The only time we booked a cruise early was to Hawaii, we booked in February to sail in October. No bargains there.
All our other cruises from 3-5 days and up to 10 days we've booked 6-8 weeks or less in advance and have gotten some good deals. Then when the price drops, you can usually get an onboard credit for the difference if you catch it.
Of course, we have the freedom to do last minute cruising since we are retired. If you have a set schedule you cannot be as flexible.
One of those eternal problems......book early (we have booked 20 months ahead on occasions) & you get the supposed best choice of cabin/dining etc AND early booking discounts or so they say....OR wait until the price MAY drop when people cancel at the last minute, bargains can be had this way.
I booked Freedom of the Seas in Apr and we don't go until Dec 11. I just booked Allure for Jan and booked it last month. So I don't know if it makes too much difference; I did get a discount for Freedom; balcony discount with platnium status; Allure didn't have any discounts; but it was cheaper than Oasis.
Freedom of the Seas Dec 11
Allure of the Seas: Jan 11
Voyager of the Seas: May 09
Splendour of the Seas: May 07
Explorer of the Seas: Jan 04
Majesty of the Seas Jan 99
We booked this upcoming cruise last July, got the cabin, location, etc.. The prices have jumped to well over $500.00 a person even as everybody is sending in their last payment.. If the prices do come down and I doubt they will on this cruise.. On the other hand we just received a call from NCL on a 15 day cruise with ridiculously low prices, albeit inside cabin which we won't do.. it's a crap shoot if your not fussy where you are or where you go..
we normally book 1 year ahead of our cruise, that way we have an exact budget figure, we get the cabin that we want, the dining choice that we want. The cruise is the easy part, its the airfare that can be a real challenge, but we have a great TA who handles all the details for us