Perfect Timing: When to Book Your Cruise


Maybe the dates aren’t set in stone yet, but one thing’s for sure: You’re itching to go on a cruise! But when is the best time to book? Should you hurry to take advantage of early-bird fares? Or would you rather book at the last minute and not commit yourself to anything too soon?

First things first – there is no general rule of thumb for the perfect time to book. It all really depends on your personal needs and travel plans. Certain aspects play into this, such as the itinerary, cruise ship, booking window, season, holidays, school breaks as well as special requests like family deals. When it comes to unbeatable deals, we at Cruise1st work diligently with top cruise lines to bring you the best discounts, promotions, and special rates. It might also be helpful to take a closer look at the discounts that cruise lines offer at various times of the year. We have compiled a list of guidelines to help you find the best time to book your dream cruise holiday.

Winter is a popular time to book

Winter is high seasonMost cruisers tend to plan for their next cruise to be in the winter, so they can already start looking forward to their next holiday with amazing weather, sea views, and sunshine on the pool deck. You guessed it – you’re not the only one. Demand is higher in the wintertime. If you have particular dates, a specific cruise ship, or a special itinerary in mind, we advise you to book in advance. When it comes to price, it is oftentimes more important when you book rather than when you set sail. If you want to save money, timing is key when booking.

Booking early pays off

If you book a cruise far in advance, you may be able to take advantage of early-bird fares. These special fares are usually available starting from when the booking window opens, but they are only available for a limited time. The bookability of early-bird fares varies from cruise line to cruise line, but availability is usually at its best right when the booking window opens because cruise lines want to fill up their ships and staterooms as early as possible.

Now is the best time to look for your dream stateroom. Not only do you have the option to choose among interior staterooms, ocean view staterooms, balcony staterooms, and suites, but you can usually select the deck and location in the ship as well. Since fares tend to increase the closer it gets to the departure date, we recommend that you book somewhere between six and nine months in advance to get the best deal.

Thinking about travelling to Europe? Browse through our best Europe Early Bird Specials!

Book theme cruises well in advance

Did an expedition cruise catch your eye? Then you should book about twelve to 18 months in advance. These ships are smaller and have less passenger capacity. If you have a special trip in mind, such as a world cruise, a maiden voyage, or an event cruise, book as soon as possible. These cruises are in high demand and can sell out quickly, especially if you want to stay in a specific stateroom.

If you’re flexible, book last minute

Last minute for the spontaneous

Even if you get a sudden urge to set sail, you will surely be able to find great deals. If you’re flexible about the destination, time frame, and stateroom category, you can book at very low fares. Prices tend to drop around 60 days before departure to encourage cruisers to book the remaining staterooms. Discounted fares are rare during high season because it won’t be difficult for cruise lines to fill their staterooms. The off-season is a completely different story: During this time, you can find a last-minute bargain. However, you must keep in mind that the itinerary you’ve been eyeing may not be available for your preferred cruise ship or stateroom category.

Leftover staterooms

If you’re flexible when it comes to planning your trip and can climb aboard on short notice if someone cancels, then you can snag a great deal on a cruise. Unfilled staterooms will be offered at incredibly low fares because cruise lines want to ensure that the entirety of the ship is being utilised. You may be able to save up to 70% if there’s a short time between when you book and when you set sail. You can spend the entire year speculating about these unfilled staterooms, but just sit back and be surprised by the destination! Flexibility is absolutely required because you can never predict which cruise ships, itineraries, and staterooms will be available on such short notice.

When families should book

Booking low seasonIf you’re travelling with children, the best option is to book in advance, especially if you want to cruise the seas during the holidays or on school breaks. Not only are the prices for family cruises very attractive when you book early, but stateroom availability is also ideal, so you can have the stateroom of your choice. Many ships offer staterooms with connecting doors that are perfect for families with children.

Book during the off-season

If you are travelling as a couple or solo and are flexible timewise, you should try travelling during the off-season or shoulder season and booking your cruise outside of the high season, holidays, and school breaks. During this time, fares will be lower, and the journey will be offered at a lower price point. Here are some other pros: Cruise ships won’t be as crowded, and ports and destinations will offer a more relaxed experience. Of course, the season varies from destination to destination. While cruises to the Baltic Sea and Northern Europe are in high demand during the winter, the Canary Islands, the Emirates, and the Caribbean have their peak season in the summer. The Mediterranean is visited year-round, but the summer months will bring fewer cruisers than the winter. That is the perfect time to research amazing deals.

Would you like to book your next cruise? Whether it’s a last-minute deal or a trip planned far in advance, our Australia-based cruise experts will assist you in finding the perfect cruise holiday. Give us a call on 1300 857 345. In the meantime, you can browse our incredible cruise deals.



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