Are you planning to go on a cruise but want to book a cruise at the best price possible? Similar to booking airfare and hotels, there are certain times when it’s typically cheaper to book a cruise. Below, I will explain when you should book to get the best price for your cruise.
The Best Time to Book a Cruise
January to March
The best time to book a cruise for the best price is typically between January and March when most cruise lines will have their sales. This period is often known as the “wave season” when the cruise industry offers sales and promotions like free beverage packages, free 3rd and 4th guests, prepaid gratuities, and free upgrades.
It’s best to book early when the sale starts so that you can secure the best cabins. Usually, the suites, family rooms, and specialty spa cabins sell out first. Plus, Christmas and New Year’s Eve cruises sell out quickly.
Black Friday Sale
Another excellent time to book a cruise for the best price is in November or early December during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Most cruise lines will offer Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales for a limited time.
If you missed the January to March wave season promotional period, then you can book during the cruise line’s Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale.
Similar to the wave season promos, you can score cruise fare discounts with perks like free onboard credit, free specialty dining, free beverage package, free WiFi, free upgrades and more.
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Last Minute Cruise Booking
Another way to get great deals on your cruise is to book last minute, typically between 60-90 days before sailing. A last minute booking is considered a cruise purchased after the final cruise payment deadline.
That means when you buy a last minute cruise, you should be prepared to pay the entire cruise fare in full (not just a deposit). If you are flexible, you can get good deals with last-minute bookings.
However, if you need to fly to the cruise port, the last-minute airfare and hotel rates can end up eating into your savings. It’s best to book a last-minute cruise at cruise ports you can drive to.
I once met a couple on a Panama cruise who booked their cruise last minute, and I was envious when I found out their cruise fare- they paid a lot less than what we paid!
The only downside to last-minute cruise bookings is that you will not get the best cabins because they are most likely already booked. Additionally, popular shore excursions may sell out. The key to booking last-minute cruises is flexibility. I recommend searching for last-minute cruise deals from Cruise Direct.
Future Cruise Booking
Another way to save on your cruise is to make a Future Cruise booking while you are onboard the ship. This means you are booking your next cruise while still onboard.
Cruise ships have Future Cruise desks where you can make an appointment to learn about their offer. They will usually offer a discounted cruise fare, onboard credit that is higher than normal, and tempt you to book with a lower-than-normal deposit. You will also get first dibs on cabins that have not been released yet. Sometimes you also get first dibs on cabins for new ships.
If you are not ready to book right there and then, you can also buy future cruise credits, which you can then apply towards a future cruise booking. These future cruise credits are essentially discounts.
Depending on the cruise line and the current offer, they may give you $300 in cruise credit for every $150 you pay. It’s like buying a gift card onboard. However, do read the fine print because these cruise credits may or may not be refundable, and they also expire.
The only problem with these future cruise credits is that you are locked in to book with that particular cruise line, and there is a deadline. I once bought a cruise credit years ago that I never used, and it ended up expiring because I ended up booking with another cruise line and did not cruise with that particular cruise line!
Check out these last minute cruise deals
Check out: 15 Caribbean Cruise Mistakes to Avoid
Check out these cruise packing lists with free printables