Now, more than ever, your email inbox and regular letter-box box are inundated with holiday specials by shops offering all kinds of deals, from Black Friday to Cyber Monday, plus the New Year sales too!

Most major cruise lines have joined the fun, not to be left out by offering their version of perceived discounts. Many of these sales are offering the same mundane enticements they’ve been offering all year. Like holiday card makers that invent holidays to encourage card purchases, cruise lines don’t like missing out on a chance to hold a sale – even if there’s really no true value to their offers.

However, while sifting through the sand, you may find some gold flakes. Some lines actually offer good deals. Celebrity Cruises, for example, is offering FREE drink packages (value up to $132 per cabin per day), FREE gratuities (value up to $30 per cabin per day) or shipboard credit up to $300 per cabin. Other cruise lines like Oceania and Regent Seven Seas are enticing cruisers with FREE internet packages.

I strongly recommended consumers make their cruise buying decisions based on merit, not hype. The seasonal deals tend to offer lots of stuffing and no meat. Many deals offer meager shipboard credits and reduced deposits to disguise higher cruise prices. There are so many ships from many different cruise lines sailing to countless destinations around the world. Do your homework so you can score the best ship, cabin and price. After all, it’s part of the fun.