Like so many things in life, timing is everything, and booking a cruise holiday is no exception. Knowing the peak seasons and understanding the factors that affect ticket pricing is the ideal place to start. Once you know the pros and cons of booking early, booking last minute and booking during peak seasons, you can decide for yourself when the best time to purchase your cruise holiday is. So, to find the cheapest way to cruise, read through our booking guide and start preparing for your next ocean getaway.

Booking early

In general, cruise fares increase as the sail date approaches, meaning that usually the later you leave it, the more you’ll pay. Cruise lines, particularly those that offer luxury add-ons or extra discounts like Marella Cruises, are good at releasing their deals far in advance of sailing. Booking early is not a guarantee of getting that rock-bottom fare, but it does mean you can choose your favourite ship, optimal dates, cabin and destination without having to compromise in favour of a cheaper fare.

Who should book early? If you’re travelling with your whole family, including little ones, booking early will be your best option. Booking early lets you lock in a good rate, and you’ll be able to choose your specific type of cabin with plenty of choice available. If you’re booking a family orientated cruise ship like Marella’s Marella Discovery, it’s best to get in early so you can be sure you’ve got the exact rooms you’re after. Family cruises tend to be the most popular and book up quick.

If you or anyone you’re travelling with has special needs, and require a specific type of cabin, booking early is also ideal. This way you can choose rooms with or without balconies, interconnecting suites, any any other additions you might require.

Finding a good cruise deal - Holland America

Booking during peak time

Summer is a great time to soak up the sun on the deck of a cruise liner, however, summer cruise tickets tend to sell up quickly. Most travellers make plans in the winter of the year before, and the last tickets usually sell in the early months of the year of sailing. Start looking at least three to four months in advance if you want to find the best deals for peak summer-time cruising.

Christmas and New Years are also popular times to cruise, especially for families who have the holidays off, and singles who want to enjoy a busy cruising atmosphere over Christmas. Of course, for those countries in the southern-hemisphere, this time of year is their summer and peak season. If you’re going to be travelling to Australia, New Zealand, South America or somewhere else in the southern-hemisphere that requires flights and visas, make sure to leave even more time so you can get the paperwork in order.

If you’ve left it until 2 or 3 months in advance of your holiday during a peak season, opt for the newer and bigger ships that have plenty of passenger capacity. This way you won’t be disappointed and will still be able to choose from several accommodation options.

Who should travel during the peak season? Cruisers who tend to book early, and large groups who enjoy the buzz of the busy season will have no problem travelling during the peak period. Book your cruise online for the fastest way to save your spot on a peak season holiday.

Choosing a cruise holiday - MSC Melody

Booking last-minute

Leaving booking to the last-minute means you may be limited in terms of your choice of ship, cabin or destination. Cruise lines also have limited the practice of dropping their prices at the last-minute in favour of getting an accurate picture of how many passengers will be joining them onboard.

That said, it is possible to book last-minute cruise tickets if you time it right. Last-minute bookings work best in the off-peak seasons. For Scandinavian trips from P&O Cruises for example, March to April, and September to November would be ideal times to book. Factors that affect these prices are school term times and the weather.

Who should book a last-minute cruise? Couples and pensioners who can be flexible with their dates, destinations, ship and cabin choice can easily wait till the last-minute to book. If you’re looking for a cheap deal, and don’t mind about the specifics of your cruise, then booking last-minute is definitely and option for you.

There you have it, a step by step guide on when the ideal time to book your next cruise is. If you’d like more advice on when to book, or were inspired to start planning your next cruise, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Cruise ship sunset

Image credits:
Holland American Line by Colin Delaney, MSC Melody by Ian Barbour, Cruise ship sunset by Kabacchi – all used under CC license
Featured image by Philip Chapman-Bell used under CC license 

* Terms & Conditions apply

We are acting as an agent on behalf of travel suppliers and your booking will be subject to the supplier’s terms and conditions. Prices may be subject to very limited availability and are correct as at the date and time of writing. Prices may go up or down from time to time. Prices quoted are for the dates, accommodation, board basis, departure points and number of persons sharing specified only and cannot be combined with any other offer. We reserve the right to amend any quotes given if there is a genuine error as soon as we become aware of it. We reserve the right to withdraw any offers without notice.