Late cruises can be a budget vacation option. As the day of a cruise departure nears, cruise lines want to fill all available cabins. The cruise lines often deeply discount the normal cruise fare so as to put travelers in these rooms and sell them as late cruises. They do this because travelers spend money on drinks, in the casino, and on cruise excursions. The cabins have already been built and paid for by the cruise lines, and the cost of labor on cruise ships is cheap. As long as there are travelers in those cabins, the cruise line is likely to make money even if those travelers paid a pittance through last-minute booking.
For those looking for a cheap vacation, late cruises offer an alternative to short-distance trips and staying in cheap hotels or cabins. Thrifty travelers who don't drink, gamble, or do a lot of shopping may find that last-minute cruises save them a bundle, as cruise lines typically include meals, entertainment, and many on-board activities in their fares. When compared to other types of discount travel, lake cruises offer the advantage of being all-inclusive yet allowing travelers to visit and tour different destinations all in one trip. As the cruise ship itself provides transportation to different locations, travelers don't even have to rent a car or worry about getting around.
Late cruises come with some disadvantages, including a lack of choice in cruise line, type of cabin, and destinations. When booking a late cruise, travelers have to purchase what is available, not the trip they want. Another serious concern for those who do not live near a cruise port is transportation to the ship itself. If a late cruise is booked very close to its departure date, travelers may have difficulty finding affordable airfare to the port of departure. This can undermine any savings realized through last-minute booking.
Last-minute cruise deals often work best for travelers who live near a seaport and who have flexibility in their travel plans. Savvy travelers look online and in local newspapers for late cruise deals. Some travel agencies even specialize in selling late cruises, particularly if that travel agency is located near a popular cruise ship port. Travelers who have sailed on a cruise line in the past may find it easier to find and book late cruise deals by calling the customer service number of that cruise line or getting on the cruise line's online mailing list.