October Is the Best Time to Book a Cruise

by  Fran Golden | Sep 28, 2016

October is National Plan a Cruise Month, as proclaimed by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). Before you let out a collective snore, here's why you should care: There will be deals offered by CLIA member cruise lines and travel agents for remaining 2016 inventory and for next year's cruises, too. This annual event is not just a publicity stunt; it's a sale.

MSC Cruises is already out of the gate with two-for-one fares on select Caribbean cruises on the MSC Divina out of Miami. A weeklong sailing to Nassau, St. Maarten, and San Juan, embarking October 22, for instance, is priced from $299.50. The line also has a kids (under 12) cruise free offer on select itineraries.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg. What can we expect from the likes of Holland America Line and Celebrity Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line? Much sweetening of the pot. Depending on the line, there may be free beverage packages, free shore excursions, shipboard credit, free air, or other perks, in addition to the reduced fares.

It's always wise during these sale periods to do a price comparison and make sure you understand what's included (port charges and taxes, for instance, may be extra). Exercise some caution, too, so you don't book a fare that's been raised to cover a perk: A cruise that is normally priced at $699 but is suddenly $899 with free booze isn't necessarily a good deal. A seasoned cruise travel agent can help read the fine print, and if you don't have one CLIA has a directory.

If you're not ready to book just yet, there will be another big sales push by cruise lines right after the holidays, when they seek to fill remaining space for the New Year.

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