Right Now Is the Best Time for Cruise Deals—and We’ve Found the Dreamiest Ones

This time of year, also known as “wave season,” is like the Black Friday of cruise deals. Here’s the scoop on big savings offered by river, expedition, ocean, and luxury cruise lines we love.

Glacier Bay in Alaska with turquoise blue water and snow-capped mountains

A (discounted) Caribbean cruise, like Windstar’s Beach Fun & Sun cruise with a port call in Antigua, is calling.

Courtesy of Rick Jamison/Unsplash

If you’re not familiar with the term “wave season,” here’s what you need to know. During the months of January and February (and often into March), cruise lines roll out some of their most aggressive promotions of the year. The idea is to encourage travelers to book their sailings earlier in the year so that the lines don’t have to worry about half-empty ships later in the season and can have a better sense of business overall for the coming year.

As the buzz around wave season has increased over the years, so, too, has the number of cruise lines that are getting in on the action, including some seriously sophisticated lines you wouldn’t typically associate with deep discounts.

Here are the best wave-season deals we’ve scoped out thus far.

The best river cruise deals for 2024

Sand-colored historic buildings with light-blue shutters and ivy on a street in Arles, France.

Visit Arles in the south of France on AmaWaterways’ Colors of Provence river cruise.

Courtesy of Olivie Strauss/Unsplash

AmaWaterways: River cruisers can save up to $2,000 per stateroom and earn $50 in onboard credit per stateroom on select 7- to 11-night European river sailings in July and August 2024 (including a seven-night Colors of Provence cruise, a wine-themed Burgundy sailing, and a Rhine castles and Swiss Alps cruise). For 14-night European river cruises (such as the Grand Danuba sailing) during the same period, travelers can save $4,000 per stateroom and receive $100 in onboard credit.

Emerald Cruises: Savings on this accessible luxury river cruise line include 2-for-1 fares and up to $3,750 off per suite on select Europe and Southeast Asia river cruise sailings. Bookings must be made by March 31.

Scenic Luxury Cruises: On Scenic river cruises, guests who book by March 31 can get up to $4,250 off per suite, a promotion that can be combined with Scenic’s 2-for-1 fares on 31 departures in 2024. For ocean sailings (including expedition-style cruises to Antarctica, Greenland, and Australia’s Kimberley region), guests can book 2-for-1 fares and receive up to an additional $13,000 off per suite. The discounted fares are available on more than 60 sailings in 2024 and 2025.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises: Cruisers can save up to $3,000 when they purchase cruise and airfare together on select 2024 itineraries with this boutique luxury line. This offer is valid on new bookings made through January 31 for travel in 2024.

Viking: Viking is offering special fares (with just a $25 deposit) on new bookings across its collection of river, ocean, and expedition offerings through January 31. Select voyages include free airfare.

The best expedition cruise deals for 2024

A fishing boat sailing alongside an iceberg in the waters off of Greenland

Explore Greenland with the eco-friendly outfitter Aurora Expeditions.

Courtesy of Hubert Neufeld/Unsplash

Aurora Expeditions: Environmentally friendly expedition operator Aurora Expeditions is offering a slew of savings on sailings to the Arctic and Antarctic in 2024 and 2025, including up to 25 percent off some itineraries and air credit on others. The savings are available on bookings made before March 31, 2024. Here’s our recent review of sailing with Aurora in the Arctic.

Hurtigruten: From now until the end of March, cruisers can get up to $4,000 off select voyages within Norway.

HX (formerly Hurtigruten Expeditions): For select bookings made by March 31, 2024, for departures between March 29, 2024, and March 29, 2025, HX is offering flight credits of up to $2,000.

Lindblad Expeditions: Until March 31, guests can save up to $2,000 on cabin fare and up to 40 percent on solo cabins. Here’s what recently sailing around Svalbard with Lindblad entailed.

The best luxury and ocean cruise deals for 2024

The outdoor Sunset Bar on the Celebrity Beyond cruise ship

Check out the views from the outdoor Sunset Bar on the Celebrity Beyond cruise ship.

Ryan Wicks/Celebrity Cruises

Azamara: Travelers can save up to $2,000 per stateroom on select 2024 sailings when booked before March 21.

Celebrity Cruises: Until February 1, cruisers can save 75 percent on their second guest’s cruise fare (specifically for nonrefundable cruises; otherwise it’s 50 percent off) for sailings from now until April 30, 2026.

Cruise Croatia: Passengers can enjoy up to 30 percent off on more than 25 departures along the Dalmatian Coast between May and October for bookings made through January 31.

Crystal Cruises: The newly relaunched luxury line Crystal is offering complimentary suite upgrades on select 2024 sailings booked before the end of January.

Explora Journeys: On the recently launched cruise line Explora Journeys, passengers can save up to 40 percent on their trip when they book either an Ocean Terrace Suite or Ocean Grand Terrace Suite for sailings on Explora I (we were among the first onboard this brand-new vessel, which aims to court non-cruisers) and Explora II by January 31. The deal is applicable for sailings through April 2026. Some available trips include the 44-night A Grand Journey Connecting Continents and the 10-night A Celestial Caribbean and Creole Soul.

Holland America Line: Cruisers can save up to 40 percent on bookings made by February 29. Bonus deals include up to $500 per stateroom for onboard spending (depending on cruise length), free fares for kids, and stateroom upgrades.

MSC Cruises: One of the largest cruise lines in the world is offering a sale to kick off the new year, with cruises starting at just $279 per person. Guests who book during wave season also receive Wi-Fi for up to two devices per stateroom and up to $400 in onboard credit. Kids sail free. The deal applies to sailings in the Caribbean and North America, the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, and the Southern Caribbean through winter 2025.

Oceania Cruises: On these fine-dining–focused cruises, you can get up to 50 percent off per stateroom on 112 sailings in 2024 and 2025 if you book before the end of February.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises: Through February 29, ultra-luxury line Regent Seven Seas is offering an Upgrade Your Horizon promotion that gives guests a free two-category suite upgrade (up to a Penthouse Suite) on select cruises departing between now and June 2026. This past November, Regent unveiled the latest “world’s most luxurious cruise ship”: the 750-passenger, all-suite Seven Seas Grandeur with marble floors, crystal chandeliers, and exclusive art pieces.

Seabourn: For both ocean and expedition voyages booked by January 31, guests sailing on Seabourn’s super-luxurious cruise ships can save up to 25 percent off fares and receive up to $1,000 in shipboard credit per stateroom. Maybe this is your sign to book Seabourn’s epic 90-day Africa itinerary, which will stop in 44 ports in 26 countries as it circumnavigates the continent.

Sea Cloud Cruises: For select sailings booked before February 29, cruisers can save 25 percent on the fare and receive $500 in onboard credits.

Silversea Cruises: Luxe line Silversea is offering savings of $4,000 per suite on door-to-door all-inclusive fares (which even includes pre- and post-cruise private transfers and airfare) or $2,000 per suite on port-to-port all-inclusive fares for bookings made through February 29.

Star Clippers: On select sailings onboard the Star Clipper or the Star Flyer, cruisers will receive $240 in air credits per person and $200 in onboard credits per cabin. The deals are good for bookings made by March 31.

Virgin Voyages: Through January 31, cruisers can get 70 percent off the second guest’s booking. They will also receive up to $600 off their bar tab, depending on the length of the voyage. Virgin Voyages—which launched its newest ship, the 2,770-passenger Resilient Lady, in 2023—bills itself as the perfect cruise line for people who don’t like cruisers. Here’s our take.

Windstar Cruises: Book a Windstar sailing by February 29 and you can choose an additional perk, which could include a free night in a hotel (pre- or post-cruise) or up to $1,000 in onboard credit. Those who book a premium suite can upgrade to the all-inclusive fare, which includes alcohol, Wi-Fi, and gratuities. Our suggestion? Sail the Mediterranean with Windstar this winter, when there are fewer crowds and no extreme heat.

This story was originally published in January 2020 and was updated on January 10, 2024, to include current information.

Michelle Baran is a deputy editor at Afar where she oversees breaking news, travel intel, airline, cruise, and consumer travel news. Baran joined Afar in August 2018 after an 11-year run as a senior editor and reporter at leading travel industry newspaper Travel Weekly.
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