Wave Season is here – NOW is the time to make your reservations!

We are often asked when the best time would be to book a cruise.  Here are five tips, but the most important tip is the first one.

Take advantage of wave season – “Wave Season” is the time when cruise lines offer their best rates. Running from January to March, wave season can be the best time to find Early-Bird fares, Two-for-One deals, and other incentives, such as onboard credits, cabin upgrades, beverage packages and included gratuities.

Make reservations 9-12 months in advance – Many cruise lines offer big discounts for booking early, but because fares tend to rise as the sailing date approaches, you need to make reservations at least 6 to 9 months in advance to get the best deal. And if you’re thinking about a voyage to a place with limited sailings, such as the Antarctic or Alaska, you need to plan at least a year in advance.

Block your space during a cruise – Cruise lines want to make you a repeat customer, so the best deals may be found while you’re already on board a sailing. Be sure to visit the ship’s cruise desk to find out the special offers.  Deals typically include a lower cruise fare, reduced deposits, and significant onboard credits, which you can put toward things like drinks, excursions, and gratuities.

Watch for cruise promotions – Cruise lines run promotions several times a year, so be ready to pounce on deals during holidays like Black Friday, Memorial Day, and Labor Day. Here’s a good strategy: Make an early booking to get the best available price, then monitor your sailing for price drops and special promotions. You can work with a travel agent who specializes in cruises to do this, and they in turn may score onboard credits for you.

Last minute savings – The luxury cruise lines and small ships seldom offer last minute sales.  At 90 days from the sailing date a few of the larger cruise lines may offer special rates or incentives. Keep in mind that the prime cabins and locations are not available.  The air fare to get to the port may be more costly and thus use up any savings you may have realized.