From the fantastic range of remarkable rivers to the wide selection of sailings per season, choosing when to book your river cruise can be difficult. Add in cruise line promotions, summer sales and last-minute bargains and it can be hard to see just when to book to ensure you get the best deal with great savings.

So, whether you are planning months ahead or looking for a last-minute river cruise, here are our tips for booking your holiday at the best time for you.

Early reservations

Iron Gate landmark on the Danube

Booking as soon as you decide on your river cruise package has its advantages. You can reserve your perfect room with a luxurious balcony window and plan some of your favourite excursions, leaving no stone unturned and ensuring the very best choices for your river cruise.

Booking early also offers benefits of its own, sometimes including exclusive room upgrades for early-bookers, single traveller discounts for those looking to cruise solo, and even discounts for young family members – meaning you will have more to spend on excursions and experiences during your much-awaited river cruise.

Many cruise lines announce their itineraries up to 18-months in advance, usually with the best prices included, meaning you can get a great deal with luxurious amenities, accommodations and first pick of the exciting excursions offered on-board.

Last-minute savings

Ebike Active Excursion - Couple on Scenic River Cruise

For those who are a little more flexible as to when and where they travel, you can grab a good deal by hanging on and waiting for special savings and promotions released throughout the year. Typically, cruise lines will release the same deals on an annual basis, meaning you can hold out for that bargain river cruise.

Though this can save you money in the long-run, waiting for a last-minute sailing does risk you losing out on certain luxuries like specific accommodation types, excursion availability and even the length of your river cruise. However, if you are feeling a little adventurous, last-minute bookings are fantastic. We recommend looking to book within eight weeks, offering truly amazing river cruise deals on voyages setting sail in less than three months! With less time to wait until you set sail and an impulsive choice of destinations, last-minute bookings are an exciting option.

Destination driven

Beautiful architecture in Moscow, a popular destination along the Volga

If you find yourself daydreaming about drifting along the Danube or meandering on the Moselle, your best bet is to cruise at the time of year that is best for that specific river.

The Danube is a firm year-round favourite, though it can be a little colder from March to May when rainfall levels peak. The summer months are hot and crowded as school holidays, warmer weather and longer days draw in the tourists, with this turning to a manageable chill in the later months; perfect for seasonal shoppers and lovers of Christmas markets. See signature wooden stalls laden with cinnamon-scented mulled wine and twinkling lights pop-up along the river banks.

Seasonal sailings

Hallstatt in winter - perfect port stop for a seasonal sailing along the Danube

For those looking to book a river cruise for a certain time of year, seasonal sailings offer some of the most unexpected destinations for you to discover. Looking to escape the winter blues? Why not journey along the Nile and experience Egypt during the warmer months or enjoy a soothing riverside breeze as you explore the ancient wonders from October to March.

Summertime can be busy, with many people opting to travel the world between these months. If you are willing to travel that little bit further, however, explore more under-the-radar river cruise destinations like Southeast Asia along the Mekong, or China along the Yangtze.

As multi-generational cruising continues to be a growing trend for river cruises, you could even take the family away during the school holidays and explore Europe with your loved ones. There is an abundance of choice across the region, from immersive itineraries along the Rhine to enriching experiences along Portugal’s ‘River of Gold’. Many cities and towns throughout Europe are family-friendly and offer plenty of sight-seeing opportunities that teach of the cultures and history of each port you dock in.

Book your river cruise with

Moselle River - Book early or last minute

Whether it is a last-minute getaway or a long-awaited holiday of luxury and indulgence, booking a river cruise is thrilling and exciting. Plan your river cruise along some of the world’s most immersive waterways and prepare to fall in love with each destination, regardless of when you travel.

Browse our latest sailings, whether you’re looking to sail away sooner or later!

For any further information or assistance relating to your river cruise, call our Cruise Concierge team on 0800 197 0854 for award-winning advice and customer service with your booking.

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About Emma Smith

Emma has more than seven years' experience as a writer and has been in the travel industry for nearly five years. She loves learning about new places and cruise ships coming to market, as well as discovering fun and exciting activities to do while you sail. She has cruised with Princess Cruises, Cunard, Celebrity Cruises, Virgin Voyages, Avalon Waterways and Royal Caribbean and is looking to get something in her diary for 2024! Her favourite things to see on a ship include excellent entertainment, a delicious cocktail menu and extraordinary dining venues.

2 Responses to “When is the best time to book your river cruise?”

  1. gravatar

    Any “late booking” river cruise where I can save a bob or two would be great…Rhine /Danube…Must be fly from BHX…Thanks…

    • gravatar
      Emma Smith

      Hi Alan, if you give our Cruise Concierge team a call on 0800 197 0854 they will be happy to find you the best last minute river cruises to suit your preferences. Thanks, Emma.


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