Why you should book a 2025 cruise after last week's Royal Caribbean meeting

03 May 2024
Matt Hochberg

When getting the best price for your cruise, getting the timing right is critical.

High demand for cruises

Vacationers are used to seeking last-minute deals on cruises when planning their cruise, but bookings for cruises has been so red-hot for the past few months that new booking records are being set and then eclipsed regularly.

In a call with Wall Street analysts, Royal Caribbean Group President and CEO Jason Liberty shared how 88% of cabins for all of 2024 are booked up, leaving spares choices for a 2024 cruise.

"We only have about 12% load factors left to build for the year," Mr. Liberty said during an earnings call with Wall Street analysts.

Icon of the Seas aft

That leaves very few rooms left for this year's cruises, but the incredible demand this year is opening the door for Royal Caribbean to take advantage of this by raising prices even more next year.

"That will provide opportunity for us to a degree this year. But what that I think means in terms of the opportunity into 2025 and beyond is very appealing," he went on to say right after sharing the fact about load factors.

Later in the meeting, Mr. Liberty pointed out that new cruise bookings for 2025 would soon eclipse bookings for this year, "we're getting close to the point where we'll soon be taking more bookings for '25 than we are for 2024."

Why you should book a 2025 cruise now after Royal Caribbean's comments in their meeting

wonder of the seas

If there's one takeaway for cruisers from Royal Caribbean Group's earnings call, it's that new cruise bookings aren't slowing down, and you're going to be competing with more people than ever for a cruise.

Here are the big reasons why you should book a 2025 (or 2026) cruise following last week's meeting:

More people than ever are cruising

Utopia of the Seas pool deck

The cruise market is attracting new cruisers more so than ever before. 

The amount of people who have never taken a cruise and booked one grew by 16% year over year. On top of that, the rate of repeat customers returning is over 30% higher compared to 2019. 

When you have loyal customers coming back over and over again and add onto it a healthy serving of new customers, it leads to very full cruise ships.

Read more: Millennials are taking over cruise ships

High demand means higher prices

Balcony room on Wonder of the Seas

Cruise ship inventory is fixed, so as inventory drops, prices tend to go up.

Cruise fares can change at a moment's notice based on demand, which means as more cabins are booked up for a given sailing, the price of remaining cabins can go up.

Icon of the Seas Central Park Infinite Cabin

In May 2023, Mr. Liberty divulged the company withholds cabins to manage prices and ultimately drive up revenue.

"We used to kind of put everything out there and all the suites would be sold basically right off the bat. And then you would kind of work your way down to the inside cabins," he explained.

Read more: What are the different types of cabins on a cruise ship?

"Now we hold back inventory and we release it, based off of the much more sophisticated revenue management models that we have today."

Overlooking Surfside

With this approach to pricing, you can expect higher prices the closer to the sail date you get.

Generally speaking, the best prices for a cruise are when a new sailing is put on sale and all the cabins are open to book. Inventory is at its highest, and prices only go up as rooms get booked.

Ovation of the Seas docked

Cruise itineraries are usually released around two years in advance. The first batch of new cruises go on sale around November and December, and the rest come out in February, March or April.

In short, booking a 2025 cruise now is probably going to get you a lower price than if you wait.

Read more: 15 ways to get a deal on a cruise

Less cabin choices later


Prices aside, the other reason to book a 2025 cruise now is to get the stateroom type you want.

One major disadvantage to waiting for the last-minute to book a cruise is you're at the mercy of the leftover cabins that haven't sold yet.

Suites are usually the first cabin category to sell out, because there are relatively far fewer than any other cabin category.  Those that would be in the market for a suite would want to book earlier than ever to be able to get one.

Icon of the Seas in Miami

Moreover, other desirable cabins that are not in a bad location or simply offer enough space for everyone also sell out quickly.

Read more: The rare cruise ship cabins that everyone wants to book immediately

Being able to get the right stateroom choice that you prefer is a compelling reason to lock in a booking now.

Bottom line

Star of the Seas concept art

In just the last two quarters, Royal Caribbean Group has reported gangbuster demand for cruises, and that trend doesn't show any signs of slowing down.

Higher demand means it's less likely there will be a last-minute deal and more likely sailings will sell out far earlier than usual. 

Consumers looking to secure a cruise vacation in 2025 will want to act quickly in order to head off higher prices down the road while getting the stateroom category they prefer.

And if you're really smart, you'll book that early 2026 cruise now too.

Matt started Royal Caribbean Blog in 2010 as a place to share his passion for all things Royal Caribbean with readers. He oversees all the writers at Royal Caribbean Blog, and writes a great deal of content on a daily basis.  He has become one of the foremost experts on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Over the years, he has reached Pinnacle Club status with Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program.

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