When is the Best Time to Book a Cruise?

If you’re pretty new to the world of cruise – perhaps you’ve never really considered switching to a cruise from your usual beach holiday – then it can be pretty confusing trying to figure out when the best time to book is.

When it comes to getting a good deal, timing is everything – and that goes for cruises too. Knowing when the peak seasons are and understanding what factors will affect cabin prices are key to bagging a bargain. Do you book early? Or hold off until last minute? We’ll cover everything you need to know in this handy guide.

Your needs

When’s best to book is largely dependent on your travel needs and who you are. Are you a couple wanting a relaxing adult-only break? Or are you bringing the kids along on a family cruise? Perhaps you’re after a solo adventure?!

All these factors make a huge difference when it comes when you should book. For most travelers, booking early will almost always be the best option. This is because families or groups require larger cabin types, such as a Family Balcony Cabin, and solo cruisers will usually always want to book themselves a Single Cabin, as they’re the best value for those heading off on the high seas alone. You might want an accessible cabin for wheelchair users or even an interconnecting cabin if you’re travelling as a group.

These cabins are in shorter supply, so if you fall into one of these categories then you’ll want to get booked up as soon as possible to make sure you don’t miss out. Most cabins onboard are standard double occupancy cabins either in the form of Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins (those with a sea view) and Balcony Cabins – so if you’re a couple with no additional needs, you could get away with holding off on booking if you want to chance getting a better deal.

Booking early

Although you might be used to holding off until the last minute when it comes to your usual beach holiday, it’s generally not the done thing when it comes to a cruise getaway. Cruise fares usually increase as the sail date approaches, meaning the later you leave it, the more you’ll pay.

Cruise lines like Marella Cruises are great at releasing their sailings really far in advance though, meaning you can look ahead and grab a dreamy deal with plenty of time to plan and prepare. Booking early also comes with other advantages – you get to choose your favourite ship, optimal travel dates and you can even book the specific cabin of your choice, so you know exactly whereabouts you’ll be situated on the ship.

Cruise lines know that sometimes you need a little nudge to book further in advance, so they’re great at offering  fantastic discount codes that can save you anything from £50 to £150 off your booking! It’s all about keeping your eyes peeled and signing up to hear about the latest offers, so when a code comes along that’s applicable you can get booked straight away!

Booking last minute

Sometimes we simply want to get away from it all there and then – and you can still do that with a cruise! You just have to be much more flexible and open to where and when you want to go – especially if you’re looking to book last minute in popular times like summer or Christmas and New Year.

As most travellers make their summer plans in the winter of the year before, most cabins usually sell out in the early months of the year. But that’s not to say the odd few won’t remain – and cruise lines don’t like empty cabins!

So, be open about where you want to go and you’ll definitely be able to snag a last minute surprise. How exciting! Maybe you’ll end up in the Western Med, visiting superb cities like Palma and Barcelona, or maybe you’ll start sailing from one Greek island to another in the Eastern Mediterranean? Or perhaps you’ll find yourself in the fantastic Fjords!

If you want to go on a specific cruise, on a specific date, in a specific cabin – then booking last minute isn’t for you, as you’ll be unlikely to be able to get everything you want. If there’s a place you really want to set sail to last minute, look for a sailing on one of the bigger cruise ships as there’s likely to be more availability.

The verdict:

Overall, when it comes to cruising, it’s usually best to book in advance. You can guarantee your exact spot on the ship – meaning you can reserve a cabin nearest the facilities most important to you (be it the kids’ club, the buffet restaurant or the theatre) and you’ll also be able to take advantage of advance discount codes.

Plus, the best thing about cruising is the fact that you get to visit multiple destinations all on one holiday – so if you have dream destinations already in mind that you’d love to visit, then booking early guarantees you a spot on that itinerary.

If you’re not fussed about the specifics of where you go – more so that you just want to get away (which a cruise is perfect for; All Inclusive drinks as you sail into the sunset anyone?!) then you’ll definitely be able to secure a last minute cabin, as long as you’re flexible. Cruise lines tend to want to have an idea of the amount of passengers onboard in advance though, so you probably won’t find ridiculous price drops the closer you wait.


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