When Is the Best Time to Book a Cruise?

Nose of a cruise ship in a turquoise sea, with a glare from the sun on the water.

A cruise is truly one of the best ways to experience your dream vacation. With fantastic amenities, luxurious accommodations and a variety of seaborne attractions and activities, cruising enables you to enjoy the journey just as much, if not more than, the destination. 

When planning your cruise adventure, determining the best time to book your trip is one of the most important steps of the process. Factors such as price, availability, cabin preference and more can change based on when you decide to book. So if you’re looking to get the biggest bang for your buck before you can set sail on the high seas, here’s what you need to know. 

Best Time of Year

A cruise could potentially be a very costly investment, but if you strategize, you can take advantage of deals and promotions greatly improving your overall experience. 

Typically, the best window to book your trip is between January and March, during what is known as the wave season. This is when you can find industry-wide cruising deals featuring significant price reductions, as well as significant promotions such as free upgrades or onboard spending money.

Not every cruise line offers its best deals during this period, however, so if getting the absolute best deal possible is your goal, you’ll have to monitor the activity of your preferred cruise line to see when it’s planning on reducing prices or offering free add-ons. 

Best Day of the Week

Prices for cruise tickets can fluctuate from daily, so choosing the right day of the week to book can also impact your bottom line. According to Cruisewatch, a B2B cruise industry consulting company, the days you’re most likely to see a reduction in prices are during the middle of the week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You generally have the highest chance of finding the best deals on a Thursday, while Wednesdays are known for having the highest rate hikes. 

Sundays are reportedly the worst days of the weekend to find any reductions in price, however, weekend bookings tend to be more steady and consistent. So if you’re thinking of purchasing cruise tickets then, it probably won’t net you much in the way of deals—but you also won’t see many price hikes, either. 

Benefits to Booking in Advance vs. Booking Later

Now that you know what months and days are best to ensure you get the most out of your trip, you have to determine how far in advance you should book your cruise. 

Booking in Advance

There are plenty of benefits to booking your cruise well ahead of your intended travel, including that it’s easier to find great deals on tickets, and you’ll have a better selection of staterooms and accommodations. For many cruise lines, it’s increasingly common to release early-bird specials to ensure they fill as many rooms as possible—which they don’t tend to do for last-minute bookings. 

It's advised that you book early if you are looking to book a particularly popular destination or type of cruise. For example Alaska has a shorter cruise season lasting from May through September, and is a popular cruise destination, so those cruise lines will typically sell out faster. River cruises also generally sell out faster because they are smaller and have lower capacity than ocean cruise lines.

It’s typically best to book your cruise between a year to 18 months in advance of your travels. However, if you prefer to hold off to see if a particular cruise line releases better deals in the future or are hoping to avoid the crowded high season, cabin availability can fill up quickly, you should still book no later than six months ahead to ensure a good deal and room. 

Booking Later

You can often find lower rates or additional promotional treats such as onboard credit, drink packages, and better dining times as the departure date approaches and cruise line works to fill the ship. “When a sailing is not sold out, most cruise lines will discount the cabins rather than sailing empty,” Cruisewatch co-founder Britta Bernhard states in a post titled “Always Book a Cruise on Thursdays.” “These price drops can make for some incredible deals. But you need to find them and book quickly.”

It’s important to keep in mind, though, that you may have less choices for your preferred cabin if you wait to book. Suites and rooms with ocean views, for example, are usually the first to fill up. Wait too long, and your desired cruise could fill up entirely! 

Additionally, following the global cruise line suspension as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many cruise lines are reopening with limited capacity, and rebooking travelers from previous cruises which were canceled. This means that many major cruise lines will have limited availability on some of their most popular itineraries and destinations through 2022, making them more likely to sell out a lot quicker.

For these reasons, booking a last minute cruise is best for travelers who are flexible on their departure date, destination and their accommodations. 

Work With an InteleTravel Advisor to Ensure You Get the Most From Your Cruise Vacation

Planning your cruise adventure can be a lot of work. Deciding on the right cruise line, choosing the best destinations, and finding the best time to book and planning out your itinerary can be a costly and time-consuming process. Working with an experienced InteleTravel Advisor can take all the guesswork out of the equation. 

Our advisors are knowledgeable experts with industry connections and experience, to ensure you get the best of everything regarding your trip—and will work with you to help design the perfect vacation itinerary based on your travel details and preferences. 

If you’re ready to stop imagining your perfect cruise vacation, and start making it a reality, contact an InteleTravel Advisor today

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