Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Understanding Wave Season


When starting to write this article, we thought it would be fun to look up the definition of "wave" in one of the online dictionaries.   It turns out that "wave" is one of the more interesting words in the English language with many different uses and definitions.  Let's take a closer look at just a few of those uses and definitions.

As seen in this first  picture, noun wave: "A ridge or swell moving through or along the surface of a large body of water. The Sea."

Limiting our definition scope to water for the moment, a wave can be natural (above) or man-made, as seen in this picture taken onboard  Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas.  One can surf the waves in the Flowrider (shown here in action on Allure of the Seas).

"Waves" were "A member of the women's reserve of the U.S. Navy, organized during World War II, but now no longer a separate branch."  While you may have found them on a sea-worthy vessel, they certainly weren't on a cruise ship.

You may find people "waving" good-bye as your ship sails away from port or onboard the ship as you see someone that you just met on your cruise vacation across the deck from where you are standing.

Source: The Free Dictionary / Wave

There is however, an entirely different use of "wave", which you won't find in the online dictionary....

Wave Season

Here "wave" is used as an adjective to describe a particular time of year.  The season runs from January to March each year.   Putting two and two together, you might be thinking it is the season when waves are more prevalent.   While that might be the case in some areas of the globe, that isn't what we are talking about at all.

Wave Season is the cruise industry's peak sales period of the year. Cruise lines typically offer their best deals during the first quarter as they seek to fill cabins and then raise pricing as the year progresses.

Wave Season 2012 is off to a good start and early indications are that consumer confidence is improved from last year this time.  We are seeing an increased interest in Europe and Alaska as well as the ever popular Caribbean sailings.  The value of a cruise vacation is what continues to drive customers to take to the waves.

The Wise Consumer

There is a local clothing store that advertises on television and has a saying that the 'best customer is an educated customer'.  We agree with that.   There are so many product choices in the travel industry all vying for your vacation dollars.   With the introduction of new ships, itineraries, reclassification of cabins, upgraded amenities and services on existing ships, it is hard to navigate the waters alone to find the best value that fits your vacation interests and those of your traveling companions.

Now more than ever, the wise consumer may do some research on their own, but ultimately will turn to their travel professional for guidance and booking.   As specialists, we are here to help you plan that perfect dream vacation.   We aren't limited to cruise vacations if you don't want to take to the waves, but we continue to see cruise vacations as among the best values in the travel industry.   Also, we aren't limited to a particular cruise line, so we can honestly provide comparisons to help narrow your selection.

Timing is Everything - Plan Early

January to March is the time when there are the most consumers looking at cruise vacations.   You might have special needs / wants, such as a mid-ship location, larger cabins holding 3 or more passengers, a handicapped cabin, an itinerary on a particular small ship that has limited occupancy.   You probably aren't the only ones with similar requirements.  To quote another popular saying, "the early bird gets the worm".

When looking at special needs such as triple or quad occupancy, handicapped cabins, mid-ship location, etc., there are a finite number of cabins that meet those classifications.   These are among the first cabins selected by early planners.  If you wait until late in Wave Season, or worse, later in the year, you may not be able to find your choice, or at the very least, will pay a premium for that selection.

Key Observations for this Wave Season

Cruise fares will be the lowest of the year during Wave Season.  The cruise lines have told us that as the year progresses, prices will rise.   There will always be the possibility of a last minute "deal" should the ship not be at capacity, but the likelihood that the available cabin will meet any other requirements you might have is minimized.

Airfare continues to be the largest component of a vacation.  We've seen prices rise and capacity fall over the last couple of years.   We've mentioned that cruise lines increased capacity over the last few years, with this year being larger than last.   That helps keep the cruise price down, but the cruise lines have no control over airfare costs (since airlines offer limited bulk cabin allocations for example).

What's the best deal during Wave Season?  There are so many offers during Wave Season, it's hard to determine what's the best deal to take advantage of.   We'd suggest you focus on offers that provide cabin upgrades, free or reduced airfare, and other amenities which typically aren't available year-round.   We have offers crossing our desk every day throughout Wave Season.  We'll do our best to publicize them on our website, here in this blog, and limit a few to our Facebook Fans only.   So be sure to sign up for our eNewsletter, subscribe to this blog, and become a fan on our Facebook Page.   Call or email us with your bucket list and we can keep watch for you during the next couple of months.

In closing, take advantage of this special season - you deserve a vacation and you deserve to get the best value.

We offer our Best Price & Satisfaction Guarantee so plan with confidence and Take to the Waves this Wave Season.   

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