception of last minute deals, the best pricing on these sailings comes to those who book well in advance of the cruise.

Although the cabin selection slims on the winter holiday cruises, it typically is not completely gone until several weeks ahead of the cruise. This is in part based on some cancellations that always happen right around the time of final payment. Many people book well in advance and hold the space waiting on all of their plans to materialize and at the last possible minute, without financial penalty, cancel the cruise or move the deposit to a different date. Thus, typically around three months ahead of the winter holidays, or around mid-September cabins start to become available.

A few things to consider when looking for a Christmas or New Year Eve cruise at this time of year include, departure port, destination, and length of cruise. These all can factor into how popular the cruise will be and how many kids may be aboard. Be mindful both weeks tend to fall during school breaks so more kids will likely be aboard than during the school year so if that is an issue factor that in.

Departure ports can affect how full any cruise will be especially during the holidays. Those ports that are considered easy access typically sell out faster than those with a bit more difficulty getting to the ship. Many consider Port of Houston and Port of Galveston as difficult access ports, but then again those from all over Texas and Louisiana often drive and park right at the port so for most of these folks it is a far simpler port to use than ones where they must fly in.

The cruise destination always factors into how popular a cruise will be. Many repeat cruisers pick a ship for the ship or for visiting new destinations. New cruisers often look to get to exciting destinations and often avoid destinations which aren’t as widely known or for various reasons not as popular. Out of Texas the more popular ports tend to be Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Jamaica. Although less popular Belize City and Rotan are great destinations to visit as well. I’ve been to and enjoyed stops at all of them.

The destinations and departure port mix to determine the length of the cruise. Longer cruises typically have fewer kids and sell out less quickly, unless they are special or around the world itineraries. In my personal experience the longer cruises tend to have an overall higher average and median age than shorter cruises. It’s not a hard rule, but it does play into how much vacation passengers have available to them. Many of the longer New Year Eve cruises also depart during school vacation and return after vacation which can factor into who is aboard some of those cruises. With a smaller buying audience sometimes these cruises are a better deal on a per night cost basis.

Together these factors will help set pricing for various cruises. Thus, even though last minute cabins are likely available on nearly all cruise ships at this point for the winter holidays, pricing will vary quite a bit. For some of the better bargains look at Western Caribbean sailings to Central America out of Houston, Galveston, and New Orleans. Sailings out of Jacksonville also at times offer some great deals even during the holidays. Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, and New York based sailings all tend to sell for more per person per night during the holidays. Get a good cruise specialist agent to help you and you can still have a great cruise vacation over the holidays.

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