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What is the cheapest month to go on a cruise?

Freedom OTS Sail Away Miami

Are you curious as to which months of the year have the cheapest cruise prices? 

The answer is a little more complicated than you may think, as it varies depending on the cruise line, ship, time of year, and itinerary! 

Usually, though, the cheapest time of the year to go on a cruise is when others are busy and unable to go on the same sailing. 

If you elect to cruise during a time where there’s less demand, you’re more likely to score a much better deal than if you were to sail during the height of the busy season, like July or the end of December. 


Additionally, the other cheapest time of the year to cruise is during what’s referred to as the “shoulder season,” which are the weeks or months at the beginning of end of a ship’s time in a particular region when certain conditions, like weather, fauna, or flora, are not at their optimal levels.

Of course, this requires a certain degree as flexibility, as the off/shoulder seasons falls during the times of the year when most kids are in school or employers are less likely to approve time off. 

The off/shoulder season varies depending on the itinerary. Alaska’s, for instance, is May or September, while the Mediterranean’s is March, April, and November.

We’re here to help you make every dollar go as far as possible, so here are the cheapest months to book a cruise by region!

Alaska - April, May, or September

Celebrity cruise ship at Hubbard Glacier

The beginning and end of the Alaskan cruise season typically see the lowest prices, and it's possible to save upwards of $500 or $600 by sailing during the shoulder season as opposed to mid-summer! 

Generally speaking, April, May, and September, the months that align the typical academic schedule, see the coldest temperatures of the cruise season.

A 7-night sailing onboard the Norwegian Jewel departing on May 8, 2023 from Seward, Alaska starts at $399 per person based on double occupancy for an interior room, before taxes, port fees, and gratuities. The same itinerary starts at $629 per person for the July 3, 2023 sailing!

If the shoulder season dates don't work for you, you'll likely find lower prices on one-way sailings, such as those that begin in Seattle and end in Whittier, Alaska, since airfare prices may negate savings and deter people from choosing such itineraries.

Australia and New Zealand - October, November, and April


Since Australia is located in the Southern Hemisphere, their peak season is around December and January because that's when their summer is. If you're okay with slightly colder temperatures, you can usually snag a great deal around then. 

A 13-day New Zealand cruise on Royal Princess departing from Sydney, Australia on November, 2023 starts at $758 per person based on double occupancy for an interior room, before taxes, port fees, and gratuities. In January 2024, however, the same itinerary jumps up to $928. 

Bermuda - May, September, or October


The beginning of the Bermuda cruise season usually begins in May, so prices will be lower due to it being the shoulder season. 

The fall months are when children return to school and the Atlantic sees more hurricanes, and while Bermuda is not impacted as much as the Caribbean or Bahamian islands, they will usually see at least one storm per year. 

A 4-day Bermuda cruise aboard Carnival Venezia departing from New York on June 15, 2023 starts at $579 per person based on double occupancy for an interior room, before taxes, port fees, and gratuities. It's about $100 cheaper per person to sail on the same cruise in late October. 

That being said, Norwegian Cruise Line has begun sailing there more frequently, meaning you might be able to find a good deal just about year-round. 

Canada and New England - May 

NCL in Boston

One of the major appeals of taking a Canada and New England cruise is the weather. As such, you can find good deals cruising to this region during May right before the weather begins to warm up.

Even though New England and Canadian cities begin to considerably cool down in October around the end of the season, the chance of seeing peak fall foliage usually brings a crowd. Plus, the sailings are usually longer during the later months. 

A 4-night Canada cruise departing on May 23, 2023 from Cape Liberty (New York), New Jersey on Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas starts at only $360 per person based on double occupancy for an interior room, before taxes, port fees, and gratuities. Less than one month later, the same sailing is $200 more.

Caribbean - January, February, May, September, October, and early November + December 

 Cruise ship Disney Fantasy docked at St Thomas on sunny day.

The Caribbean's cruise season is year-round, but there are some times that are cheaper than others due to demand, not necessarily because of weather. 

The temperature remains warm throughout most of the year, though there may be an occasional cold front during the months of November through February, but they are short lived. 

The cheapest times to cruise to the Caribbean coincide with the American school schedule, as well as hurricane season, which lasts from June 1 through November 30. 

Here are the cheapest times to take a cruise to the Caribbean:

  • January (with the exception of New Years' week and Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend)
  • February (with the exception of Presidents' Day Weekend)
  • May
  • September 
  • October
  • First two weeks of November
  • First two weeks of December

Let's compare the pricing between two Carnival Magic sailings out of Miami, Florida. The first departs on June 23, 2023 and starts at $659 per person based on double occupancy for an interior room, before taxes, port fees, and gratuities. 

The second sailing departs on September 29, 2023 and begins at $329 per person based on double occupancy for an interior room, before taxes, port fees, and gratuities!

Mediterranean - March, April, or November


Outside of the Caribbean, the Mediterranean is one of the most popular places to cruise. The typical season begins around March or April and goes through November.  

Since most children are still in school during March and April --other than spring break, which is when the Caribbean cruises see a sharp increase in pricing -- you're likely to find a deal during this time. The weather will still be comfortable, albeit not as warm as during the peak summer months. 

When departing in May 2023, a 7-night Mediterranean cruise onboard MSC World Europa, MSC Cruises' newest ship, out of Barcelona, Spain starts at $789 per person based on double occupancy for an interior room, before taxes, port fees, and gratuities. This rate shoots up to over $1,000 for sailings in July! 

Norwegian Cruise Line and MSC Cruises actually sail year-round in the Mediterranean, so you can sometimes find a great deal during the off-season. 

Mexican Riviera - February, end of April, September


Like the Caribbean, sailings to the Mexican Riviera are offered year-round, and there are some months where it is more economical to sail than others. 

The end of April, right when their dry season is ending, tends to see a decrease in pricing, with both Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean offering 7-night sailings starting around $470 per person based on double occupancy for an interior room, before taxes, port fees, and gratuities. 

Due to decreased demand, February and September also great months to snag a deal to the Mexican Riviera. Once the dry season begins in November, prices begin to increase again.  

Northern Europe - May or October

Cork Ireland

While the Northern European season is shorter than the Mediterranean's, the same basic pricing principles apply. In other words, going during shoulder season while the temperatures and demand are lower will help you lock in some of the lowest prices of the season.   

A 10-day Ireland cruise, for instance, on the Norwegian Star departing out of Southampton, England on May 11, 2023 starts at only $699 per person based on double occupancy for an interior room, before taxes, port fees, and gratuities. In September and October, the same cruise jumps to over $1,300 per person! 

Should I wait on a last minute cruise deal?


It's not unheard of to land an incredible last minute deal. In fact, my family saved over $1,500 by booking a sailing on the Oasis of the Seas one week before departure in March 2014!

However, those days are slowing becoming of the past. Due to increased demand, cruises are often selling out in advanced, so cruise lines have no need to offer last minute deals. 

The only staterooms left on my upcoming Symphony of the Seas sailing in February are suites where the starting price is over $5,000 per person! I feel bad for anyone who might have been holding out on a last minute deal, as it seems very unlikely to happen. 

If you have your heart set on a certain itinerary or ship, we recommend to go ahead and book it. Otherwise, you might find yourself disappointed when the time comes!

Plus, you might be faced with high transportation costs that negate the deal on the cruise fare. Saving a few hundred dollars to book last minute isn't worth it when your airfare could potentially be double your savings. 

When's the best time to book a cruise?


Booking as early as possible is the best way to guarantee that you'll get the lowest cruise rate, but they key is that you need to check on your fare from time to time. If you find that it has dropped, simply call the cruise and get it repriced! 

If you want to book and notice that the fare increased, there's no way to lock in the cheaper rate that you missed. 

Additionally, the months of January through March -- also known as "wave season" -- often sees industry-wide sales, which often extend outside of the cruise fare, too. 

You might find a promotion that offers free upgrades, prepaid gratuities, or onboard credit for you to spend as you wish! 

However, due to increased demand this year, some cruise lines haven't offered deals like they have in the past, which makes it even more important to go ahead and book the cruise vacation that you've put on the back burner. Chances are that the price won't get any lower than it is right now. 

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