The best time to book a cheap cruise deal is now, according to an expert – and you’re unlikely to find better deals at other times of the year.
Even better, big cruise companies will often throw in extra perks like free drinks packages, flights and money to spend on-board as well.
That’s the insider tip from Adam Coulter, the UK managing editor of Cruise Critic.
“Known in the industry as wave season, January through March is the key period in the year when cruise lines and travel agencies put out extra-value cruise deals,” Mr Coulter told Sun Online Travel.
“January has traditionally been the key time to promote all types of holidays, as people like to have something to look forwards to post-Christmas and when the dreary cold winter weather is in full swing.
“Like other holiday sectors, cruise lines have chosen to create their own January sales campaigns but run these for a longer three-month period – generally because a cruise holiday can often be a slightly more complicated booking – with many different types of options to decide on.
“It’s so known because it’s like a ‘wave’ of deals and bookings.”
Mr Coulter says if you shop around, there are lots of discounts and freebies to be found, including “free or reduced price bookings, free drinks packages, prepaid service charges and generous free on-board credit, among other perks”.
“Some cruise lines have slashed 50 per cent off their cruises prices,” he said.
“Others are offering significantly reduced – or even free – flights; and some are offering more than £500 ($A963) worth of free on-board credit per cabin.”
So what are some of the best deals out there?
For families, Royal Caribbean offers some of the best value deals.
Right now, if you book a cruise for two, the second guest gets 60 per cent off their fare – and kids can travel for just $190.
That’s on top of $240 off selected staterooms, with discounts available for journeys between 2020 and 2022.
Mr Coulter recommends the Allure of the Seas, which sails from Barcelona and has everything from surf simulators to ice rinks on board.
Plus, it’s recently had a huge makeover with new facilities.
P&O is another good option for families, especially if you’re looking for last-minute deals for travelling in the next 90 days.
For some journeys, extra passengers pay just $190.
Mr Coulter suggests booking the Oceana, which has a kids’ zone packed with activities like talent shows and sports coaching.
For both of these options, the cost of the cruise includes all meals on-board.
He also picked out Celebrity Cruises, which is offering 50 per cent discounts for additional passengers staying in the same stateroom for journeys between now and April 2021.
Plus, it includes up to $US700 ($A1035) of credit per stateroom for on-board spending.
Or you could go with a new ship – Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Voyages is launching later this year with the Scarlet Lady.
For those who book now, you’ll get up to $US400 ($A590) of credit per cabin to spend on-board.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission