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Old Jun 19, 06, 12:46 am   #1
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Cruise Standby Travel

I am new to this board and have never had the opportunity to take a cruise before. I'm trying to find out if cruise lines offer standby travel similar to that of airlines. We've heard that if a cruise ship has any unbooked cabins on the date of departure that they might be willing to sell them very cheap to standby passengers in order to fill the ship. However, I cannot find any information to substantiate this and wasn't sure if the cruise line would offer or confirm that information over the phone.

I worked for an airline for 15 years and am used to standing by for flights, and because of that I'm also used to those last-minute pressure-cookers while waiting to see if enough seats open up so the family's vacation plans aren't ruined. I no longer work for the airline because I am disabled now, and because of that my vacation budget is almost non-existent and is why I'm looking for a deeply discounted, standby-type cruise.

If anyone has any information/suggestions that would be helpful or knows whether any cruise lines offer standby travel, I would greatly appreciate your help. It would need to be a cruise line that departs out of Galveston so we can drive to the port. You can either post a reply or email me at weaslebub@charter.net

Sincere Thanks!
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Old Jun 19, 06, 1:14 am   #2
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Welcome to FT, weaslebub!

I believe that, if it was ever possible, it isn't any longer for ex-US cruises because of a requirement to transmit passenger data to the "appropriate authorities" a certain time before the ship sails. I don't know what that period of time is, exactly, but I believe that it's measured in days. So there's a cutoff point which is before the cruise line knows how many people will no-show, but beyond which they cannot accept new bookings for any reason.
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Old Jun 19, 06, 7:06 am   #3
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Welcome to FT. You'll get a quicker set of responses from the folks on cruisecritic.com. Globaliser is correct and I believe that passenger lists are turned over 48 hours before departure. A better bet would be to book a cabin guarantee. You pay a discounted fare, are guaranteed the cabin you paid for, and may get an upgrade if they oversell that category. You can also look for discounted fares and guaranteed upgrades on cruises that are not selling as fast as the lines would like. The days of showing up a couple hours before departure for a 1/2 price cabin are over. Even without the 9-11 changes, cruising is more popular than ever and most cruise are pretty full these days.
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Old Jun 19, 06, 1:38 pm   #4
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Aside from lots of info on cruisecritic.com, I haven't seen last minute offers except for the ones on: www.vacationstogo.com and click on 90 day ticker. Big discounts for the lack of preparation time. Additionally, you can sign up for On Call Travel which offers relatively short notice for all kinds of trips and watch www.Travelzoo.com for last minute offers as well.
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Old Jun 19, 06, 6:36 pm   #5
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Many years ago and long before 9-11, I tried looking into this and found it just didn't happen. I contacted a travel writer for a Miami newpaper and he had no knowledge of this ever happening. Maybe it is just another urban legend. If anyone has been successful at this I would love to know how they got the booking.
On a slightly different issue, I have been on a cruise ship in Europe and they made an announcement that if anyone wanted to stay on for the next segment, a very reduced rate would be offered but you might have to change cabins.
I have been on Princess standby list for last minute sailings but have never been contacted.
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Old Jun 19, 06, 7:27 pm   #6
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72 hrs before departure the final passenger list must be turned over for security reasons.

Prior to 9-11 people did get on Standby. Many times on cruises out of Miami you would see a handful of people with bags packed waiting at the pier to see if they could get on the ship. They would get a reduced price because the cruise line would prefer to have the ship at 100% capacity then leave a few rooms empty. Empty rooms mean less pay (tips) for the waiters and room attendents in addition to purchases on board.

With the internet now it is easier than ever to research good cruise deals, especially within a few weeks of the trip. vacationstogo.com is the site I've used and have gotten some great deals. If you or someone in your party is over 55, you can even get better deals (on some cruises). The only problem booking a cruise within the a week or so of sailing is finding flights, as airfare tends to be high, or seats are not available.

Good luck.
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Old Jun 19, 06, 10:26 pm   #7
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Originally Posted by bob95409
I have been on Princess standby list for last minute sailings but have never been contacted.
I was contacted several times last spring, but nothing this year. One of the offers last year was incredibly good. It was for a reposition cruise from Osaka to Seattle, including your one-way airfare for way under $100/day. I can't remember the exact amount, but if I hadn't been pregnant I would have been all over it... maybe $6-700 for a 9 day cruise & air fare...

I also got offered several early Alaska cruises out of YVR, but this Osaka deal from Seattle was the best.
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Old Jun 21, 06, 9:36 pm   #8
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BTW I just got an email from Princess for last minute cruise today. Anchorage to Vancouver starting at $499. Unfortunately it is targeted, and airfare to anchorage is almost as much as the cuise.. plus Mr.Z. can't take time off this time of year.

So, they are still being offered, but less freaquently.
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Old Jun 22, 06, 6:57 am   #9
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two years ago when i was living in hawaii hubby and i did a last minute cruise through a deal on cruisedirect.com. we booked it on a thursday or friday and left the following monday, $365 (or $375) for a 10 night hawaiian cruise. super deal.

of course, we were in an inside cabin next to the ship's dancers, who argued long and loudly with their boyfriends at 2am, but we had a fine time and it was a fun holiday nevertheless.

as other posters have pointed out, it's not a frequent occurrence, but if you live driving distance to a port, (or have funds for last minute airfare) there are a few deals out there.
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Old Jun 22, 06, 11:22 am   #10
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Thumbs up Cruisecritic.com

Try out the cruise critic website. It runs using the same software as FT, but it's a bit tougher to navigate. Click on the link that says 'Boards' near the top left of your screen.

The discussion activity is as high as FT - you'll get an answer pretty quick.

p.s. - planning a cruise to NZ and OZ this winter through HAL. flying on our points and staying pre-cruise at Starwood on the SPG points I've got!
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Old Jun 22, 06, 1:34 pm   #11
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One more suggestion....do research and pricing at multiple sites, but add cruisecompete.com. They offer you their price bids on specific cruises, often at discounts. You are not obligated.
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