When is the Best Time to Book a Cruise?

When is the best time to book a new cruise? That’s the question everyone asks and it’s not an easy one to answer.

There are so many factors that come into play when booking a cruise vacation. We want it all – best price, free perks, great itinerary and a luxury cruise ship.

And there is a lot to be gained from starting to plan early. After all, who doesn’t love a cruising holiday to look forward to?

Book a cruise early, lock in your dream itinerary

The time to start planning is now. Ships are gradually starting to sail again after lockdown. Albeit with new guidelines onboard, according to what cruising and the “new normal” will now look like.

Our best advice has always been to book your cruise vacation as early as possible – as soon as cruise dates and itineraries are confirmed by the cruise line. Many future cruise sailing dates have now been released.

Keep a close eye on cruise prices and make a new cruise booking as the industry is opening up again successfully. This will avoid the book-cancel-rebook cycle that many guests have had to endure during the past 2 years of uncertainty.

Now that cruises are starting up again, look at the deals to be had. Researching the market before booking will help you see what the cruise you are interested in costs right now. Then when you see a promotional price or a special offer, you will really know if it’s a good deal or not.

Cruise lines typically update their prices on a monthly basis. Often if you make a booking between January and March when it is high booking season, you will find good rates. This will include special offers such a free beverage package, wifi packages, on board credit or other perks.

Experienced travel agents are used to booking cruises for customers about a year in advance of the sail date. The best time to book a cruise package (consisting of the cruise, flight, hotel and transfers to and from the ship) was when flight prices were released by the airlines. And this is 10-11 months ahead of departure date.

Generally, expect flight prices to increase the closer you get to your departure date. The best-priced seats will sell early when there is a lot of availability in different booking classes.

Use the price comparison site together with the airline’s own when websites to check flight prices and use our guide for finding cheaper flights to help you get the best deal.

The benefits of booking your cruise early

Early booking of your cruise gives many benefits:

Secure the exact cabin you want

Cabins with connecting doors or family suites are limited in number on board. Booking early ensures that you get the size cabin you want, with the view to match.

Book the itinerary you want on the date that works for you and your family

Are you travelling with kids and can only travel during school vacations? Get in early to fix the date that works best for you and your budget. Involve the family when choosing the intinerary. Do you have some bucket list destinations that you have dreamed of visiting?

Lock-in the best price deal

Cruise lines do adjust prices according to demand. If you are lucky enough that the price of your booked cruise reduces, they will adjust your final payment to reflect the new lower price. Taxes, however, can be subject to change.

Early booking can come with extra perks or special promotions

For example, specialty dining packages or on board credit.
Remember, the cruise line wants your deposit money and to lock you in early to better their cash-flow. Therefore early booking benefits are common to get you to commit as early as possible. 

Look for the added-value promotions and the ones that suit you the best

For example, a complimentary beverage package can save you thousands on drinks (wine, beer, cocktails, coffees, juices and sodas).
But if you do not drink alcohol, perhaps an offer on excursions or an internet package offers more value. Then you can just buy your juices, speicalty coffees and sodas on board as and when you want to. Tea, coffee, juice and water are always available in the buffet restaurants on board.

Booking a cruise less than 3 months before departure

Then of course there is the possibility of getting a real good deal if you book within 3 months before your planned departure date.

This can work if you are very flexible with your travel arrangements. You have a higher chance of scoring that really good deal if you are flexible with the time frame for departure date, route or destination.

Most importantly this strategy will work better if you do not eed to fly to reach your departure port. Flight prices will be much higher closer to your departure date compared to booking early.

Note that if you want to celebrate Christmasand New Year on board a cruise ship, these cruises book up early and quickly. Start as early as you can in the year planning your holiday season cruise to get the best cabins whilst they are still available.

Need more cruise booking tips? We’re here to help!

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Meet the author: With more than 20 years experience from the travel industry, Mattias offers tips, expert advice and a unique perspective anchored in having worked with market leading cruise lines, tour operators, consolidators, airlines and hospitality suppliers. Read more..