If you're like so many of our readers, you're probably wondering when Royal Caribbean will open up new itineraries to book for the coming years.
Currently, Royal Caribbean only offers cruises to book through April 2025 for most itineraries, which means summer 2025 isn't available to book yet.
While it may seem strange to book vacations more than 2 years in advance, a lot of cruise fans know the importance of booking early. There are many benefits to being that far ahead, not to mention the fact it's just fun to have a new trip to look forward to!
Booking a cruise early could get you a great room, a competitive rate, or a booking on a rare itinerary that could sell out quickly.
Whatever the reason, here's what you should know about when to expect Royal Caribbean to post new cruises for sale.
When Royal Caribbean historically releases new sailings
The short answer to when Royal Caribbean will release new cruises is no one really know for certain.
The cruise line plays their deployment schedule "close to the vest" until they are prepared to disclose it. So the best we can do is guess based on what they've done in the past.
Royal Caribbean typically has two release cycles: in the fall and again in the spring.
For the last few years, Royal Caribbean has posted their new sailings around:
- November to early December
- February through April
They've stuck to this pattern, even during the cruise industry shutdown of 2020-2021.
Prior to the actual sailings going on sale, Royal Caribbean will post a deployment schedule, which specifies the week (but not day) of release for each block of itineraries. These blocks are grouped by cruise length and region.
One trick some cruisers have come up with is to follow what sister brand Celebrity Cruises does, as Celebrity is usually ahead of Royal Caribbean in posting new deployments by about a month.
Which sailings will be released in the fall?
Keeping in mind that this is all making educated guesses, looking back at the last few years, it seems Royal Caribbean has a pattern to which sets of new cruises get released in the fall versus spring.
In 2022, 2021, and 2020, Royal Caribbean opened up new bookings for three regions in November and December:
- 7-night Summer Caribbean
In addition, we'd usually see the first new deployment released the first week of November, and then continue through the month, skip the Thanksgiving holiday week, and then resume in early December.
The rest of the new itineraries were released in the spring.
It is very important to remember that this is what the cruise line has done in the past, and they may change everything up this year. But since the question of when new bookings will be released is such a common question, this is the best information we have at our disposal.
Which sailings will be released in the spring?
After the winter holidays are over, Royal Caribbean gears up to release new itineraries for the rest of the schedule in the spring.
In 2023, new itineraries were posted as early as the week of February 13, 2023. In 2022, the first new itineraries were posted the week of February 21. In 2021, it was posted during the week of February 15.
Just like the fall, you'll get one batch of itineraries posted per week and the process can take all the way until April or May to fully complete.
In the spring, you'll get the bulk of the new itineraries released that fill in the gaps left from the fall.
Why you should book a cruise two years early
One of the best strategies to get the lowest price on your cruise is to book a cruise early, even two years early.
It may seem crazy to some to book a cruise quite that far in advance, but there are some really good benefits to placing a deposit that early.
At a very basic level, cruise lines increase the price of a sailing as the ship sells out. By booking early, inventory is at its highest, and that usually nets you some of the best prices (especially for suites).
If you live in certain countries, you're allowed to re-price your cabin and take advantage of a price drop up until the final payment date. This includes the United States and Canada, but there are others too.
Beyond the cost of a cruise, another good reason to book early is to get a specific cabin.
There are certain types of cruise ship cabins that sell out quickly, and booking early is almost always the only way to get them. Suites are usually the first type of cabin category to sell out because there are so few suites onboard.
Keep in mind that suites always have always non-refundable cruise fare, so there's a bit of a risk if you aren't totally certain what your vacation plans will be in two years or more.
Read more: The 5 best cabin locations on a cruise ship
The other really important reason to book so early is because you may want to cruise over a holiday.
Holiday sailings are always competitive. This includes spring break, Christmas, summer, and New Years. If you want to take a cruise during these times of year, you will want to snag a cabin because prices will almost certainly only go up.
When I'm asked, "How far in advance should I book a cruise?", my answer is always as early as you can. Certainly when new itineraries are published is the ideal time.
How do I know if I'm getting a good deal when I book?
The only way to truly know if you have a good price for a cruise is to have a good sense of prices before they come out.
Cruise pricing is dynamic and varies from sailing to sailing and ship to ship, and prices can fluctuate over time. The more you pay attention to prices for the itinerary you are interested in, the easier it will be for you to know a cruise deal when you see one.
Not everyone is necessarily able or interested to spend the time to track cruise prices, and this is when a good travel agent comes in handy.
I use a travel agent anytime I book a cruise, and the good ones certainly are knowledgeable about cruise prices because they see them all the time. It's a good idea to work with your travel agent before the cruises are released so they know what you are interested in, and can advise you on the best options once new cruises are posted.
A good travel agent may even be able to get you a coveted cabin before anyone else.
At the risk of jinxing everyone with trying to anticipate Royal Caribbean's release schedule, this information is our best idea of what to expect.
Once a deployment schedule is released, we always post the information on RoyalCaribbeanBlog.com, so until then, our fingers are crossed that it will line up as expected.
While there's no way to be absolutely certain of when Royal Caribbean will release new summer cruises, I hope this article gives you a frame of reference of what to expect.
Planning a cruise? Start here:
- 8 cruise tips for first-time Royal Caribbean cruisers
- What’s included in your Royal Caribbean cruise fare
- 5 quick and easy tips for finding a great shore excursion on your own
- Food on a Royal Caribbean cruise
- Which is the best Royal Caribbean cruise ship?
- What is the best time to go on a Caribbean cruise?