You may not be particularly interested in taking a cruise anytime soon. But if you’re looking for great value, there’s good reason to book a cruise this week: 25 different cruise lines are offering special discounts and promotions for sailings booked from Oct. 17 to 23.
The sales are all part of what’s being called National Cruise Vacation Week, a marketing campaign cooked up by CLIA, the Cruise Lines Industry Association.
Why is the push for cruise bookings taking place now? Traditionally, the busiest time of year for bookings is during “wave season,” which occurs from January to about mid-March. This period isn’t necessarily when the best deals are offered; instead, it’s when cruises are top-of-mind among travelers because the weather tends to be cold and dreary—making a cruise, particularly to a warm destination, sound especially appealing.
Autumn is typically a down season for both cruise bookings and cruise departures, largely because fall is when hurricanes are most likely to hit the Caribbean, one of the most popular cruise destinations. Autumn is also a slow period for travel in general, coming right after many travelers have taken summer vacations, and before the cold weather arrives and gives people a reason to need an escape.
So it makes sense that the cruise industry is trying to drum up business with the “World’s Largest Cruise Sale” right now, during a period when there’s normally little action.
To entice travelers to book, CLIA has convinced 25 cruise lines to offer special Cruise Week Vacation deals. Are travelers guaranteed to find the best-ever discounts this week? No, not necessarily. As anyone who has ever shopped around for cruises knows, promotions and sales take place year-round, and there’s pretty much never a reason to pay the full price listed in a brochure.
For the most part, though, especially considering that all the major cruise lines know their competitors are promoting special deals this week and each company is trying to stand apart from the pack, the discounted cruise packages currently on the table are quite good. Cunard, for instance, is selling select voyages with special two-for-one pricing. Another luxury line, Oceania Cruises, has two-for-one fares plus free roundtrip airfare to the departure cities. Many other ocean and river cruise lines are including cash back or spending credits to go along with their regular discounts.
Special deals related to National Cruise Vacation Week aren’t necessarily being promoted at the cruise lines’ websites. The vast majority of cruises are still booked through travel agents, and a good agent (find one here) will be able to clue you in as to the best offers.