Wave season cruise deals
Attention all upgrade seekers, freebie fans and deal devotees: Wave Season has officially begun! From now through March, cruise lines and travel agencies will be unveiling some of their best value-added promotions, allowing you to find more ways to save money on your 2009 cruise vacation.
Wave Season is the term coined by the travel industry for the months of January, February and March, which are traditionally when most people book their cruise vacations for the upcoming year. As chilly winter weather prompts travelers' dreams of idyllic island getaways, cruise lines and travel agencies come to the rescue with an array of deals during these early months -- making Wave Season one of the best times to find free upgrades, onboard credit and cruise discounts.
Though the season's just begun, we've already seen some unusually fabulous deals. Among our favorites:
Regent Seven Seas Cruises is including standard shore excursions on 34 select Alaska, Europe and Asia voyages in 2009, if you book by March 31. This deal is trend-setting because no other big-ship luxury lines include excursions in their cruise fares. Plus, with shore excursions, gratuities, meals at all onboard restaurants and all beverages included in the fare, this offer makes a luxury cruise that much more affordable.
Oceania has put together a package of discounts and bonus offers on its 2009 Europe cruises and 2009 - 2010 winter cruises to Australia and New Zealand, Asia, South America, the Caribbean and Panama Canal. Promotions include free airfare, two-for-one cruise fares, additional $500 to $2,000 discounts, onboard credit, prepaid gratuities, low single supplements, and reduced third and fourth passenger fares -- and many of these discounts can be combined to significantly reduce your final bill.
For truly affordable cruising, Carnival and Princess are offering free upgrades and reduced inside cabin fares. Get a balcony cabin for the price of an outside on Princess, or get up to a six-category free upgrade on Carnival. Plus, you'll find fares as low as $279.
Keep checking our Cruise Deals page for the latest Wave Season offers. This year's promotions are likely to be huge as cruise lines nervous about the economy attempt to woo cruisers onboard with better-than-average discounts and free perks. Plus, watch for more Wave Season content on Cruise Critic, including our upcoming guide to making the most of Wave Season offers.
--by Erica Silverstein, Associate Editor
Comment on this story!