So you've done the research, weighed the options and carefully selected your next sailing, hitting "book" with a satisfied flourish. Then you find out days, weeks or even months later that your cruise price has dropped after booking. Do you have any recourse or are you out of luck?
The truth is it depends -- mainly on the window of time between booking and final payment. If you've booked a cruise only to see the price drop shortly after, here is what you can (and can't) expect to happen in terms of a cruise price adjustment.
There is a cruise price drop within 48 hours of booking.
After booking, check back in on the voyage you booked over the following two days. Many cruise lines offer a 48-hour grace period to submit a claim form if a lower price appears.
Carnival's Lowest Price Guarantee offers 110 percent of the difference (in publically available rates) in the form of onboard credit. Norwegian Cruise Line has a similar Best Price Guarantee that offers 110 percent in onboard credit or the option to simply re-price your cruise at the lower rate. Other cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, offer similar price adjustment guarantees.
There is a cruise price drop before your final payment.
There are pros and cons to booking early or late, but in this case, the earlier you book, the more flexibility you will have to find a reduced price.
Most times, if you have only made a deposit but not your final payment, you are in the clear to have your cruise fare adjusted. Because cancellation fees are typically waived before final payment, it's less of a hassle for cruise lines to help you adjust your cruise price, rather than cancel your booking and then re-book you with the new price or promotion. Keep in mind that you might be offered the difference in the form of onboard credit, or an upgrade.
How will you know if there is a drop in the price of you cruise? Check out Price Alerts, a cruise price tracking tool from Cruise Critic.
There is a cruise price drop after your final payment.
Once you've made your final payment, it becomes more difficult to negotiate the price. Either you take your chances with paying the cancellation fees and re-booking (making sure the difference works in your favor, which it only rarely does), or you can call the cruise line or your travel agent to politely bargain on your behalf.
Depending on how significant the drop in price is pertaining to your booking, you might be offered a cabin upgrade or onboard credit after pleading your case, but rarely a cash refund.
Keep in mind...
As with any fare difference, the inclusions might also differ. Just because you found a cheaper price for your cruise, doesn't mean it comes with the onboard credit or other value-added perks that might be bundled into the slightly higher fare.
Beware of the type of fare you are choosing before you decide to re-book based on price alone. When in doubt, consult a travel professional who can help you navigate the finer points of cruise fares, perks, and ultimately getting the best price -- and value -- for your cruise vacation.
For more on getting the best cruise price every time, see our expert tips.