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Take advantage of ‘wave season,’ a weeks-long bonanza that means cruise deals for Canadians

| | Last Updated: Feb 11 10:03 AM ET
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If you’re lucky, you might snag a wave season deal on a Crystal Cruises ship to Tahiti.

‘Wave season’ in the cruise travel business may sound a lot like the Super Bowl, but it’s really about saving money on a great vacation. What started as a one-day cruise sale a couple decades ago is now a weeks-long bonanza featuring hundreds of deals, discounts and extras ranging from free WiFi to on-board spa treatments.

Regent Cruises

“Wave season is sort of the Black Friday or Cyber Monday of the cruise space,” said Jason Sarracini, chief operating officer at Tully Luxury Travel in Toronto. “It used to be wave day, where cruising companies would put their trips on sale for a day to get a feel for what the year would look like. But with the growth in the cruise market and so much product now available, they can’t do it in a day.”

Princess Cruises, for example, is offering up to a $1,200 USD credit for Europe sailing, while Celebrity is offering packages including all gratuities, ship-board packages and free WiFi, or unlimited beverages. Sarracini said Norwegian Cruise Lines recently purchased a large block of seats on Air Canada planes and was offering great packages including flights as well as free shore excursions and free WiFi. Air Canada Vacations is sporting a myriad of deals, everything from $250 off air fares for cruise passengers to buy-one-get-one free with Royal Caribbean.

“We send our agents on the cruise ships, so they know exactly they’re selling,” said Sarracini. “There are also something like 20 new ships being launched this year and we know what products are out there. We can make sure you get the selections you want at the best price.”

Geraldine Ree, senior vice president franchise and supplier performance with Expedia Canada, said price wars aren’t as common as they used to be in the cruise business, but there are definitely deals to be had.

“I’d say that now it’s more of a value war, but I’m seeing some offers that are very aggressive. Companies are really promoting Europe sailings and offering all sorts of extras or amenities. Oceania has Europe deals where you can get free shore excursions.”

Viking Cruises

Richard Marnell, senior vice president of marketing at Viking Cruises, said his company offers early booking discounts. “Our buying power also gives us a chance to give people significantly cheaper air fare, including transfers to and from our ships.”

Viking offers dozens of river cruise options, which is a huge growth area.

“Cruises in general are growing about 15 per cent a year, but we’re growing about 30 per cent,” he said.

Of course, what you get out of wave season depends in part on what type of trip you want and where you want to go.

Austria Tourism

“River cruising appeals to an experienced, culturally interested traveller,” Marnell said. “The majority of river cruisers have taken an ocean cruise and been to Europe, so this gives them an opportunity to learn and go deeper. You can dock in the heart of some of the most beautiful cites in Europe and visit small towns that you wouldn’t otherwise see.”

Several cruise lines have cancelled stops in Istanbul due to terrorism issues. Cruise officials say that should mean better deals for trips in the eastern Mediterranean. The Zika virus has also scared some would-be Caribbean and South American visitors, which could also mean discounts.


Marriott Caribbean and Latin American resorts are offering a “Time is Money” promotion with savings of up to 30 per cent at participating properties, including Cancun, Aruba, Puerto Vallarta and Grand Cayman. Visitors must reserve a minimum two-night stay by Feb. 29, for travel between April 1 and June 30, with booking code 3CL.

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