I had given up on trying to get an extraordinary deal on a cruise. I had concluded that the pricing was so finely coordinated that I’d never be able to really scalp a bargain. Last time we went, we ended up booking directly with Carnival, thinking that if anyone could sweeten the pot, they would. No such luck. Sarvia was helpful and she booked our cabins, but didn’t offer so much as a free pack of gum.
We were looking at booking a cruise with a few other couples next spring, but to coordinate schedules and demands, the spectrum of available cruises got pretty narrow. We had to leave on a specific weekend, the preference was for stops in Roatan and Belize, and the consensus was that New Orleans would be our best launching point. It essentially left us with one option – the Norwegian Spirit. The only problem was that the price listed everywhere I could find it was $699 for an inside cabin.
Never content to take the first price, I tried haggling with Priceline Cruise Outlet… I may as well have been negotiating with a brick wall because the only thing they offer are these Priceline hotel bucks which are about as useful as those three-night timeshare vacations that you can use only on a full moon on the third week of a month that ends in -ber.
Calling Norwegian was also fruitless, even when I tempted them with the idea of booking a group of 5-6 cabins.
Cheap Cruises with Vacationstogo.com
But it’s always darkest just before the dawn. “The dawn” for me came in the form of my co-worker leading me to www.vacationstogo.com, where I found same exact the cruise listed for $579. Vacations to Go is essentially a clearinghouse for last-minute cruises, but they’re also a “cruise wholesaler” with preferential rates that you just can’t get when you book through a “cruise retailer,” of which the bulk of online cruise agencies are.
Rather than bother with the online booking, I dialed up the sales desk and got ahold of an extremely helpful salesman named Jonathan. This is absolutely key. You need to have someone who cares not just about the sale, but about making you happy – and I did end up very happy.
I explained to Jonathan that I’m probably the cheapest bastard he’d ever talked to, and I wanted a slammin’ deal on this cruise. Right off the bat, he told me he could work me $100 in onboard credit in addition to the $579 rate. Not wanting to lose what was already a good deal, he offered to put the rooms on a non-committal 2 day hold while he researched any ways to make it cheaper.
I got a voice message within a few hours explaining that he’d locked down a couple rooms at $499, three at $509, and an Oceanview for the $579… if I wanted to get them booked, I just needed to call and put down a $500 deposit that is fully refundable until 90 days before departure.
If that weren’t thrilling enough, he was able to nudge the onboard credit up to $125 and kick in a bottle of wine for each cabin (which will only be ornamental in our case, seeing as how we’re not drinkers, but a nice gesture nonetheless).
Why you need to take a cruise
If you’ve never been on a cruise, I’d tell you to get one booked ASAP because it is a phenomenal way to travel. Think of it as lodging, food, transportation and entertainment all rolled into one. When you see the some of the prices you can get these cruises for, especially on Vacations To Go’s 90 day ticker, you’ll be in awe. You can do the math and still never figure out how it is possible for these cruise lines to be profitable. Cruise ships can take you to places you’d never get otherwise, and Vacations to Go is a great way to book them.
If you do find something you like, call Jonathan and tell him that WorldWanderlusting sent you his way.
Jonathan Mares – Travel Counselor
Vacations To Go
Toll-free: 1-800-338-4962 ext. 7289
UK: 0800-279-8084 ext. 7289
International: 001-713-974-2121 ext. 7289
E-mail: [email protected]
In the Office: Mon-Fri: 4pm-1am (CST)
Thanks for cruise wanderlusting with us.