Cruise NewsWhen Cruises are Cheapest for Each Cruise Line

When Cruises are Cheapest for Each Cruise Line

Ever wonder when prices on cruises are the cheapest for each cruise line?  A new study by shows how many weeks before a sailing when prices are the lowest for 11 different cruise lines.

Our free cruise newsletter offers the latest cruise news and deals: Sign Up used artificial intelligence to determine that prices for cruise sailings are greatly reduced on average five weeks before setting sail. However, there are significant differences between the major cruise lines regarding timing and discounts.

Even though cruise lines try to optimize their prices and secure long-term bookings from customers, they usually end up with a good number of unsold cabins close to the sailing date. In order to fill those cabins, they often start reducing prices closer to departure, which means that customers can benefit from huge discounts. These savings are pushed even further by additional ships entering the cruise market.

Cruise price discounts for the major cruise lines (the data for other cruise lines is also available) range from 22% up to as much as 59%. Holland America Line offers the highest discounts at 59%, immediately followed by Norwegian Cruise Line and Princess Cruises (each 55%), Azamara Club Cruises (54%), Cunard (52%), and Celebrity Cruises (46%). The club of below-40% reduction includes Royal Caribbean Cruises (36%), Costa Cruise Line (31%), Carnival Cruise Line (25%), Disney Cruise Line (24%), and MSC Cruises (22%).

Essentially, you should always book short-term to get these kinds of discounts, especially when you can get hot deals in the last 10 days before departure (like with Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Princess Cruises).

Discounts are specific to cabin type

Cruisewatch went even further to analyze the discounts offered per cabin type for each cruise line in the study. What they found was that interior cabins feature the highest discounts closer to departure, followed by oceanview and balcony cabins. Suites receive the lowest discounts of all cabin types. offers a free price drop monitoring system that utilizes big data and machine learning to help customers find the perfect time to book their cruise. Users can get notified automatically when prices are reduced or when good deals are coming up with their free cruise price alerts. They also offer 100% free, automatic forecasts on when to book a cruise for the best price on their website.

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Ben Souza
Ben Souza
Ben is a world traveler who has visited 40+ countries, taken over 70 cruises. He is one of USA TODAY's experts for their 10Best Readers' Choice Awards. His writings have appeared and been cited in various media outlets such as Yahoo News, MSN, NPR, CNN, Fox, and ABC News. Ben currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio. Follow Ben on Instagram. Visit Ben Souza on Linkedin. You may email Ben at [email protected].
Cruise NewsWhen Cruises are Cheapest for Each Cruise Line


  1. This article is terribly misleading as most frequent cruisers will recognize. The best price and selection is obtained from booking early – not last minute.

    What can be expected by booking last minute is 1) very likely the ship will be full or on wait-list; 2) almost certainly there will be no triples, quads, connecting staterooms, adjacent staterooms or staterooms nearby each other effectively eliminating families with children or small groups traveling together; 3) discounts will only apply to “guarantee” staterooms which means you will be stuck with the worst and noisiest locations on the ship; 4) the perks and benefits of early bookings will be gone (such as free beverage packages, onboard credits, specialty dining, free air, etc.); 5) all travel agency discounts and group rates which may have been hundreds less than the cruise line pricing will be gone; and 6) it is likely the price paid is still higher than others who booked early.

    As inventories decrease the cruise lines gradually increase pricing. This is particularly true for the summer, holiday, and school break cruises. So in the rare situations where a cruise has excess inventory and offers discounts closer to the sail date the discounts are off of the higher more recent pricing making it appear that the discount is a good deal when in fact it is still higher than many of the early booking passengers paid. And if there is any discount offered at all it would be at a much lower percentage than the percentages shown in this article which most likely used the brochure rate (which no one pays) to measure the discount, NOT the lowest rate offered when the initial inventory became available.

    There is absolutely no downside to booking early. And by booking early I mean 9-24 months prior to the sail date. You will get to choose the best stateroom in each category and if you need 3, 4, or 5-person staterooms they will be available. If you require adjoining or adjacent staterooms they will be available. You will have access to all of the early booking perks, travel agency group pricing, travel agency perks, possibly a reduced deposit, and for the most part – low price protection. In the unlikely event that the cruise line offers a promotion with a lower price your travel agent will likely be able to re-price your reservation. The best example is the Early Saver Rate with Carnival Cruise Line which is only available to early bookings. The Early Saver Rate guarantees the lowest price right up until two days before the sailing which is, for all practical purposes, the end of the selling cycle.

    The cruise lines have a vested interest in getting early bookings – take advantage of those benefits – book early and enjoy your cruise.

  2. This is the biggest misleading article ever. At what point is this savings based on? Would it be based on the current prices at what the cruise was one week prior to the five week point? Or is it based on the prices when the cruises were first released 21-23 months earlier? Reasons to book earlier: Early bird best price discounts when cruises are released, best cabin selection of location, best offers of on board credit, free gratuity offers, free cabin upgrades. Why else should you book early? If you are traveling with friends and want cabins near each other or connecting cabins; or if you need cabins with third/fourth berths. Good-luck booking five weeks prior on that.

  3. It’s important to understand that if you wait until the last minute to book, you may save a few pennies but all the good cabins are long gone! Many cruisers want the so-called, “perfect cabin” (you know, the one not too far away from the elevator, which is also the same one that’s not near the anchor or bow thrusters!). Mark my words, if you wait until the very last minute to book, you will probably get a cabin in a very undesirable location. You’ve been warned, but no, save a few pennies!

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