Whilst we're browsing various cruising Facebook groups, one of the questions we see being asked the most is, should you book a Select or Saver fare when choosing a P&O cruise? There isn't a simple answer to this, and we don't stick with a set rule. We've tried both and have always been happy with the decision we made.
For a higher price you can book a select fare with P&O, that entitles you to some extras. You usually get the choice between coach travel to Southampton, parking with CPS or on board spend. You'll also get first priority for choosing your dining times, you'll be able to pick the exact cabin that you want and you'll get some shuttle buses in ports included where saver fare passengers have to pay.
The obvious thing to consider is the price difference, sometimes straight away you can see that it’s worth booking the select fare, because the price difference is less than the cost of parking/coach, or the on board spend amount. Its not always that simple though! You then need to start thinking about how important the other benefits are to you.
The shuttle buses are negligible and for a week cruise you're probably looking at less than a £20 saving. But something that might be important to you is dining time. If you're cruising on Iona or Arvia this won't benefit you, as they both only have Freedom dining onboard, but on the rest of the fleet choosing a Select fare means that you get priority choice. In our experience we've always received our preferred dining choice, regardless of our fare option. We've heard of people who haven't, but once onboard they were able to get their time swapped and still got what they wanted. So even if dining time is your deal breaker it’s probably not worth paying the extra money for it.
The big one for most people will be cabin location. Booking a saver fare makes your cabin location a complete lottery as most of the desirable cabins will be chosen by guests paying select fare. Most people believe that they'll end up in the worst cabins on the ship if they choose a saver fare. For us, there is no bad cabin, if we're on the ship we're happy but there are definitely better cabins. We've never been the type of people to study a deck plan and make sure we're not next to a crew area or lift. Noise from the nightclub isn't a consideration for us either as we'll more than likely be in there! If these things are important to you then you'll also probably be willing to pay extra to make sure you avoid them. Be aware, select fare also makes you a priority for an upgrade so if you've spend ages pouring over deck plans, and a few hundred pounds extra, make sure you don't tick the auto-upgrade box. All of your hard work selecting your cabin could be undone by what P&O considers an upgrade.
So what's the simple answer? In our opinion there isn't one. We don't have a set rule with which type of fare to choose, we always weigh up the cost saving against the benefits on each specific sailing so talk to your travel agent, do some maths and think about what's important to you.