Cruise Lines Kick Off Holidays With “Wave Period” Discounts

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

When it comes to an all-encompassing getaway, it’s hard to top a cruise ship vacation. Based in Miami, Florida, walking distance from the Port of Miami, each cruise lawyer at our firm knows just how much traffic the Port of Miami sees, especially during the holidays. And the cruise lines themselves are well aware of how many travelers enjoy spending Christmas and New Year’s onboard a ship. Vessels offer special holiday meals, activities and decorate ships according to the holiday. But while vacations during the holidays can be fun, they can also be expensive. However, prospective cruise goers can take advantage of discounts, cabin upgrades, onboard spending money, and several other perks during the cruise industry’s infamous New Year sale.

Also known as the “wave period,” cruise lines historically launch promotions offering discounted staterooms, cheap flights and a slew of other perks travelers can enjoy and take advantage of in January. Throughout the years, cruise operators have discovered that January is the peak holiday booking time, and have several sales running throughout the month and first half of the year. However, many lines have already launched early specials that prospective passengers can take advantage of when booking their holiday cruises.

Some lines, like Cunard, are offering extreme discounts, while others, like Holland America, are lowering deposit fees. But while discounts are linked to the wave period, this year has been an especially good one for cruise goers when it comes to savings. Many cruise lines have been offering extremely low fares all year round, but with the one year anniversary of the Costa Concordia capsizing tragedy quickly approaching, critics are wondering whether the industry will be able to fully rebound without the need to offer such great discounts.

The economy isn’t helping prices either. In order to attract passengers suffering from the recession, they have had to compensate by lowering prices. If trends continue, even more drastic price cuts and special offerings might be offered by cruise lines. However, both cruise operators and travelers have been adopting a wait-and-see attitude when it comes to cutting costs. Lines are waiting to see if the economy picks up and leads to greater bookings, while travelers are waiting and hoping lines will keep lowering prices to cater to those who are struggling financially.

Yet, things seem to be looking up for the cruise industry. According to the Passenger Shipping Association, which represents several dozen cruise lines, more than a third of cruises in 2011 were booked within three months of departure, which is up from less than a quarter in 2007. However, travelers do take a risk in waiting too long to hope for lower prices instead of taking advantage of the wave period. Cruises can sell out and when demand increases, prices can actually go up.