Royal Caribbean is on the verge of releasing new cruise ship itineraries for 2025 and 2026, and now is the time to start preparing.
The deployment schedule for new Royal Caribbean cruises has been posted, and we will get new cruises to start booking beginning at the end of October.
While your first instinct might be to wait and see what's available and make a decision based on that, I think there are some really important things to do start doing now to properly prepare.
Booking a cruise when sailings first go n sale is one of the best ways to save money on a cruise. Prices tend to be lowest when they first go on sale, and go up from there. A tried-and-true strategy is book early and take advantage of a price drop between now and the final payment date (assuming you live in a country that allows this).
A few simple steps now can make the decision making process easier once the new bookings are available. If nothing else, you'll take care of a few important tasks and that means less things to do later.
Check your vacation time availability
Some people work at companies where their PTO time goes quickly and you'll need to get your requests in first.
It's a good idea to outline times of the year you want to take vacation time from work to go on a cruise and put those requests in as soon as possible. Some companies have a "first-come, first-granted" policy and once someone has time off, others cannot take the same week.
Now is a good time to get those requests in, or at least evaluate how competitive it will be.
Coordinate with travel agent which ships and times to target
I love to work with a good travel agent to make booking any cruise easier, and once again, this strategy is how to approach a newly released sailing.
It's a good idea to let your travel agent know what you have in mind to book. Maybe it's an Alaska cruise, or a 7-night on a brand new cruise ship to the Caribbean. Whatever the plans, loop your travel agent in early so they are on the same page as you.
Read more: Royal Caribbean Alaska cruise guide
This is doubly important because sometimes travel agents have access to new sailings before they are loaded onto the Royal Caribbean website. It's not uncommon for new cruises to appear in Royal Caribbean's backend first, and then appear on the website later.
By letting your travel agent know which times of the year, ships, and who will be sailing now, it makes the booking process so much smoother later when you're ready to pull the trigger on a new booking as they are available.
Pick a cabin
If you have an idea of which ship or ship class you're interested in booking, you should also start researching cabins to book.
Read more: Royal Caribbean ship classes ultimate guide
I like to give my travel agent two or three cabins I would be interested in booking, so that when she gets me a quote, we both know what to expect.
Since you wont know which ships are going to be in a particular region before the new bookings go live, you could refer to what's available in 2024 or early 2025 and make an educated guess. Even if the ship changes from year to year, the ship class tend to be the same.
If you're interested in a suite, then you will want to make an extra effort to book early.
Read more: Royal Caribbean suites guide & review
Suites book up the fastest of any cabin type because there are so few of them, and demand for suites is higher than other cabins.
It wouldn't be a big deal if you took a few days to decide on a balcony vs inside room, but suites tend to go so quickly you may want to narrow down the choices early.
Look at historical airfare prices
No matter how fantastic a cruise sounds, if the overall cost to go on that vacation is too high, it may sink your plans.
If you think cruise fare prices are fluid, you should look at airfare prices. Therefore, it's a good strategy to look at historic airfare prices to get a ballpark idea of how much that will cost.
A lot of families have a budget in mind for their entire trip, which includes the cruise fare, shore excursions, incidentals, and airfare.
Fare Detective has an Airfare History Chart that you can plug two airports in and get historical flight price data.
You could also look for a flight coming up in 2024 and use that as a metric for what to expect as well.
Double check when new ships will start sailing
If there's one step I always forget, it's to think about what's not on sale yet.
There's nothing like a new Royal Caribbean cruise ship and it generates a lot of buzz. So before you plan to book any cruise in 2025, think about the new ships that will be coming online at that time.
As an example, Star of the Seas will begin sailing sometime in summer 2025, and that might change your plans to go to Europe or try Alaska.
If going on a new ship would be important, you might consider holding off booking a summer 2025 cruise now, or book a refundable cruise fare so that you can change your mind later.
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?