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Video: Book Your Cruise Early or Book it Late

Summary: The best cruise deals are usually found by booking either well in advance of the sailing or through booking a last-minute cruise. Learn when it's to your advantage to book your cruise early or book it late.

Video Run Time: 2:35

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Video Transcript:

Cruisers have debated for years about the best time to book cruise vacations. Is it better to book early to get first choice of cabins and lock in a low rate, or should you wait until the last-minute to grab a deal?

As it turns out, there are benefits to both booking a cruise well in advance and waiting until the last minute. Cruise rates fluctuate and are often hard to predict. Some times the best deals can be had as long as 12-18 months in advance, and other times prices are slashed during the last 3-6 weeks before sailing. So this shouldn't dictate when you decide to book.

You should book your cruise early-ideally, as soon as the itinerary you want is announced--if you need something specific that's in limited supply.

For example, you should book early if you need to cruise on very specific dates like a particular holidays or school breaks, or if you need availability for a group of travelers for a wedding, family reunion, or corporate meeting.

You should also book early if you're worried about getting flights. Flights using frequent flyer miles, for example, often need to be booked well in advance.

Certain specific cabins or cabin types tend to sell out. High-end suites, adjoining cabins or cabins that accommodate three or more guests or handicapped cabins may not be available closer to sailing, so it makes sense to grab these right away.

You should also consider booking early if you want an unusual itinerary. This would include sailing on a ship's inaugural cruise or cruises to with only a few sail dates--such as cruises to Antarctica, the Galapagos Islands or world cruises.

In these cases, you'll want to take advantage of special early booking savings. Note that if you can book early can still cancel or change their plans within a certain timeframe and receive a full refund.

On the other hand, there are some reasons to book last-minute, by which I mean about three to six weeks in advance of the sailing.

For example, you should look for last-minute deals if your circumstances allow you to take off on short notice. It also helps if airfare isn't a factor because you can easily drive or take a short commuter flight to the departure port. Booking late, you'll need to be flexible about your cabin type and formal dining times, but you can often find some great last-minute deals.

Finally, I know that we all want to save money. But don't put saving the last dime ahead of getting the cruise vacation that's right for you.

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