Catching the Wave Season

Most people do not realize that it’s that time of the year, right after the holidays when the cruise lines unveil the most attractive and exciting deals of the new year. Frequent cruisers and bargain hunters alike take advantage to find the best prices to almost every destination in the world. Cruise lines compete for your money and it’s time that you know why.

What is Wave Season?

From January through March, cruise lines begin the year with huge promotions and deals. Cruise lines and travel agents are busy during this three-month period. These months are basically the Black Friday or Cyber Monday for cruise lines, but lasts for three months.

Why January through March, you ask? Well the holidays are over and most Americans are dealing with the Winter, looking for their next getaway. Plus, its tax return time and this is the time when people often as a little cash to spend on a much needed vacation.

Why Should I Book a Cruise?

Why not? This is the best time to book a cruise because the prices are lower than usual and are combinable with amenities such as free internet, onboard credit and complimentary spa packages. Since every cruise line is different expect the same when comparing each offer. This is the time when you can plan far in advance what type of vacation you will have.

For instance, if you usually have high bar tabs – travelers can search for deals that include a free beverage package and use that extra money to upgrade your room. Or, for families – find early bird savings for connected or family-style rooms.

Plus, when booking early you also have the option of choosing the location of your stateroom – a major bonus since you may not want to be near the restrooms and elevators.

What’s the Current Deals?

  • Royal Caribbean: All guests 30% off + $100 to spend at sea on all sailings departing on or after February 4, 2018. Plus, Free Gratuities for Royal Suite class on Oasis Class + Anthem of the Seas sailings to Bahamas, Bermuda or the Caribbean. Northeast cities – Additional bonus: Upgrade from Oceanview to Balcony on Adventure & Anthem of the Seas, and from Inside to Oceanview on Grandeur of the Seas sailings from May 1, 2018 – September 30, 2018.
  • Celebrity Cruises: For a limited time, book an ocean view or higher stateroom and 1st and 2nd guest choose from two perks to enjoy on your award-winning, modern luxury vacation. Pick from • Classic Beverage Package • Unlimited High-speed Internet Package •Prepaid Gratuities • $150 per person to spend on board. Plus, 50% OFF current 3rd & 4th fares. Offer applies to select 4-night and longer cruises departing February 01, 2018 — April 30, 2019 book by February 28, 2018.
  • Princess Cruises: Up to $600 FREE Onboard Spending Money per stateroom, FREE specialty dining for ALL guests + $100 refundable deposit per guest. For sailings between Summer 2018 and Spring 2019. Must book by February 14, 2018.

The bottom line: If you are in the market and you plan to cruise this year, don’t’ forget to take advantage of these offers. You’ll get a great deal and if you have a travel agent they can keep monitoring your rates to make sure you have the best value for your money. At Travelwise, we always recommend that each traveler purchases travel insurance. In case of any unforeseen circumstances so you don’t have to deal with problems later.

Remember to talk to your travel agent and figure out which cruise line and offers are best for you!

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How to choose the right cruise for you?

Planning your next cruise vacation can be very confusing. Cruises have continued to evolve into more than a means of island hopping through the Caribbean. With a vast number of itineraries and more innovative ships setting sail, it may be the right time to try a cruise. But who can go through each individual cruise line and know if they made the right choice?

Here are some quick tips when planning your next cruise.

Where would you like to go?

The first question you should ask yourself is, “Where do I want to go?’. The Caribbean has been the most popular cruise destination because it’s great for families, couples, and singles. There isn’t much pressure to go off the ship. Most cruisers can enjoy either relaxing on or off the ship.  Do you tend to get cabin fever or maybe love to explore the city? You might want to pick an itinerary in Europe or Asia, where taking tours and sightseeing is a must! For more unique ports, try Southeast Asia and Australia which are popular during the winter months.

When do you plan to travel?

Most vacations are planned around school schedules, family, and holidays. So during the planning process consider destinations with year-round weather such as Hawaii, Mexico, or the Caribbean. Europe and Alaskan cruises are in season during the summer months between June and August, where the temperatures are more favorable for tourists. However, traveling during the shoulder season (May or September) can offer major bargains and be more appealing than in the high season (June – August).

A major misconception is that you can travel any itinerary at any time. This is not true. Itineraries have seasons. For example: Your 3-4 day cruises are available during the summer months. More popular itineraries are available during peak seasons.  This can have a huge influence on which cruise line you choose. During the winter months, cruises have longer itineraries with more ports of calls to attract travelers. In the summer months expect shorter itineraries around 4, 5 and 7 day cruises.

Pick your cruise personality

No two cruise lines are alike and when choosing you must understand the differences. Every cruise line targets a specific market and bases its design, ambiance, entertainment and food around it. For instance, for families and travelers who value entertainment, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian tops the list with extravagant Broadway type shows and an assortment of activities onboard. For those who aim to relax and rejuvenate during their vacation, Princess Cruise line focuses on enrichment and a spa type atmosphere, while Celebrity Cruises are more for foodies and adventurous people.

Know your budget

This seems to be one of the hardest questions for travelers to answer but has the most relevance when choosing your next vacation. Cruises have the best value when being compared to land tours because the accommodations, meals and transportation are included in the price. Added benefits included but often not mentioned are kids programs and babysitting, complimentary classes for dancing, yoga and other fitness seminars.

Getting the most value out of your dollar is important to everyone especially when on vacation. A simple rule when planning is calculate  how much you will spend per day per person for food + entertainment + lodging multiplied by the number of nights you want to travel equals your budget.

Making the right choice

Make sure to talk to your travel agent or do your research before booking your cruise. This  ensures you are getting the experience that  you’ve been looking forward to.  Just remember, there is a cruise line for every type of passenger. Happy Sailings.

 

 

 

5 ways to save money on your next cruise

Cruising has gain popularity amongst travelers with its “all-inclusive” pricing. With transportation, lodging, food and an assortment of activities and entertainment already included on cruises today, how do some cruisers end up breaking the bank with that final bill at the end of the cruise?

Although cruises pricing includes so many amenities, not everything is included and if you don’t plan properly or get advice from your travel agent, you may end up dipping into your savings and spending more than you initial budgeted.

drinksBeverage Packages (Alcoholic & Non-alcoholic)

As a responsible travel agent (and friend), I encourage everyone to drop the soft drinks and stick to water, juice and tea. It’s very hard to get off the sugary drinks especially with so much energy you get after consumption, but not only will your health appreciate it, but also your wallet. But what about bottled water, most beverage packages include getting premium bottled water as well? TIP #1: Drinking water on a cruise ship is extremely safe. The water is filtered on the ship itself and is regularly checked to meet sanitation regulations. The (free) drinking water is more likely better and cleaner than that of the bottled water they are selling to you.

Cruise lines make a killing when it comes to this add-on because honestly  what’s a few dollars compared to your comfort. Well, A LOT! Most beverage packages begin at $8-$10 dollar per person per day, which at first glance seems small  but when you calculate the cost for say a 7 day cruise, it’s $56-$70 per person (for two people $112-$140). Again, I may not have the same passion for soft drinks, but I can’t imagine the need to spend that much on pop. I mean a 2-liter bottle is about $1.99 at home, so one person will practically need to drink 10-12 bottles of soft drinks throughout the cruise to even make it comparable.

Now what what about the alcoholic packages that offer free beer & wine, and even premium liquor. Okay, the lure of being able to buy unlimited drinks has its appeal, but honestly you would have to drink about 4-5 drinks a day to make it worth your time. Remember, you will not be on the ship the entire time and you will have access to go onshore and drink there, where most of the time it will be cheaper.

If you need to some liquid courage, check the daily guides for drink specials and you can save a lot of money. TIP#2: Remember your bartenders name and make sure you tip them big in the beginning. For me, I always tip when I am ordering to make sure they bartender knows that I am going to hook them up. You remember their name, they will remember you when it comes to cashing out.

IMPORTANT: Never skimp on the tip – I completely understand the need to save money, however you pay for what you get and if you are not willing to give them an extra something, I really doubt you will get anything extra from the staff.

 

The need to CONNECTperson_computer.jpg

In this day in age, the need to be online and post your pictures on Facebook is as important as brushing your teeth, however internet on board cruise ships are horrible and simply not worth your money. Cruise lines use satellite’s to connect to the internet which often lead to long waits and interrupted service, however you pay per minute which is often around $0.65 per minute. You can purchase package with up to 500 minutes but it will cost you about $200 for that. TIP#3: Most cruise ports offer free Wi-fi and if they don’t, just find a local shop once onshore and buy a drink and they will be happy to let you jump on their signal.

Just avoid the Casino

If casinos were in the business to help people, this headliner would change immediately, but we all know the house always win. Casinos onboard cruise ships are most likely filled with smokers who enjoy the luxury of smoking inside and of course another way to throw your money down the drain. Again, if you have a need to gamble and that is y our way of having fun, just be mindful of how much you spend. It’s not like Vegas, where you get free drinks if you play, it’s just a nicer way to give your money to the cruise line.

Specialty Restaurants 

Unless your celebrating a special occasion like a birthday or anniversary, try to limit the amount of times you dine at one of these premium venues. Included in your cruise fare is a wide range of food throughout the ship which include the buffet, room service and of course the main dining which is available during breakfast, lunch and dinner. TIP #4: If you need to make reservations for a specialty restaurant, then I suggest making on the first day. Most cruise ships like to fill their restaurants immediately and will offer 20%-50% off if you purchase it you plan which night you want to dine. However, if you plan on going on a Celebrity Ship, I would highly recommend Qsine. This is a fabulous restaurant and experience. Completely worth it!


massage_table-on-cruise.jpgGoing to the Spas

Spa treatments onboard can be very costly and can easily skyrocket that final bill. Make sure to budget what services you plan on taking by asking your travel agent for the spa prices (you should only be asking me). Here is a sample of prices to get you prepared:

Facials range between $100 – $300
Massages range between $125 – $200
Women’s Haircuts range between $70 – $150
Men’s Haircuts range between $30 – $65
Manicures range between $40 – $90
Pedicures range between $70 – $120

Tip #5: To save money on spa treatments, make sure to book your reservation during shore days. When everyone leaves the ship, the spas usually run specials to entice those who plan on staying onboard.