Cruise prices are not always cheaper when the departure date is close. In fact, cruise prices are usually the lowest when the cruise was first launched or between 60 and 90 days before the ship sets sail. It is possible to find last-minute deals, but they are rare. The difference in price between a cruise booked in advance or closer to the departure date can vary, depending on the demand for that particular cruise.
It is recommended to book a cruise in advance, if possible, to get a better cabin location and potentially save money. Wave season may be a popular time to find cruise deals, but not all companies offer their best promotions during this period. If a cruise ship fills up quickly, there is no need for the company to launch a sale. However, if the ship is only partially booked and the departure date is near, prices may drop and free add-ons may be available.
Most of the time, trips sell out in the weeks and months before the start of the cruise, leaving little or no opportunity to book a cruise closer to the departure date. But if you're going to end up paying roughly the same price whether you book the cruise a month before it leaves or a year before it leaves, it makes more sense to book as soon as possible. Cruise lines may offer great prices to those who have flexible enough schedules to make their vacation plans a month or less in advance. The best prices for a Royal Caribbean cruise are usually found right after Royal Caribbean publishes new itineraries, which are usually for cruises that depart two years after the launch date.
It's possible to book a cruise on the day of departure in some circumstances, but you need to make sure your proof of citizenship is ready beforehand. Cruise Critic explains that many popular trips offer their best rates when fares go on sale for the first time and then increase prices as the ship fills up. The first significant drop in prices usually occurs just after the due date of a ship's “final payment”.