Cruise 101: The Best Time To Book A Cruise

How to get the most out of your vacation—at sea.
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Vacations are all about the memories you make, and each one starts with anticipation—from finding just the right trip and pinning down your itinerary, to nabbing a price that gets you even more excited to get away. Wondering the best time to book a cruise, your flight for it, or if there are surefire ways of scoring upgrades? Read our tips to help plan your ultimate cruise vacation.

How Early Should You Book A Cruise?

People book within different time frames for a variety of reasons and benefits.

12 to 18 months: As a general rule of thumb: the farther you are traveling, the farther out you will want to consider booking. Cruise lines announce ship itineraries and schedules much earlier than airlines do. If you’re planning a bucket-list trip around Australia or the Baltics, or headed to a destination best explored by cruise ship, like the Mediterranean or Alaska, consider booking early. This advance lead-time will give you the greatest choice when it comes to choosing your preferred accommodations; you’ll also want plenty of time to book your airfare, in order to get the best price, so factor that into your planning.

6 to 12 months: This just might be the sweet spot for most travelers. At six months or so from your travel dates, you’ll usually find top deals on airfare even for international destinations. It also strikes a great balance between the start of an adventure and the anticipation of waiting for it to arrive.

Closer in: Booking three or four months from your vacation time is possible, and sometimes there are still some amazing deals out there, but it’s not advised because in general you’re more limited in terms of itinerary and stateroom selection, especially on sailings that are seven nights or longer.

Are There Incentives Or Upgrades I Should Know About?

There is no guaranteed, secret formula for scoring a beverage package or balcony upgrade, but what a savvy vacation planner should consider when booking an adventure with Royal Caribbean is WAVE season, which typically coincides with the peak period for virtual wanderlust. Running from January to March, the cruise line offers booking incentives that can include onboard credits – spending money, upgrades or added-value offers. Booking early is a good way to score perks, and don’t forget to ask about special programs that might be inclusive of your profession, especially if you are a police officer, firefighter, member of the military, or airline employee.

Should I Use A Travel Agent?

The online booking experience is getting better all the time, especially with cruise line’s expert vacation planners on call. Something else to consider, though, if it’s right for you, is that travel agents also can provide insight, usually based on first-hand experience. They too can help you in making crucial choices like which ship to cruise on and what kind of stateroom to select based on your preferences. Some of them may offer their own incentives, too. Vacationers booking months or more than a year in advance have time to do their research and make comparisons to decide which option is the best fit.

Many travelers have already started planning their 2017 trips, so if you’re ready to indulge your wanderlust and join the fun, explore Royal Caribbean’s cruise vacations here.

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