My opinion would be to make sure you begin with a reputable cruise/travel agent (not expedia or priceline) that is accredited with CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association). I would query your agent as to the possibility of no or reduced deposit booking. Book as soon as you all decide on where you would like to cruise to as the earlier you book, you can make incremental deposits each month (or when ever you have spare cash available) towards your cruise with final payment due 70 - 90 days prior to sail date. DO NOT make final payment until you get close to the final payment date as with many cruise lines, after full payment is made, if there is a price drop, they will not honor the new reduced prices. Then, and MOST important, make sure you sign up for the "Price Alert" app here at the Cruiseline.com site. It can be found on the right side of the homepage. You will receive daily updates via email as well as noted on the right side of the screen whenever your logged in. If the price for your cruise drops, you can then see if your agent can work to get you an upgrade or a bill adjustment. Good luck and happy sailing......
From recent (over past 6-9 months) press releases, none of the major cruise lines is offering last minute bargains like they used to so my suggestion is to decide what region you wish to explore, list the features of cruise you want (e.g., cabin location, little or no kids, relaxed and casual), find an experienced cruise travel consultant and work with him/her to zero in on a cruise that really interests you - then book it. A great travel advisor will monitor your sailing for any new deals that might come up between your booking and when your final payment is due. We have a cruise coming up and our TA has already saved us $1,200 because of a new promotion.
If cabin location and cabin type is important, book early. If you book late you may not all be in the same part of the ship and you may end up with cabins under a open deck, under or above a dance club, the very front of the ship that is rougher motion then mid ship, rite next to the crew entrance door that will be opening and closing all night long or over the engines with noise all the time.
As mentioned a good TA can payment plan can give you the ability to lower the price until you have to lock it in with your final payment.
I suggest that you consult with an experienced cruise specialist/travel Agent to help you make this decision. Also you can call the cruise line (or your TA can) and find out how many cabins in your preferred categories are still available to help you decide.
Cruise lines have stated that they are no longer offering last minute deals. Whether they follow through on this is another story.
If I was traveling with four families needing at least 4 cabins, I would book early. This way all of you will get the cabin category that you want. Also you can choose cabins conveniently located near each other.
Spring Break time is an extremely busy time for just about all cruise lines. Most ships sail full. One other point, it you book last minute you all may not get the same dining times. We have in the past done last minute bookings and we always needed to change our assigned dining times. On late books we rarely got the desired dining time that we wanted.
The four of you need to make the final decision, of course. Have a wonderful cruise and be sure to tell us what you decided to do and how the cruise went.
I agree with all, For 4 families, see an very good travel agent and have your whole group meet with the agent at the same time. Have all questions written down and make sure you and the groups understands everything answered.
Now, next.... Spring break will be very busy and even on Norwegian be prepared for a party cruise. If you are not big party people, check with your agent and find out if the demographics work for you. I would hate for you to send in a critical review due to loud and late parties.
Enjoy your cruise.
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