Cruise Lines offer great savings through the end of February

By Eileen Ogintz
Tribune Content Agency

Are you ready to escape the winter blahs? This is your lucky day. With the cruise industry’s WAVE season deals, which run until the end of February, typically, you can snare some of the best deals of the year.

You can save on most everything from cabin upgrades to kids free to on board credits and more. Sail soon or plan for next summer or even into next year.

“The good news is that if you missed the deals offered in early December, you’re not too late to score some pretty great savings,” s aid Colleen McDaniel, editor-in-chief of, which posts an ongoing round-up of wave season deals that will continue to be updated through March.

Norwegian Cruise Lines Ship the Escape
Norwegian Cruise Lines Ship the Escape

Two tips: A travel adviser who specializes in cruises can help you sift through all of the different options and deals. And you don’t want to leave home on any cruise without travel insurance. Compare different policies (some insure kids free) on

There are deals on mega- and medium-sized ships, on river cruises and smaller expedition ships. “Cruising can be a fantastic way to travel with kids to some of the more off-the-beaten path destinations where smaller luxury and expedition ships travel,” noted McDaniel. “The convenience of cruising – from unpacking only once, to having a trusted home base, really shines when it comes to families … for tweens and teens, these cruises are a great option.”

McDaniel noted that Explora Journeys received Cruise Critic’s ‘Best for Families’ award in the luxury category this year, “as it’s one of the few lines that cater to families and kids onboard – and they do a fantastic job. There’s a kids club on board, plus a wealth of multigeneration-friendly connecting suites that offer special treats for kids – from kid-sized bathrobes to toys.”

Hurtigruten, the undisputed expert on Norway and its stunning coastline, is offering discounts of up to $4,000 off per person during Wave season. Explore gorgeous fjords, visit small, otherwise hard-to-reach towns along the coast, and indulge in locally sourced food. The Svalbard Express is the only sailing linking the Norwegian mainland with the Svalbard archipelago and is timed around the Midnight Sun, whereas the North Cape Express sails during the popular Northern Lights season.

Holland America Ship in Port
Holland America Ship in Port

We’re fans of Windstar’s sailing yachts that are as appropriate for those traveling with older or grown kids as for those seeking a romantic getaway. Go to smaller ports and when weather-appropriate, play in the water on kayaks and stand-up paddle boards right from the boat. (We sailed with Windstar in Greece during the p andemic.)

Now through Feb. 29, 2024, Windstar is offering travelers a“Pick Your Perk” deal: one free hotel night (which can be used pre- or post-cruise) or up to $1,000 onboard credit, which can be used for shore excursions, spa services and more. Premium- suite guests can select an upgrade to the all-inclusive fare, which includes all alcohol, Wi-Fi, and all gratuities.

River cruises can also be a great bet for families and multigenerational groups — small enough for kids to have the run of the ship; all-inclusive and stops where you simply get off the boat (no long bus rides required).

CroisiEurope Vasco De Gama on Duoro River in Portugal
CroisiEurope Vasco De Gama on Duoro River in Portugal

Croisi-Europe has just initiated a new multigenerational travel discount program where the second cabin is 20 percent off and kids under 16 cruise free. (The single supplement is also waived for an adult sharing with a child.)

Ama Waterways is touting a complimentary pre-or post-cruise two- to four-night land package on select Europe river cruises this year and next while Uniworld Boutique River Cruises is bringing back its Cruise + Air offer, offering savings of up to $3,000 for customers that purchase cruise and air together on select 2024 itineraries, including their family-oriented Generations sailings, as long as you book by the end of January.

For those seeking a more traditional cruise experience, Holland America, which has been named the Official Cruise Line of the Professional Pickleball Association and boasts courts on every ship, is offering a “ Time of Your Life” incentive that features balcony upgrades, savings up to 40 percent on select sailings, and free fares for kids through Feb. 29, 2024.

Norwegian Cruise Line, with 19 ships and known for family friendly activities (how about the first racetrack at sea!) is touting the second guest free (and on some cruises, third and fourth passengers for $99), free airfare on select cruises, and Free at Sea deal, which includes free drinks, specialty dining, shore excursion credits and Wi-Fi.

Princess Cruises is offering up to 40 percent off cruise fares, free room upgrades, plus third and fourth guests (read that kids) sail free. Some sailings are as low as $399. Save more by adding Princess Plus and Princess Premier, which include amenities like Wi-Fi, beverages, desserts, fitness classes, crew gratuities and more at a deep discount.

Celestyal Cruises, especially known for their Greek Island and Mediterranean cruises, is offering up to 70 percent off for kids traveling as third and fourth passengers. There are deals for under $1,000 per person.

Virgin Voyages' Valiant Lady docked in Cozumel, Mexico
Virgin Voyages’ Valiant Lady docked in Cozumel, Mexico

If you are traveling without kids ( as we did ) or with grown kids, Virgin Voyages, which just starting sailing in Australia, is offering 70 percent off the second sailor plus up to $600 in a bar tab, depending on the length of the voyage, which can be used also for specialty coffees. In the summer of 2025, the brand will debut 21 new ports across its global fleet, including Reykjavik (Iceland), Naples (Italy), and Dublin (Ireland).

Empty-nesters, as well as grandparents traveling with their children and (older) grandchildren, appreciate that Regent Seven Seas is all-inclusive, including shore excursions — and wave season deals that include upgrades, 50 percent reduced deposits and up to 20 percent savings. Get a complimentary pre-cruise hotel with certain cabins.

Foodies will love Celebrity Cruises, which for the first time is offering long weekends in the Caribbean and 75 percent off the fare of the second guest on sailings from now until April 30, 2026. Those booking on select dates will also receive $200 to spend on board.

Bon voyage!

(For more Taking the Kids, visit and also follow TakingTheKids on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram where Eileen Ogintz welcomes your questions and comments. The fourth edition of The Kid’s Guide to New York City and the third edition of The Kid’s Guide to Washington D.C. are the latest in a series of 14 books for kid travelers published by Eileen.)

©2024 Eileen Ogintz. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.