Family Vacation Tips

When Can I Get the Best Deal On A Family Cruise?

[fa icon="calendar"] Jan 20, 2017 1:09:56 PM / by Sally Black

Sally Black

The Best Time To Book A CruiseSay "HELLO" to Wave Season!

In the travel biz, Wave Season runs from January until March. It's during the coldest months of the year when everyone wants to "wave godbye" to snow and set sail on ocean waves.

"Technically" in recent years we've been seeing some Wave Season deals kick off around Black Friday to compete with other retail sales. For this reason, many people now are including December as part of wave season.

Typically most people book their cruise vacations during the winter months. This is when we travel agents are the busiest. (like accountants, our families don't really see us until about April 15th)

Wave season is when all the cruise lines start the new year off right with some of their best deals, discounts and perks for the upcoming season and into the following year. Sometimes it will be a percentage off your fare but other perks and incentives can mean big savings to your vacation bottom line:

  • On board credit - money added to your on board account to spend on the ship
  • Lower rates for 3rd and 4th passengers sharing a cabin
  • Discounts on perks like shore excursions or drink packages
  • Free upgrades
  • Reduced Deposits

So how do you know you're getting the most bang for your cruise bucks with Wave Season Deals?

This is where you're travel agent is a tremendous help - it's what we do! You won't pay any extra for booking with a travel agent. The cruise line pays your travel agent a commission - it's no money out of your pocket. Instead you get the experience and advice of a professional who can help you sort thru all the deals, ads, and fine print so that you have the peace of mind knowing your spent your hard earned dollars wisely.

Is there any way to double down on these Wave Season deals and save even more?

You have to read the fine print. Sometimes you can combine wave season offers for double savings and something not.

Cruises post their itineraries and prices about 18 months out. Booking as far out as possible will give you the best rates, not to mention your choice of stateroom. This is particularly important for larger families who want connecting cabins or staterooms that will sleep 5 or more. These are always the first to sell out so you DO need to plan ahead.

Generally a $200-$500 deposit is all it takes to lock down your rate and cabin. Your cruise will need to be paid in full 75-60 days prior to sailing. Booking ahead means you can spread out payments with our Free Vacation Layaway which can save you a ton in credit card interest.

The only thing better than booking in advance and combining that great rate with a wave season deal....sailing for Free! read that right. You can 1. book ahead and get a great fare, 2. Take advantage of Wave Season perks and 3. Use the power of group discounts to cruise for free! All you have to do is to invite family and friends to join you on a fun cruise. To make this work, you need to give folks time to plan their calendars and save. Groups are most successful when they are planned 1 year in advance.

What if I missed Wave Season? Can I still get a deal on my cruise?

If you "missed the boat" on wave season don't despair. The cruise lines do run deals throughout the year so you may get lucky. You may also have to compromise. Most of the deals you'll see throughout the year are on less popular ships and sailing dates. The travel business is all about supply and demand.

Most cruise lines have scaled way back on "last minute" discounts. When they did this in the past it only taught consumers to wait to book their cruises. This creates logistical nightmares for cruise lines. As I mentioned early, now the trend is to post the best rates far in advance to get people to plan ahead.

Depending on your booking and sailing dates, you may still be able to take advantage of Wave season deals. Let's say in September you got your kid's back to school calendar and booked a family cruise for President's week/spring break for the following year. In January, a wave season deal of $200 on board credit was announced. In most cases, your travel agent can get that deal applied to your existing reservation.

So wave 'goodbye" to the winter blues and wave "hello" to an exciting cruise!

We Need Help With a Family Cruise


Topics: Family Cruises, Affordable Family Vacations

Sally Black

Written by Sally Black

Sally is the Founder of Travel Agency and author of the book "Fearless Family Vacations". She is also the Director of Travel Agent Initiatives and Training at The Family Travel Association.

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