We usually have to plan our cruises well in advance. Between my DH's job and the kids, there are a lot of things we need to get arranged! The shortest we've booked is 8 months out, the longest 18 months. We choose based on the itinerary, then the ship. By booking far in advance we have time to research price and that is always the deciding factor in whether or not we book. We always book our airfare ourselves, and usually use hubby's free airmiles. One of the perks to him always being gone! We also use hotel points to stay the night before the cruise free. When we flew to Hawaii it took us months to get the flights finalized - because we wanted first-class but only coach was available. I was calling almost daily until we finally got it! This was for our 15th anniversary - and we were not able to take a honeymoon (hubby was active-duty military and couldn't get time off, and by the time he could I was working a new job!), so we were treating ourselves!