Get a deal on a cruise voyage by taking advantage of current promotions. We’re in the heart of “wave season,” typically January to March, when cruise lines attempt to lure passengers to book future voyages by dangling promotions and time-limited deals. To help you decide what line to choose, consider cruise trends analyzed by CruiseCompete, an online cruise marketplace, as well as the site’s recently released analysis of the most popular cruise lines and ships in three categories: contemporary/premium, luxury and river cruising.
CruiseCompete bases its analysis on the more than 25,000 consumer requests for quotes received each month. Listed below are the top five lines in each category. To see CruiseCompete’s list of the top 10 in each category, visit CruiseCompete Cruise Trends February 2016.
1. Increase in river cruising both in the US and in Europe.
American Queen Steamboat ships and the American Cruise Lines’ small ships ply the US inland waterways and rivers. In 2017 Viking River Cruises, known for its European voyages will sail two vessels on the Mississippi River.
>>The 5 most popular river cruise lines and wave deals (where available):
- Viking River Cruises: On three itineraries get a reduced single supplement of 25% plus airfare from $195 per person. Book through Feb. 29.
- American Cruise Lines
- AmaWaterways: Early booking rewards on select voyages: save $500 on seven-night cruises; $1,000 on 10 to 14 nights, and $1,500 on some wine sailings. Book through March 31.
- Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection: Save $150 to $400 per person when reserving with a deposit or save $250 to $750 per person when reserving with full payment. Book through Feb. 29.
- Avalon Waterways: Free airfare to Europe from select cities on certain cruises.
2. Cuba becomes the hottest destination.
Fathom, Carnival’s line developed to enable passengers to volunteer and make a difference in ports they visit, launches sailings to Cuba in April 2016. Both Crystal Cruises and Star Clippers include Cuba on their itineraries.
>> The 5 most popular luxury cruise lines and wave season promotions:
- Oceania: Choose free perks such as unlimited Internet, free shore excursions and free beverage packages on select sailings. Book through March 31.
- Cunard Line: With the Ultimate Upgrade promotion, get free gratuities and free drinks for Grill Suite bookings. Book through Feb. 29.
- Crystal Cruises: Two-for-one fares available from $1,845. Book through Feb. 29.
- Seabourn Cruise Line
- Silversea Cruises: receive a 10% discount and up to $1,500 onboard ship credit on select sailings. Book through Feb. 29.
3. More lines are continuing to add all-inclusive options.
Crystal Cruises: Includes shuttle service in most ports and gratuities for housekeeping, bar and dining staff.
Oceania: Airfare is included from certain airports.
Royal Caribbean International: Offers a package that includes drinks and gratuities.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises: Included are roundtrip economy flights from select US and Canadian gateways.
Silversea: Opt for a price that includes airfare, transfers and shore excursions.
Viking River Cruises: Complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner as well as free cappuccino, coffee and tea.
4. Increased demand for suites because of the popularity of family and multigenerational cruising.
Royal Caribbean International’s family connected junior suite has 3 bedrooms (sleeps 8), 3 bathrooms and a balcony. In May 2016 RCI debuts its even larger Royal Suite Class accommodations on Oasis class and Quantum class ships.
Norwegian Cruise Lines, on select ships, has the Haven, a three-bedroom, three-bath villa that sleeps eight.
5. Faster Internet, better technology.
In mid-2016 Royal Caribbean is slated to roll out Voom, a high-speed Internet service on all Caribbean based ships that will also allow passengers to use music streaming services, FaceTime, and other services.
>>> 5 most popular contemporary/premium cruise lines and wave season promotions:
- Carnival Cruise Lines: Up to 40% off fares and free upgrades on select sailings through Spring 2016. Book through Feb. 7.
- Royal Caribbean International: Take advantage of buy-one-get-one-free cruise fares and up to a $300 onboard credit. Book through Feb. 15.
- Princess Cruises: Save up to $1,000 per cabin and receive up to $600 onboard credit on select sailings. Book through Feb. 29.
- Norwegian Cruise Line: Choose one of four free offers—including unlimited beverages, free specialty drinks, free shore excursions and free Wi-Fi on select sailings. Also third and fourth passengers sail free on certain voyages. Enjoy all four offers when booking in Haven or Suite categories. Book through April 10.
- Celebrity Cruises: Receive up to $2,150 by choosing two free options on select cruises plus up to 40% off select sailings. Book through Feb. 28.
Where would you like to cruise? What has been your favorite voyage? Comment below or connect with me on Twitter @familyitrips.