HomeTravelCruisingNine cruises you need to book in advance

Nine cruises you need to book in advance

There’s a lot to be said for booking a cruise at the last minute.

It may be the thrill of spontaneity or the satisfaction of bagging a deal as cruise operators try to fill a ship, but in some instances it pays to book at least a year in advance.

If you have your heart set on a particular itinerary or destination, or it’s an in-demand ship, you should not only try booking a year in advance, but maybe even two.

And the advantage of booking so far out is it gives you more time to save for some extra ‘goodies’ on your trip such as lavish shore excursions or an extra holiday on your way home.

Here’s our guide to when you should book at least a year out.

Themed cruises

If your hobby or interests take up a large part of your life, there is probably a cruise out there for you. No, really.

Even just a basic internet search brought up comedy, country music, ’80s music, craft including scrapbooking, knitting and quilting, KISS, wrestling, cat lovers, Star Trek, disco, Irish music, bridge (the card game, not the structure, although there’s probably a cruise for that out there somewhere), golf and Jewish singles cruises.

There are two types of themed cruises. Sometimes just a block of berths is set aside for a common interest and specific activities are organised for the duration of the cruise. Or an interest group will charter the entire ship and everyone on board will be taking part.

If one of these floats your boat, you will need to book well in advance. Some of the more popular ones, such as the music-themed cruises, are run relatively regularly but niche ones are one-offs. I’d imagine crochet-only cruises have a limited appeal.

Most of these specialist cruises are based around the US, but if Harry Potter is your thing, there is a barge cruise along the Thames, which stops at places that appeared in the films.

Special event sailings

Want to attend the Monaco Grand Prix and get there in style on a cruise? You’ll need to book well in advance, and probably more than a year.

Other popular special events cruises include Mardi Gras in New Orleans, cherry blossom season in Japan, Carnival in Rio, the French Open and the Cannes Film Festival.

New ships and routes

There are diehard cruise fans out there who do nothing but holiday on cruise ships and a new ship, particularly if it is a company that doesn’t often bring out a new ship, is like cat nip to them.

Imagine if you could say you were on the first cruising of the Queen Anne (sailing in 2024)? Does that set your heart racing or even just pique your interest? Well, you’re not alone.

If you have your heart set on a new ship, a line moving into a new destination or one of the ‘world’s most’ – biggest, most luxurious – then it will need to be booked at least a year in advance. Which brings us to …

Luxury ships and cabins

While the prices may be eye-watering, luxury ships and cabins have no trouble filling up their capacity and it’s all about supply.

Luxury ships tend to be much smaller and there are only a handful of the most expensive cabins per ship on a regular ship.

Add another layer of demand if the ship is on a one-off itinerary or high season sailing.

Pet friendly

If you want to travel with your dog or cat, there is only one ship that will accommodate Fido or Mittens and that is the Queen Mary 2 and, even then, it has limited kennel space so there are only a few slots open on every cruise. Expect to pay US$800 to US$1000 extra per animal.

Holiday sailings

Popular holidays such as Christmas and New Year sell out fast, easily a year in advance.

They are also popular with families, and very often several generations of families book several cabins, which also pushes up the demand.

One-off or repositioning cruises

Cruise fans are always looking for something different.

Repositioning is the term used to explain when a ship travels from one destination port to another, for example when ships travel from Europe or the US to the Southern Hemisphere season in Australia.

According to online travel portal thepointsguy.com, the transatlantic route doesn’t sell well but rarer locations, such as Australia to Indonesia are generally in demand.

Also in demand are single, interesting itineraries, due to their unique nature.

Short season destinations

Destinations that rely on a season, such as the North or South Pole, generally face higher demand. Compounding this factor is that often they are smaller ships – larger ships are not allowed to make landings in Antarctica –  so have less capacity.

Other popular short itineraries include Iceland, Alaska and the Northwest Passage.

World cruises

Around-the-world cruises are incredibly popular.

If you have a preferred line, then it might pay to register for offers as some of the larger companies are reporting that their around-the-world itineraries are selling out in days.

Do you love to cruise? How long does it take you to plan a trip? Why not share your tips in the comments section below?

Also read: How to look for hidden cameras in hotel rooms

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisherhttp://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/JanFisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.
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