No Place to Go but Up

Day -11, Grand Asia 2018

Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018 – Chicago:

I just got a second cabin upgrade offer today. I remember that last year a number of people on this cruise upgraded to balcony cabins in the week or so before the cruise, as Holland America made offers at reduced prices. Obviously the ship isn’t full. The cruise line must figure it is better to sell upgrades than do nothing. The window for new bookings has pretty much closed, especially because there isn’t time to get the Chinese visa required for the trip.

Cruise lines generally don’t discount their fares much these days. I remember years ago hearing about Florida residents who could virtually show up at the pier on sailing day and get a ridiculously low price if the ship wasn’t full. Those days are gone. A few years ago I got a great deal on a Princess Cruise about a month before it sailed. You can read about it here.I haven’t seen a similar deal in years.

So generally you might as well book as early as you can. That way you are guaranteed of getting on the ship before it sells out (and many do). In addition, you have the best choice of cabins. I’ve written before about how to choose cabin location.

I rolled the dice on this cruise and chose an inside guarantee cabin. That meant that Holland America could assign me any cabin on the ship, and I probably wouldn’t know which cabin until just before the cruise. I hardly ever take a guarantee because I am picky. On last year’s Grand Asia cruise, I booked early and got one of four inside cabins in the middle of Deck 6. It was pretty much my ideal location.

But this year I hadn’t really budgeted this cruise, and those four cabins were booked. I saved a couple of thousand dollars by taking a guarantee. When you are sailing as a single in a cabin, the fare is almost double that of a couple, so I decided it was worth the considerable savings to take a chance on a guarantee.

Oceanview Cabin

Then last week my travel agent Bridgett at Cruise Specialists called with a Holland America offer to upgrade to a nice ocean view cabin very close to the forward elevators. I liked the location and the fact that I would no longer be playing “cabin roulette,” so I took it. Had I booked this cabin originally it would have been a few thousand dollars more for a single occupant.

Today’s upgrade offer is for a balcony cabin, but again a “guarantee.” It could be any balcony cabin, even at the very front or rear of the ship. The upgrade price is very significantly less than the price of booking a balcony for a single from the beginning. Yet I turned it down. I was tempted, and if it had been a specific cabin that I liked, I might have splurged. But I can probably pay for all my shore excursions with my “savings” from declining the upgrade, and I’m happy with the cabin I have.

Besides, I have my eye on Holland America’s 2020 Grand World Voyage, and I need to start saving big time now.