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Buying Guide: The Best Time to Buy Houston or Galveston Cruises

So you’ve found the cruise you want and searched through all your options to find the best deal. Does that mean you should book it right away?

The best answer: Probably not.

Fares are similar to airline tickets in that they can fluctuate in price regularly. We find that it is usually best to check the prices once a day for a week (assuming that your departure date is more than 60 days away; more on this in a moment).

During that week you are likely to see the prices move by $100 or more. This time will give you a baseline to determine what is “cheap” for your desired cruise and what is expensive. After that week, you will have a better idea of what is a good deal.

That said, we’ve found the “sweet spot” for the lowest Galveston cruise fares is between 30 to 60 days prior to departure.

Now, if you have a very specific itinerary or want to grab a very specific stateroom, then you should book as early as possible. Unlike air travel where the seats are more or less the same, not every cabin or itinerary is identical. If you really want something specific, book as soon as you know what you want to ensure you get it while it’s still available.

But keep in mind that booking well in advance (six months or more) will usually be more expensive. The longer the time until the departure date, the more risk there is to the cruise line, specifically regarding future fuel prices.

To make up for that risk, you’ll likely find that advance fares are slightly higher. Cruise lines certainly want you to book early, but they also want to hedge their risk in case fuel prices soar.

The “75-Day Window”

Closer to the departure date the lines begin to get a better grasp of the demand for a particular sail date and how much space they still have available.

For instance, Royal Caribbean’s policy is that you will be refunded your entire deposit (or fare) if you cancel more than 75 days before the cruise date. Carnival’s policy is the same. So once you are past the “75-day window,” cruise lines know that current passengers are unlikely to cancel.

That means they can start adjusting fares to match up with demand. We find that giving the lines two weeks past this window (meaning the cruise is about 60 days out) to be ample time for them to drop prices if it is needed to fill cabins.

But doesn’t this mean you would be best off just waiting until the very last moment to book? After all, the ship makes no money if a cabin sails empty.

Well, keep in mind that cruise ships have a lot of very smart people with the job of maximizing the revenue generated from cabins. That means they will offer rates to fill up the rooms, with the goal of having no rooms go empty.

So once you get within 30 days of departure, we find that most of the rooms have been booked, leaving you limited on cabin options. In fact, we’ve seen rates rise as the sail date approaches because there is such a limited supply.

In other words, waiting until less than 30 days before a cruise is a gamble. You could actually cause you to pay a higher fare.

In our final section of the buying guide, we’ll show you how you can be eligible for discounts that you didn’t even know existed. These tips could save you hundreds.

Read Chapter 5: Save Hundreds With These Cruise Ship Discounts

Galveston Cruise Buying Guide