Friday, July 19, 2024

Sail into Serenity with Great Deals on Cruises

HomeTravelSail into Serenity with Great Deals on Cruises

Ready for some R&R on the high seas? You’re in luck! January through March, known in travel circles as the “wave season,” is the best time for booking a cruise from Florida. It’s not just about bagging great deals – it’s a sweet spot where cost savings, perfect weather and bonus perks come together to create the ultimate cruise experience.

Wave season coincides with the latter part of winter and early spring, making a cruise a great option for people looking for a break from the chilly temperatures in favor of the sunny, balmy weather promised with a few days spent in top cruise destinations.

First, the budget-friendly aspect. Cruise lines go all out during the wave season, throwing in discounts, special offers and extra goodies that start with Black Friday and run into the new year. Discounted or added-value perks may include:

• Free airfare from select U.S. gateways

• Pre-cruise overnight hotel stay

• Onboard credit you can use to pay for specialty dining, shore excursions and more

• Beverage packages

• Prepaid specialty dining fees

• Prepaid gratuities

• Free internet access

• Complimentary shore excursions or tour credit

“As the end of the year approaches and colder weather sets in, people are ready to spend some time in a place with warmer temperatures,”says Julie Pierce, Northeast Florida-based Travel Advisor and Cruise Planners franchise owner. “That makes this time of year a highly popular time to book a cruise, particularly to more tropical destinations. But as we get closer to year’s end, if too many cabins aren’t booked, cruise lines will drop prices to assure that the ship sets sail full.”

Because the wave season is outside of the peak conventional vacation seasons, cruise ships typically are less crowded, allowing for lower costs, shorter waits for access to amenities and more intimate experiences for passengers.

Bascom and Kaylyn Smith

Kaylyn and Bascom Smith take a cruise every January.

“The rates are better, it’s less crowded and generally, the weather is still warm in the Caribbean. And Bascom’s birthday is in January, so it’s his gift,” says Kaylyn. Husband, Bascom, is a former Jacksonville pastor and the couple recently moved to Macclenny. The couple loves the Dominican Republic’s Amber Cove Cruise Center, plus cave tubing in Belize.

Jason Mudd, founder of Jacksonville’s Axia Public Relations, has taken a January cruise the past three years and plans others in January and March.

“We go to escape the North Florida winter windchill that brings the cold, drizzly weather,” he says. He’ll visit Nassau, Bahamas in January, then board the new, massive Celebrity Apex in March for stops in San Juan, St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Puerto Plata.

Among the favorite cruise spots where mild temperatures and calm seas ensure smooth sailing are:

Caribbean: A classic choice for those seeking sun-soaked adventures. With a variety of itineraries that include stops in places like the Bahamas, Jamaica and the Virgin Islands, you can enjoy pristine beaches, vibrant cultures and a wealth of water activities.

Hawaii: A paradise of lush landscapes, volcanic wonders and inviting beaches. Cruises typically explore multiple islands, providing a diverse range of experiences from active excursions to relaxing beach days.

Mexican Riviera: Enjoy the warmth of destinations like Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta. These ports of call boast beautiful beaches, rich history and vibrant local cuisine.

South Pacific Islands: Destinations like Fiji, Tahiti and Bora Bora, offer a dreamy escape to tropical paradises. Crystal-clear waters, overwater bungalows and unique cultures characterize this region.

Australia/New Zealand: During the Northern Hemisphere’s winter, it’s summer in the Southern Hemisphere. Cruises to Australia and New Zealand provide a mix of cosmopolitan cities, stunning coastlines and diverse landscapes. 

Top Tip

Always call on a travel agent rather than booking directly through a cruise line. Conventional wisdom says you’ll save money by cutting out the middleman, but when it comes to cruises, that notion couldn’t be more wrong. Travel agents and advisors have the inside scoop on options and deals that the public never hears about and are afforded access to deeply discounted pricing that they can pass along to you. They also handle all the nuanced arrangements that can prove time consuming, especially when coordinating travel for a larger group, so you don’t have to.

Photo Credit: Port Nagasaki, Carnival Cruise Lines

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