The Best Time to book a Cruise

3 January 2024

A number of factors affect how to get the best price for a cruise, including how well the cruise is selling, how early or late you book and holiday sales.

Book Early

Booking within the first few days of a sailing being released will often get you the best prices on the sailing. Each cruise line will often announce when they plan to release certain sailings, so if you are interested in a particular sailing years in advance, it's worth keeping an eye on the release dates.

Booking through a travel agency can help as they will monitor the sailings you are looking for and will let you know when the sailings are released. They will also ensure you benefit from any price drops should the sailings become cheaper later.


Cruise lines will often have some type of sale on, such as 30% off each passenger or 60% off the second passenger. These promotions are always ongoing and don't really count as sales. The basic cruise fare stays the same but the promotion changes.

There are the exceptions to these sales and they are based around specific US holidays. These are

Holiday Description
Black Friday Cruise lines will often have sales on for the week of American Thanksgiving. The sales tend to last the whole week, as well on the following Monday, known as Cyber Monday. There are some sales on sailings but the best sales are in the cruise planner.
Labor Day For a few days around Labor day US based cruise lines will run sales. There are some sales on sailings but the best discounts are in the cruise planner.
4th of July For a few days around US indepence day, US based cruise lines will run sales. There are some sales on sailings but the best discounts are in the cruise planner.

Booking Last Minute

In order to reduce inventory cruise lines will often have last minute deals on close in sailings. If you have the flexibility to sail at short notice this can be a great option. You will have limited or no choice on the cabin you will be staying in.

Booking on board

Most ships have a future or new cruise desk. The cruise lines want you to continue sailing with them and offer onboard credit or discounts on future cruises. If you are already on a ship it is often worth booking a future sailing while onboard in order to take advantage of these incentives. You can then transfer the sailings to your travel agent to get them to manage the booking.

If you are not sure of which sailing you want to take, most cruise lines allow you to purchase a future cruise certificate, by putting down a deposit. You will then have about 60 days to place the open booking with a sailing to receive the full incentive and up to a year to place it without losing your deposit.

Cruise Planner

Cruise planner sales are more common than sailing sales and tend to provide bigger discounts. Cruise lines will have regular sales, but the best discounts are usually around the holidays above. The important thing about cruise planner sales is that you can cancel them at any time and get a refund, so if the prices drop you can just cancel and repurchase.

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