Love to Live Spontaneously? Here’s Your Spur of the Moment Booking Guide!
Nothing feels more exhilarating than that split-second decision to leave your responsibilities on land and embark on a spontaneous cruise vacation.
If you’re looking for a last-minute escape the Galapagos Islands may be the perfect destination, whether you’re itching to walk the same path Charles Darwin took when he was inspired to dream up his theory of evolution, sample the unique combination of international and Ecuadorian cuisine, observe the rare and abundant wildlife or simply zone out and take in the sun, sea, sand, and overall sense of place here on this remote volcanic archipelago.
Galapagos cruises are ideal for the last-minute traveller who wants to pack as much into the trip as possible without the stress and added preparation required for the logistics-heavy island-hopping approach. Unfortunately, convenience comes at a price: cruises are usually more expensive than land vacations.
However, for those with a bit of flexibility, last-minute cruise offers can end up coming in at the same price - or even lower - than a land-based trip. But bargain hunters beware – finding an 11th hour deal on a cruise can be tricky, and last-minute bookings don’t always mean savings.
When and how to book:
Understand the booking window: Last-minute prices are usually offered no earlier than 60-90 days before sailing
Cruises are a little more difficult to book last-minute than a vacation on land. Most cruise lines have policies requiring them to submit their guest roster to the coast guard within a certain timeframe.
However, the general rule of thumb is that guests can cancel their cruise reservations up to 60 days before it sets sail. This gives the cruise line – and last-minute deal hunters – a more concrete look at how many rooms are left with plenty of time to spare. If the 60-day deadline has passed and there are plenty of rooms available, you may be in luck for scoring a great deal! Of course, the longer you wait, the better the potential deals – but in exchange, you might find that there are no deals left if you wait too long!
Shoulder seasons tend to be cheaper
During the off-seasons in April, May, September and October, and early December there is less tourist traffic in the Galapagos and cruises try to amp up extra clientele by offering deals and cheaper packages. These are the best times to try and snag a last-minute deal. Less traffic means it’s not as likely that the cruise you want has already sold out, and there will be plenty of rooms available at a discounted rate.
Be flexible on your dates
You may want to consider booking closer to 90 days beforehand if you have a specific activity or type of cruise in mind. During peak travel times, Galapagos cruises will usually sell out long before you’ve even had the idea to go! This destination is usually busiest from a few days before Christmas to March/April (northern hemisphere winter) and June/July and into August (northern hemisphere school holidays). The more inflexible your plans are, the earlier you will want to book.
Don't wait too long to book (don't hold out hope for deals)
Though cruise prices may continue to drop as you near the sailing date, availabilities will also become rarer. It’s a game of chicken to wait and wait for an even better deal, against the risk of ending up with nothing that will suit your needs. Unless you are totally flexible and unless you don’t mind missing out on a cruise should it come to that, it might be better to book earlier, securing the best cruise for you, rather than risking losing out altogether for the sake of saving $100 or $200.
Don't forget travel insurance
Going on holiday to distant lands comes with its own risks. What if you get sick while away? What if you get sick before you go and find yourself having to cancel? What if a flight is cancelled and you miss your cruise? It’s never a bad idea to consider comprehensive travel insurance.
As soon as you book your ticket, the very next thing you should do is to get some decent travel insurance (unless you’re totally not a risk-averse type of person). Travel insurance is the security blanket you’ll need in case your spontaneous vacation has any nasty surprises in store.
Haven't had enough? Consider extensions
A Galapagos cruise is an incredible vacation in itself, but while you’re there, why not extend your trip by taking advantage of the luxurious extension tours offered by many cruise lines? You’ll have the opportunity to spend more time at your favourite visitor sites, and some even take you to the most exciting regions of mainland Ecuador. Extension tours can last from 5 to 15 days, allowing you to push real-life to the back of your mind for just a little while longer.
The Bottom Line:
When you see a deal that meets your requirements, don’t hesitate. Prices can change in a split second, and last-minute deals don’t like to hang around. If you plan smart and act fast, a killer deal could be just a click away. Now there’s nothing left to do but do some research and get packing!
Contact us to help you book the last-minute trip of a lifetime to the wonderfully unique Galapagos Islands!