1. Book in Advance
This is a great idea for high-season cruising. Cruises are like any product, prices are based on supply and demand. The most popular date, ship and cabin type are priced higher. Prices usually continue to go higher the more a certain ship, sail date and category sells. Per CruiseMarketWatch.com, booking in advance would mean 12-14 months in advance if you can help it – and we agree.
2. Choose Off Peak Season Hours
This shouldn’t be a surprise but the least expensive times during the year to sail on a Caribbean cruise is January, February, April, early May, and late August to mid-December. You want to avoid the summer or anytime when the kids are out of school. Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years are peak times with Christmas and New Year’s as most expensive. None of the above applies to Luxury cruises to specialty cruises/itineraries such as Alaska.
3. Monitor Price Drops
Cruise price is based on supply and demand. Prices usually continue to go higher the more a ship, sail date and category sells. But! This does not mean prices don’t ever drop but it’s rare for the new, bigger ships. Should you find your exact cabin category selling for less PRIOR to final payment. Alert your agency immediately or customer service.
4. Book Guarantee/TBA Cabin
Let’s start with “What is a Cabin Guarantee?” Simply put, you book a space on the ship. The cruise line picks your room. Book an “Interior Guarantee”, you will get an interior somewhere on the ship. Book an “Ocean View Guarantee” You will get an Ocean view somewhere on the ship. Same for “Balcony Guarantee”. What if my room isn’t assigned yet and it’s two days before the cruise? Should I contact my booking agent or the cruise lines? No! Your cabin may be assigned early or by the day of the cruise, the porter who takes your bag will have your room number.
5. Book Last Minute
Yes, this goes against #1 on our list and everything we believe in but last minute opportunities become available on occasion for off peak times. This option works only if you are flexible. So, if you don’t have a preferred cruise line (that is rare) or if you don’t care where your cabin is located. Last minute is usually defined as 4-6 weeks before the cruise. Can you still get cabins inside of 4 weeks? It’s possible. If there are only a few rooms left, the cruise lines know they can sell them and that last-minute discount is not happening. If there is a lot of availability, you win.
None of the above will apply if you are one of the lucky (hopefully you won more than you lost) ones to receive a “Casino” offer from the cruise line. In that case, do not procrastinate, find an available date and get your cruise booked immediately. “Casino offers” are particularly a Carnival thing but should you have any input on the other lines, please share.
For the luxury market cruises #1 applies to you, #3 maybe. The rest, not so much.