Planning a cruise is a complex yet inspiring process that gets the mind racing with thoughts of far-off shores, glistening waves and days on deck without a care in the world. Yet there’s a whole subculture of cruising fun to be had when you embrace the idea of last minute cruises, which are often cheaper by nature and able to offer something a little different to the norm.

When it comes to cheap cruises, last minute offers are frequently the best around, although there are a few other factors to keep in mind if it’s the way you want to sail away happy. Luckily those little details are far from taxing, so if you keep our pointers close at hand you’ll be an expert on late cruise deals in no time.

The passport preamble

Let’s look into the standard details first. As you would with any cruise or trip abroad, it’s always wise to check that your passport is where you remember storing it, and more importantly, that it’s valid. Last minute cruise deals are fast moving and count anywhere from a few days prior to departure to up to three months in advance. As such, it’s advisable to make sure that your passport has at least six months of validity left before you book your cruise. It seems an obvious detail, but the last thing anyone wants is that gorgeous last minute escape thwarted by a small detail like this.

Last minute cruises in more depth

In terms of precisely why cruise lines qualify anywhere up to three months, or sometimes up to 120 days, as a last minute cruise is due to how tickets and cabins are allocated. A period of three months, as a general rule, is what cruise lines call the last call period, which means that anyone who has booked in advance is running up against the deadline of cancelling without incurring any penalties. That happens because cruise ships are huge and cruise lines have to make every possible preparation for the voyage count, so that we can enjoy being truly pampered at sea.

Once the last call period has passed – officially putting a given cruise booking into last minute territory – a cruise line will know how many cabins are left for them to sell. To inspire us to sail with them, they’ll start rolling out those juicy last minute cruise deals we love.

Rewarding your flexibility

Last minute cruises are a great way for our favourite cruise lines to reward the open-minded among us. The booking price has taken a tumble because all of the advanced bookings have been squared away, meaning that many of your fellow guests have snapped up specific cabins, dining options, perks packages and the like. By staying flexible, you’re able to take advantage of what remains. You might not get the sea view cabin every time, nor the most prestigious dining options, but if you’re not cruising for those specifics it makes a great deal of sense to shop around for last deal cruises.

Flexibility regarding your chosen itineraries and destinations also reaps you big rewards. Last minute deals often emerge because cruise ship operators have still got tickets they need to sell, which could be for a variety of reasons. For example, a given cruise might be taking place at low season, such as a winter cruise in the Caribbean, so once the year starts rounding up and a cruise line has tickets left, the deals are really going to start to shine.

Altogether, the more capable you are of adapting to what your chosen last minute cruise has to offer, the better it will work out for you.

Plan your travel

Last minute cruises could take you all over the world. As exciting as that is, it’s a smart plan to factor in travel costs to get you to and from those points on the map. For example, if you chance upon a last minute cruise that’s departing from the United States, consider the last minute deal price alongside the airfare you’d be spending to get to the port of departure. If it still makes for happy reading, by all means go for it, but either way it’s a really good plan to take an overview of those kinds of elements of your trip in advance.

Similarly, the classic advice of checking the small print definitely applies here. You’ll generally be looking for the same kinds of precautions you’d take on any kind of cruise, such as if there are port taxes, government fees or service charges you’re going to be paying for that you weren’t immediately aware of. Cruise lines are always as transparent as possible regarding those kinds of elements, yet it definitely always pays to do the research. We promise it will be worth it once you’re reclining on deck.

Routes unlike any other

Some cruise itineraries factor in a number of destinations that you’d not ordinarily find in a standard travel package. Those are what’s called repositioning cruises. For example, say that a Cunard cruise ship had concluded her exciting Mediterranean cruise itineraries and was relocating to northern Europe for a series of Scandinavian cruises in the autumn. The cruise in which she would travel from, say, Barcelona around via France up to Copenhagen or the like would be known as a relocation cruise.

Because relocation cruises make for such eclectic itineraries, their sales are sometimes less than the regular cruise deals you’re familiar with. As such, they’re among the best kinds of cruises to consider when you’re on the hunt for last minute deals. Because they take in such a big range of destinations, they can ask a little more inventiveness in terms of getting to and from the ports of departure and cruise termination, but that’s where that flexibility we talked about enters play.

Altogether, last minute cruise deals reward savvy, flexible and nimble-minded guests with experiences at the top tier of cruising, all for lovely low prices.

And lastly…cruise through us!

It’s part of our mission to find you last minute sailings at spectacular prices – take a look at our Last Minute deals here. Or simply call us on 0800 107 2323!

* Terms & Conditions apply

We are acting as an agent on behalf of travel suppliers and your booking will be subject to the supplier’s terms and conditions. Prices may be subject to very limited availability and are correct as at the date and time of writing. Prices may go up or down from time to time. Prices quoted are for the dates, accommodation, board basis, departure points and number of persons sharing specified only and cannot be combined with any other offer. We reserve the right to amend any quotes given if there is a genuine error as soon as we become aware of it. We reserve the right to withdraw any offers without notice.