CruiseMate Newsletter
NCL's Freestyle Cruising to the Caribbean
Do you want the 5-, 7-, 9- or 14-day tan? NCL has many choices to the Caribbean and Bahamas.

$99-$284 Cruise the Caribbean for 3-7 Nights
Lowest rates we’ve ever seen with last minute departures! Act fast, these prices won’t last long!

Carnival cruises starting from $279! Depart from convenient ports in Florida, the West Coast, the Gulf Coast and more.

Fare Alert: Fly from $69
American Airlines cuts fares nationwide! Must book by December 1

Remote isles are far more relaxing that crowded aisles. Skip the mall & save during our Thanksgiving Sales Event.


Kiplinger's Magazine named CruiseMates to its
Top 25 Best Value Travel Sites for 2006

CruiseMates is the most useful cruise-review site. We especially like its advice columns, which are written for people of different ages and interests.


Last Minute Deals Looking for a deal? Check America's Vacation Center's last-minute cruise offers! Click for Details!

Other HOT Deals...
  • from $379
    Oceanview Norwegian Dawn 7-night Eastern Caribbean Miami to St Thomas, Tortola and the private island.
  • From $386
    Caribbean Princess 7 Nights Southern Caribbean from San Juan 12/07/2008 from $386
  • From $729
    Oasis of the Seas! 2010, Sept or Oct: In: $729, OV $889, Balcony $989, Deluxe $1789. East or West Caribbean.

We want your cruise reviews!
CruiseMates started publishing our readers' cruise reviews long before other web sites even thought of it. We already have thousands of reviews online, but there are never enough! CruiseMates and our sister site both want more of YOUR cruise reviews. So, please send them to us: Euro Watch: 1 Euro = $1.30 Dollar.
A lower dollar means better better value in 2009 European cruises.


Black Friday Costa Sale
I was surprised to receive in my email box an advance notice of a "Black Friday" sale being conducted by Costa Cruises. The line will be selling 7-day cruises for as low as $199 per person. Keep in mind, the sale only lasts for six hours and like most of these sales, you are expected to wake up early. The online sale starts at 4:00 a.m. and lasts until 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time, Friday Only. They are calling it the "Moonlight Amore Sale."

$199 is the same price you pay for a 3-day cruise on an almost identical Carnival ship. Why do I say almost identical? Because Carnival Corp. owns Costa as their primary European brand, and the ships of both fleets -- cut from the same cloth -- are virtually identical.

Of course, that only applies to the superstructure. Costa Mediterranea, for example, is the exact same floorplan, top to bottom, as the Carnival Spirit and was built at the same time. Costa Concordia is a carbon copy of the Carnival Splendor, and both were built in 2006.

The difference, of course, is in the interior decor and the food. The cabins are virtually identical. Last year I went from the Carnival Splendor to the Costa Fortuna and my stateroom was a mirror image, it even had the same wall sconces. I truly could not tell one cabin from the other - and there's nothing wrong with that! Carnival and Costa have some of the biggest and best cabins in the cruise business, on average about 15% larger than other cruise lines.

Costa is marketed to Europeans, primarily, but since there are not that many places for ships to cruise in Europe during the winter months some Costa ships are relocated to the Caribbean and South America. They change the primary language of the crew from Italian first to English, but there are still a fair number of Europeans on board.

Truth be told, most Americans do not rate Costa as a top cruise experience in the Caribbean, mostly because the service people are not as well-versed in English as Carnival or the other lines we are used to; and the cuisine still has a distinct European flair that most Americans find a bit disconcerting. You get baked beans and Italian sausage with breakfast, for example.

Remote isles are far more relaxing that crowded aisles. Skip the mall & save during our Thanksgiving Sales Event.
Royal Caribbean: 1-800-Royal Caribbean

Still, you just can't beat these prices! Costa does practically the same itineraries in the Caribbean as Carnival, but for purposes of this sale I see the Fortuna, one of my favorite Costa ships, is sailing six different Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries. If you can grab one of these 7-day cruises for $199 I guarantee that you will enjoy it.

See our Cruisemates Costa Fortuna review. The ship was built in 2003 and includes two split-level restaurants, a self-service buffet, a specialty restaurant, pizzeria, a theater extending over three decks, a two-story disco, 11 bars, an Internet cafe, casino, a health and beauty center, four swimming pools (including a children's splash pool) and no fewer than six Jacuzzis.

Carnival cruises starting from $279! Depart from convenient ports in Florida, the West Coast, the Gulf Coast and more.
1-888-CARNIVAL or book online

Now, Costa does many other itineraries, including South America. The others are more geographically ideal for Europeans, including the Canary Islands, The Mediterranean and roundtrip from Dubai. You can take a 14-night voyage to Viet Nam, China, the Phillipines, Malaysai and Brunei for under $1500 today. The sale price has not even been revealed yet.

Keep in mind, outside of the Caribbean, English is not the first or even second language on board. It is usually more like the fourth as announcements and programs are all done in the European multi-lingual style. This is one common complant we hear from Americans about Costa. The truth is some service people may be a little slow when dealing with English speaking people, they may not understand it that well, plus everything is on "Italian Time" on board.

The other common complaint we hear is that the food is not up to the par of Carnival or other U.S.-based cruise lines. Why? Eating out is a different experience in Europe, slower and more social. The Europeans don't have the same expectations in restaurants that we tend to have.

You will be able to book tours conducted in English, if you choose to take any, but when you get a cruise at rates like this part of the fun is seeing how little you actually spend during the cruise.

Of course, that is up to you. Some people see it the other way, that with a low cruise fare they have plenty of room for added fun like tours, fine wine, specialty dining and spa treatments.

Either way, Fortuna is a high quality ship with great entertainment, very comfortable cabins, enticing itineraries and all the sun and fun the Caribbean has to offer. Starting at $199 for a 7-day cruise; $25/day, It is hard to resist.

View the actual Black Friday Sale Web Page Here. The discounted prices won't be available here unless you visit during the sale hours: 4:00 to 10:00 am on Friday, Nov. 28.

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new feature articles

CruiseMates Solstice Cruise
99 Cruisemates sail together on this beautiful new ship, having fun and saving money, too! blue arrows

Cruise Fuel Rebates About to Kick In?
Carnival Corp. announced fuel supplement rebates if the price of oil is $70 or less for 25 days in a row. It has been 14 days. blue arrows

Four-Day Cruises
4-day cruises offer several unique benefits. Here we offer the four advantages of 4-day cruises! blue arrows

Circumnavigate South America
There are two excellent opportunities to sail all the way around South America this coming spring. blue arrows

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Reader Contributed Cruise Reviews!
We have thousands of cruise reviews written by people like you. This week's review:
Carnival Cruise Lines - Carnival Elation
by Patrick E. Robinson
A cruise is the best holiday you can take for the money you spend. You unpack once and you always come back to the ship for meals. So do it people, take a cruise.

- - We also wants articles by aspiring travel writers. Get More information.
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Read about CruiseMates

"Many sites that offer reviews are selling cruises, which raises questions about impartiality. An exceptions is CruiseMates."

"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"

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Celebrity Solstice - Brand New ship
SOLD OUT! Our prices were $400+ under everyone else. From $749 balcony! Celebrity's newest ship, Solstice from Ft. Lauderdale, Fl on November 30, 2008. 7 glorious nights, calling on San Juan, Puerto Rico - St. Kitts, St. Maarten, and returning to Ft. Lauderdale.

John Heald's Blogger Cruise 2
Come and join all of John Heald's friends and the CruiseMates' family. Everyone is welcome on this cruise, and it's going to be a ball.

Ruby Princess Venetian Fantasy
Travel down the canals of Venice to the Inter-coastal Waterways of Ft. Lauderdale! 18 Amazing nights and six glorious 25 hr. sea days on the most stunning Princess ship yet.