Last-minute cruise deals can save you thousands of pounds off the price of a regular cruise. If you’re flexible with timing and don’t mind which cruise line, cruise ship and cruise itinerary is on offer, then last minute cruises deal can knock between 20% and 50% off the cost of a cruise.

Why choose last-minute cruise deals?

Last-minute cruise deals can result in some serious savings. Cruise lines only make a profit once they’ve sold between 80% and 90% of their cabins, which means ships sailing with empty cabins can result in a loss for the cruise line. Rather than sail with empty cabins, cruise lines look to get as close to full berths as possible and will typically slash prices for cabins just before sailing.

Cruise lines also try new itineraries and destinations. Yet sometimes these new itineraries aren’t as popular as the cruise line forecasts. Again rather than sail with empty cabins, cruise lines will try to sell off unpopular itineraries before changing to a new itinerary the following season.

Cruise bargain – Stunning coastal view on one side of the coastline and the Adriatic Sea.
Visit stunning destinations around the world with a bargain cruise holiday.

If you’re flexible, have an up-to-date passport and a sense of adventure, then last-minute cruise deals are good news. Not only will you get fantastic cruise food and a great cruise experience, but you’ll also get the same shore excursions and activities as passengers who paid full price.

Get the best from single cruises with our 10 tips for cruising solo guide.

What are the disadvantages of last-minute cruise deals?

If you have your eye on a specific cruise, specific itinerary or destination, you’ll likely to be disappointed with a last-minute cruise deal. Typically, cheap cruise deals are for less popular cruises, or cruises out of season – such as October and November in the Caribbean when it is hurricane season. The weather isn’t usually at its best, though you will benefit from fewer crowds during shore excursions.

You’ll also have less choice when it comes to cabins – these may be limited to less popular cabins, such as inside cabins or cabins on lower decks. Popular events and activities, such as dinner events, are often booked well in advance so by joining a cruise at the last minute, you may miss the opportunity to join in with these.

However, cruise lines can be generous with last-minute cruise deals. The closer to sailing, the more incentives may be included such as cabin upgrades, extra onboard credit or access to VIP lounges.

How to get last-minute cruise deals

The good news is that last-minute cruise deals don’t mean you have to book a few days before sailing. Cruise lines typically offer discounted cruises 60 to 90 days before departure – giving you plenty of time to plan ahead. The reason is that passengers paying standard cruise prices typically pay all outstanding balances around 90 days before sailing. This gives the cruise line a clearer picture of the number of empty cabins it needs to sell. As most people book around 160 days before sailing, it can be hard for a cruise line to sell its spare cabin capacity at a discount before this deadline.

There are several ways to make sure you’re in the know when it comes to last-minute cruise deals, so you can swoop in and grab a bargain cruise.

Last-minute cruise deals email newsletters

Cruise email newsletters are a great way to get alerted to last-minute cabin availability. Sign up to newsletters from the main cruise lines including P&O, Celebrity Cruises, Fred. Olsen, Cunard and Royal Caribbean. Make sure newsletters don’t end up in the junk email folder in your email application – and it can be sensible to create a dedicated email address that you use to sign up for email newsletters. Check email offers as soon as they arrive and be prepared to act quickly.

Looking for a Mediterranean cruise deal? Our guide Mediterranean cruise: choosing the best cruise will help you choose the right ship and destination for you.

Cruise bargain - picture of a cruise ship deck with deckchairs
Grab a cruise bargain and enjoy a relaxing cruise.

Follow cruise line social media accounts for cheap cruises 2019

Cruise lines are active on social media – using platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to showcase cruise photos, answer questions and promote offers. Follow the Twitter accounts of the major cruise lines to get first sight of any last-minute cruise offers they promote. Act quickly when you spot an offer, calling the cruise line and quoting the offer details from the tweet.

Cruise social media accounts to follow on Twitter are:

P&Ohttps://twitter.com/pandocruises
Royal Caribbeanhttps://twitter.com/MyRoyalUK
Celebrity Cruiseshttps://twitter.com/CelebrityUK
Cunardhttps://twitter.com/cunardline
Vikinghttps://twitter.com/VikingCruises
Fred. Olsenhttps://twitter.com/FredOlsenCruise

Shop around online for last-minute cruise deals

While cruise prices are usually standard across cruise agents, last-minute deals do get offered if you know where to look. Monitor cruise agent websites for flash promotions on unfilled cabins. Sites such as Iglu Cruise and Cruise Direct will offer cheaper deals. Most cruise lines will have pages with last-minute deals, so it’s worth checking these out as well.

Be prepared to travel quickly

There’s nothing worse than bagging a cheap, last-minute cruise deal and then discovering it’s really not what you are looking for, or that you’re not ready to travel. Research the various cruise lines and have a clear idea of what’s involved in, say, a Mediterranean cruise or a Norwegian cruise. Be certain you have appropriate clothes for the weather and climate.

Make sure your passport is up to date and has at least six months from the end of the cruise until the expiry date. And make sure that you have travel insurance. Buying annual travel insurance each year can help as you don’t have to worry about finding the right travel insurance at the last minute.