“Best Holiday Cruise Ever!” Depends Largely on Following these Timing Tips when Planning

MSC Divina Swarovski Crystal staircase

Holiday decorated Swarovski Crystal staircase and atrium on MSC Divina.

In the first of our three-part blog on holiday cruising, I detailed particularly why it’s important to book Christmas and New Year holiday cruises so early.  In the second blog, I talked about “who” books a holiday cruise.

In this last blog of the series, I want to share some tips with you that all involve timing.  Five can save you money and frustration.  The last will better ensure a fuller cruise experience so you’re not disappointed.

Christmas tree in St. Maarten

Christmas trees decorate the St. Maarten cruise port during the holidays.


Know your available travel dates.

More often than not, it’s impossible to have the exact school schedule very long before the new school year starts, but you may be able to estimate it based on previous years’ dates.  Typically, elementary and often middle school students can miss a day or two.  It’s much harder for senior high students who may have mid-year exams and college students can’t miss those last days before mid-winter break.  If in doubt, use dates that are safe rather than trying to push how early you can possibly get away.  If you overreach on your available dates and have to later rebook a different cruise, you’ll be throwing that early booking savings out the window.

Book your cabin or resort far in advance.

People who cruise or stay at a resort over Christmas or New Year’s on a regular basis book far in advance; sometimes as long as a year or more in before the upcoming trip.  There’s a lot more we had to say about this in our first blog of this series.

Jewish Hanukkah dreidels

Celebrate Hanukkah on a holiday cruise.

Flights can be booked approximately 11 months prior to your return date.

Since holiday period flights fill up early, consider booking as far in advance as possible.  If you don’t mind spending more by waiting (the cost is more likely to be increase than to decrease for holidays) and prefer to wait, I’d suggest booking with no less than a four-month lead time.

Book your pre-cruise hotel early.

But don’t get into a rate that is a “nonrefundable, pay in full at time of booking.” While it’s possible that the rates will increase later, there’s a good chance that the hotel rate may come down a few months prior to your cruise.  That’s a good time to recheck if your booked rate feels high.

Buy travel insurance. 

You are (hopefully!) booking early so it’s one more good reason to protect yourself from unforeseen circumstances which may be claimable through insurance. Most third party travel insurance companies include coverage of pre-existing conditions at no extra cost as an incentive if you purchase within a certain time period which can be as short as two weeks after paying your trip deposit.


Book shipboard specialty dining restaurant reservations as early as possible and any other shipboard items that will make your holiday cruise special to you.

The ship will likely be full so book those shows, spa treatments and specialty dining reservations early, especially if you want them for Christmas Eve, Christmas day, New Year’s Eve and New Years.  Book them as early as the line’s computer system will allow. Often you can begin planning these details once you reach the cruise line’s final payment date. We can verify the time period for your cruise for you.

Would you like one of our cruise specialists to work closely with you to plan one of your best holidays ever?  Whether you are looking to cruise alone or with a few of your closest family members or you would like to book a group, we have a specialist available to make your trip special.


Happy Traveling!

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P.S. If you would like to view the entire blog series regarding cruising over the holidays, you can click here for the first one and here for the second one.


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