It’s a question that at some time has puzzled most cruisers – do you get a better deal by booking early or by leaving it to nearer the sail time?
A comprehensive survey of 3,000 cruises and more than four million pieces of data has come up with an answer – it’s generally best to wait to within 100 days of departure for the biggest discount. But it varies line by line.
Royal Caribbean, Princess and Celebrity usually reserve their best deals until the last 100 days. If you can hold your nerve, Norwegian, Holland America, Windstar and Costa cut their prices just 50 days before departure.
However, it’s wise to book Carnival in advance – and Disney, Crystal, MSC, SeaDream and Oceania also offer their best deals before the final 100 days.
Overall, for 56 per cent of cruises, leaving it till late brought the lowest price. For 19 per cent, booking early was the best option. The other 25 per cent had fares cut between the two times.
Nina Stumpe, the co-founder of cruisewatch.com which did the study, said: ‘It is worth knowing which cruise lines offer better value if you book shortly before departure. Sign up for deals and price alerts. Then you’ll know immediately when deals have been released.
‘However, if you have your heart set on a particular cruise and a certain type of cabin then it’s best to book early. Only book late if you are prepared to be flexible. Once you have booked, it’s wise to still keep an eye on the prices. Keep checking them. If they fall after you’ve booked, many cruise lines will offer you the difference in on-board credit if you contact them.’
She added: ‘Transparent prices are key to booking the best rates. We offer our customers free automatic notifications of price changes and re-available cabin types. We also provide an overview of the historical price development per ship and cabin type.’
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