Avid cruisers are always looking for the best ways to save money on a cruise. The more money you save, the more you can cruise. If you are lucky enough to have flexible vacation time then WHEN you cruise can be a big cost savings. Cruise fares fluctuate considerably depending on the time of year you plan to travel. In this post, we show you how to maximize your vacation dollars by picking the cheapest times of year to go on a cruise.
Cheapest Times of the Year to Take a Cruise
Alaska & Bermuda
Alaska and Bermuda are both seasonal cruise regions. Cruises only travel to these locales during the months of late April/May to late September/early October. The best time of year to cruise to either location if you want to score the best deal is during either the first or last month of the season. This is typically referred to as the “shoulder”. On our Alaskan cruise, we sailed in September and got a great deal, saving us hundreds when compared to the same cruise in July. Likewise, we took the second cruise of the Bermuda season a few years back and got perfect weather and an even better cruise fare.
Anthem of the Seas Docked in Kings Wharf in Bermuda
Still, there are some caveats to traveling during the shoulder months. The weather might not be ideal, and wildlife activity might be reduced in Alaska. Some tours might not run due to weather conditions or lack of demand. Also, the sea conditions might be a bit rougher in both areas during the shoulder months. Luckily, we did not encounter any of these issues on either cruise.
The Caribbean and the Bahamas
Among the most popular cruise regions are the Caribbean and the Bahamas. One of the best times of year to cruise to this region is during the month of January. In particular, middle to late January. We often cruise during this time of year given the low fares and less crowds. With kids back in school, and many spent from the holidays, this is an opportune time to travel. Not to mention, a great time to escape the cold weather back home!
We Saved on our Adventure of the Seas Cruise during Hurricane Season
While you can save quite a bit sailing in the beginning of the year, you can save even more by cruising to this region during late August through early October. Again, the kids are back in school, but this time of year is also the peak of hurricane season. Given the recent technology, most ships are able to avoid storms and find the tropical weather you are looking for during your vacation. If you are willing to take that risk and don’t have your heart set on a certain itinerary, you can score some amazing deals.
If you do choose to book one of these discounted cruises, we highly suggest getting travel insurance. This way, if storms impact your travels, you will not have to worry about losing money due to issues such as travel delays, port changes, or cancellations as a result of potential bad weather.
While cruising Europe and the Mediterranean used to be seasonal, more cruise lines are leaving ships in the region for longer periods of the year. More ships means more competition which is helping to keep prices down. Still, the peak times (most expensive) to cruise this region remain the summer months. For the best prices, you should consider cruising in the spring or fall. The months of March through May offer some of the lowest cruise fares.
Cruises travel to both the east coast and west coast of Mexico year round. Given popular ports are at similar latitudes, you can expect similar weather on both coasts. This means you can probably get the best deal on a cruise to Mexico during the same time regardless of which coast you choose. The dry season in Mexico runs from the end of November to the beginning of May. Some of the cheapest cruises to Mexico can be had in the interim between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Similarly, the middle of January to the end of March (minus school breaks) are also considerably cheaper.
Cozumel Mexico Cruise Port
When You Should Not Cruise
Even if you can’t book a cruise during the cheapest times of year, there are certain times you should avoid cruising if you are looking to save money. The holiday weeks of Christmas and New Year’s Eve are among the most expensive times to cruise. If you have your heart set on that holiday cruise, be prepared to pay a premium. Other times to avoid are traditional “school break” weeks, such as late February into early March and the weeks right around Easter (which tends to be in April). The middle of the summer, late June to early August, is probably the most expensive time to travel to any region. If you must travel in the summer, earlier (or later) in the season offers lower costs.
In general, you might also want to avoid the first few months after a new cruise ship debuts. Unless you book well in advance, you will have to pay more for an inaugural season cruise. Of course, if you have to be among the first cruisers to step foot on one of these new vessels, just know that you will probably pay a premium.
Have you ever cruised “off season” to save money? What are your favorite times of year to cruise? Drop us an anchor below to share your tips for the cheapest times of year to go on a cruise.