As October is National Cruise month we will begin to see some great specials out there for those booking in advance. Couple that with the fact Summer cruises, especially to Alaska and the Caribbean, both nearest to home for US Citizens (yes Alaska is part of the USA), tend to sell out early with restricted capacity and high demand.
Summer is typically when families can travel together which fuels some of the demand, at least in the Caribbean. During Winter months there are far more ships sailing the waters, but come Summer the fleet in the Caribbean is slimmed down as the rest of the fleet sails to Alaska and Europe for the Summer. Thus those who wish to sail nearby to home have fewer ships and an increased demand from all the kids out of school and families taking family vacations.
Alaska is restricted demand in large part because virtually all of the ships there are of smaller capacity. This is a good thing as in Alaska folks want off the ship in every port so unloading fewer passengers typically works better than unloading a megaship load of passengers. Also, many of the communities can barely handle a couple of medium size ships in a day so one would not want to see several megaships pull in at once. Alaska also suffers (as some would put it) a limited season. Truly for most vacationers the Alaska season is really fairly short because most folks don’t want to experience bad weather while there. (Personally the cold rainy days and thick fog don’t bother me too much because I’ve been there for pristine sunny days many times as well already, but that is what the typical cruiser prefers.)
Alaska is filled with unpredictable weather but the end of June thru mid to late August are typically the best days for touring via cruise ship. It may still be cold and rainy, in fact one should expect some of that on a cruise there. Because there are smaller ships and only a limited window of time, the capacity is limited overall. Plug in that most folks would want a balcony or suite cabin on these sailings, it really is the way to go so one can sit on their own real estate aboard the ship to watch the scenery go by. Most of the trip land is within sight and wild animals can be spotted at various times in the water and on land. Seeing a whale breech or a bear fishing for salmon is always a great sight while aboard a ship. Thus demand is high for the limited available cabins, and prices nearly always rise as cruise season in Alaska grows nearer.
For those who want to sail Europe, with the emergence of Asia and Australia as major cruise destinations even fewer ships are sailing Europe during peak season. Some of these ships are now off to sail in Asia and Australia, where the ships seem to be doing well for the cruise lines. This opens up opportunities to see new places. Of course in each of these spots few ships are sailing so far so they have limited capacity issues. In Europe fewer ships result in fewer good deals close into sailing, so booking ahead is important. Also, with some of the geopolitical issues in the European and North Africa regions choice itineraries have been altered as a result making getting the idea itinerary a bit more difficult.
Asia and Australia are great destinations to see by ship. The biggest issue, especially in Asia is the limited capacity and very high demand for the shorter cruises in particular by the rising middle class of China. These sailings also tend to be very expensive on a nightly basis when compared to many other destinations. If your desire is to sail in these areas it’s important to book early to ensure best cabin selection.
If you wish to have a choice cabin to a nearby destination where total travel costs are kept in check, booking early is important to keep your costs down. Booking late will perhaps save some on the cruise but increase the airfare to the departure port. The more exotic destinations have limited capacity and typically only see increasing costs for the cruise portion as the departure date nears. Thus, booking now for your Summer vacation next year will ultimately save some money. Also, it’s possible to pay a bit at a time making it less of a big single hit to your piggy bank. Regardless enjoy a cruise whenever you can get away for some time at sea.
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