You may not be familiar with the term “wave season.” So, we’ll fill you in. During the months of January and February (and often into March, too), cruise lines roll out some of their most aggressive promotions. 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 have got in on the action, including some seriously sophisticated lines you wouldn’t typically associate with deep discounts.
We reached out to travel agents who also specialize in selling cruises to give us the scoop on some of the best offers they’re seeing this wave. Here’s what they shared.
Eric Maryanov, president of All-Travel and a member of the AFAR Travel Advisory Council (TAC), tipped us off to this sweet deal. On select 2020 Alaska sailings with the reliably fancy Oceania Cruises, you can get free round-trip airfare, up to eight free shore excursions, an included beverage package, and up to $600 in shipboard credit, as well as two-for-one cruise fares and free internet when you upgrade to the more inclusive OLife Ultimate fares (you pay a bit more than the standard fare, but all these inclusions make it more than worth it). Bookings have to be made by January 31, 2020. The offer applies to sailings that depart between May and August, with fares starting at $5,299 for a veranda stateroom on a seven-night sailing from Seattle to Juneau and back.
Judy Perl (another TAC member), president of Judy Perl Worldwide Travel and self-proclaimed “cruise maven,” let us know about a few great wave season promotions that came across her desk as well, including one offered by Seabourn. The ultra-luxury line sails smaller, all-suite ships to all seven continents.
Seabourn’s Signature Savings Event, which is taking place now through February 28, applies to numerous 2020 and 2021 sailings and includes suite upgrades, shipboard credits, air credits, internet packages, and savings on combination cruises (when more than one cruise is combined into a single itinerary).
Scrolling through the options, we found a seven-day Mediterranean sailing from Barcelona (departing May 5) to Civitavecchia, Italy, (near Rome) on the ultra-luxurious 458-passenger Seabourn Quest. The cruise starts at $2,999 per person (taxes, fees, and port charges are an extra $230), but the deal offers a veranda suit upgrade, a $500 air credit per person, and a 300-minute internet package per person.
River cruise line AmaWaterways is offering up to $2,000 off per stateroom, complimentary stateroom upgrades, prepaid gratuities, and $100 onboard credits on select Europe and Mekong river cruises booked by March 31. Solo travelers can also get a reduced single supplement—of just 25 percent—on all balcony staterooms and select suites.
The classy Cunard line is known for its weekly transatlantic sailings that hark back to the golden age of travel. For bookings on select 2020, 2021, and 2022 sailings on the Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth, and Queen Victoria made through February 27, you can get a free cabin upgrade, a 50 percent reduced deposit, and free gratuities. Grill Suite bookings will receive a free drinks package.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
The line behind some of the most luxurious vessels at sea is offering up to $1,000 in shipboard credit per suite on 90 voyages across its entire fleet (which is the majority of its sailings and makes this the broadest offer in the company’s history) for sailings in 2020 and 2021 that are booked by March 31, 2020. The credit can be used toward shore excursions as well as for onboard services such as at the spa. We could burn through $1,000 in the spa pretty quickly.
You can save up to $1,000 per suite on one of Silversea’s small luxury ships. Bookings have to be made by February 28 for sailings throughout Asia, in the Galápagos, in the Caribbean, transatlantic crossings, in Oceania, and in numerous other destinations. Cruises start at $3,690 per person for a 10-day Caribbean sailing from Fort Lauderdale aboard the 302-passenger, all-suite Silver Whisper.
For those who are new to cruise or are overwhelmed by the options and offerings wave season presents, it’s not a bad idea to look into a cruise specialist to help sift through and select the right cruise and deal for you. Many agents who work closely with the cruise lines also get bonus deals that they can offer their clients during this promotional season.