The Best Time to Purchase Airline Tickets and Hotel Rooms
|For cruises, finding the best rate is a matter of timing. (Carnival Cruise Lines)|
When to Book a Cruise
The bulk of cruise lines offer their best rates soon after they open bookings, according to Neil Gorfain, CEO of The Cruise Outlet, a Hamden, Connecticut-based cruise travel agency, and they open ships between a year and a year and a half before departure. If you've missed that window, there's always "wave season," a high-booking period between January and March when cruise lines aggressively compete for customers with deals, promotions, and free extras like $100 onboard credits, typically for departures late that year or early next.
"Seasonality is king when it comes to dictating cruise availability and therefore cruise pricing," says Gabe Saglie, senior editor for Travelzoo, a website and newsletter than publishes travel deals. "For people who can go on a whim"—and are flexible on destinations and cabins—"the cruise industry offers a bevy of last-minute deals, no matter what time of year you're talking about." But for those who prefer their calendar marked in pen—or prefer the swankiest cabins—booking well in advance pays.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication