Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Symphony of the Seas, is the largest in the world and offers a dizzying array of onboard amenities, from zip lining to laser tag to a truly over-the-top family suite.
Come November, Symphony will make Miami her permanent home (until then, she'll be in the Mediterranean). The ship is slated to sail through the Caribbean on (mostly) seven-night itineraries that include stops in the Bahamas, St. Thomas, and the line’s private island, Coco Cay, to name a few.
If you're itching to be among the first onboard, but you're concerned about the cost, don't fret. We’ve looked at Symphony’s upcoming Caribbean seasons and found distinct patterns to help you pay less, avoid the crowds, and guarantee great weather on this blockbuster ship.
Pick a Short Cruise
While seven-night Caribbean itineraries are the norm for Symphony, there are a few shorter, more affordable sailings in the mix. In the spring and summer of 2019, the ship will embark on two three-night itineraries — both from Miami to Nassau, Bahamas. The first departs on May 25, with inside cabins from an affordable $349 per person. Spring for a balcony upgrade, and you'll spend just $425 per person — a minor and worthwhile splurge for sea air, infinite views, and a private place to have breakfast or read a book. The second, departing on August 31, has inside cabins for $324 and balcony cabins for $360 — incredible prices when you consider that this sailing falls over Labor Day weekend.
There are also a few scattered four-night options. On September 9, 2019, for example, you’ll sail from Miami to Nassau with an additional stop at Coco Cay. Stay in an inside cabin for $349 or a balcony for $445.
Avoid Holiday Sailings
Given Royal Caribbean’s popularity with families, cruises over major holidays tend to be both busy and expensive. We found the highest prices in both 2018 and 2019 were for seven-night Caribbean cruises during Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Eve. How much more expensive? Consider that most seven-night sailings in 2018 and 2019 are currently hovering between $730 and $900 per person for the least expensive inside cabins. Over the holidays, cabins cost about twice as much across all categories. Sail on December 22, 2018 and you’ll pay $1,674 for the most affordable inside cabins, $2,005 for balconies, and $4,034 per person for suites. The pricing for 2019, a full 18 months away, is comparable.
Sail When the Kids Go Back to School and Avoid Spring Break
If you’re dying to try this ship and you aren’t traveling with kids, September is your month to sail. You’ll find the lowest prices on seven-night Caribbean cruises during this period, when kids are heading back to school and family vacations become tougher to plan. Sail on September 7, 14, or 28, 2019, and inside cabins come at an solid $723 per night. The real deal here, though, is on balcony cabins, which are selling for just $760 per person on these sailings.
Avoiding U.S. school vacation weeks — particularly on the East Coast where many travelers have easy and quick access to the port of Miami — will also save you some money. Consider the sailings on March 9 or 23, 2019, for example, where you’ll find balcony cabins already selling for more than $1,100 per person.
However, you'll also want to consider that September sailings are quieter (and thus more affordable) because they’re soundly within the Caribbean’s hurricane season, which lasts from June through November. If you book these dates, you’ll definitely save money, but you have to consider your level of comfort with the risk. (Note that travel insurance is a good idea if you do travel during these dates.) March, on the other hand, is not only outside of hurricane season, but it’s also when you’re more likely to find temperate weather that's warm but not quite as sweltering as July or August in the islands.
Symphony arrives in Miami in November, and the first sailings from her new home port are notably expensive. Consider the first Caribbean sailing on November 9, 2018 — a four-night cruise where inside cabins are going for $799 and balconies are going for $999. That’s nearly the cost of a seven-night cruise just a few months later. Once the ship switches to more typical seven-night sailings, the prices go up again, with the most affordable inside cabins going for $999 on November 17.
The moral of this story? If you can wait even a little while — the ship will still feel plenty new in 2019 — that’s when you’ll find the best prices.