Out of all the research and luck needed to secure a good cruise deal, one factor is a constant: planning several months ahead always results in better values. Essentially, the singular piece of advice for a traveler to get what he or she wants – both a low price and all accommodations – is to start planning at least six months in advance. In some cases, even six months is too late, and nine to 15 months is optimal for finding the right cabin, dining plan, and shore excursions.
All types of cruises – from family trips to luxury liners – offer early deals. However, multiple factors must be taken into account when planning:
Many travelers have a perfect cruise vacation in mind: a beautiful view from the cabin, shore excursions that explore the local cultures in each port, and dining with friends and family. Securing the precise accommodations stems from planning early.
Luxury cruises, particularly, offer their package deals months in advance. Although this varies with company and liner, options that disappear eventually include two-for-one fares, airfare and hotel packages, and other onboard discounts.
Even if a cruise doesn’t offer such features, advanced planning yields a greater chance to get the experience you want. Essentially, scheduling as early as you can opens up a better choice of cabins, itineraries, ships, and departure ports.
On the other hand, specific onboard accommodations – such as a type of cabin or interconnected living arrangements for groups – are soon gone once a trip is advertised. While a price deal ultimately, getting a trip that meets a traveler’s needs begins with early scheduling.
Know When and Where to Travel
Season and destination are everything when it comes to a cruise deal. As we have pointed out before, certain times of the year, such as fall and most of winter, are off-seasons for cruising, while other periods, including all of summer and around holidays, are harder to book. If you plan to cruise during a peak season, the earlier a cruise is booked, the better. Not only do you get a lower price and choice of accommodations, but also the trip is more likely to be available.
That being said, some destinations, itineraries, and cruise types are more popular than others. While many trips travel to the Caribbean, the closeness to the United States results in such vacations being booked quickly. For getting a deal and accommodations, travelers are advised to schedule at least nine to 11 months in advance.
Alaska cruises, as well, are turning into a traveler favorite, and while more liners travel northward, these trips are additionally booked up quickly. Getting a deal on an Alaska cruise, as a result, must be done eight to nine months ahead of time.
River cruises, because of their small sizes and growing popularity, require even more advanced planning. Depending upon the itinerary, such as for some European trips, this type of cruise must be scheduled 12 to 15 months before the ship leaves – not just for deals but for availability at all.
A true cruise deal comes from the full price of the trip: the ticket, all tours, airfare, and pre or post hotel stays. Considering the full trip cost is a must.
However, early planning, unlike last-minute trips, means a traveler has a greater chance of using frequent flier miles to travel to and from a departure port. Similarly, early prices, which may fluctuate in later months, often come with a guarantee or protection from the cruise line or agency. In these cases, the traveler can get the lower fare if the cruise line lowers its costs, with a refund or cabin upgrade offered.