Planning a cruise vacation starts with choosing a cruise ship, itinerary, cabin category and time of year to sail, but when is the best time to book a cruise?
With so many promotions and offers available throughout the year, you might be wondering if it’s better to book a cruise now or wait for a new discount to be announced.
Spoiler alert: The best time to book a cruise is today
99% of the time, the best time to book a cruise is today. Waiting for a promotion or a specific time of year to book your next cruise has little advantage over booking the cruise as soon as possible.
Cruise fares tend to be the cheapest the farther in advance you book, and despite a few last-minute deals here and there, it’s best to book ahead and guarantee the best price.
The main reason to book a cruise today instead of weeks or months from now is that you can change the price of your cruise until the date of final payment for the crossing (75 days before the departure date for cruises of 1 to 4 nights and 90 days before the departure date for cruises of 5 nights or more).
How does cruise repricing work?
Royal Caribbean’s Best Price Guarantee program ensures that you will receive the best price on your cruise in the event of a price drop.
If you book a cruise 12 months in advance for, say, $1,000 and later see the price has dropped to $750, you’ll receive the new, cheaper price provided your cruise doesn’t exceed the final payment date.
Price adjustments are not automatic, so you will need to periodically check the Royal Caribbean website or contact your travel agent to see if the cruise fare has changed.
To note: The Best Price Guarantee program is only available in certain countries, including the United States and Canada. If you are not from the United States or Canada, contact Royal Caribbean or your travel agent to verify if you are eligible for price adjustments on your cruise.
Although it is recommended to book a cruise as early as possible, there are certain times of the year when you can sometimes find better deals than others. An overall cheaper cruise is never guaranteed when booking during these promotions, but savings are possible on certain cabin categories or cruise options.
Book a cruise during wave season
“Wave Season” is a cruise industry term for the time of year when cruise lines tend to offer their best promotions. Wave season traditionally occurs between January and March, a popular time for people booking vacations for the coming year and looking for a tropical “escape” from winter northern temperatures.
Wave season promotions vary by year, but you could see savings like 60% off a second guest and up to $150 onboard credit to use on board. If you’re browsing the Royal Caribbean website during wave season, you should take advantage of the offer to hopefully save some money and get some onboard perks.
However, don’t wait until wave season to book a cruise, as you can always change the price of an existing cruise to see if the wave season promotion is lower than the price you originally paid for the cruise or cruise extras such as shore excursions and beverages. packages.
Black Friday cruise deals
Black Friday can be a great time to shop for a cruise vacation, and you’ll always find a Royal Caribbean cruise sale during the biggest shopping weekend of the year.
However, don’t wait to book a cruise until Black Friday. Instead, book the cruise now. Royal Caribbean allows price adjustments without penalty until the final payment date, so if you notice a price drop on Black Friday, call Royal Caribbean or your travel agent for the cruise fare adjustment.
Plus, you might find that Black Friday cruise deals aren’t much different from the deals you’ll see throughout the year. Unlike retail and tech stores, for example, cruise prices don’t change drastically on Black Friday. You may find that the Black Friday promotion is almost the same as the other promotions of the year.
Can I book a last minute cruise?
Although most of our tips say to book a cruise sooner rather than later, sometimes you can find a cheap last-minute cruise deal on Royal Caribbean.
If a cruise has passed its final payment date and not all rooms have been booked, Royal Caribbean may lower prices to encourage more guests to book the cruise.
While this can lead to great savings, a certain level of flexibility is needed before booking a cruise at the last minute. The choices of cabins, ships and itineraries can be extremely limited, so keep an open mind before booking so you don’t be disappointed!
More information on last minute cruises:
Book a cruise when new itineraries are released
You can often find the cheapest cruise fares as soon as new cruise itineraries are released. We tend to find that cruise fares increase over time as more cabins are booked, so booking early can usually guarantee the best price.
Cruise itineraries are usually published about two years in advance. One way to stay informed about new cruise itineraries is to subscribe to Royal Caribbean marketing emails or follow the Royal Caribbean blog.
As an example, Royal Caribbean typically releases Alaska cruise itineraries in November for the upcoming season two years from now, so summer 2024 itineraries would be released around November 2022.
Related: When is the best time to go on a cruise to Alaska?
Booking when itineraries are published is especially recommended for cruises at peak times of the year, especially during the holiday season. Thanksgiving and Christmas cruises can sell out and see much higher prices than cruises at other times of the year. Early booking allows you to guarantee the best price and have the most flexibility on ships, cabins and itineraries.
Related: How Royal Caribbean Celebrates Cruise Vacations
Best time for families to book a cruise
If you are traveling with children and have specific cabin requirements, it is best to book further in advance than at the last minute. Some cabin options, like connecting rooms, can sell out quickly during peak times of the year when kids are out of school.
Another great time to book a family cruise is during a Kids Sail Free promotion. Royal Caribbean will occasionally run Kids Sail Free promotions, where the 3rd and 4th (or older) passengers 12 years of age or younger are eligible for a free cruise fare.
Related: Here are the absolute best cruises for families
Although the “free cruise fare” sounds appealing, there are a few caveats with Kids Sail Free. Departures must be for 4 nights or more and not occur during the promotion blackout dates. Unsurprisingly, blackout dates tend to be during peak times of the year during school vacations. Plus, you’ll still have to pay taxes, port fees, and child tips.
That being said, booking during a Kids Sail Free promotion can be one of the best times for families to book a cruise.
Should I wait to book my Royal Caribbean cruise with NextCruise?
NextCruise is where you can book future Royal Caribbean cruises onboard a ship. The main benefit of booking a cruise with NextCruise is that you will receive up to $600 onboard cruise credit and you will often see deposits as low as $100 per person.
While NextCruise’s onboard credit offers are attractive, we don’t recommend waiting to book with NextCruise if you’re not currently aboard a Royal Caribbean ship. Even if you have a cruise coming up in a few weeks or months, it’s almost always best to book a future cruise you’re interested in at home and not wait to book the cruise on board.
This is because the cruise fare may increase in the weeks or months leading up to your cruise, negating any additional savings via onboard credit you would receive when booking onboard.