Any Tips for Booking a Cruise over New Year's Eve?
May 5, 2013 5:23 PM   Subscribe

I'm interested in booking a cruise with some friends for a New Year's Eve vacation. What cruise lines and ships do you recommend, and given the holiday, what recommendations do you have to make the trip affordable, since it seems that most lines have marked up sailing dates around the holidays?

We live in the DC area, and we anticipate the most affordable options will be out of ports in Miami and heading to some destinations in the Caribbean. The duration of our trip will likely be about 4-7 nights. I'm eager to try some of the newer, larger ships. I'm already aware of CruiseCritic, Kayak, and TravelZoo deals.
posted by cdemay to Travel & Transportation around Orlando, FL (3 answers total)
One of the issues with cruising is, even if you get a good deal on the stateroom, you'll end up paying a fortune in airfare.

I would recommend eliminating one of those expenses and driving to the port.

Have you looked into cruises out of Port Canaveral? It's about a day's drive from D.C. and a straight shot down I-95. Get there the night before, so that you don't stress about missing the ship.

The Chrismas/New Year's timeframe is the most expensive, lots of people want to be on a ship during that timeframe.

I've been on quite a few cruises:

Silversea--Gorgeous staterooms, large with balconies. Probably the most expensive cruise you'll ever take. My sister got this cruise as a perk (she's in Advertising). Very small ship, fewer dining options, but everything was top notch service.

Radisson Seven Seas-Exactly the same as Silversea, with regards to ship size and staterooms. Also, very expensive. I went on this cruise as part of a President's Club award.

Holland America--A very sedate cruise filled with old folks. We had a ball but were easily the youngest folks on the boat. We had a balcony cabin. I enjoyed it, but I enjoy reading, sitting around and napping.

Norwegian Cruise Lines--This left out of Miami and we went to Honduras, Belize, etc. The ports were 'meh', very disappointing. But we upgraded to the Owners Suite, with private swimming and spa area, butler service, etc. It was AMAZING! We had a bathroom that the Romans would have been proud of. We got a tour of the bridge, we ate dinner with the Captain, it was pretty great. The suite came with 3 liters of any booze we wanted and a bottle of champagne. We had a fridge stocked with our favorite beverages, and a pod cappucino machine. Our butler brought us little snacks every afternoon, and we had a dining room table, a living room, a bose sound system....Heaven! One of the best vacations ever! Norweigan has specialty dining, so if you want to change it up you have that option. See if getting one of the three bedroom suites will work out for you and your friends, the upscale aspect of it was SO worth it.

Princess Cruises--I went with some friends. One of them came on board with meningitis and died on the cruise. So...yeah...can't recommend Princess.

I've heard TERRIBLE things about how low rent Carnival is. My parents like Royal Carribean.

It looks like Disney Fantasy, Carnival and Royal Carribean all have cruises leaving from Port Canaveral on the 28th or 29th. Check out the Royal Carribean cruise, I think that might be your best bet.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:53 AM on May 6, 2013

New Year's Eve is the the single most expensive time to sail. There are some ways to save, but they may not be helpful. Prices tend to be lowest more than a year out from the sailing date (unlike airlines, cruise lines make their schedules 13 months or more in advance). Prices slowly increase as the sail date gets closer. Of course, it's tricky to book a cruise before you book airfare, but your reservation is completely refundable.

If you get very lucky, prices can start to drop about 90 days out from the sailing (few people book a cruise last minute), but that's only if there are lots of empty cabins. For the most popular week of the year, I wouldn't bet on it.

My preferred search engine is, which lets you see all the cruises at a glance. However, true sales, especially for New Year's, are rare. Depending on which line you choose, you might be able to get an onboard credit for a couple hundred bucks, but for the most part the price is fairly stable.
posted by wnissen at 7:32 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Carnival has a cruise leaving from Baltimore on Dec 29 for 7 days to the Bahamas.

A coworker just got back from her 7th Carnival cruise. She & her husband like Carnival because it has more casual atmosphere. They were already planning on the 12/29 cruise but now are going a week later. The advantage of leaving from Baltimore is no airfare, no chance of missing the ship because of weather.
posted by jaimystery at 7:20 PM on May 6, 2013

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