So you’re looking to book a cruise, and you’re trying to find the best price – our friends tell us to book “last minute” to get the best deals, but the cruise lines tell us to “book early” to get the best selection of cabins and itineraries. So what is it? Keep reading – we’ll get you the best deal on your next sailing!
Booking a Cruise Early
Most cruise lines come out with their best fares when the itineraries first are released — typically 18-months in advance. As the ship starts to sell out, the low fares start to ratchet up in price as demand increases — remember that 10th grade economic class – supply and demand — well, it’s how pricing works!
In addition to booking early and getting the lowest fares, many cruise lines also offer special perks — free airfare, cabin upgrades, onboard credit or even free internet and drink packages. Even more exciting is that when booking early, many offer a low refundable deposit to hold your cabin, allowing you to cancel and receive a full refund if your plans change.
Booking a Cruise Late
When ships sell out slowly, or receive a large number of cancellations before final payment (normally about 90-120 days before a cruise) – a cruise line will slash their rates last minute to fill empty cabins.
This is when you’ll find unbelievable deals for $50 per person per night for inside cabins on a 7-day sailing, and awesome deals for outside and balcony cabins.
You’re not likely going to find low rates on suites or prime cabin locations however – those tend to sell out fast and remain sold.
You’ll also need to be a bit more flexible on sailing dates and specific itineraries when booking a last minute cruise.
Keep in mind, that if it is a cruise line that you’ve always wanted to go on, and the sailing is filling up, the price may be higher not lower.
Lastly, if you’re flying to the the home port, keep in mind that last minute air fare can be extremely expensive — so it may eat up your cruise savings.
So When IS the BEST Time to Book?
Book a cruise early – when you want to lock in the best pricing, cabin location, itinerary as the more popular ships book quickly.
Book a cruse late – when you want the least expensive cruise fare and are flexible with your sailing dates, ship and itinerary.