Given the current circumstances, it’s been debated whether there will be a 2021 wave season.
Alex Sharpe, president and CEO of Signature Travel Network, expects a wave but not a traditional one because some lines don’t have the marketing funds or are holding off.
As a result, ‘There’s going to be less noise, but potentially more impact,’ Sharpe said. Of Signature’s numerous preferred partners, he’s confident Celebrity Cruises will ‘be out there’ and ‘the NCLH brands are going to be pretty aggressive.’
Most suppliers went into ‘duck and cover’ mode during the second and third quarters of 2020, as Signature’s Karryn Christopher, EVP marketing and preferred partnerships, put it. Some started to ‘dip a toe in the water in Q4’ and are ‘starting to ramp up in Q1 and they’ll really get involved in Q2 and we’ll support them,’ she added.
‘Wave is what we make it’
According to Katina Athanasiou, chief sales officer, Norwegian Cruise Line, considered NCL’s generous Black Friday sale in late November as kicking off wave season for her brand.
‘Wave is what we make it, and wave is what we determine it will be,’ Athanasiou said.
Flexible cancellation policies extended
Besides offering deals, many lines are nudging people to get off the fence by extending flexible cancellation policies. For example, the Regent Reassurance allows travelers to cancel for any reason up to 15 days prior to departure and receive a 100% future cruise credit. This applies to bookings made by Jan. 31 for all voyages departing through October this year.
Silversea Cruises’ Cruise with Confidence policy lets travelers cancel up to 30 days before sailing without penalty if they select a future cruise credit. What’s more, should a guest or a member of their traveling party test positive for COVID-19 within 30 days of the cruise, at embarkation or during the cruise, customers will receive a 100% future cruise credit or a full refund.
At Azamara, Windstar Cruises and MSC Cruises USA, travelers who book by Jan. 31 may change their voyage up to 48 hours before departure.
American Queen Steamboat Co. and Victory Cruise Lines allow travelers who cancel their reservation up to 121 days before departure a receive a full refund. Or, up to 61 days before departure, they can reschedule their trip to another date in 2021, without penalty.
Here’s a sampler of current wave offers:
Celebrity’s biggest-ever airfare offer
Now through Jan. 31, travelers can take advantage of special airfare pricing and exceptional savings from any major North American gateway to all summer 2021 Celebrity Cruises sailings in Alaska, the Caribbean and Europe.
Flights start at $99 for Alaska and Caribbean cruises and $499 for Europe, from 20 North American gateways. For all other gateways in the US and Canada, travelers can save up to $200 on their flight. This offer applies to new bookings for cruises between May and September and select sailings in October. Flights must be booked through FlightsByCelebrity.com and prices include airfare taxes.
Regent upgrades and travel partner gift card
Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ ‘Upgrade Your Horizon’ wave offer provides a two-category suite upgrade, up to a penthouse suite, on all published cruises when booked between now and Feb. 28.
Travelers get a free one-night pre-cruise hotel stay when they upgrade to a concierge suite. Those from the US and Canada sailing in deluxe window through penthouse suite categories also get 50% reduced deposits, except on grand voyages and world cruises.
Additionally, travel partners in the US and Canada will receive a $100 gift card for each new deposited booking made by Feb. 28. This will be paid within 60 days of the end of the promotion, not after sailing.
Five perks in Princess Best.Sale.Ever.
Princess Cruises brought back its Best.Sale.Ever., this year offering five perks including drinks, Wi-Fi, gratuities, stateroom location upgrades and specialty dining. This applies to cruise and cruise-tour bookings made through March 2 by residents of the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Bermuda.
The Premier Beverage Package is for travelers 21 and older, with a value of $59.99 per person, per day, including tips. Those under 21 receive the Premier Coffee & Soda Package, a daily value of $19.99.
The offer also includes unlimited MedallionNet Wi-Fi for all guests in a stateroom (up to four devices). Pre-paid gratuities are worth $14.50 per person, per day in interior, ocean-view and balcony staterooms, $15.50 in mini-suite and Club Class rooms and $16.50 in suites.
Stateroom location upgrades are offered on a first-come, first-served basis and apply in like-to-like stateroom types, but not suites. Specialty dining is for one restaurant for all guests in the stateroom in the same reserved seating.
Virgin Voyages’ triple offer
Travelers booking a cruise with Virgin Voyages from now through Feb. 9 receive 10% off the fare, up to $400 in on-board credit and an extra $100 toward the bar tab when they purchase a $300 prepaid bar tab. The extra bar credit can also be used at The Beach Club at Bimini.
This triple offer includes sailings in the Caribbean next summer and in the Mediterranean next fall.
Silversea savings of up to 20%
Silversea Cruises is offering up to 20% early booking bonus savings on select voyages in 2021 and 2022 — doubling the customary savings available for early bookings. The offer applies to new reservations booked and paid in full by Feb. 28.
Select cruises in the Mediterranean, Alaska, Asia, Antarctica, Caribbean/Central America and South America are eligible.
On certain 2021 voyages, additional benefits are offered, including a reduced deposit of 15%.
MSC Cruises USA’s spending credit, travel advisor perks
MSC Cruises USA’s ‘Your Cruise, Your Choice’ promotion offers up to $400 free spending credit to use on board (or at Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve) during 2021 and 2022 sailings in the Bahamas, Caribbean, Mediterranean and Northern Europe. Plus, kids sail free on many cruises.
For travel partners, MSC enhanced its True Partnerships program in several ways.
Commission levels achieved in 2019 are carried over to 2021. Benefits of the Get On Board program now include a balcony stateroom, unlimited drinks and Wi-Fi — and the 10 required FIT bookings have been expanded to all three-, four- and seven-night cruises from Miami and Port Canaveral. For group bookings, MSC aligned deposit requirements across all destinations and added Wi-Fi to the list of group amenity options.
Azamara savings of up to 40%
Travelers booking Azamara between now and March 31 can save up to 40% on select sailings between March 20, 2021, and May 13, 2022. Other perks include complimentary Wi-Fi for ocean-view staterooms and higher.
Among the sailings eligible for the wave offer is the Iberia Intensive Voyage with an overnight in Seville; the Norway Intensive & Svalbard Voyage, which includes eight late nights in port; and the Australia/New Zealand Voyage with three late-night stays and one port overnight.
Windstar perks for travelers and travel advisors
Windstar Cruises’ ‘Sail Small, Live Large With Big Perks’ offer lets travelers choose from a set of complimentary perks plus a reduced deposit of 5%.
For bookings from Jan. 5 through Feb. 28, ‘Pick Your Perk’ options include up to $1,000 shipboard credit per stateroom or one hotel night pre- or post-cruise with Europe voyages or a premium beverage package or free Wi-Fi.
Plus, travel advisors can pick their own perk for each confirmed booking — a $50 bonus commission payable with regular commission or a $50 gift card payable at final payment. This increases to $100 per booking for new to Windstar guests.
An extension of a currently running groups promotion lets advisors earn a tour conductor credit at a reduced rate of 1:7 on Star Advantage Group dates, normally 1:9. And the Sell Three, Sail Free promotion gifts a free cruise to advisors when they sell three qualifying voyages in 2021. These must be booked by Feb. 28.
Star Clippers’ welcomes 2021 with 21% off
Star Clippers is welcoming 2021 with 21% off the cruise fare for select itineraries in the Caribbean and Mediterranean, including popular sailings like Monaco Grand Prix trials and finals cruises in May 2022.
This ‘Welcome 2021’ offer includes a complimentary bottle of Champagne in the cabin and is good for bookings made by Jan. 21.
AQSC and Victory savings
Sister brands American Queen Steamboat Co. and Victory Cruise Lines are dangling savings of up to $3,000 per stateroom for 2021 voyages and up to $1,200 for 2022 sailings. Bookings must be made by Feb. 28.
New upgrades and amenities in 2021 include unlimited complimentary beverages featuring world-class wines, top-shelf spirits, local craft beers and specialty coffees, plus a smoothie and juice bar every morning. The culinary program now includes fresh lobster and USDA prime beef available every night as well as free, 24-hour in-room dining.
Emerald’s river and yacht deals
At Emerald Waterways, North American travelers who book select 2022 European and Southeast Asia river trips between now and Feb. 28 and pay in full 12 months in advance of departure qualify for super early bird savings of an extra 10% in addition to the following offers:
For 2022 European river cruises, customers can choose from up to free, round-trip air or savings of up to $2,500 per couple, and for 2022 Southeast Asia sailings up to free, round-trip air or $2,000 off per couple, depending on the length of sailing and cabin category.
For Emerald Yacht Cruises’ upcoming 100-passenger Emerald Azzurra, North Americans booking select categories on 2022 cruises such as the inaugural, eight-day ‘Best of the Red Sea’ will receive a super early bird discount of up to 30% when paying in full 12 months before departure.
Additionally, deposits have been reduced by 50% for all bookings.
Riviera also rewards travel advisors
Riviera River Cruises is providing North American travelers a $500 discount on cabins and their travel advisors a $250 gift card for deposited retail bookings made between Jan. 1 and Jan. 15.
Cabins on cruises of eight or more days will be discounted $500 with the travel advisor receiving a $250 gift card per cabin booked. Cabins on solo cruises of at least eight days will be discounted $250 with the advisor receiving a $100 gift card per cabin booked.
For North American groups, a free sixth cabin for a tour conductor will be provided after five cabins are booked. The group booking must be made with a contract issued between Jan. 1 and Jan. 15; the deposit is allowed up to eight weeks later.