Often when people think of taking a cruise, they're thinking about their summer vacations. But opting for a winter cruise can really pay off. You'll find better deals, reduced crowds and savings on bonuses like excursions.
Best Time to Cruise
Before you book your trip, be aware that the best time to cruise varies. Warmer destinations can be popular in the chilly winter months, while locations like Alaska draw tourists in the warmest summer months. To get the best winter cruise deals, look for destinations people don't tend to prize when it's cold outside.
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You can find cruise deals year round, but the best cruise prices in the winter are typically for destinations like Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii and the Mediterranean. If you're looking for a trip to the Panama Canal, the Caribbean or the Mexican Riviera, January brings the best deals. The trade-off, though, is that the weather might keep you away from some of the outdoor decks and the pool.
When you're looking for the best winter deals, it's important to first consider your port of origin.
Best Time to Book Cruises
Savvy passengers quickly learn about something known as the wave season. This period, which runs from January to March each year, has cruise lines offering their best discounts and prices to travelers who are willing to plan ahead. During this time, you'll see lower fares, free upgrades and extra amenities you won't find in the spring, summer or fall.
But the wave season isn't the only good time to book a cruise. Many lines also offer fall discounts as cruise lines work hard to fill any remaining tickets for the rest of the year. These sales also encourage passengers to book travel for the next year.
Consider also: How to Financially Plan for a Vacation
Cruise Line Winter Deals
When you're looking for the best winter deals, it's important to first consider your port of origin. If you live on the West coast, but you have to travel to the East coast, you might not be able to land as good a rate on airfare, making the deal not as great as it looks initially.
You can start looking for you winter cruise vacation with some popular deal searches.
- Disney deals that leave from Florida: There are some great winter deals on Disney cruises right now, including three- and four-night cruises to the Bahamas or Caribbean.
- Carnival's Pack & Go deal: With this deal, you can get the best Carnival rate. Destinations include Baja, Mexico and The Bahamas, and rates start at only $119 per person.
- Princess Cruise Line's deals page: Here you'll find current specials, as well as deals by origination and destination point. If you can go soon, check out Princess's "Drop and Go" deals to get deep discounts on cruises.
- Royal Caribbean's latest deals: To kick off cruises again, Royal Caribbean has numerous specials and deals on cruises, including seven-night Caribbean cruises starting at $182 per person.
- Norwegian's special deals: In addition to deals by destination, Norwegian's special offers include a buy one, get one 60 percent off. This includes a free open bar, free excursions and free Wi-Fi.
Consider also: Vacation Cruise Deals
COVID Procedures on Cruise Ships
Although the cruise industry may have cranked back up again, things are still tenuous. Most cruise ships have procedures in place to reduce the risk of COVID outbreaks on board. You may be required to show proof of vaccine status and/or a negative test. There may also be mask requirements in certain areas of the ship.
In addition to making sure you meet the requirements, you should check into the cancellation policy for any cruise tickets you book. Some special offers might come with "no refund" policies baked into the fine print. Also check on refund or credit options for any flights you book to get to the cruise ship.
If you're thinking about taking a cruise this winter, make sure you keep an eye on the CDC's guidance for cruise lines in case something changes. Also, while comparing deals, check out what facility types each ship offers. Some have more than others, and some of those amenities won't be included in your deal.
Consider also: Do I Need a COVID Passport?
- Frommers: When Is the Best Time to Cruise?
- Disney: Escape Winter on a Tropical Getaway to the Bahamas or the Caribbean
- Carnival: Cruise Deals
- Princess: 2021-2022 Cruise Deals & Special Promotions
- Royal Caribbean: The Best Cruise Deals & Special Offers
- Norwegian Cruise Line: Cruise Deals & Special Offers
- Cruising.org: Cruise Industry COVID-19 Protocols and Information
- CDC: COVID-19 Orders for Cruise Ships
- Cruise Critic: Is Fall the Best Time to Book a Cruise?