CruiseMates, a popular online resource for unbiased and authoritative cruise information, features ship reviews and articles, cruise news, polls, message boards and more.
NEW YORK TIMES: "Many sites that offer reviews are selling cruises, which raises questions about impartiality. An exception is CruiseMates."
FORTUNE MAGAZINE: "The Web's best site for articles, advice, or chatting with Cruise People. Self-financed and run independently of the industry, so their opinions are impartial."
How this Economy Affects Travel Plans
One of the hardest things in life is predicting the future. If we could see just 10 seconds ahead we would never have another worry. One hand of blackjack or a Lotto pick would end our problems.
The future is something no human will ever see; but we can make predictions by comparing current events to similar circumstances in the past and hoping the results will be somewhat the same. For some people that is a complicated concept, and for others, economists for example, it's a way of daily life.
Now, although today's economy looks like a total mess, we have the proverb "the night is darkest just before the dawn." There are actually people known as contrarians who consider the abundance of bad economic news out today to be good news overall. Why? Because it indicates that we are not far from the light of day. Even though the Dow closed down 493 points, the price of oil is under $100 for the first time in six months.
What does this have to do with cruising? I was looking at the conversion rate between the Dollar, Euro and British Pound. Just last summer one Euro was trading at close to $1.60 U.S. Today, that rate is closer to $1.40, closer to what it was two years ago. The economy in Europe is getting worse, while many people think the U.S. economy is now hitting bottom and will be stronger by next summer. That prediction for a recovery even includes the current housing crisis. There are no guarantees, of course, just opinions.
If trends of the past are any indication, Europe will be even cheaper this coming summer. Not in terms of cruise fares, but in terms of what it will cost you for sight-seeing, food, souvenirs, flights and hotels. So, I decided to take a look at current cruise fares, and I can't help noticing Holland America has some fantastic deals right now.
A 10-day Eastern Mediterranean cruise, roundtrip Rome (Civitavecchia), is starting at $2044 balcony. Longer cruises are even better values. A 20-day Mediterranean cruise is $3064 for a balcony on the beautiful new Noordam. A 24-day cruise on the Oosterdam with three full days in Venice stretching from Istanbul to Barcelona has balcony cabins going for $3884. These are long, thorough cruises. If you have never been to Europe I can't think of a better way to immerse yourself.
Indications are the dollar will be even stronger by next summer. But cruise fares for next summer are probably at their best right now. I recommend booking early if you want a good price on a European cruise. If the Euro does go weaker, fuel prices continue to drop and our economy strengthens then cruise fares will go up a great deal if you wait until the last minute.
Looking for something just as exotic but closer in; How about South America? Summer season, January 2009, shows 14-day cruises with balcony cabins starting at just $1699. Many cruise lines; Princess, NCL, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean have that price. The main difference between South America cruises is itinerary more than price.
Unfortunately, something the cruise lines appear to have overlooked is Rio during Carnival. The most viable option, Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas, is shown as sold out at the cruise line web site. One agency appears to have group space with inside cabins starting at over $10,000! My recommendation, call the cruise line and get yourself on the waiting list. Some of this group space may get returned to the cruise line.
We are an online, interactive CRUISE SHIP GUIDE with ship reviews, features articles, message boards and more. Recommended by: New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN Television, a Forbes Magazine "Best of the Web" site. Prices listed are cruise only, per person, double occupancy and include port charges (also called non-commissionable cruise fare). Fuel surcharges and government taxes & fees are additional unless otherwise noted. Prices are in US dollars, airfare is extra unless otherwise noted. Limited availability and restrictions may apply. Prices are subject to change without prior notice. Typographical errors may occur. Offers apply to new bookings only.