What is “Wave Season” and why should you care? Wave Season happens during the first quarter of the year and if you are an avid cruiser or thinking of going on your first cruise then this would be the time to shop for one. Major cruise lines have some of the best deals during this time so you can take advantage of that dream family getaway. Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re ready to sail into the sunset.
1.) Be prepared for a budget reality check from a travel advisor.
I think it’s cruel when cruise fares are advertised to the public with a very misleading price. You really do have to read the fine print! Or you could let your travel advisor take all the stress out of it for you.
For example, you see a cruise for $399! Amazing, right? Oh wait, that’s per person. Ok. Oh, port charges, taxes and fees weren’t included in that price so now it’s $579 per person. Okaaay. What does that include? Well on most mainstream cruise lines it includes your cruise closet…I mean cabin, meals onboard only (with coffee, tea and tap water) and onboard entertainment.
If you would like alcoholic beverages, bottled water, specialty coffees or any other kind of drinks then there is an extra charge for that.
If you would like to swim with the dolphins, go on a city tour or zip line at any of your ports then there is a charge for those too.
If you just want to know a total budget that includes all your drinks, shore excursions, gratuities, getting there and returning home, then I suggest you hire a travel advisor. By the way, gratuities are automatically added. You can pay for them upfront or at the end of your cruise. Each cruise line has their standard amount that they will charge you. You may see some promotions that include your gratuities. For example, Celebrity Cruises charges $14.50 per person per day which covers your cabin stewards and food servers. Any alcoholic drinks comes with their own separate higher gratuity amount. For a 7 day cruise, that’s $101.50 per person extra.
So you see what I mean about “surprises”. There are many things that you may need to pay for that you wouldn’t know until it’s too late. Also known as a “surprise”! We can help you limit the number of “surprises” and plan for a tighter budget.
Most people think that booking an inside cabin is the best way to go. That may be true for some but not everybody. Don’t be afraid to explore an oceanview cabin or even a balcony cabin. Most cruise lines offer extras when you book a higher category cabin. If it’s a special celebration cruise then you may want to consider a much better overall experience. If you don’t mind the tight closet feel of an inside cabin then that may be fine for you. Some passengers opt for the basic cabin so that they can afford to do some of the better shore excursions at each port.
2.) If you don’t already have your passport, then get one!
Now! It lasts 10 years for adults and 5 years for minors. Here is a helpful link for more details: US Passport or your travel advisor can help too.
There are some instances that allow a birth certificate with a government issued ID but there are too many other situations that may be too risky. You’ll spend more money in the long run so just get a passport or check to see if your passport needs to be renewed. You don’t want to get stuck in a foreign country if you don’t have to. Anything could cause your ship to deviate from their itinerary such as weather, social unrest, safety, etc.
This is something you should have with you when you start planning your travel. All of your documents should read exactly what your passport says for a more seamless travel experience. Unless you like to live on the edge then maybe that’s not a big deal. (Just kidding)
3.) Booking a cruise yourself vs. Booking a cruise with me
There are some pros and cons to each but I wanted to tell you about a major one…it’s called Cruise Track! When you shop for a cruise, you have to go to each cruise line that you know of individually where I can shop all of them at the same time.
Also, if you book a cruise directly with a cruise line, they are not going to call you and let you know that your cruise fare has gone down and ask you if you would like to save a few hundred dollars! I bet you didn’t know that your cruise fare fluctuates, did you? The inventory affects the price of the cruise fares for each stateroom category as it gets booked and cancelled over time. I’m proud to say that I’ve saved some of my clients hundreds of dollars! ( I love that part!) Keep in mind that this has to happen before your final payment has been paid.
If you’ve booked your cruise 1 year or 1 year and a half out then your cruise fare could possibly change several times. It can go up or go down. OR a promotion will come up that you may qualify for. Promotions will give you extra on board spending money, pay for your gratuities or beverage packages among other upgrades and advantages.
If you are looking for a way to pay for your cruise instead of paying in full up front then you may want to hire a travel advisor. I personally schedule regular reminders as agreed upon by you to make sure you don’t lose out on any deadlines. If you miss your final payment date then the cruise line can cancel your reservation and give your cabin away. You know the one that you worked so hard to find that’s in the perfect spot on the ship…that’s not under a dance floor or that’s not in the very front of the ship.
Do you know when is the best time to sail to the Caribbean? or What is the best season to sail through the Panama Canal? Maybe a river cruise interests you but you don’t want to necessarily experience it during the high season. Without having to spend hours researching for yourself on the internet, just hire a travel advisor. I’m pretty sure we’ve either booked that many times before or been there ourselves.
Wave season is the busiest time of the year for travel advisors. Please allow a little extra time when waiting for a response but be clear about your expectations too. When you find someone that you really click with then be sure to stick with them. But know that they will want to do everything they can to make you happy and continue to give you a reason to keep returning to them.
There is so much that goes on behind the scenes but until you hire a travel advisor, you don’t know what you don’t know. I’m here to make your life as easy as possible when it comes to making your travel arrangements. I look forward to working with you!