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Cruise Travel: Booking a Cruise at the Pier

by Linda Coffman

Every once in a while I get an email with a question that goes something like this, "I have heard that some travelers have gone to the port on departure day and waited for any unused rooms they could get at discount prices. Can you really do that and does it happen enough to make it practical to actually drive there and wait it out?"

The short answer is "no."

It's what Cruise Diva regards as the cruising urban legend that will not die... that someone knows someone whose second cousin's mother-in-law packed a bag and arrived at the pier on sailing day. She booked an available cabin on a departing cruise ship and—surprise!—was assigned the owner's suite for mere pennies.

If you've ever considered showing up at the pier with your luggage in hopes of booking a last minute, cut-rate cabin, don't give it another thought. Cruise lines no longer accept bookings at the dock.

Why not? After all, cruise lines don't want to sail with empty cabins, do they?

First, there are security procedures that preclude booking a cruise dockside. Cruise lines must submit their manifests to government authorities well in advance of sailing.

And, secondly, nearly all cruise ships are sailing fully booked these days.

Your best bet for a last minute bargain cruise fare is to watch for newspaper or online sale advertisements and book when you see one in your price range.

Better still, book early and get your choice of ship and cabin, and lock in what is likely to be the best fare.

For more answers to commonly asked cruise-related questions, Cruise Diva shares Just the FAQs.

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