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Cruise for $49 per day: Holland America standby program offers deals on last-minute trips

When it comes to booking a cruise with Holland America Line, it pays to be flexible. The cruise launched a new standby program offering fares of $49 per person, per day, if passengers don’t mind traveling on short notice.

Guests can sign up for a standby list on eligible sailings and will be notified approximately seven days before departure if they are cleared to cruise. The line began rolling out the program on Alaska itineraries in August and has since expanded to other destinations.

“We see Holland America Line’s Standby Program as a win-win for guests and our business,” Dan Rough, the line’s Vice President of Revenue Management, said in an emailed statement. “Circumstances may arise for booked guests where they have to cancel a cruise the week before sailing. The Standby Program allows us to fill those cabins with people who have already committed to going and who presumably live close enough to the port that they can make last-minute travel arrangements.”

How does Holland America’s Standby Program work?

Travelers can join the standby list for a cruise by calling 877-724-5425 or through their travel advisor. The program “is intended for those residing within driving distance from a port,” the line said on its website.

Eligible sailings currently include a range of departures through April 2024, including cruises in the Caribbean, along the California coast, to Hawaii and elsewhere. Guests can find a full list here.

For travelers who want to keep an eye on cruise fares themselves, sites like Cruisewatch allow users to track price changes.

What are the terms of the program?

Passengers must be 21 or older to qualify, and have to pay the reduced fare in full based on double occupancy when they are added to the standby list.

Payment does not guarantee a spot, and travelers will receive a refund if they are not cleared to sail. Those on the standby list cannot request to be removed, and those who are approved for a cruise cannot get their money back if they decide not to go.

The $49 per person, per day rate does not include taxes, fees and port expenses. Third and fourth passengers in a stateroom can sail for free, excluding those same additional costs.

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Guests who book through the program will be automatically assigned a stateroom and cannot upgrade their accommodations.

Nathan Diller is a consumer travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Nashville. You can reach him at ndiller@usatoday.com.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Book cheap cruises with new Holland America standby program