Take the cancellation insurance. That's the advice Katrina Van Der Merwe, Flight Centre Cruise Specialist, has for anybody booking a cruise years in advance.
"We saw what can happen in a three-year period with sailings that were impacted by COVID," Van Der Merwe says. "Heaven forbid something happens again, or you break your toe a week before sailing, or a marriage, baby, death, graduation or other life event comes up."
In recent weeks Viking announced additional Nile River cruises through to 2026, due to unprecedented demand for Egypt sailings. Royal Caribbean opened bookings for Icon of the Seas' 2025-26 sailing season three months early. World cruise 2026 itineraries from Silversea and Regent Seven Seas Cruises are already selling well and fast.
I'm the type of avid cruiser who rarely books holidays more than three months in advance, bagging last-minute bargains while keeping my plans flexible. Lately though, I've noticed many cruises are completely sold out months (or years) in advance or have limited availability.
"Cruise lines are responding to strong demand by offering earlier release dates or pre-release registrations, so people can secure the itinerary or ship they want most," says Joel Katz, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Managing Director in Australasia.
Early booking discounts mean there's often a big cost advantage in planning ahead, he says, and you'll have more choice in what's available. Van Der Merwe concurs. "Pay the deposit, and then you have 15 or more months to pay it off, while you have the anticipation of something wonderful on the horizon," she says.
FREMANTLE TO SINGAPORE: Part of Silversea's 2026 World Cruise, suites are being snapped up for this voyage to ports in Western Australia and Asia. Explore the western gateway to the Kimberley from Broome, snorkel in Exmouth, then journey north to Darwin, Indonesia and Singapore. Departs March 14, 2026. Priced from $12,600 per person, silversea.com.
EGYPT: Demand for Nile River cruises is hot, hot, hot and Viking is heeding the call, releasing 2026 cabins early. By 2025, with the debut of Viking Sobek, Viking will have six ships sailing the popular 12-day Pharaohs & Pyramids itinerary. Multiple 2026 departures. Priced from $11,995 per person, viking.com.
MAHE TO MOMBASSA: Africa is calling. On this 13-day voyage with Emerald Cruises, visit exotic ports in Kenya, Tanzania and Seychelles, island-hop in the Indian Ocean and snorkel incredible atolls. Departs January 27, 2026. Priced from $12,095 per person, emeraldcruises.com.au.
TOKYO TO VANCOUVER: Cruising the islands and coastlines of Japan provides a fascinating perspective. Enjoy five relaxing sea days on the journey from Japan to Alaska, where outdoor adventures await. Departs 3 May, 2026. Priced from $20,850, rssc.com.