(10:30 a.m. EST) -- Whether you're looking for free airfare, cabin upgrades or even two-for-one fares on your next cruise, it's time to start searching. Why? It's Wave Season!
We're not referring to high seas or rocky cruises, but the period between January and March when cruise lines and travel agents offer bonuses and extra perks to passengers dreaming of sun, sand and rum cocktails on chilly winter nights. Historically, this has been the time when people start planning their vacations for the coming year, and cruise bookings have sky-rocketed. To keep the trend strong, cruise lines began rolling out special incentives for those who book early and dubbed the period Wave Season."
If you're hoping to find dirt cheap fares, you'll have better luck if you wait for last-minute bargains. But if you want the most cruise value for your money, Wave Season deals could be exactly what you've been waiting for.
To help you find the best 2010 Wave Season bargains, we've compiled a list of promotions from mainstream and luxury cruise lines. As the season progresses, we will continue to update, so check back often. Although not all cruise lines have announced Wave Season deals to date, all continue to offer last-minute deals and special discounts throughout the year, so don't forget to check Cruise Critic's Deals section year-round.
Here's what's on offer this Wave Season:
Azamara: For select 10- and 12-night Caribbean sailings, Azamara Club Cruises is offering free or $99 roundtrip airfare between the ship's homeport in Miami and select U.S. and Canadian cities.
Holland America: During Wave Season, Holland America holds its annual View & Verandah Sale. Throughout the sale, you can save up to 45 percent on outside and balcony cabins and 25 percent on pre- and post-cruise hotel packages. Savings on third and fourth guest rates and free or discounted deposits are also available.
MSC Cruises: MSC Cruises has select winter and spring 2010 Caribbean and Bermuda cruises available from just $239 per person for a three-night cruise and $419 per person for a weeklong cruise. That's as much as 60 percent off regular rates! Reservations must be made by January 31, 2010.
Norwegian Cruise Line: NCL has launched its "Year of the Freestyle Vacation" promotion, and is offering free stateroom upgrades and a coupon book worth up to $400 in onboard savings, when you book by March 14, 2010. The cruise line will also be holding additional bi-weekly promotions featuring perks such as reduced deposits, discounted kids' fares and onboard credit.
Oceania: Luxury cruise line Oceania is offering savings of up to $1,500 on two-for-one fares and throwing in free roundtrip airfare for select European cruises this summer and fall. Plus, new for all 2010 cruises -- passengers will receive free unlimited soft drinks and bottled water, and taxes and fees have been rolled into the price of all cruises.
Princess: Princess Cruises has two Wave Season deals this year. It's offering free upgrades from outside to balcony cabins on sailings to Alaska, the Caribbean and Europe, and it's slashing fares on select Alaska cruisetours by 25 percent.
Regent Seven Seas: For all reservations made by March 31, 2010, Regent Seven Seas is giving discounts of up to $1,000 per person off two-for-one fares and offering complimentary airfare from select U.S. and Canadian cities. As always, free excursions, beverages and gratuities are included in Regent Seven Seas' cruise fares.
Seabourn: When you book select 7- to 14-night 2010 Europe cruises with Seabourn by February 28, 2010, you could save up to 50 percent on fares and get free airfare from select U.S. and Canadian cities. Plus, if you book select Asia cruises you could receive free business-class airfare out of 26 North American cities.
Viking River Cruises: If you book a 2010 river cruise to Europe, Russia, China or Egypt by March 1, 2010, Viking River Cruises is offering two-for-one fares, airfare discounts and complimentary wine with dinner.
--by Shayne Rodriguez Thompson, Web Content Producer
Get the Most for Your Money with Wave Season Cruise Deals
January 11, 2010