The Cheapest Time of Year to Book a Cruise Is Right Now

The arrival of January means the start of wave season, when the cruise deals are aplenty.

A new year comes with a lot of predictable territory. We make New Year’s resolutions and we break them. We take down the holiday decorations. We try our hand at Dry January. We watch award shows and side-eye all the cringe-worthy moments. If we're being honest, it's all a bit bleak.

While January can be a bit of a letdown after all the excitement of the holiday season, there is a bright side for travelers—especially this year. The start of the year tends to be the cheapest time of the year to book a vacation. Flight prices right now are likely to be at their cheapest point of 2024, and many airlines are also currently offering significant flight deals to celebrate the arrival of the new year.

If you've been considering a cruise getaway instead of a flight, January also marks the arrival of wave season. This is the time of year when cruise lines offer some of their biggest deals on future sailings. Wave season typically covers the entire post-holiday period from early January through March, and the deals tend to be plentiful. Think of it as Black Friday, but for cruises.

Some cruise lines will take this opportunity—a time when booking activity has traditionally been lighter—to offer major amenities like onboard credits, discounted drinks, and free Wi-Fi packages to lure in customers. The wave season promotions, however, vary significantly by cruise line, and some offers are better than others, so we thought we'd take this opportunity to identify all of the best ones out there.

Read on to learn about the biggest wave season cruise deals available for the 2024 season. This story will be updated if and when additional promotions are announced. Bon voyage!

The cruise line is offering a major limited-time New Year's deal on its sailings with cruises starting at $279. Customers booking during the wave season period also receive up to a $400 onboard credit, an Easy-Plus drink package, Wi-Fi for up to two devices per stateroom, and kids sail for free. The deal is eligible for sailings through winter 2025 that are booked by January 15, 2024.

Travelers can save 70% off their second sailors on select voyages and get up to $600 in free drinks when they book  through January 31, 2024. The deal is valid on travel through November 2, 2025.

The cruise line is now running a “Discover More” sale offering a range of booking incentives including free international airfare, special promotional fares, and requiring just a $25 deposit on all itineraries through January 31, 2024. The cruise line offers all-inclusive river, ocean, and expedition voyages.

The cruise line is offering a "Three Guests Sail Free" buy-one-get-three-free deal for wave season. The promotion is available on bookings across all the company's 2024 itineraries through February 12, 2024.

The small-ship adventure brand is running a wave season deal on bookings made through February 29, 2024. The promotion includes 15% off some spring Alaska departures, $500 savings on all Alaska sailings starting June 1, 2024, 29% off sailings for groups of 10 or more guests on select departures. All cruise fares include guests' excursions, food, drinks, adventure gear, and access to onboard naturalists and expert guides.

The cruise line's "Time of Your Life" deal is offering up to 40% off all fares, free stateroom upgrades, and free and reduced fares for kids, plus a 50% reduced deposit. Its "Have It All" package offers shore excursions, speciality dining, a drink package, and Wi-Fi, and up to a $400 onboard credit. The deal is available on bookings through February 29, 2024.

The culinary- and destination-focused small-ship cruise line is offering up to a 50% per stateroom discount on 112 of its 2024 and 2025 sailings for bookings made through February 29, 2024. The cruise line's New Year Sale includes deals on itineraries ranging in length from seven to 32 days visiting all corners of the globe from Alaska and Canada to Africa and Australia.

Princess just launched its 2024 wave season sale with up to 40% savings on cruise fares for select sailings through 2026. The sale also includes free room upgrades and an offer for third and fourth guests to sail free when booked in the same stateroom as first and second guests. Eligible cruises include a seven-day tour of Norwegian Fjords on Sky Princess, a seven-tour of the western Caribbean, and a 16-day Hawaiian island voyage. The sale is running through February 29, 2024.

The cruise line's "Pick Your Perk" sale is offering a selection of savings on bookings through February 29, 2024. The options available through the promotion include one free pre- or post-cruise hotel night, up to a $1,000 onboard credit, or a free upgrade for Premium Suite guests to an All-Inclusive Fare. The deal is available on sailings through March 31, 2024.

The cruise line is currently running a wave season sale offering guests up to $2,000 off per stateroom on select sailings booked by March 21, 2024 for travel between April 1 and December 31, 2024. Participating sailings include a seven-night Greece voyage and a nine-night tour of the western Mediterranean.

Looking for more travel deals?

Here's our running list of all the cheap travel deals you can book right now, and you can head here for all the latest flight deals plus cheap things to do and savings on hotels, cruises, trains, and more to help you plan for your next trip.

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Joe Erbentraut is the Editorial Director of News at Thrillist. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin's School of Journalism and his writing and editing has also been featured in Fodor’s, the Village Voice, HuffPost, and Chicagoist. Joe is obsessed with soup, specifically when it involves lentils. Follow Joe on Twitter.