Best Time of Year to Plan a Cruise


Vacation fun for Del Sol interns under the Kaanapali, Hawaii sun.

Back-to-school traffic is in full swing and summer is slowly winding down. Don’t put away your bathing suits and beach towels just yet though! We’ve officially entered the fall shoulder season— One of the best times of the year to plan a vacation. While everyone else is putting away their suitcases, us cruise veterans have uncovered the secret of planning our tropical getaway tucked between peak travel seasons. This sweet spot between Labor Day and the busy holiday season brings about fewer crowds, longer daylight hours, and most importantly cheaper rates. Whether you’re looking to book now and cruise tomorrow or save on a sailing down the road, September and October are filled with deals on everything you need to plan the ultimate budget-friendly cruise vacation.

Finding the Best Cruise Rates

While Labor Day deals can be tempting, any avid cruiser knows that even bigger price drops and better promotions are just around the corner. The true jaw-dropping, “hand me my credit card now” discounts actually spring up the week following Labor Day. With the kids back in school and hurricane season looming over head, cruise lines are quick to drop their prices and offer additional perks to combat the off-season lull. Booking your vacation between peak holiday seasons can save you hundreds or even thousands on your cruise. It can also be a great opportunity to enjoy a nicer stateroom with a lower price tag.

Booking Cheap Airline Tickets

Unfortunately, not everyone has the luxury of living seaside near a major cruise port. Therefore, budgeting for airfare becomes a big part of the planning process for a majority of cruisers. Much like cruising, flying immediately before or after any peak holiday can save you some serious cash. You can also snag some extra savings by booking your flight on a Tuesday at 3pm eastern time. Here’s why: Airlines release their weekly airfare prices on Tuesdays. By midday, their competitors have engaged in a cyber battle to match and/or beat their published rates. This leaves you with the absolute best prices for browsing.

Saving on Transportation & Hotel Accommodations

With any cruise vacation, you’ll have to figure out how you’re going to get to the terminal. If you’re flying in the day before your cruise, as most of us avid cruisers do, you’ll also need hotel accommodations. Lucky for you, September and October happen to be prime time for locking in low hotel room rates. There are also some bundle deals out there that include both hotel accommodations and transportation. If you’re cruising out of Port Canaveral, Go Port Canaveral offers packages exclusively for cruisers that include everything you need from a hotel stay to airport transportation and cruise transfers all for one low price. Finding one of these bundle deals eliminates the unnecessary stress of scouting out individual services to accommodate everyone in your party and can help keep you within budget.

Well there you have it ladies and gents, September and October is the overall cheapest time of year to plan a cruise vacation. As the summer crowds melt away, you can catch us cruise veterans basking in good deals! So don’t get caught up in all the Labor Day weekend hype, sit back and wait for the fall shoulder season discounts.

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