Never a Better Time to Cruise|
"These are the best of times, these are the worst of times." A free cruise to the first person who can tell me who said that. Too late, it was Charles Dickens, I googled it. Yes, google is now a verb and what would Dickens have thought about that? Here is another memorable phrase, "There has never been a better time to take a cruise." In other words, because of the current "worst of times" economy it is the "best of times" for finding cruise values. It gets your heart beating faster, doesn't it?
With apologies to the people who cannot afford to cruise at all right now, those who do have some discretionary spending money should know there are fantastic, affordable cruises available right now, with every cruise line in the world offering some kind of incentive to get you onboard.
The selection of cruise bargains runs the gamut from drive-to cruises to Mexico or the Caribbean to the most exotic journeys imaginable. European cruises are being offered with free airfare or two for one discounts, some are even giving away free shore excursions.
Let's take a look at some of the discounts being offered:
AMA Waterways - the former Amadeus Waterways has been offering European river cruises for just six years now but already has nine vessels and two more on order. These newer riverboats offer French balcony cabins with sliding glass doors, free to use bicycles onboard and Internet access in every room. If you book a river cruise departing in April you can get free airfare from the U.S. We at CruiseMates recommend river cruises because they generally offer free shore tours daily, wine with dinner and gourmet cuisine included in the fare.
Carnival Cruise Lines is offering the "Early Saver" program of 25% off for people who book cruises at least three months to five months in advance depending on the length of the cruise. This includes a rebate if the fare drops before you sail.
Costa Cruises is offering free upgrades, up to $200 shipboard credit, Kids Sail Free specials and 60% savings on Europe 2009 sailings.
Both Azamara and Celebrity Cruises are offering onboard credit, lower fares and reduced deposits. Get a $50 credit for a five-night cruise, $100 credit for a seven-night cruise and $200 for a 10-night cruise. And when they say lower fares they mean it. We see Celebrity Millennium sailing a 7-day Alaska cruise starting at $449 per person. Or how about an 11-night Caribbean cruise (Galaxy) starting at $559, or a 7-day Caribbean (Summit) from $449?
Royal Caribbean announced a $200 onboard credit for Alaska cruisetours, $300 onboard credit for Europe cruisetours and 50% reduction in deposits. But the real story is the low fares on their web site such as the 16-night South Pacific cruise from Sydney to Tahiti, Rarotonga, Raiatea, Bora Bora and ending in Maui and finally Honolulu for just $999. Looking for a drive-to cruise? How about a five-night Bermuda cruise from Norfolk Virginia starting at $599?
The cheapest Royal Caribbean cruise I see, starting at $319 pp, sails from Santo Domingo, a lovely town in the Dominican Republic I visited just last week. It is one of the oldest cities in North America and believed the be the burial site for Christopher Columbus. The seven-day cruise visits the beautiful southern Caribbean islands; Guadeloupe, Martinique, Barbados and St Lucia.
NCL's Freestyle Resolution Sale
Your Freestyle Resolution: to spend our money. We're giving away up to $500 per stateroom of on-board credit.
Call your travel agent or book now.
Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) is offering a family special. Book a cruise from February 2 through March 15, 2009 on any sailing and take your kids for as low as $99 each, and also receive up to $250 in on-board credit. But what kind of special offers do they have? Alaska cruises, roundtrip Vancouver, starting at $599 per person. A five-day Caribbean roundtrip Miami from $389 pp.
But NCL's best deals are in Europe: a 14-day Mediterranean cruise on Jade starting at just $1199 sailing in June! Sail to the Baltic in April or May (catch a better deal on your airfare and avoid the crowds) and you can sail on Norwegian Jewel for 12-days for $1499 (April) or $1399 (May).
Looking for Lux? Crystal Cruises is offering up to 50% off on a "Value Collection" of cruises and up to $1,500 in savings on Mediterranean and Baltic cruises. Guests who book most 2009 voyages by March 31 receive 20% off most sailings in 2010. Crystal also offers free one-way airfare for spring Panama Canal cruises, free air upgrades with most Europe cruises, deposit reductions, relaxation of cancellation policies, and further savings on bookings 180 days in advance.
Silversea Cruises has early booking discounts of up to 30 percent, plus an additional 5 percent in Advance Payment Bonus for those who pay in full six months prior to sailing; For 2010 voyages the early booking incentive climbs to as much as 35%, with an additional 15 percent for payments made one year prior to sailing.
Windstar Cruises: 50% off cruise deposits on all new bookings through February 28 for 2009 sailings; up to 50% savings on selected 2009 European sailings; and a family offer featuring a 50 percent reduction on the purchase of a second cabin.
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