January through March is known as the "wave season" in the cruise industry since cruise lines offer a "wave" of promotions for those booking their dream vacations.
The reality is, that cruises can get canceled. The ship may be overbooked or there's bad weather, or someone else decided to charter it.
Charles Russell, franchise owner with Cruise Planners Network says travelers need to know exactly what their sailing trip entails before booking.
"When you purchase a cruise, you're entering into a contract with that cruise line. So, you need to know the terms and conditions of that booking. Is your deposit refundable? Is it non-refundable? That's going to be your first question."
"The second step in all of that, once you understand the terms and conditions and you've gotten to your booking point, is making a decision regarding travel protection. I actually quote travel protection with every single booking that I push forward to a client for them to consider."
"Just because life happens, things change. And at the drop of a hat, you could suddenly be out thousands of dollars where travel protection would give you an opportunity to look at recouping some, if not all of the funds that you've got invested in this dream vacation for yourself."
Russell says you can purchase that travel protection through the cruise line or a third-party vendor and depending on what plan you buy, you can get a future cruise credit or a partial or full refund.
"It's a personal decision. Would I utilize a future travel credit? Do I want a future travel credit? Or do I just want the money back in my pocket in the event of an emergency and cancellation?"
"The majority of my clients end up taking a third-party insurance policy just because it's a richer total protection for them."
If you buy insurance and experience unexpected travel issues and have some extra expenses, Russell recommends saving receipts.
"In most cases, my third-party policy would cover those additional expenses under travel delay coverage."
If your cruise gets canceled because someone decides to charter your ship, Russell says you should be protected.
"In a circumstance like that, the cruise line typically will refund your entire expense and issue a future travel credit within a certain amount. And it's usually a very generous offer. So you're gonna get your money back when a ship is chartered up from under you and you're gonna get a credit that you can apply to a future sailing."