We have always booked late, two months to two weeks previous to cruising date, we have always chosen an outside cabin, and have always had our chosen dining time. Rarely chosen a specific room but always been happy with what we have been allocated. If you are flexible about your destinations you can get some real bargains.
If you book with RCI or X and the price goes down, you get the cheaper price. It is a win-win situation. Dangers of leaving it to the last moment is that the cabin you want is not there, the flights are more expensive/sold out, you cannot get the dining you want....
Ask yourself, what do you want? The cruises advertised now will go ahead, too many people already booked. Prices will not fluctuate that much (maybe 5%)and if you want a decent cabin, balcony, outside view, particular position, and, as A,N says, particular dining, go for it. Though not the most seasoned cruiser on this site, I have cruises booked with P&O for both May and December 2009. Cabins, positions and dining that I want, secured. All your fears/worries can be alleviated with good holiday insurance. Join the club and happy cruising. Richard.
I beat you ~ I have Celebrity cruises booked for Mar 2010! And I am eagerly waiting for a price drop.
Make your booking by credit card then you have protection against a company (not necessarily cruise)going bust - remember the advice after Excel. Take out insurance at the same time so you are covered for cancellation due to unforseen ?? check what you would be covered for, BUT, you will rarly be covered by insurance, for a company going bust. Yes sometimes cruises get cheaper but it is usually 3 months before the cruise if the cruise has not been selling well. Last minute, you get the cabins that are 'left over' so you take pot luck very often. for your first cruise I would play safe and book as per advice by the other contributors. Have a lovely holiday.
Booking now for next Spring is actually not that early. If you plan to sail on a small ship you do probably need to think about booking soon. If you want to travel to a more unusual destination e.g. Iceland/Greenland also think about booking soon as fewer trips are available to these places than say the Med. Have a lovely holiday I'm sure you'll be as hooked on cruising as the rest of us!
To be honest i am a little worried about the economic climate too for fear of things going pear shape. especially as we are going with american line, we have booked with well known[( going place}]and have almost paid them half our money by cash. will def use credit card on monday to pay thr last bit.
Your ta is a member of ABTA & ATOL so your money is secure.
My husband and i have started cruising more now we are retired, and last years cruises were booked well in advance, (we did three) but have decided that we are going to delay booking so far in advance because we too think there will be lots of bargains to be had especially if you can travel at short notice. having said that we have booked the transatlantic both ways on qm2 next june as it is a particularly attractive idea to us, but we think that there will be more availability than there are clients next season and its worth holding back in our opinion.