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The cheapest time to book a cruise is in the winter. It's possible that it's wave season.

Wave season, you ask. Every year at the beginning of the year, all the cruise lines tout discounted fares or special deals in order to book up their voyages for the next year. Many couples and families plan vacations for the year during this time.

If you've been eyeing a cruise vacation, wave season is the best time to find a good deal. You can find a good price on a cruise vacation. You could get a lot of freebies that will stretch your vacation dollars even further.

Read on to find out what wave season is, how to find the best cruise deals, and how to get the best value when booking a cruise.

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What is wave season?


During wave season, cruise lines run some of their best sales. The promotional period is named after the wave of deals that convince travelers to go on a trip. The cruise lines fill many berths for the coming year, and cruiser take advantage of discounts and value-adds on their booking.

Wave season promotions are designed to get you to book a cruise for later in the year, as well as dates for two years in the future. There are last-minute voyages on sale. You can find wave season promotions from nearly every major cruise line, including big-ship, small-ship, river and expedition lines, as well as deals on sailings around the world, from Alaska toAntarctica and from the eastern Caribbean to the Western Mediterranean.

There is a way to book a cruise using points and miles.

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When is wave season?

The wave season begins in January and ends in March. The big cruise sales have started earlier over the past several years, just like how Christmas decorations are appearing in retail stores earlier. It is common for cruise lines to release deals for Black Friday and Cyber Monday in November and keep them active into the following year when they are renamed wave season deals.

Waves take place when there are several reasons. Travelers are eager to book warm-weather getaways when the weather is cold in the north. After a busy holiday season, many families make their vacation plans at the beginning of the year. Cruise lines are eager to fill ships for the coming year since they have closed the books on the previous year. Incentives for people to book a cruise can be offered in January through March.

What cruise deals are offered?


You aren't just looking for reduced cruise fares, though those are a great place to start. It's hard to pass up booking a cruise because of the plethora of bonuses cruise lines add to their promotions.

There are three different types of booking incentives.

Cruise deals and discounts

You can get money back on your booking with some cruise lines. These cruise deals can be a lot of different things.

  • Discounted cruise fares (e.g., 40% off, $500 back, etc.).
  • Reduced deposits (e.g., lock in your cruise with just $1 or $25 and pay the remainder 90 days before sailing).
  • Two-for-one cruise fares, or get a discounted second fare when you pay full price for the first.
  • Third and/or fourth passengers in a cabin sail free or at a discounted rate.
  • Kids sail free or at a discount.

Freebies and extra-value perks

During wave season, some cruise lines will give you certain amenities for free if you choose to pay. When you set sail, these perks will save you from a higher onboard bill.

Booking perks might be included.

  • Free airfare from select U.S. gateways.
  • Pre-cruise overnight hotel stay.
  • Onboard credit you can use to pay for specialty dining, shore excursions and more.
  • Beverage packages.
  • Prepaid specialty dining fees.
  • Prepaid gratuities.
  • Free internet access.
  • Complimentary shore excursions or tour credit.

Cabin upgrades

During wave season, you can expect to see complimentary cabin upgrades. If you pay the rate for one type of cabin, you get to stay in a nicer room that costs more.

There are two types of cabin improvements.

  • Upgrade within a cabin category (e.g., from a cheaper inside cabin to a larger or better located inside cabin).
  • Upgrade to the next cabin category (e.g., pay the inside cabin price but stay in an outside or even balcony cabin).

You still get to choose the location of the upgraded cabin, even though the upgrade is essentially a discount on the higher category room.

There are reasons to turn down a cabin upgrade.

Where can you find wave season deals?

Wave season deals can be found in many places, because nearly every cruise seller wants a piece of the wave season spending spree.

You can book directly through the cruise line, via an online travel seller or with a travel agent, but wave season deals are offered by almost every cruise line. Major cruise lines offer promotions, but it is not the only one. It is possible that a small expedition cruise line will put its voyages on sale, or that a river cruise line will slash fares on its Rhine and Danube river sailings.

Travel sellers can also add their own promotions. A travel agent down the street might give you a bottle of champagne, or your favorite travel website might offer an extra deal. You will find a lot of deals if you cast a wide net.

There are surprising places that sell cruises.

How do you know if you’re getting the best deal?

When it comes to deals, cruises can be tricky. There is a chance that the 50% off deal is based on an inflated cruise fare that no one ever pays. You need to research in advance if you want to get the best deal.

Take note of the current per-passenger fares and perks for the cruises that interest you most as you narrow down your cruise choices. You might be eligible for a special discount if you are a senior, a teacher, or a military member. You should price out different cabins above and below the room you want to stay in. You should be aware of the prices for onboard extras, such as beverage packages, internet access and specialty restaurant meals, so you know what you'll spend on top of the cruise fare.

You can compare the promotional rates to previous prices when cruise lines announce their sales. It's possible to determine if the sale is a good value for you.

How to prepare for wave season


How can you make the most of the waves? There are more than one method.

Research which cruises you want to book

If you think about the places you want to cruise, the specific cruise lines you wish to sail, and the available itineraries and dates, you will be able to jump on a wave season deal. Do you want to go on a family cruise with the kids, or do you want to go on a solo vacation? Maybe you want to go to the Caribbean or go on a bucket list trip to Alaska.

If you don't know which cruise line would suit you best, don't just choose whichever line has the best wave season deals because the onboard vibe may not fit your personality If you want to know which brands and ships are best for you, read the beginner's guide.

You can keep an eye out for wave season deals if you have this knowledge.

Join cruise line email lists

If you join the email lists for the cruise lines you like, you can monitor the websites and social media feeds over the next few months so you don't miss any sales. They will let you know when the sale is going to start.


Find a travel agent

You should use a travel agent for cruises if you don't use a travel agent for other trips. advance notice of sales is usually given to agents that specialize in cruises. They offer their own suite of bonuses as an incentive to book through them, and they have access to special rates or perks you won't be able to find on your own.

Even with Disney Cruise Line, which is notoriously light on sales and discounts, you could get several hundred dollars in onboard credit. If you want to work with a large online travel seller, all of whom have sales representatives you can call for help, or find an individual travel agent in your area. Ask your friends if they can recommend someone and if they can find a cruise-certified agent on the Cruise Lines International Association website.

Cruises have all sorts of terms and conditions. The best version of the current deals can be found on itineraries that a knowledgeable travel agent knows.

Sign up for the right credit card

If you like stacking deals, you can get cruise discounts, cash back and perks when you work with a travel agent to book a cruise during a sale and pay with a credit card. If you don't already have a card that gives you extra perks for your cruise purchases, you may want to apply for one in advance of wave season.

Even with wave season promotions, a cruise booking and associated travel purchases can be significant investments. Signing up for a new credit card will allow you to reach the minimum spend needed to earn the booking bonus. If you apply in advance of wave season, you will have the new card in hand when you pay for the sailing.

Credit cards that can be used for booking cruises.

Bottom line

It is possible to find a low price on select sailings when cruise lines offer deals throughout the year. If you want a lot of offers to choose from at the same time, wave season is a great place to look. As soon as you see a good deal in the new year, you will be prepared to take it.

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The additional reporting was done by the person.