Fare volatility on the milk runs?

Is it fair to say that the Dream and Fantasy “milk run” sailings (3/4-day Bahamian; 7-day Carib.) don’t tend to see large price increases if you wait until the last minute to book? In other words, is there really a substantive benefit in “booking early” for these particular cruises?

I usually sail the Fantasy 7-day E. Carib., and it seems like every time I look at the fare movement for those cruises, it really isn’t that much more expensive to wait until the last minute to book. My completely unscientific analysis frequently showed a price difference of 5%-7% from opening day rates to “last-chance” rates (setting aside GTY stuff).

I’m thinking that the plentiful supply of sailings, plus the fact that the itineraries are pretty vanilla for cruising, might keep the volatility pretty low compared to less-frequent, more exotic sailings like, say, Hawaii.

Sure, you might give up things (room choice, port adventure availability) if you wait until the last minute, but just in terms of fare price, are you really paying that much more if you decided to make a last-minute booking on the Bahamian/Carib sailings?

I like your thinking, but I’m not sure there is any reliable precedent. I can’t even wrap my mind around cruising. It sadly seems unattainable these days. Hope I’m wrong and that you score a fabulous trip.

No precedent? The site has a ton of historical data on fare changes over time for specific sailings.

I was (and remain) just too lazy to go click on every single past cruise to make an analysis and draw a firm conclusion.

I think you are right. The cost might generally increase but it does not seem to be a huge increase.

The big unknown here is if the cost will be lower now for a while until more people feel comfortable and then if demand might increase the price unlike the past?


I mean S/P shut down. It’s anyone’s guess how receptive people will be and what the pricing structures will be.

Exactly. I’m not sure we know the appetite for these things just now.

I even leave the room for pent-up demand to possibly swing things the other way… I just don’t think we can safely guess.

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I see your point. I wasn’t referring to the transition period back to sailing per se. Just generally.

Eventually, the pent-up demand will be satisfied and we’ll be back to something approaching normal patterns.

I was just wondering if the oft-repeated travel agents’ cry to “BOOK EARLY! LOCK IN THE LOWEST PRICES POSSIBLE!!” was kind of a canard for these particular sailings.

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I think the cheapest price will generally be opening day. I just don’t think all DCL cruises increase in much as RC or other lines.

It works the other way too. I do not expect my DCL cruise will decrease in price if I book it a few weeks late. I expect RC will have 6 “deals” that my TA will get me a refund (multiple times) if I book early enough.

The cheapest price usually is opening day. But if opening-day fare (18 months out) is $5,000, and booking, say, four months before sail date is $5,300, the cry to “BOOK EARLY, EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT 100% POSITIVE YOU WANT TO SAIL! LOCK IN YOUR FARE!!” for these cruises seems disingenuous.

I’d Iike to save $300 on my cruise, sure, but in the grand scheme of things, the savings are not that big, and there might be more value in keeping that $1,000 of deposit money in your pocket for another 14 months.