Seven cruise tips for mak­ing the most of wave sea­son

The Hamilton Spectator - - TRAVEL - JA­SON LEPPERT

The so-called “wave sea­son” is an an­nual pe­riod usu­ally around Jan­uary to March when cruise lines typ­i­cally ex­tend some of their best sav­ings, spe­cials, deals, in­cen­tives, you name it. Sure, there are Black Fri­day and Cy­ber Mon­day sales to be had on sail­ings ear­lier on, but the in­dus­try-spe­cific perks can be even more en­tic­ing.

Why does it ex­ist at this time or at all? The cruise in­dus­try re­al­ized over time that a large num­ber of cruises were be­ing booked reg­u­larly fol­low­ing the win­ter hol­i­days and lead­ing into spring. Whether it be be­cause po­ten­tial cruis­ers have Christ­mas money to spend or they have an itch to seek out warmer weather after suf­fer­ing from cold cabin fever, the de­sire to make reser­va­tions is there, and the spe­cials ex­ist to lever­age that urge to book, but there are also some tips and sug­ges­tions to con­sider be­fore jump­ing on any deal pre­ma­turely. What deals to ex­pect You may first be won­der­ing what kind of deals are out there, and they are plen­ti­ful: ev­ery­thing from re­duced de­posits and on-board cred­its to sav­ings off bot­tom-line fares. Cruise com­pa­nies will of­ten of­fer bonuses such as com­pli­men­tary third- and fourth-guest pas­sage, spe­cialty din­ing or un­lim­ited drink pack­ages, shore ex­cur­sions, pre­paid gra­tu­ities, cabin up­grades, pre- and post-cruise ho­tel stays and air­fare con­sid­er­a­tions. Con­sider your ex­ist­ing plans While it’s cer­tainly easy to be im­pul­sive when a seem­ingly un­beat­able sale comes your way, don’t book some­thing merely be­cause it flags your at­ten­tion then and there. If you’ve been plan­ning on a va­ca­tion to a spe­cific des­ti­na­tion on a spe­cific cruise line, see if that brand has its own spe­cials. Chances are it will, and it just might ap­ply to the sail­ing of your choice. Wait it out Just as it’s smart to con­sider buy­ing a car at the end of a year be­cause deal­er­ships of­fer their best prices to clear re­main­ing units be­fore bring­ing in next year’s mod­els, it may be worth your time to wait un­til wave sea­son be­fore pur­chas­ing your pre­ferred cruise. Of­ten, deals at this time only ap­ply to newly made book­ings. Keep a weather eye out Wave sea­son deals lit­er­ally come in waves with some an­nounced right at the start in Jan­uary and oth­ers com­ing a bit later. Don’t wait too long If wave sea­son is draw­ing to a close and you still haven’t found the sale you are hop­ing for, it might be best to choose a dif­fer­ent one or buy the cruise of your dreams re­gard­less of perks. Even with­out these spe­cials, cruis­ing con­sis­tently re­mains one of the best values in travel, and you can be sure a brochure rate will still be worth your hard­earned cash. Let a travel agent help out If there is one thing that is cer­tain about wave sea­son it’s that it can be over­whelm­ing to sift through all the sales and set­tle on the one that is right for you to take ad­van­tage of. That’s where a travel agent can come in and help you nav­i­gate to- ward the best one for your needs. It doesn’t cost any more to book through a travel pro­fes­sional, and they can make all the dif­fer­ence in get­ting you the best deal, also some­times com­bin­ing it with their own in­cen­tives. Break the rules Of course, an­other strat­egy en­tirely is to break all the rules and see where it will take you. This may be a fun ap­proach for vet­eran cruis­ers to take in or­der to per­haps try an en­tirely new cruise line, ship or itin­er­ary based on the spe­cials that pique your in­ter­est.

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