Yes, it’s Wave Season again. This time of the year finds cruise lines competing for your business in creative ways. Don’t pass up the opportunity to get more cruise bang for your buck.
Here are three of our top choices. Some attracted us because of the itinerary, Others we like because of new and interesting ships with features and activities we’d love to experience.
MSC Cruises Winter Sale
MSC is making a massive push to become a major player in the North American market, including offering great specials. This line is building terrific new ships at a furious pace and should be on your radar.
We loved MSC Divina when we sailed on a short cruise out of Florida in 2013. The ship’s European ambience somehow contributed to a more carefree and relaxing experience.
Last month, the brand-new MSC Seaside began sailing the Caribbean from Miami with an innovative beach condo-like design. From photos and video we’ve seen, this vessel truly breaks the mold in terms of innovative ship design! MSC refers to the new Seaside as “The ship that follows the sun.” The Promenade deck is the heart of the ship. boasting a spacious waterfront boardwalk with dining and shopping.
Passengers booking Seaside can take advantage of MSC’s wave season Two for One Plus offer. Book a Balcony Stateroom and you will receive $50-$150 in Onboard Credit, and for cabins other than an inside choice, Complimentary Surfer WiFi Package as well as Complimentary Mealtime Drinks Package. The low Caribbean prices are beat by lower fares on Med, Northern Europe and United Arab Emirates cruises.
In addition, there are special rates starting at $409 per person on selected sailings on Divina and Seaside in the Caribbean before May 19, 2018.
Gay fans of fine Italian design (maybe that description is redundant?) will find MSC ships enthralling. If any MeetMeOnBoard members plan to be in Europe around Feb 18th, we’d love to see you aboard the MSC Meravigila RT Genoa. The cruise will be the highlight of our annual pilgrimage to the land of linguini and limoncello. We’d love to meet you onboard!
Channel your inner Charles Darwin and cruise the exotic Galapagos Islands. Celebrity is adding purpose-built Galapagos vessel. Celebrity Flora will debut in May of 2019. Sailing on the all-suite, 100-passenger Flora looks like the cruise of a lifetime to a world-class destination full of natural wonders. The current Celebrity expedition fleet includes three other small ships, Xpedition, Xperience, and Xploration, will continue sailing the Galapagos.
Celebrity’s stunning new Edge will debut in December of this year. It boasts a cantilevered Magic Carpet platform that moves up and down on the ship’s exterior. Edge also features“Edge Staterooms with Infinite Veranda.” These cabins have a drop-down window that creates an open-air balcony, better sea views and more interior space. Edge will offer Caribbean voyages in winter 2018-2019 before heading to Europe.
Celebrity has an excellent wave season offer. (Available on bookings made before January 31, 2018 on select 4-night and longer cruises departing through April 30, 2019.) First and second guests booked in ocean view or higher staterooms choose two perks: • Classic Beverage Package • Unlimited High-speed Internet Package •Prepaid Gratuities • $300 per stateroom to spend on board Plus 50% OFF current 3rd & 4th fares.
Wave season specials at Azamara include half off the second guest and free wifi for bookings made by February 28. Azamara cruises are already a great value, so if you’ve been hesitating about trying them, take advantage of this offer.
Wine-lovers will want to check out the 9-night cruise from Rome to Venice July 7 on Azamara Quest with Master Sommelier David Glancy, Founder of The San Francisco Wine School. Delectable Italian wines along with the ports of Ravenna, Taormina and Amalfi got our attention.
Azamara’s new Pursuit, after a refit in Ireland, will sail diverse itineraries. The ship’s first year as a an Azamara vessel includes several maiden calls, including the cruise line’s first South America voyages.
We’re particularly intrigued by Pursuit’s December 1 sailing from Buenos Aires to Lima, with an optional pre-cruise trip to Machu Picchu. What a remarkable opportunity it would be to look down at the clouds from high atop the ancient Incan Ruins!
On December 22, Pursuit sails round-trip Buenos Aires with New Year’s eve in Rio! Being onboard ship is a great way to celebrate the holidays; we’ve enjoyed doing so in the past. With overnights in both Montevideo, Uruguay and Rio, this promises to be an amazing voyage!
MeetMeOnBoard strongly recommends LGBTQ cruisers work with a travel agent who is both cruise-savvy and at the very least, gay-friendly. We strongly recommend the services of MMOB Cruise Consultant Adam Martindale, who has decades of experience in the travel industry, including serving as a cruise ship food and beverage director. An out gay man based in San Diego with his partner, Adam leads several tours for gay travelers each year. (You can reach Adam by phone at 1-877-430-MMOB Ext 702 or by email.)
Note: Some of the specials listed above are available only through Cruise Planners, of which Adam is a part. Contact Adam for specifics and information on a host of other opportunities.