By paul motter
The big cruise news last week was certain cruise lines calling a bottom for cruise prices. They said cruises prices had hit the bottom and could only go higher from here. Well, cruise prices did hit an all-time low - with the exception of these three incredible bargains we found for you.
Without a doubt, these are some of the best cruise bargains we have ever seen: a 7-night cruise to Mexico on Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas, a 7-night cruise to Bermuda on NCL's Norwegian Dawn and a 7-night cruise to Mexico on NCL's Norwegian Star. Each of these 7-night cruises have a lead price of $299 per person. That sounds more like the price you would pay for a three or four-night cruise.
Mariner of the Seas is the line's Voyager-class megaship sailing out of Los Angeles to Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. $299 is for an inside cabin, per person double occupancy, but you can get a veranda cabin for $479 per person. This is the biggest ship on the West Coast and this class (the 138,000-ton Voyager class) has never been priced this low. Royal Caribbean moved this ship to the Mexico market just before the Swine Flu scare broke out last year, and now prices are soft. This is a very active ship, however, and if you don't want to get off you will still have an outstanding vacation.
The other $299 bargain to Mexico is NCL's Norwegian Star. Oceanview cabins are $349 and balcony cabins are $499. This ship offers "Freestyle Cruising," a trademarked onboard atmosphere where you have a large variety of restaurants onboard, many of them at no additional charge, and relaxed dress codes.
The last $299 bargain is the 7-night cruise to Bermuda on NCL's Norwegian Dawn. That price is for an inside cabin only, but on this ship a balcony cabin is priced at $849, so the savings do not translate to the higher category cabins. Still, any cruise to Bermuda for $299 is a steal, especially when it sails out of New York City.
These three cruises are anomalies, however. These amazing discounts are not being reflected in the Caribbean market or even other ships in Mexico. Carnival Splendor, essentially competing head to head with Mariner of the Seas, sails out of Long Beach to the same Mexican Riviera ports but prices start at $399 for a lowest category cabin, and average over $700 per person for a balcony cabin. That is a big difference.
As always, the best way to catch a cruise bargain is to be date-flexible. Pricing on cruise ships is NOT a set fare for a specific itinerary. In fact, the very same ship, itinerary and cabin categorey can vary as much as $280 on cruises just one month apart. Here is an example; Carnival Conquest 7-night cruises have balcony cabins on the November 8 sail date for $709 per person, but if you want to sail October 11 the price is $1089 per person. The only differentiating factor is the sail date.
The average 7-night Caribbean cruise is back to over $400 for a lowest category cabin, with balcony cabins averaging over $600 and higher. So, just because you see certain cruises selling at steep discounts, don't think it means prices are lower industry-wide. In fact, the more you look the more the three steals mentioned above stand out. $299 for a 7-night cruise to Mexico or Bermuda is about as low as any cruise ever gets.
To book either of these cruises contact any reputable cruise travel agent. Any agent advertising on this page fully qualifies.
Norwegian Epic's July 10 7-day Caribbean cruise. NCL just announced that this inaugural Caribbean cruise, a seven-day sailing from Miami, is now on sale. The early Epic cruises start at over $1000 per person through the summer of 2010, with balcony cabins as high as $1649. But as soon as summer ends prices drop about 30%.
We urge you to look into the CruiseMates Culinary Cruise with Chef Matt Sigel sailing on Norwegian Epic October 30th, 2010. Not only can you experience one of most innovative ships ever built, but you get the cruise at a great price, you get culinary lessons from Chef Matt Sigel (one of the contestants on Hell's Kitchen) and you get the companionship of all of the great CruiseMates staff and readers.
CruiseMates just did a thorough examination of cruise line chefs in this article "Cruise Line Cuisine, Is it Really Gourmet?" One of the biggest surprises many first time cruisers face is the outstanding quality of cruise ship cuisine. But is it truly the gourmet quality the cruise lines claim? Read the article and see for yourself!