We are currently in what the cruise lines call wave season. It is the time of year when cruise agents, sell the most cruises, generally speaking, during the course of the year. This time period is one when some of the best deals are offered by the cruise lines. However, some cruises end up with better deals at other times during the years, so utilizing a knowledgeable cruise agent is always a good idea.
Generally speaking overall the best time of year to buy a cruise is now, during wave season. For most folks early in the calendar year is when they are able to plan vacation time for later during the year. That of course is those who must book time off from work, and those limited in vacation time due to school breaks and the like. Others who have more freedom to travel when they please sometimes benefit from the ability to capitalize on last minute travel specials, but it also requires one to be flexible about where to travel. I for one like the last minute specials, but also have a strong desire to cruise to specific destinations after all of the cruises I’ve taken so depending on mood go either way.
For more exotic destinations, there are often fewer big deals during wave, but as a general rule they do exist. The best deals on the more exotic cruises often are the last minute specials. However, often these cruises do fill up well in advance. As a general rule those cruises which occur once, or are in otherwise limited supply, except for the transatlantic repositioning cruises that often sell for low prices, tend to sell out further in advance than do cruises which due to competition or long seasons repeat many times during the prime season for the selected destination. Thus, wave season will have more deals for Caribbean, Alaskan, and European cruises than for Tahitian, round the world, and Antarctica cruises.
When looking at the specials, it’s important to consider the total cost of the cruise, and if the extra perks given for the cruise meet your cruise needs and expectations. For instance in some cases free internet packages are offered as a special perk during wave season, which is fine unless you don’t plan to ever log in while at sea. For non-drinkers or those who don’t like specialty dining see what cruise offered gives something of better value than free drink and specialty dining perks. On-board credit and lower fares is always a great and typically are a better deal for those who limit drinking, use the main dining room and don’t need the internet.
Be sure as you evaluate your fare and mandatory service charges as well as getting to the cruise, parking, on-board spending expectations, and shore tours to come up with a total trip cost. Knowing the full cost of the vacation options will allow you to better compare from among competing offers during or outside of wave season. However with competing offers it’s critical to sum up all costs you will be paying to see which is best, of course one must also factor in the fun factor of the ship chosen which is often hard to monetize.
Ultimately yes, now is a great time to get a deal on the popular cruises with many sailings. That doesn’t negate the great deals sometimes, not always and becoming less often, which come up from time to time at the last minute. In the end locking in a cruise on the ship you want, on a convenient date, and to destinations you like is the most important part of planning a vacation. Sales are nice, but generally should not be the driving factor to just book a cruise.
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