It’s no better time to book a cruise according to experts, with the cheapest prices we have ever seen.

But agents have said the increasing prices for flights, some of which have increased by 50 percent, have deterred lots of cruisers from booking an international voyage.

General Manager of Cruise from Imagine Holidays, Gareth Evison said the pandemic has changed the way people should book their cruises.

“Typically for people looking for local cruisers for Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific, now is the time to book a deal for sailings for the next wave season which runs between October and April and the end of the year to the start of the following year.

“Bear in mind, because of the amount of inventory we have Down Under at the moment, and you don’t care about the position of your stateroom, you can sail for less than $100 per night.”

He said for families looking for cruises that need to fulfill a specific travel time, cabin suite, and sailing date, you will need to book well in advance for a cheaper deal.

“The busiest booking time is our wave season for January to the end of February as that’s when the cruise lines release their deals. Some families need to plan well in advance to get the suite they want, the dates that work for them, and their choice of an itinerary for periods over school holidays, Easter, and Christmas,” he said.

But it’s a completely different story when it comes to international cruisers with airfare prices now more expensive that a two-week cruise.

“The average price of a Mediterranean cruise for two weeks is around $2,300 and flights are more than the cruise itself. Traditionally, cruisers would book their flights in September for European summer, but now everything has gone out the window.

“My advice is that if I was the consumer, I would be booking flights out as soon as they are released at the 11-month mark or book through an agency like Imagine Holidays, where we will quote you the price of the flight, and if it goes up, we cover the difference in cost.”

Kathy Pavlidis from Travel Associates who mainly sells expedition and ultra-luxury cruises said she has found the pandemic has thrown the booking rule book out the window.

“Overall as an industry, the wave season is still the best time to get a cruise deal. But what I am finding with my individual customers is that they are booking two or three cruises at once,” she said.

“They are also upgrading and justifying spending the extra money in order to fulfill what they’ve missed out on the last two years.”

Wondering how to get the best deals? Here are our top tips:

Do you want a specific sailing date or suite? Book early

For any cruise category, whether it be family, premium, luxury, or expedition vessels, make sure you book early if you want specifics. If you have your heart set on a balcony cabin, or a suite, or you need to book during peak periods like school holidays, then book six to 18 months prior to departure.

Don’t think you will be paying a premium price, as cruise lines are now offering more add-ons than ever. For example, Norwegian Cruise Line often runs their Free at Sea offer which includes free WiFi, a drinks package, credit for shore excursions as well as a specialty dining package.

Royal Caribbean and Princess too also offer these deals for certain sailings. The luxury lines too will offer deals. Regent Seven Seas has reduced deposits, 50 per cent off guests as well as added extra like onboard and shore excursion credits.

Booking a luxury or expedition cruise? Look well in advance

Travel experts say that more cruisers are moving into the premium or luxury space and due to the size of the ships, certain itineraries, dates and suites will sell out quickly. The advice is to book early. While you might get more affordable offers from luxury lines closer to the sail date, business class airfares will be more than your cruise.

Most luxury lines will offer their best fares early and then increase the price of the cabins as they sell out. It’s best to put down your deposit as soon as bookings open or as far in advance as possible. The experts also advise booking your cruise as you are finishing your current cruise. This is where the cruise lines will also throw in extra perks like onboard credit.

Not picky? Look at a last-minute bargain

Have the time and the flexibility? There are discount fares of up to 50 per cent if you don’t care about where you are sailing to, what cabin you are in, or what date you sail. Over the next few years, there will be an additional 15,000 cabins that will need to be sold. Cruise lines like P&O Australia and Carnival Cruise Line, offer bargain hunters Pack ‘n’ Go packages which are designed for people to book, with sometimes just a few days notice.

The deals will guarantee the cabin type but the deals are only available on a select few cruises close to departure.

Want to go overseas? It’s now dictated by airfares

Mr Evison suggest that you now have to book your airfares as soon as the airlines release them 11 months out.

“Gone are the days where you’ll be able to get Europe early bird airfares in September. If you know when you want to go, you have to book 11 months out to get the cheapest airfares. Otherwise, your cruise will be cheaper than your airfares.”