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CNN Today

Campbell: At Good Prices, Cruises Offer Many Different Types of Vacations

Aired June 12, 2000 - 1:26 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Anne Campbell is an expert on cruising. What a fun job that would be. She authored two editions of "Fielding's Guide to Worldwide Cruises" and she's the creator of the CruiseMates.com Web site.

She joins us from New York. Anne, thanks for being with us.

ANNE CAMPBELL, CRUISEMATES.COM: Hi, Natalie.

ALLEN: First tell us, I'm sure you've been on all kinds of cruises all over the world, what's been your favorite cruise?

CAMPBELL: The best experience of my life was Antarctica, which is a bit exotic I have to admit.

ALLEN: I guess you don't go on many off-boat excursions to Antarctica, or do you?

CAMPBELL: Well, you do get off the ship and you do sashay around with penguins. It's a real mystical experience. It was probably the best experience I've had. However, in the United -- in the Caribbean, I generally like Windstar Cruises, those are small motorized vessels carrying fewer than 100 passengers. And the onboard experience is very casual. They tend to go to off the beaten path islands, there's a lot of water sports.

ALLEN: What about the reasons why cruising is becoming so very popular, and as we saw on that report, young people taking to cruises, which we haven't seen in the past. What is it about cruising to you that is so idyllic?

CAMPBELL: I think some people still have the perception that elderly people are the only passengers you'll find. Whereas in reality, the average age is around 45 and families are the biggest growing segment.

Cruise lines cater to the younger passengers by building ships that have wonderful onboard facilities such as the best spas, fitness facilities, you will find. At night you can choose from entertainment ranging from a jazz club to Broadway productions. We even got the world's largest ship, Voyager of the Seas, with rock climbing, ice skating rink.

ALLEN: Rock climbing on the ship?

CAMPBELL: On the ship, up the side of the funnel.

ALLEN: That's amazing.

CAMPBELL: It certainly is.

ALLEN: Well, how do you look for problem spots cruising? How do you know that you're getting a great deal and this is the cruise that you want?

CAMPBELL: Well, on CruiseMates we make it -- we try to help you narrow down the selection process. One area is, I list the best ships by category, such as: the best ships for golfers; the best ships for honeymooners; if you love water sports, here are ships you can check out.

Because there's around 161 ships in the Caribbean, and there's -- it's almost impossible to tell one from the other just by reading their brochures.

ALLEN: And what about the hidden cost that we touched on in the story. Alcohol's not included, even a coke is not included. Can you tell us more about those?

CAMPBELL: Generally you pay for about 80 percent of your vacation up front. When you buy a cruise, it includes all the food and onboard entertainment, all the fitness, all the facilities on the ship. The hidden cost of cruising, tips have really stayed in line.

The people you tip are your room steward, the waiter, the busboy and that comes to about $56 per person per week. The other costs are alcohol, people are surprised to learn that a Coke is about $1.25. You do pay for a club soda.

And, you know, sometimes when you've got children onboard, it can run up. However, there are packages for unlimited Cokes for a week for $15 on Royal Caribbean and Carnival. Those are geared towards children to help you keep the cost down.

Shore excursions are another area you can run up if you don't do your research in advance. You can end up on the ship not knowing what to do. In the Caribbean the only shore excursions I personally take are water sports, if I want to go snorkeling.

However, it's easy for a family to rent a car and go out on their own to find the best beaches. It's a lot more economic, but it really involves doing a bit of pre-cruise research.

ALLEN: And they can do that at CruiseMates.com.

CAMPBELL: Absolutely.

ALLEN: Your Web site. As we go, what -- is there an average price for a cruise? CAMPBELL: Well, cruising has never been a better bargain than it is this year because we have so many new ships coming out. Cruise lines have to fill them up and the prices are really good this year. For example, you can get a four or five-star ship for about $700 or $800 for a week.

ALLEN: OK.

CAMPBELL: And that doesn't include air fare.

ALLEN: All right.

CAMPBELL: But that is 80 percent of your vacation cost.

ALLEN: OK, Anne Campbell, thanks again, happy cruising to you.

CAMPBELL: Thank you, thanks Natalie.

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