I regularly receive emails from customers asking when they should book to ensure they get the very best price for their cruise. The truth is, the best time to book can vary depending on your destination, the number of people in your party and a few other factors.
Generally, though, I recommend waiting until about 60 to 90 days before departure to book. Most ships will be marked down around this time, and these prices usually prove to be the lowest ever offered for that departure -- lower than early bird discounts, and lower than prices available within the last couple of weeks.
Most cruises departing between now and the end of March have been marked down to the lowest rate that will be available, so if you are planning to cruise during this period, it's time to shop and give us a call. For a list of the very best deals still available during this time frame, click here.
If you're planning to cruise after the first quarter of the year, you may want to wait to see if deeper discounts develop before booking. There are, of course, a few notable exceptions. Here they are:
First, families hoping to travel during the peak June-August period and needing one stateroom that accommodates more than four people (often called a "family suite") or two staterooms with a private connecting door should book now. Such staterooms are few in number and will be filled far in advance of departure because of the high demand for cruises among families. You can use our Find A Cruise Ship tool to identify which ships offer such staterooms by clicking here. (Keep in mind that two staterooms may cost less than a family suite.)
Staterooms that accommodate three or four passengers are more plentiful but still limited in number, and summer sailings for families needing these staterooms should be booked no later than the end of March. Virtually all cruise ships built in the past 20 years have at least a few cabins that will accommodate three or four travelers.
Next, families and other groups needing eight or more cabins should book now for all departures between now and the end of August, as arranging cabins close to one another can become more problematic as departure approaches. You can book any time in the next couple of months if you are sailing in the traditionally slow fall season. Click here for more information about group cruises.
Finally, those who must cruise on a specific ship on a specific departure date may want to book now. Being flexible on ship and date and watching our site regularly for price cuts (especially our world-famous 90-Day Ticker) will net the lowest price, but any particular sailing could sell out early, without resorting to deep discounting. Don't wait too long holding out for an additional discount if only one sailing will suit you.
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