But how do you know the best time to get a deal cruise?
“A great deal for a cruise fare can range anywhere from $50 to $100 per person, per day – sometimes even less,” explains Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic. “The good news is there are a number of times each year when these deals are prevalent, making it relatively easy to secure good fares if you know when to book.”
Cruise Critic is the world’s largest cruise website. The website shared with us five times of the year that can become deal cruises:
•Hurricane Season: While Atlantic hurricane season typically stretches from June 1 – November 30, particularly good deals abound for sailings during its height (mid-August to mid-October). There are considerations to keep in mind – itineraries may change as ships re-navigate to avoid storms – but a majority of cruisers are unfazed by potential hurricane-related issues, with 73% reporting* to Cruise Critic that they would sail during hurricane season, or are already booked to this year.
•A Year Out (or More): Travelers may just be setting out for this year’s summer vacation, but it’s not too soon to book next year’s cruise. As sailings are announced – usually a year or more out – cruise lines tend to offer a number of added-value promotions. This includes anything from drink packages to gratuity or airfare – all added costs that cruisers will usually end up paying anyway, and could save hundreds of dollars.
•Last-Minute: The final payment for a cruise is usually 90 days out. At that time, cabins that have not been paid in full may be released, giving cruise lines a better idea of the occupancy that they have left to fill – which often means deeply discounted fares for potential cruisers.
•Off-Season: Each destination has its own high and low seasons – with cruise fares following suit. By booking a cruise during a destination’s low-season, cruisers may have the option to visit their destination of choice at a much lower cost than offered during high-season – and without the crowds. Examples of low-seasons include Alaska in May and September, the Caribbean in late spring or winter (holiday weeks, excluded) or the Mediterranean in the fall.
•Industry-Wide Sales: Two of the biggest industry-wide cruise sales are held in October and January-March. The cruise industry’s national cruise week will be held October 6-13, 2014 in North America, with cruise lines and agents offering a wide range of promotions. “Wave Season,” beginning in January, is an annual period of three months where cruise lines offer special promotions during one of the more popular times for cruise shopping to begin.
In addition to the scheduled occasions listed above, signing up for notifications from cruise lines, agents and industry sites can also highlight time-sensitive promotions offered throughout the year.
One additional piece of advice from Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic: “Just be sure when searching for a bargain that you’re searching for value over just price alone. Find a ship that not only fits your budget, but matches your travel style, too.”