If you have read other articles on Cruise Fever, you have seen where we recommend that you fly into the port city the day before your cruise.¬† Why risk the change of missing your cruise because your flight was delayed due to weather or a mechanical problem with an aircraft (over 20% of all flights¬†in 2014¬†were delayed for more than 15 minutes).
How exactly can you get the best deal possible on a pre-cruise hotel on Priceline?¬† I will show you exactly the steps to take and give you examples of hotels that I have won through the “name your own price” feature.¬† The best deal I ever received through Priceline is where I booked a $129 hotel (the price on their website) for $35 a night at¬†the Sheraton Safari Hotel in Orlando.
My last cruise I was taking the Norwegian Sky out of Miami for a 4 day cruise to the Bahamas.¬† I assumed that hotels in Miami would not be cheap and I¬†wouldn’t of felt safe staying at the Miami Discount Motel.¬† I wanted to stay at a nice place downtown but all the nicer hotels were $199-399 for the night.¬† My only choice was to go to Priceline and bid for a hotel room.
Priceline will not let you start at $1 a night and keep bidding $2, then $3, $4 etc until¬†a hotel¬†accepts your price.¬† Once you bid and are rejected, you can not bid for another 24 hours, unless you add another zone to stay in.¬† This is where you will learn to use free rebid zones.¬† I wanted to stay downtown so I was close to the port in the morning and I also wanted to stay at a 4 star hotel.¬† I started my bidding low, $45 for the night and I was rejected.¬† I then checked out all the zones and found that there were 6 others zones that did not have a 4 star hotel in their area.¬† These are what we call free rebid zones.¬† You can add them to your search and Priceline will let you bid again right away.¬† Since there are no 4 star hotels or above in those areas,¬†you will not be¬†given a hotel there.¬† I added $3 to the price and kept bidding.¬† Finally $63 was accepted, at the Hyatt Regency.¬† The hotel wanted $199 for the night if I booked through them. I saved $136 by using a simple Priceline strategy.
The free bid strategy will only work if you are looking for a higher star hotel.¬† Priceline will at times give you an upgraded hotel but never a downgraded one.¬† I once bid on a 3 star and won a 3 1/2 star.¬† If you bid on a 3, you will not get a 2 1/2 or lower.
There are some important things to remember when using the “Name Your Price” on Priceline. ¬†First off, you can not choose which hotel you want to stay at. Also, if your price is accepted, your credit card is charged and you can not cancel.¬† You will not know the name of the hotel until your credit card is charged.¬† I have found that the star rating system they use for hotels is pretty¬†fair.¬† If you bid for a¬† 2 1/2 or 3 star hotel, you will not get a Days Inn or Red Roof Inn. Those will likely be 1 star hotels.
Not every hotel uses the “Name Your Price” feature.¬† The list of hotels that Priceline has for this is constantly changing.¬† Sometimes you also can not pick the type of room that you would like if you use this method.¬† However, you can call or email the hotel after you are booked and ask for a certain type of room (King Bed, 2 Queens etc).¬†¬†Most times you can get the room you want but it is not a guarantee.
San Juan, Puerto Rico is known for not releasing hotels until last minute.¬† Other areas such as St. Thomas/S.t John can be very hard to win at a decent price.¬† You can usually get a killer deal in Orlando, Florida or Las¬†Vegas,¬†Nevada¬†since there are an abundance of hotel rooms there.
A great website to learn which hotels are on Priceline and exactly what price people are getting them for, visit BetterBidding.com. It is a message board will people will post what hotels they are bidding on in each city.¬† It is a good guide before bidding to get an idea of what hotels are going for.
Why stress over your plane landing in time for your cruise when you can leave a day early, get a killer deal on a hotel, and relax by the pool for a day!
If you need a car rental, why not also try Priceline?¬† You can easily save $20 a day through them, sometimes much more!
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