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."
By PAUL MOTTER
One thing the fall season usually brings is Caribbean cruise bargains, and this year is no exception. This week's newsletter in entitled "True Cruise Bargains" because that is what
we are seeing out there right now. And not just in the Caribbean, but in Europe, Mexico and South America as well. There are a few jaw-dropping specials in this newsletter!
The Caribbean cruising season is upon us once again. So far, the only hurricane casualty is Costa Maya, and most cruise lines are replacing it with Roatan which has popular "cave-tubing" trips.
Carnival is holding what is billed "The Biggest Sale of the Year" this week on Wednesday and Thursday featuring discount prices and free upgrades on every cruise. We see incredible offers on 7-day cruises. Most agencies should have these Carnival specials posted starting tomorrow.
From NCL, the Norwegian Sun and Spirit are both sailing 7-day cruises starting at just $399 pp. How much better can you get? These are exciting ships with plenty to do on board.
But the 11-night Royal Caribbean (Empress of the Seas) Southern Caribbean cruise is the best bargain going. At just $549 per person, you see the best ports the Caribbean has to offer at an unbelievable price.
The popular Royal Caribbean mega-ship, Adventure of the Seas, sailing Southern Caribbean itineraries is going for just $619 pp, with a $50 onboard credit (per cabin) and a complimentary bottle of wine when you arrive.
In October and November, as cooler weather sets in, the ships in Europe start to show late season bargains. If I learned anything about cruising in Europe this year, (I went three times), it is that anything you can do to avoid the tourist rush is a great idea. I would not hesitate to go on late season European cruises at all. We faced temperatures of 110 degrees in Athens and the Greek Isles. The crowds in the airports were overwhelming with overcrowded planes causing delays and uncomfortable flights.
One of the best European cruise bargains is a 10-night Mediterranean cruise in late November, roundtrip Barcelona, starting at just $899 per person on the premium Celebrity Century. The itinerary is from Barcelona to Marseille, Nice, Livorno (the port for Florence Italy), Rome, Corsica, Valencia (Spain), Gibraltar and back to Barcelona. Balcony cabins are as low as $1249 per person. You see Europe after the crowds have cleared out and the airfare is much cheaper.
I would hazard a guess that you could fly New York to Barcelona in November for about $550 roundtrip. Peak season air to Europe this summer was about $1100 per person from the east coast. A balcony on that cruise would have cost about $2500 per person in peak season. So, overall you could be saving as much as half (about $3500), beating the heat and missing the crowds as well. Not a bad deal.
Other European steals this week: how about a 24-night Cunard Queen Mary cruise, roundtrip New York! You can avoid flying to Europe altogether. Make the journey the old fashioned way, by sailing across the Atlantic both directions. This lovely cruise is June 8, 2008, a 24-night cruise including 10 nights (five each way) crossing the Atlantic.
For people who do not like to fly but want to see Europe this cruise is perfect - you only have to unpack once. From New York, it first stops in Southampton (England), Vigo, Barcelona, Monte Carlo, Rome, Naples, Gibralter, Lisbon and back to Southampton. Then it sails back to New York.
Here is another steal for those who prefer not to fly, or who just want to spend a lot of time at sea. A Princess 17-day cruise on the beautiful Star Princess starts in Rome to Naples, Livorno (port for Florence Italy), Genoa, Cannes, Barcelona, Cartegena, Gibraltar and the Canary Islands before a six day transatlantic cruise to Ft Lauderdale. The price starts at just $1299, about $80 per day per person! By the way, the itinerary lists Casablanca but as of last month trips to Morocco were cancelled for political reasons.
Maybe you're like me, and you have seen enough of Europe. How about South America? Some of the best cruise prices we are seeing anywhere are down there.
The 14-night Norwegian Dream cruise for only $599 per person is an absolute steal. Going roundtrip from Santiago, Chile, you go all the way to the tip of the continent and back.
Would you believe a 12-night journey on the beautiful Azamara Journey (the new, upscale sister line to Celebrity) starting at just $1449 with a $400 shore excursion credit? Spend two full days in Rio, and two days in Buenos Aires. If you have never seen Rio, believe me, it is one of the most picturesque and breathtaking cities in the world.