What is Wave Season for Cruises and When Is It?

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There’s a special term within the cruise line industry that conjures up all kinds of images. What do you imagine when you consider wave season out on the high seas? 

In truth, it’s the exact opposite of choppy waters and tumultuous waters. Rather, wave season is a special time of year when package deals drop so low. They practically plummet to the floor. 

Why do cruise liners do this? Well, they know a lot of people are looking to book vacations during this specific time of year, and they want to secure as many bookings as possible. So, they roll out the red carpet.  

Without further ado, let’s get right into it. What is wave season? When is wave season? What can you expect? We have all the answers right here for you.

What Is Wave Season?

Wave season is a magical time of year when deals on cruises come in, wave upon wave. Historically, it’s always taken place during the first quarter of the year (January through March). 

The early months of the year are when cruisers are planning for the coming summer, along with a quick getaway to the Caribbean or Bahamas.

When you find a great wave season deal during these early months in the year, you can choose to set sail during that time or later in the year. You don’t have to book it and travel before March.

Basically, wave season rewards early bookers who get out ahead of price increases when supply and demand start to factor in.

Black Friday for Cruisers

As you do your research, you might find people comparing wave season deals to Black Friday deals. That’s because the reduced prices and package deals are about as shocking as certain Black Friday discounts. 

We suspect wave season for cruises came about as people searched for a way out of the winter doldrums. If you think about it, the holiday season isn’t merry and bright for everyone.   

For those that struggle, when they come out of their holiday blues and enter into the new year, they might be looking for a slight reprieve or a short adventure. 

In which case, an all-inclusive package deal to some exotic destination is often just the ticket. Stepping out of the holiday blues and entering into the planning stage for a trip to the Bahamas, Europe, or even Alaska can be enough to pull anyone out of the winter doldrums. 

So, it’s a great time of year to start over, make new plans, have something to look forward to, and secure a world-class deal.

Also Read: Here Is How to Get the Best Deal on a Cruise

Examples of Deals

Wave season cruises come in many shapes and sizes. And it’s important to note here that wave season deals aren’t necessarily the cheapest deals you’ll ever see.

Rather, what they’re doing is providing the most bang for your buck, such as a better cabin or free excursions. You’ll see different cruise lines offering creative packages in different ways.

Cruise Passengers

Presently, some of the big names like Royal Caribbean, Princess, and Holland America offer “choose your own bonus” sales that run year-round.

But, wave season gets a little more creative than that. Typically, you’ll see more bonuses and longer booking windows. Let’s take a look at some of the deals you might find, so you know what to keep an eye out for. 


You’re going to be shocked when you see some of the wave season deals out there. Sometimes, the discounts are as steep as buy one, get one half-off.

So, if you have someone special in mind you’d like to travel with, you could calculate the sum of a full-price package and a half-price package and split it. In which case, everyone’s paying less than what they would for a full-price package deal in, say, May. 

Onboard Credits: Excursions

Other times, you’ll see massive sums of onboard credits being offered. This can translate into free excursions when you arrive at certain destinations throughout your cruise.

If, for example, you book a Mediterranean cruise, then those onboard credits could afford you a free tour of the Amalfi Coast or some other excursion that you might not have splurged on otherwise. 

Onboard Credits: Ship Perks

Some people love to cruise mainly for the onboard amenities. They love sleeping in luxurious accommodations, enjoying world-class meals, lounging by the pool, and waking up in a new port every morning. 

In which case, these kinds of cruisers are often looking for free upgrades, and they’re going to find these deals during wave season. Suddenly, an interior room becomes a room with a balcony and a free champagne bottle upon arrival. 

For those that love to make the most of a moving luxury hotel, they tend to stay onboard a lot and, perhaps, only disembark for one or two excursions. 

Cruisers who operate like this can turn things around and basically pay for nothing after they’ve purchased their wave season deal.

A good deal will secure free drinks, free tickets to onboard entertainment, or even free services, such as a relaxing day at the onboard spa. This turns the cruise into a truly all-inclusive deal that some cruisers would never pass up. 

How to Investigate Your Deal

Wave season deals aren’t difficult to find. They’re advertised right on the website. We suggest you start following your favorite cruise lines on social media. Each company will blast out their wave season deals on their Insta stories, Facebook feeds, and Twitter accounts. 

Social Networks

But, we want to help you investigate your deal once it catches your eyes. Unfortunately, we’ve seen travelers miss out on what they thought was a great deal because they missed something in the fine print.

To ensure your wave season deal won’t be “too good to be true,” let’s talk about the fine print and put your mind at ease. 

Estimate the Actual Price

If you’ve ever scored big at a department store, you probably loved looking at the bottom of your receipt, where it calculated your total savings. Knowing you chipped $100 off your bill feels pretty good.

So, to make sure you’re truly getting a wave season deal, estimate the actual price of the cruise before the discounts. If it’s a reduced fare you’re after, make sure you know what this trip would’ve cost outside of wave season. 

If it’s a free upgrade to that glorious room with a balcony, compare the price between an interior room and a room with a balcony. If it’s onboard credits, you’re after, like free drinks, a day at the spa, or a free excursion, be sure to price all that out, too. 

Read the Fine Print

We can’t say this enough. So, we’re going to say it again. Read the fine print! We’ve seen scoundrel travel agents tell people they’re about to get a killer deal because they suspected the clients wouldn’t read the fine print. 

For example, they could be selling a deal for a discounted rate or onboard credits. But, that deal doesn’t apply to the specific itinerary or cabin the travelers were looking at.

The next thing you know, some young couple is getting roped into spending too much money. So, always take the time to read the fine print. (There, we said it again.) 

Price Shop

Let’s talk about travel agents again. Sometimes, agents can offer package deals and onboard discounts that look a lot like wave season deals. These are pretty standard perks, though, for booking through an agent. 

So, when you have a good wave season deal in hand, call around to a travel agency or two. See what kind of deals they’re currently offering. If their “standard” perks are no better than your wave season perks, you might not have the best deal in hand. 

As an aside, if you find an agent you like, they may be able to keep an eye out for the specific deal you’re looking for and get back to you. So, your price shopping will never be for naught.

Worth Reading: Best Ways to Save Money Before You Cruise

FAQs on Wave Season

In summary, let’s review some of the most pressing wave season questions. 

When is wave season?

Wave season kicks off in early January and runs through the first quarter of the year (until March).

Where can I go?

You can go virtually anywhere on a wave season deal. Be sure to check the websites of your favorite cruise ships to see what they’re offering in the new year.

Where can I find wave season deals?

Checking the websites of all your favorite liners is one way to go. But, also be sure to like and follow them on social media where they’re sure to blast out great deals.  

Can new cruisers take advantage of wave season?

Wave season deals are an optimal time for new cruisers. They can tailor the length of their first cruise with these deals and enjoy any number of personal perks.

In truth, it will leave a long-lasting memory and encourage future vacations aboard their favorite cruise ships.

Wave Season Deals for You

Wave season deals won’t be difficult to find once the new year rolls around. Consider what’s important to you (i.e., a two-for-one, an upgrade, or a free excursion) and then hunt down that deal. We’re confident you’ll find it. 

When you’re ready, you can book your cruise with one of our trusted partners – Club 1 and Cruise Line. And, as you start savoring the inevitable excitement, keep coming back to visit us for more late-breaking news.

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