It’s an age-old question that has been discussed and debated to death…”When is the best time to book a cruise?” Some swear it is best to capture the cruise lines “early booking” discount when itineraries are first released, while others wait until months or even weeks prior to sailing, hoping to snag the best deal. Lets face it, nobody wants to get onboard and find out the people they’re sitting next to at dinner paid hundreds of dollars less for the same vacation! So with so much conflicting opinions, how does one determine the optimal time to book a cruise?
Cruise lines begin selling cabins roughly 12 to 18 months before a cruise departs, and there are many good reasons as to why you should consider booking this far in advance.
If you are considering an itinerary with a short sailing season, don’t wait. For example, Scandinavia / Russia itineraries sell out quickly because there are a small number of ships that cruise to the area, and in addition, it’s a relatively short season.
If you need to cruise when school is out of session: Christmas break, President’s week, and the summer months, you’re best off booking early. And if you need a quad cabin during that time you should be booking as soon as that itinerary is available to book!
If you need an accessible cabin then you know that there is just a couple available in each category. Don’t wait and later be disappointed.
If you have to have connecting cabins, you only want cabin # 7096, or can’t imagine not cruising in an aft balcony, need I say more?
If having “early dining” is a deal breaker for you, and it seems to be so for many people, then you should book early. Don’t assume the Maitre d' will oblige you once you get onboard because it’s just not possible for him to accommodate everyone.
If you’re cruising with a large group and everyone has their own specific needs, or you want all your cabins in a row, save yourself the headaches and plan early. Who wants to listen to cousin Claire complain for seven straight days because her cabin is on deck two, while everyone else is up on nine!
Of course, there are people that may benefit from playing the waiting game, willing to chance that the cruise line will slash pricing in order to fill the ship.
If you can cruise during shoulder season then sit back and take the “wait and see” attitude. September, October, November and early December sailings do not fill up as quickly as other months so there may be deals to be had by procrastinating.
If your middle name is “Flexibility” then go ahead and wait. You’re the type of person that doesn’t care which ship or sail date your book, and are not concerned with cabin location. Your motto is “every cruise is a great cruise…just get me aboard cheap!”"