Years ago when I first started taking cruise vacations, I would remit the required deposit in advance, make a few installment payments and then pay off the balance before the final payment date. While making payments, it never occurred to me to check whether or not the price for my cabin type had gone down! As I became more experienced with cruise travel, I learned that cruise fares fluctuate. It pays to keep an eye on fares—if there is a drop in price for your exact cruise and cabin category prior to the final payment date, you can get a fare adjustment. Here’s how you can get a fare reduction, too:

1. Read the cancellation policy

Before paying your deposit, make certain that it's fully refundable up until the final payment date.

2. Compare all fees

To check the current price for your cabin category, create a "mock booking" on the cruise line website with the same information used during your initial booking (date, cabin category, and number of occupants). Take note of the per-person fare as well as government taxes because the tax amount may be different than when you originally booked. If taxes are higher, do the math to make sure that any drop in fare is sufficient to still be a better deal. Your booking is subject to whatever amount the taxes are at the time of the price adjustment.

3. Availability changes often

There must be available inventory in the same cabin category in order to do a price check. A sold-out category means there's no chance of a price reduction, but it's wise to keep checking periodically. Cabins could come back into inventory due to cancellations or upgrades.

4. Prices aren't adjusted automatically

If there is a drop in fare, the cruise line won't adjust your price automatically. You must call them to request a fare adjustment.

5. Check your travel agent's policy

If you've booked your cruise through a travel agency, your agent will have to request the fare adjustment on your behalf, as most cruise lines will not talk to you directly. Some travel agents may be unwilling to call for you since commissions are paid directly from cruise lines—therefore, getting you a fare reduction also means lowering their earnings. Other agents will happily go through the process of getting your fare adjusted but will charge a fee for this service. Ask ahead of time what their policy is.

6. Adjustments may affect perks

Any promotional perks, such as included free gratuities or onboard credit, may be forfeited by getting a price adjustment, so always verify how an adjustment will affect your booking before any changes are made.

7. Verify the details

After getting a price adjustment, immediately verify that everything is correct on your booking confirmation. If it's not, notify the cruise line or your travel agent immediately!

8. Ask for an upgrade

In most cases, adjustments after the final payment date will not be accommodated. At best, you may be able to get a complimentary upgrade if the price of a higher cabin category drops lower than or equal to the amount you paid for your cabin. Just make sure you're happy with the cabin they're offering you before accepting the upgrade.

9. Remember that fares change frequently

Cruise fares may rise, fall, or stay the same based on supply and demand. Prices may even fluctuate several times in the same day. For example, a drop in price on a given cruise will spur people to book, which in turn causes fares to rise again. So check price drops frequently!

Are You Missing Out on Cruise Fare Price Reductions?