When is the best time to book a cruise? Should you book early for peace of mind? Or should you try to snag a last-minute deal?
We have always booked our cruises very early. Usually nine months to a year in advance. We do this for a couple of reasons: 1) price protection that if the price of the cruise drops (and we are paying attention), we can request a price adjustment and 2) we normally need more than one cabin and booking early guarantees we get two cabins together and in the location we want on the ship.
Here is what Carnival says about their Early Saver Promotion:
Early Saver will be available up to 61 days prior to sailing for short cruises (5 days or shorter), up to 76 days prior to sailing for long cruises (6 – 9 days), and up to 91 days for Alaska, 10 + days and Europe sailings. Early Saver guests are eligible for price protection up to 2 business days prior to sailing
Is Early Saver still considered the lowest available rate?
Early Saver will be the lowest available core rate when open. Qualifying and promotional fares, which are available to limited audiences and/or booking windows, can be priced lower than Early Saver.
Super Saver and Pack & Go may be priced lower than Early Saver but they come with more restrictions and do not have cabin assignment.
But what about late booking deals?
But more and more I am seeing emails and articles on booking last minute. I believe to make this worthwhile, it would need to be a good deal on a cruise at a port you can drive to. I began drooling last year after Alaskan cruises for $399 per person!!! Only to check the airfare and it was more than the cost of the cruise. We are lucky enough to live near two ports (New Orleans and Galveston) but have yet to book a last minute cruise.
I came across this press release which provides more in-depth information on the cruise industry and when is the best time to get the best bang for your buck!
The site’s massive study examined 18,983 sailings by region with departures in 2017, and found a surprising trend: as the date of departure approaches, cruise prices fluctuate to a greater extent. Some regions even show up to a 71% price reduction on fares. However, there are huge differences between destinations to keep in mind.
Short-Term Planning Can Really Pay Off
According to Cruisewatch.com’s intensive data analysis of over 1.8 million data points, many of the world’s 15 cruise regions show the highest maximum price reduction between 75 and 55 days before departure. These include North America (71%), the Middle East (64%), South America (56%), and Southern Europe (59%).
“When booking a cruise, if cruisers are flexible with their cabin choices, they could save significant amounts of money simply by booking their cruise last minute,” explains Cruisewatch CEO and co-founder Markus Stumpe. “In fact, spontaneous travelers could save up to 61% on Hawaiian cruises by booking within 3 weeks of the departure date!”
If you’re wondering when to book a cruise to get the best price, you could soak up both the sun and the savings with short-term booking. Hawaii and Mexico are the best regions for this option. The best time to book Hawaiian cruises is 21 days before departure, and Mexican cruises can offer up to 46% off within 32 days prior to departure.
When to Book Caribbean Cruises for the Best Price
The Caribbean is America’s favorite cruise region, and this popular playground boasts maximum price reductions of 51% off when you book around 59 days before departure. Furthermore, the trend extends to the nearby region of Bermuda, where maximum price reductions of 46% off happen exactly 51 days before cruises set sail. This means that cruise enthusiasts looking for a dose of Vitamin D can save around half off their trip by booking at the right time.
Choose the Right Regions for Long-Term Planning
According to Cruisewatch, some regions maintain fairly consistent pricing.
“For those who like to plan ahead,” says Markus, “regions like Australia (35%), the South Sea (27%), and Alaska (19%) are good choices. These regions see relatively small price fluctuations, and they tend to happen 85 days before departure.”
However, some regions still offer fair price reductions and more planning time. These include:
- Northern Europe (45% off 70 days pre-departure),
- Galapagos cruises (39% off 79 days pre-departure),
- Asia (38% off 84 days pre-departure), and
- Transatlantic or Transpacific cruises (41% off 73 days pre-departure).
While these regions may not offer as extreme price drops as Hawaii or the Caribbean, knowing when to take a cruise to these locations can still save consumers a significant amount of money.
Big Data Leads to Big Results
Unlike other cruise or booking sites, Cruisewatch.com focuses on keeping things clear, simple, and personalized for consumers. They offer 100% free, automatic updates on when to book a cruise for the best price on their website. They also regularly conduct research to find new insights for cruisers, who love their accurate, industry-leading price prediction analytics.
“We are leveling the playing field and offering consumers up-to-date technology to make the right decisions,” says the Cruisewatch.com CEO.
I think this is great information but each family will have to decide what is best for them. As long as we need two cabins, I feel I need to book early. But if it is just the adults wanting a getaway then a last minute deal may work great for us!
I wonder if I am meant to book my next cruise this way… two emails in one day… I just received this one from Cruise Critic on snagging unsold cabins!
Let us know how you usually book your cruises! We would love the feedback!
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