The Best Times to Book a Cruise, By Destination

When it comes to booking a cruise, timing is important. You want to sail in prime cruising conditions but at the same time avoid huge crowds, so you need to know what to expect when sailing at a specific time in a specific destination.

Different itineraries give rise to different questions. Some cruises, like Alaskan cruises, have a limited cruising time, so you definitely need to know when you can book one.

For other cruises that sail through breathtaking views, you’ll most likely want balcony rooms or at least ocean view rooms, so booking early is crucial.

Here, we give you tips and on pointers on when to book a cruise if you want to go to these four popular cruise destinations:

Alaskan Cruises

If you’re booking an Alaskan cruise primarily to see whales, then you need to go on a cruise that sails between July to September for optimal chances. We recommend booking at least nine months in advance, maybe even a year if you want to make sure that you get a great balcony room.

In addition, locals say that the end of May up to early June is the best weather for cruising. May cruises tend to be cheaper since it’s still considered offseason. July is perhaps the most popular month to cruise, so expect more expensive prices, unless you manage to score a sweet deal or book in advance.

Caribbean Cruises

Perhaps the most popular among North American cruisers, the Caribbean cruise offers travelers amazing beaches in tropical paradise. Most people travel between December and April, when winter is on full blast in North America and Europe.

In contrast, the weather in the Caribbean islands is relatively perfect at this time. Summer and fall tend to be more humid and wet, with the months of June to November being hurricane season.

Since Caribbean cruises are in demand, we suggest booking 12 months in advance for the best balance of availability and good prices.

Mediterranean Cruises

You can sail in the Mediterranean any month of the year, but May to October is the most popular because of the temperatures. You can get a winter Mediterranean cruise for a lower price, but if you’re lucky, you can get a good deal on spring and fall cruises as well.

For the best price, book your Mediterranean cruise very early (at least 12 months in advance) or quite late (less than six months before sail date). You’ll have more options available if you book early, but the biggest discounts are usually offered late, though availability is drastically limited.

Asian Cruises

Asian cruises offer a whole new experience for the Western traveler. From Japan’s cherry blossoms to Hong Kong’s urban shopping centers, Asia is fast becoming a popular choice for both first time and experienced cruisers.

When booking an Asian cruise, avoid summer and monsoon seasons, which runs from May to October. March, April, and November will be good months to sail. In keeping with our general rule, most people book between 6-12 months before sail date, so book either earlier or later for the best deals.