Friday, December 28, 2007

Caribbean oceanview stateroom for a song

If you're ready to take off for the Caribbean in two weeks or so, you can get an oceanview stateroom on Royal Caribbean's Legend of the Seas sailing out of Santo Domingo January 13 for just $499 in double occupancy -- that's more than $300 less than an interior cabin on the same cruise.

It's also $400-$500 less than similar cabins on similar itineraries on the same ship later in January as well as in February and March. Royal Caribbean's $5 per person fuel surcharge doesn't kick in until February 2008, so you'll save even more on this cruise.

The southern Caribbean itinerary is an attractive one: going roundtrip from the Dominican Republic, it stops in St. Kitts, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Barbados, and St. Lucia.

If you're interested, jump on this one right away. Visit Royal Caribbean's website or call 866/562-7625. The same price is offered at; call 800/419-5104 and ask for Fast Deal 10770.

Photo of Legend of the Seas oceanview stateroom courtesy of Royal Caribbean.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Week-long Royal Caribbean Mexico cruise for $399

Royal Caribbean is offering a seven-day Mexico cruise in February 2008 for prices starting at $399 per person for an interior cabin, and $499 for an oceanview.

The Vision of the Seas cruise leaves Los Angeles on February 10 for Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta before returning to L.A. Similar itineraries are available on other dates in February and March 2008 for prices starting at $449-$499 for an interior cabin.

Additional discounts are available for seniors; one person in each cabin must be age 55 or over.

Rates are double occupancy and don't include a $5 per person per day fuel surcharge for the first two people in a cabin.

To book one of these cruises, visit the Royal Caribbean website or call 866/562-7625 or a travel agent.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Week-long NCL Caribbean cruise for $400 is listing a Norwegian Cruise Lines voyage departing Charleston, SC, for the Western Caribbean on January 5, 12, or 19, 2008, for just $399 per person, double occupancy in an inside cabin -- two-thirds off the brochure price. Oceanview cabins start at $449, also two-thirds off.

And if you book one of these trips by December 21, they'll give you ship coupons worth up to $600 per stateroom.

The itinerary aboard the Norwegian Majesty includes stops in Grand Cayman, Cozumel, and Key West, with three days at sea.

NCL's website has the same cruises on sale for prices starting at $429, $30 higher (if you book through NCL, ask for Promo code PGSD1).

To book through, go to their website or call 888/804-2784.

Photo of Norwegian Majesty courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Cruise Greece for $100 a day, including airfare

Friendly Planet Travel is offering the nine-day Classical Greece by Sea cruisetour this February and March (2008) for as little as $899 per person, double occupancy, if you book by January 15. That price includes roundtrip airfare from New York to Athens (or discounted airfare from other U.S. cities).

Centerpiece of the trip is a seven-night voyage on easyCruise One, including an outside cabin and two meals (breakfast and dinner) per day. Transfers, fuel surcharges, and port charges are all included, though an extra $135 in taxes and fees per person is not.

The $899 price is available on the February 23 departure; four other March departures range from $999 to $1099 per person. After January 15, prices rise by $300 per person.

An optional shore excursion touring program, including lunches, is available for $175 per person, which represents half off.

The cruise departs Athens for ancient Corinth, the island of Ithaki, Patras (for Olympia), Delphi, and Aegina before returning to Athens; passengers will have the better part of two days in Athens, one on either end of the trip.

While you technically have until January 15 to book, at these prices you may not want to wait; selling out quickly is a distinct possibility.

For more information, go to the Friendly Planet website or call 800/555-5765.

Greek islands photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Majestic America extends free airfare offer

Majestic America Line has extended its free roundtrip airfare offer from selected U.S. getaway cities for several of its 2008 Delta Queen and American Queen sailings if you book by December 15, 2007.
The offer applies to a number of 2008 sailings on the Mississippi River of seven nights or longer on the two ships.
Alternatively, if you don't need the free air, you can opt for a $300 per person credit off your cruise fare.
For more information, click here or call Majestic America at 800/434-1232 or a travel agent.
American Queen photo courtesy of Majestic America Line.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Luxury for less on Crystal Mediterranean sailings

Crystal Cruises, one of the world's most luxurious cruise lines, has just announced a sale on its late spring and summer 2008 Mediterranean cruises, if you book your cruise by the end of February.

The luxury line is offering 10 percent off all verandah and non-verandha staterooms (as well as five percent off Penthouse accommodations) for virtually all of Crystal Serenity's European cruises departing from May 19 through September 5, 2008.

The peak savings would be $1,650 per couple on 10 sailings from Rome, Venice, Athens, Barcelona, and Monte Carlo. The voyages start at $2,995 per person, double occupancy.

To take advantage of this offer, you must book by February 29, 2008; new bookings only.

For more information, go to Crystal's website or for bookings call 888/722-0021 or a travel agent.

Photo of Crystal Serenity courtesy of Crystal Cruises.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Amadeus Waterways offers $500 off European river cruise

Amadeus Waterways is offering $500 off per cabin ($250 per person) on its March 8 and 12, and November 12, 2008, departures of its Amsterdam to Paris cruise tours.

You can book an entire 12-day package of cruise, land tours, and air transportation to Amsterdam and back from Paris for prices starting at $2549 per person, subject to availability.

The week-long cruise portion of the trip aboard the deluxe MS Amadagio travels down the Rhine and Mosel Rivers from Amsterdam to Trier, Germany, then proceeds by land to Luxemburg and ends with three days in Paris.

This promotion is not combinable with other offers.

For more information or bookings, visit the Amadeus website or call 800/626-0126 or a travel agent.

Photo from Amadeus Waterways.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Carnival's 12 Fun Days of Christmas Sale

Carnival is currently in the fourth day of a 12-day pre-Christmas sale that features a new offer every day.

Today's offer is for up to $100 off summer (June-August 2008) sailings to the Caribbean, with three- to five-day sailings priced from $279 per person.

Note: There's also a bonus "gift" that kicks in at 3 pm Eastern Standard Time: five-day cruises in an oceanview stateroom for prices starting at $399 per person (regularly $669). Availability is limited, so call right away if you're interested. Ask for fare code CPL8.

The offers expire tonight at midnight Thursday, December 6. Tomorrow will bring a new fifth day offer, and so on for each day until the 12 days are complete.

The fine print: Prices are valid on new bookings only. Full deposit is required when you book. Government taxes and fees are additional. Carnival will impose a fuel surcharge of $5 per day per person on all sailings departing on or after February 1, 2008.

For more information or bookings, go to Carnival's website or call 888-CARNIVAL or a travel agent. For today's featured deal, ask for fare code CPC1.

Photo of Carnival Ecstasy from Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Holland America 3-day sale covers the globe

Starting today, December 5, 2007, Holland America is holding a three-day sale that spans the globe for 2008.

Some of the special offers include: week-long Alaska cruises starting at $549 per passenger, two-week Asia Pacific and Australia/New Zealand cruises starting at $1889 and $1899 per person, 10-day Europe cruises starting at $1199 per person, week-long Mexican Riviera cruises starting at $449 per passenger, 10-day Panama Canal cruises starting at $1149 per person, and six-day Caribbean cruises starting at $549 per passenger.

Hawaii, Canada, and South America cruises are also on sale. On some sailings, third and fourth passengers in the same cabin can sail for fares starting at $99 each.

Prices quoted above are double occupancy and are for new bookings only. They do not include taxes (which range from about $40 to $550 per person, depending on itinerary) and also do not include Holland America's $5 per passenger, per day fuel supplement charge, which goes into effect for sailings on or after February 1, 2008.

The sale ends at 11:59 pm (Pacific Time) on Friday, December 7.

For more information or bookings, go to Holland America's website or call 877/724-5425 or a travel agent. Ask for Promo FJ or FN when you call.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Viking River Cruises offers $320 airfare from U.S. West Coast

Viking River Cruises is offering all-inclusive $320 per person roundtrip airfare to China from three U.S. West Coast cities -- Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Seattle -- if you book a balcony stateroom on one of Yangtze cruise tours on selected 2008 dates. Airfare savings range up to $1950 per couple.

The offer is good for either Viking's 12-day Imperial Jewels of China -- which includes a six-day Yangtze cruise as well as a total of six nights in Shanghai, Beijing, and Xian -- or its 16-day China's Cultural Delights, which features a 10-day Yangtze cruise along with the six nights in the three above-named cities.

Guided tours are included in both cruisetours. Airfare from a number of other U.S. cities is $520 per person.

The offer expires December 19, 2007. Call Viking River Cruises at 800/304-9616 or a travel agent and ask for offer 08Echo. For more information, click here for the Viking website.

Photo from Viking River Cruises.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Small-ship line ACCL offers $500 discounts

The family-owned small-ship American Canadian Caribbean Line is offering $500 per person discounts on three of its winter 2008 cruises in the Caribbean and The Bahamas.

Discounts apply to the following 11-night cruises: The Bahamian Out Islands departing March 14, 2008; the Yachtsman's Virgin Islands (departing January 12 and February 23, 2008); and the Treasures of the Leeward Isles departing January 27 and February 9, 2008, which cruises the British and French West Indies and the Netherlands Antilles.

After the discounts, cruises range from $2970 to $3795 per person, double occupancy.

In addition, ACCL is offering a special deal for single travelers on its 11-night Beach Lover's Bahamas cruise, departing December 22, 2007: singles pay the same amount for a cabin as each passenger sharing a double-occupancy cabin would.

Note that on any cruise, ACCL offers a willing-to-share program, in which singles willing to share with other singles who opt for the same program can share cabins at double occupancy rates.

To book a cruise or learn more about ACCL, click here for its website or call 800/556-7450.

Photo from ACCL.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Cruise the Atlantic with free air and 2-for-1 fares

The premium line Oceania is offering a spring repositioning cruise from Miami to Barcelona on the Regatta for fares starting at $1,299 per passenger -- that's $100 a day for 13 days -- including free airfare from 20 cities across the U.S.

One caveat: this cruise is for people who like to, uh, cruise, because there's only one port stop (seven hours in Funchal, Madeira) and ten full days at sea. In other words, it's a cruise for relaxation, eating, gazing at the sea, and whatever else you might like to do onboard.

Here's how I would look at it: as a relaxing alternative to flying if you have a couple of extra weeks to spare.

You might even want to splurge on a topflight cabin: the upper limit on this cruise, if you book by December 31, 2007, is $2,299 per passenger for a concierge level verandah stateroom. Compare that to first class airfare to Europe these days.

It's possible this special fare will still be offered after December 31, but there are no guarantees. And, in fact, the offer is subject to availability, so it could be withdrawn when cabins are booked up, even before the deadline. Some fees, taxes and surcharges are extra no matter when you book.

Book on the Oceania website or call 800/404-8652 or a travel agent.

Photo from Oceania Cruises.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Avoid some fuel surcharges by booking ASAP

As we reported earlier this month, many cruise lines are adding fuel surcharges to their fares, and in the past two weeks this trend has become a wave.

The fuel surcharges vary between $5 and $12 per day, depending on the cruise line. In most cases, they apply to everyone in a cabin, though some lines are applying them only to the first two passengers in a cabin.

Some lines are also capping the surcharges at a maximum amount (such as the six lines of the Carnival Corporation -- Carnival, Holland America, Cunard, Costa, Princess, and Seabourn --which are capping the amount at $70 per passenger per voyage, applied to the first two passengers in each cabin.)

The other main variable is when the fuel surcharges start.

For some lines, it's already too late. The above-named Carnival Corporation lines will apply the surcharges for cruises departing on or after February 1, 2008, even if you've already booked and paid for them.

The three cruise lines in the Royal Caribbean family -- Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Azamara -- are also applying $5 per passenger per day surcharges to cruises leaving February 1 or after, but are letting passengers off the hook if they fully paid for the cruise by November 15 of this year.

Other lines in which it's too late to act include Cruise West (where surcharges apply to all cruises booked after November 11, though you can still complete payment until December 7); Silversea (where surcharges apply to cruises booked after November 13); and Voyages of Discovery (where surcharges apply to cruises paid for after November 19 and which depart from February 1 until late April, 2008).

However, you can still save on fuel surcharges by booking and fully paying for cruises on the following lines by Friday, November 30:

Oceania (save $7 per day per passenger for cruises departing now through at least April 2009); Norwegian (save $7 per pay per first two passengers and $3 per day for all others on sailings starting December 1); Orient (same as Norwegian); Regent Seven Seas (save $7.50 per passenger per day for 2008 cruises); MSC Cruises (save $6 a day per passenger for cruises departing on February 1, 2008, or later.

On some lines you have a little more time to save:

Majestic America and Windstar (save $8.50 per passenger per day on cruises from now through March 2009 by booking and paying by December 14, 2007); Viking River Cruises (save $7 per person per day for upcoming 2007 and 2008 cruises by booking and paying by December 18); Crystal (save $7 per person per day for 2008 cruises by paying in full by December 31, 2007).

All these surcharges can add up fast, so if you're planning to book a 2008 cruise, now may be the time.

Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Monday, November 26, 2007

A $600 a day bargain on the MS Europa? Maybe!

Almost exactly a year from now, on November 25, 2008, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises' MS Europa, which the 2008 Berlitz Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships has ranked as the top cruise ship in the world, will sail off on a 14-day voyage from Mauritius to Cape Town, South Africa.

The itinerary will include stops in Reunion, Mozambique, and several ports in South Africa, allowing for safaris (not included in the rates) to a number of game reserves and a wine region.

If you book the cruise no later than 210 days prior to departure, you can land an outside cabin guarantee for prices starting at $8,272 per person -- a five percent early booking discount. At nearly $600 a day, this isn't cheap, but the rate does include roundtrip airfare from New York City to Mauritius and back from Cape Town, which might save you around $1200 or more on flights. The rates also include onboard tips, minibar, and fuel surcharges.

The above rate is based on availability, however, so it's best not to wait too long -- especially if you want to sample the offerings of the world's top-ranked cruise ship.

For bookings, click here or call 877-445-7447 or a travel agent.

Photo of MS Europa from Hapag-Lloyd Cruises.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving from Smarter Cruising

To all our U.S. readers, happy Thanksgiving! And to all the rest of our international readers, eat heartily anyway -- and give thanks that we can enjoy the wonderful world of cruising among all our other blessings.

With best wishes,

Clark Norton and Smarter Cruising

Cruise ship buffet photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

South America cruises for $50 a day

The Internet discounter is offering three 14-day Norwegian cruises around Cape Horn in South America for prices starting at just $699 per passenger, double occupancy -- a real deal at $50 a day. Ocean view cabins start at just $799 per person.

The cruises, which depart March 2, 16, or 30, 2008, aboard the Norwegian Dream, leave either from Buenos Aires, Argentina (March 2 or 30) or Santiago, Chile (March 16) and travel to the opposite location.

Along the way, they visit ports including Montevideo, Uruguay; Port Stanley, Falkland Islands; Ushuaia, Argentina; and Puerto Montt, Chile.

These prices do not include airfare, though you can ask to set you up for flights for around $800 per person from Miami.

To book, go to the CruiseExperts website or call 888/804-2784. Book by November 29, 2007, and get a coupon book to use aboard the ship.

Photo from Norwegian Cruise Line.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Azamara South America cruise at discount prices

The Internet discounter Cruises-N-More is listing a 12-night Azamara cruise departing December 11, 2007, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, to Buenos Aires via Rio de Janeiro and Montevideo and Punta del Este, Uruguay, for $1,799 for an oceanview cabin, $2099 with balcony.

That's starting at about $150 a day per passenger for a premium cruise line (Azamara is Celebrity's new deluxe-premium line). The Azamara Journey carries just 600 passengers and each stateroom has butler service.

Better yet: It includes free airfare and transfers from Miami ($200 if leaving from Atlanta, Baltimore, Houston, Newark, New York, or a number of other U.S. cities).

Cruises-N-More is also throwing in onboard credits or free insurance.

The site is also featuring a November 29 departure for a similar but slightly longer (14-night) itinerary for just $1,899 oceanview or $2199 balcony -- with air included from 16 different U.S. cities in the South and Northeast (which makes it an even better deal for most).

If you can make either cruise, jump on this before it's too late. As always, cabins are subject to availability, and these are going for a cheap song.

For bookings or more information, go to Cruises-N-More or call 800/733-2048.

Photo of Azamara Journey by Skip Kreie.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

One-day sale today on Costa: kids sail free

Costa Cruise Lines is offering free cruises to the Caribbean for kids 17 and under in winter-spring 2008 -- as long as they are accompanied by two paying adults in the same cabin. The adults must pay the full promotional price (as low as $499 per adult for a week-long sailing) or the early booking fare.

You must book by today, November 15, to take advantage of this offer.

Voyages are all seven nights and depart from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Port stops (depending on the sailing) may include Cozumel, Mexico; Grand Cayman; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Roatan, Honduras; San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Tortola, British Virgins; St. Maarten; and Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic, among others. Dates range from early January to late March.

The fine print: this offer is for residents of the U.S. and Canada only. Government taxes are additional for all passengers (that's right, kids, there's no such thing as a completely free lunch!).
Fuel surcharges ($5 per day per passenger) apply to most sailings.

For bookings, click here or call 800/462-6782 or a travel agent.

Photo from Dennis Cox/WorldViews

This Just In: Fuel Surcharges

Several cruise lines have just announced they will soon start adding daily fuel surcharges to their fares.

Every line in the Carnival corporate empire (Carnival, Costa, Cunard, Holland America, Princess, and Seabourn) will charge $5 per person per day (up to a maximum of $70) for sailings beginning February 1, 2008.

Oceania will charge $7 per passenger per day for sailings through April 2009, beginning December 1, 2007, for new bookings (or any not fully paid for by then).

And Regent Seven Seas is charging $7.50 per passenger per day for all 2008 voyages not fully paid for by December 1, 2007.

Expect other major cruise lines to follow suit soon -- it's the wave of the near future, at least.

Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Holland America three-day sale starts today

Holland America is holding a three-day sale November 14, 15 and 16, offering deals on dozens of 2007 and 2008 cruises ranging from the Caribbean to Europe to South America to Hawaii to Mexico, Alaska, the Pacific and points beyond.

For example, you can score a seven-day Mexican Rivera cruise roundtrip out of San Diego on February 2, 2008, for as little as $449 per passenger, or a 14-day Auckland, New Zealand to Sydney, Australia, cruise departing on the same date for as little as $1549 per passenger.

Or consider a ten-day Mediterranean cruise roundtrip from Rome on April 29, 2008, for prices starting at $1399, or a 16-day transatlantic cruise from Rio de Janeiro to Lisbon on April 4, 2008, for the same starting fares. In both cases, outside staterooms start at $100 more per passenger.

The fine print: Prices are for new bookings only. Taxes are additional and range from $39.50 to $556.69 per passenger, depending on itinerary. Prices quoted also don't include a new $5 per day per passenger (maximum $70) fuel surcharge for cruises leaving after February 1, 2008.

For bookings, go to Holland America's website or call 877/724-5425 or a travel agent. Ask for Promo FJ or FN.

Noordam photo from Holland America

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Costa knocks two-thirds off Med cruise rates in January

The Costa Cruises website is featuring a deal for three 12-day Mediterranean cruises in January 2008 for rates as low as $749 to $849 per person in double occupancy -- that's 67 percent off their brochure prices.

The cruises aboard the Costa Concordia are roundtrip out of Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy, and visit ports in Greece, Turkey, Cyprus and Egypt. Departure dates are January 5, 16, and 27, 2008; the latter cruise is the one priced at $749, while the first two are priced at $849 for interior staterooms.

The rates are for residents of the U.S. and Canada only, and are subject to change until the cruise is booked.

To book, click here or call Costa at 877/88-COSTA.

Photo courtesy of Costa Cruises.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Carnival offers free upgrades for 2007 and 2008 cruises

This Thursday, November 15, Carnival is offering free upgrades on almost all of its cruises from now through December 2008. Destinations include The Bahamas, the Caribbean, Mexico, and Europe.

Not all categories of cabins are included in the offer, and upgrades are only available within like cabin categories (for instance, interior to interior, oceanview to oceanview, balcony to balcony). Some other upgrading restrictions apply, and the offer applies to new bookings only.

You must book the cruise on November 15, from midnight Wednesday to midnight Thursday. Ask for fare code CP1S.

Note: Past guests of Carnival are allowed "preview" privileges on Wednesday, November 14 -- meaning that you can book your cruises and get your upgrades one day ahead of everyone else.

To book, visit Carnival's website or call 888/CARNIVAL or a travel agent.

Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Last-minute $30-a-night offer on Patagonia cruise

America' is currently featuring an incredible offer for an 18-night Norwegian cruise from Santiago, Chile, to Buenos Aires, Argentina, starting at just $599 for inside cabins and $799 for oceanview.

The voyage aboard the Norwegian Dream departs Santiago November 21, 2007, and reaches Buenos Aires on December 9, cruising the Chilean Fjords, the Straits of Magellan, the Beagle Channel, Cape Horn, the Falklands, and Montevideo, Uruguay, along the way.

If you can take advantage of this deal, call America's Vacation Center right away at 866/501-0959.

If you need a couple of more weeks, NCL's website ( has a deal for a similar cruise (with itinerary reversed from Buenos Aires to Santiago) departing December 9, 2007, with prices starting at $699 for inside cabins and $749 for oceanview. Third and fourth guests in a stateroom start at just $399. Suites start at just $2099. Ask for promo code PGSD1.

Photo from Norwegian Cruise Lines.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Oceania puts Panama Canal sailings on sale

Oceania Cruises is offering its two 16-day Panama Canal Fiesta cruises in January 2008 at 40 percent off brochure rate and is throwing in free airfare to boot from 20 different cities across the U.S.

The cruises start either in Miami or Los Angeles (the routes are reversed depending upon starting city) and stop in Grand Cayman; Cartagena, Colombia; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala; and Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, along with transiting the Panama Canal.

Per passenger costs aboard Oceania's Regatta start at $3,299 double occupancy for inside cabins. Some fees and taxes are additional.

The offer expires on December 31, 2007, but could be withdrawn earlier.

For more information, click here or call 866/765-3630 or a travel agent.

Photo from Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Monday, November 5, 2007

Hurtigruten offers variety of early-booking specials

Hurtigruten (formerly Norwegian Coastal Voyage) is offering a variety of early-booking specials for 2008 and 2009 voyages.

Book any 12-day Spitsbergen voyage before November 30, 2007, and save $350 per person; or any 16-day or nine-day Spitsbergen voyage before the same date and save $200 per person (good for new bookings only).

Book any Greenland cruise before January 31, 2008, and receive $500 off suites and $350 off regular cabins.

Save $350 per person if you book any 2008-2009 Antarctica cruise before November 30, 2007 (good for new bookings only).

Hurtigruten also offers discounts to AARP members of $100 to $150 per cabin.

And, if you book any northbound, southbound, or roundtrip voyage along the Norwegian coast for most departures from December 2007 through February 2008, your companion goes free (this represents a 50 percent savings off brochure prices). The offer is not valid on these five ships: Midnatsol, Trollfjord, Finnmarken, Lofoten, or Nordstjernen.

For more information or bookings, click here or call 800/323-7436.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

MSC Cruises offers airfare from West Coast with two Caribbean cruises

MSC Cruises is including air fare from the West Coast with two 10-night Caribbean cruises on the MSC Lirica that depart in December and January.

The December 4, 2007, and January 9, 2008, cruises are roundtrip out of Fort Lauderdale and stop in Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Antigua, Tortola, and the Dominican Republic.

Rates for U.S. and Canadian citizens that include airfare from several West Coast gateways (Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle) start at $949 per person for inside cabins for the January cruise and $999 per person for oceanview cabins on the December voyage. Some fees and taxes are additional.

This offer expires November 15.

Click here for more information or bookings or call 800/666-9333 or a travel agent.

Photo of MSC Lirica from MSC Cruises.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Final day of Holland America cruise sale

Holland America 's current three-day cruise sale comes to an end today. The cruise line is discounting cruises ranging from Alaska and Australia to Europe, the Caribbean, and Antarctica.

Here are a few specials:

** A seven-day Glacier Bay Alaska cruise aboard the Volendam, departing May 18, 2008, from Vancouver; prices start at $649 per person, including both inside and obstructed view outside cabins.

** Three week-long Eastern Caribbean voyages roundtrip from Ft. Lauderdale aboard the Westerdam, departing December 2, 9, and 16, 2007, with prices starting at $549 (outside cabins start at the same price on the December 2 departure, and just $50 more on the others).

** Two seven-day Eastern Caribbean trips roundtrip from Ft. Lauderdale aboard the Zuiderdam, departing December 15, 2007, and January 5, 2008, with prices starting at $499 per person for inside cabins and $549 for outside cabins; depatures on January 12 and 19, 2008, and just $50 more for each.

Other deals are available to the Mexican Riviera (starting at $449 per person), the Panama Canal (from $999), South America (from $1,399) and Europe (from $1,399), among others.

The fine print: Fares are per person based on double occupancy and for new bookings only. Some taxes are additional.

For more information call Holland America at 877/724-5425 and ask for promo FJ or FN. Or call your favorite travel agent. Fore more information on itineraries, click here.

Photo of Volendam from Holland America.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Grand Circle Travel offers last-minute specials on Eastern Europe cruises

Grand Circle Travel has just put five of its upcoming 11- and 12-day Eastern Europe river voyages -- all departing on or before November 18, 2007 -- on sale at prices ranging from $1695 to $1795 per person.

As part of the sale, Grand Circle has made all available decks the same price, either $1695 or $1795, depending on departure date.

You must reserve by October 24, 2007, to take advantage of this offer.

If you're ready to pack your suitcases now, you can opt for the 11-day Eastern Europe to Black Sea voyage, with a week on the Danube, through Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Romania for just $1795 on any deck for October 28 and 30 departures, or just $1695 for November 13 and 18 departures.

Prices include roundtrip airfare from either Boston or New York City and represent savings of up to $3100 per couple off brochure rates.

Or, you can choose the 12-day Old World Prague & the Blue Danube voyage, from Budapest through Slovakia, Austria, and the Czech Republic departing November 10, 2007, for $1795 per person.

This price includes roundtrip airfare from Baltimore, Boston, or New York.

The fine print: per-person prices are based on double occupancy and apply to new bookings only. You must reserve by October 24, 2007, and at least seven days prior to departure.

For detailed cruise itineraries, click here. For bookings, call Grand Circle at 866/313-3744 and ask for code EALS282.

Photo from Grand Circle Travel.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

World's Largest Cruise Night brings promotions galore

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA, a trade association that counts 24 cruise lines as members) holds an annual "World's Largest Cruise Night" to help publicize the cruise industry, in conjunction with October being "National Cruise Vacation Month."

This year's World's Largest Cruise Night is tonight, October 17, and it's a good time to look for discounts and incentives from CLIA member lines -- especially since many of them expire tonight or by the end of this week or month.

While the promotions are far too numerous to enumerate here, here are some available today through the big Internet discounter Vacations to Go:

** Azamara is offering shipboard credits of $200-$300 per cabin on selected 2008 cruises; book by December 17, 2007.

** Celebrity is offering shipboard credits of $200 on selected cruises of nine days or more and lesser credits for shorter cruises; book by Friday, October 19.

** Cunard is offering onboard credits of up to $500 per stateroom on selected cruises; book by this Sunday, October 21.

** Princess is offering onboard credits of up to $150 per stateroom on selected cruises; book by October 21.

** Royal Caribbean is offering up to $200 shipboard credits per cabin on selected cruises of 10 days or more; book on October 17 (today).

** Silversea is offering shipboard credits of $250 per stateroom on all remaining 2007 cruises, and $200 per stateroom on selected 2008 cruises; book by October 31.

Other lines offering shipboard credits (which you can use for virtually any expense onboard) include Costa, Disney, MSC, Norwegian, and Regent.

For more information or bookings through Vacations to Go, click here or call 800/338-4962 (from the U.S. or Canada).

Or call your favorite travel agent about World's Largest Cruise Night promotions.

Photo from Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Blue Lagoon offers special prices on Fiji cruises

Blue Lagoon Cruises is offering special savings on its four- and seven-day small ship Gold Club Cruises in Fiji through March 31, 2008. You must book by November 15, 2007, to qualify.

For its four-day Yasawa Islands cruises, departing from Lautoka on Fiji's main island of Viti Levu, you can get a twin-share cabin for about U.S. $2,330 or $1,165 per person. Each of the three nights onboard is spent anchored in a sheltered lagoon, and during the days you can swim, snorkel, windsurf, or stroll the sands of these outer islands.

For its seven-day cruises, which sail through the Yasawa and Mamanuca Islands, prices start at U.S. $3,258 per cabin or $1,629 per person.

Savings range from about $250 to $350 per person, depending on the cruise, as long as you book by November 15.

For more information, click here for the Blue Lagoon website.

Photo from Blue Lagoon Cruises.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Holland America offers 2008 Mediterranean cruise specials

Holland America Line is putting a number of enticing 2008 Mediterranean cruises aboard the ms Zuiderdam on special. And take my word for it, if you come from the U.S., where the dollar is increasingly weak against the Euro, whatever you pay for a European cruise next summer is going to be cheaper than almost any land-based vacation you could put together, short of backpacking.

Among the HAL offers is a 12-day cruise roundtrip from Venice to Istanbul with stops in Croatia, Greece, and Kusadasi, Turkey, with inside cabins starting from $1,799 per person for its April 26 and August 12, 2008, departures. The itineraries include onboard overnights in both Venice and Istanbul.

Another is a 12-day itinerary from Venice to Barcelona, via Dubrovnik, Corfu, Santorini, and several stops in Italy. Inside cabins start at $1,799 on this one as well, on the May 8, July 19, and August 24, 2008, departures. These voyages include overnights in Venice and Barcelona.

Fares are based on double occupancy; ask for promo code RH. On some departures, you may be able to share your stateroom with a third or fourth guest for $399 each (ask for promo code Z3).

You may also opt for a May 20, 2008, 12-night sailing from Barcelona to Venice, including overnights in both cities, that starts at $2,999 per person but includes roundtrip airfare from five U.S. cities: Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Newark, and Pittsburgh. Airfare-inclusive rates from a number of other U.S. cities are $100-$200 higher per person. Taxes adding up to around $100 per passenger are additional as well. Ask for promo RE.

For more information or bookings, go to the Holland America Website or call 877-724-5425 or a travel agent.

Photo of ms Zuiderdam from Holland America.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Viking River Cruises extends early booking discounts to October 15

Viking River Cruises has extended its early booking discounts for 2008 cruises until Monday, October 15, 2007.

That means you can still save up to $1,000 per couple if you book and pay in full for one of several 2008 river cruises by that date.

The selected cruises include the 13-day Waterways of the Czars voyages from St Petersburg to Moscow, Russia, which run from May to October, 2008, with prices starting at $2,799 per passenger before the early booking discount.

Another choice is the 11-day Footsteps of the Cossacks, along the Dnieper River from Kiev to Odessa, Ukraine, with voyages running from June to September 2008, and with prices starting from $2,199 per person before the discount.

A third is the 17-day Silk Road Adventure cruisetour from Shanghai to Beijing, which includes six days on the Yangtze River and runs from May to October, 2008, with prices starting at $4,299 per person before the discount.

Three other discounted cruises take you along other rivers in Russia and Western Europe.

Or, choose any other 2008 cruise and get up to $700 off per couple. All rates are based on double occupancy.

For more information or bookings, click here for Viking's website or call 877/668-4546 before 8 p.m. Eastern time on Monday, October 15, 2007.

Photo from Viking River Cruises.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A day aboard the ms Fram during its epic Arctic to Antarctic cruise

Yesterday I was able to spend a few hours aboard the ms Fram, the newest ship in the Hurtigruten (formerly Norwegian Coastal Voyage) line, while it
docked for the day in New York City.

The Fram is in the midst of a pioneering voyage -- the first-ever
north-south Arctic to Antarctic world cruise, a fantastic 67-day
voyage that departed Reykjavik, Iceland, in late September and is now making its way down the east coast of the U.S. enroute to Central America, the Panama Canal, South America, and ultimately Antarctica.

The ship had previously sailed through the British Isles and crossed the Atlantic to visit several ports in the Canadian Maritimes. This is the first-ever appearance for a Hurtigruten ship in U.S. waters.

I was part of a group of press and travel professionals aboard. We got to tour the comfortable expedition-style ship -- inaugurated in May 2007 and based in Greenland during the summer -- with a chance to speak with captain, crew, and Hurtigruten executives about the Fram and its innovative itinerary. We also enjoyed a tasty lunch of salmon, reindeer, and other dishes typical of Norway, served in the passenger dining room.

Cabins include some roomy balcony suites, but even if you book an inside cabin, you'll have plenty of chances to gaze at the scenery from the decks or the lounge outfitted with panoramic windows. The Fram has two outdoor heated Jacuzzis, a sauna, a fitness room and a library, and features a variety of onboard lectures by naturalists and other experts. The ship is small enough to provide lots of flexibility in landings. Expect plenty of soft-adventure expeditions in Antarctica, which are included in the price.

While you might not be one of the lucky 300 passengers embarking for Antarctica on this voyage, you can join one of the Fram's shorter Antarctic expeditions this winter -- or book passage on next year's similar Arctic to Antarctic world cruise, which will embark from Reykjavik next September 23 and ends in Ushuaia, Argentina, November 26, 2008.

Not surprisingly, a more than two month cruise doesn't come cheap -- 2008 prices start at around $14,000 for the entire journey in an inside cabin. But you can also just book a segment of the cruise if you'd like, on a space available basis. And if we hear about any discounts popping up, we'll let you know ASAP.

To learn more about Hurtigruten, which has been running voyages along the spectacular Norwegian coast for more than a century, go to its website or call 800-323-7436.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Royal Caribbean sweepstakes has grand prize of free seven-night cruise

Royal Caribbean is currently featuring a "Surf's Up" sweepstakes on its Website offering a grand prize of a seven-night Caribbean cruise for a family of four aboard either its ships Freedom of the Seas or the Liberty of the Seas.

The cruise includes roundtrip airfare from the nearest U.S. city to the departure point, as well as transfers to the port and an oceanview cabin.

Just go to the Website and fill out a form by the end of October 22, 2007. (When you get to the Website, click on "Deals and Gifts" and then "Contests and Promotions." No purchase is necessary.

The fine print: Eligible contestants must be 13 years of age or older as of September 17, 2007, and live in any of the 50 U.S. states except Rhode Island, where residents aren't eligible.

Photo of Liberty of the Seas from Royal Caribbean.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Five-night Caribbean cruise on NCL for $50 a day

Cruises-n-More, an Internet discount cruise broker, has a special on three five-night NCL cruises out of Miami this November and December with inside cabins starting at just $249 or $259 per person, depending on the date.

The cruises, which make port stops at Cozumel, Mexico, and Grand Cayman, are aboard the Norwegian Pearl or Jewel. Departure dates from Miami are November 25 and December 9, 2007, aboard the Pearl or December 2, 2007, aboard the Jewel. The November 25 and December 2 sailings have inside cabins at $249 per person, while the December 9 sailing costs $10 more.

You can also land an oceanview cabin for $309 per person on any of the cruises or a balcony cabin for $499.

The fine print: these rates are good only for new bookings in double occupancy cabins. Port charges are included, though taxes and fees are additional.

For bookings, go to the Cruises-n-More Website or call 800/733-2048. With this short notice, it's best to act fast.

Photo of Norwegian Jewel from NCL.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Eastern Med for under $500 on Costa

Costa Cruises has a special on its week-long November 5, 2007, eastern Mediterranean cruise roundtrip out of Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy, with cabins starting at just $499 per person double occupancy.

This price represents a savings of 70 percent off the brochure rate and works out to a bit over $70 per person per day -- a huge bargain for European travel if you can take advantage of the short notice.

The cruise stops in Catania, Sicily; Patmos, Mykonos, and Santorini, Greece; and Izmir, Turkey before returning to Italy.

The fine print: This offer is for U.S. and Canadian residents only. The price is subject to change until booking.

For bookings, go to the Costa website or call 877/88-COSTA or a travel agent.

Photo of Costa Victoria from Costa Cruises.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Extra, Extra: Windjammer cancels sailings

Windjammer Barefoot Cruises, which has been experiencing financial difficulties and some sporadic cancellations the past few months, has reportedly cancelled its cruises for the first week of October. Calls to the reservations center and operations office have gone unanswered.

Anyone who is booked for a Windjammer cruise at this time should:

** Call your credit card issuer if you've paid for a cancelled cruise and dispute the charges.

** If you've purchased travel insurance for a cruise that's been cancelled, contact the insurer now. Note: At least one major insurer, Travelex, has just announced it will stop writing policies for Windjammer cruises.

** If you're booked on a future Windjammer cruise, call your travel agent now.

Additional note: This type of situation provides an excellent illustration of why you should not purchase your cruise insurance from the cruise line itself. If the cruise line cancels a sailing because it has financial problems, you may never get reimbursed.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Imperial Majesty Bahamas mini-cruises at under $50 per night

Imperial Majesty Cruise Line is offering inside cabins for two people on its two-night roundtrip cruises from Fort Lauderdale to The Bahamas this month for $178 -- just $44.50 per person per night.

Cruises aboard the mv Regal Empress depart every other day for Nassau's Paradise Island and include cabins, food, and onboard entertainment. The itinerary allows for a day in Nassau before sailing back overnight. The special price applies through October 2007.

For bookings, call Imperial Majesty at 877/772-4625 or 954/453-4625 and ask for Code FALL.

Photo of the mv Regal Empress dining room from Imperial Majesty.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Antarctica cruise at cut-rate prices is featuring an eight-night Antarctica cruise to take place over New Year's 2007-8 at an incredible starting price: $1,499 per passenger for interior staterooms and $1,899 for oceanview.

These prices are thousands of dollars less than you'd find for most other Antarctica cruises. And remember, winter in the Northern Hemisphere is the warmest time to visit the Southern Hemisphere. The cruise includes three stops on the Antarctic Peninsula as well as Drake Passage crossings and Cape Horn on the tip of South America.

The roundtrip cruise out of Ushuaia, Argentina, is aboard the Orient Lines' ship Marco Polo, an 800-passenger vessel that is currently making its last round of voyages under the Orient Lines banner. It's scheduled to leave parent company NCL's fleet in March 2008.

If this date sells out before you book, or you simply can't travel at that time, there are two additional dates in January 2008 -- January 5 and January 13 -- that are priced at $1,799 for interior staterooms and $2,599 for oceanview.

You must book by October 2, 2007, to take advantage of this deal. Click here for more details or call at 800-668-6414.

Antarctica photo from

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

One-day sale today: Earn $200 Carnival onboard credits on Caribbean cruises

Carnival Cruise Lines is offering up to $200 per stateroom in onboard credits if you book one of several seven- or eight-day Caribbean cruises departing between January 13 and March 30, 2008.

The sale is good for 24 hours until the end of today: Wednesday, September 26, 2007.

One featured sailing is a seven-day eastern Caribbean cruise departing Miami on January 13, 2008, with double occupancy fares starting at $569 per passenger. Another is a week-long southern Caribbean cruise departing San Juan on March 30, 2008, with double occupancy fares starting at $589 per passenger.

These fares are for inside cabins; oceanview and balcony cabins are also available, at higher prices, of course.

The fine print: You must put down a full deposit when you book today. Government taxes and fees are additional. The offer is valid for new bookings only.

For more information or bookings, click here or call 888/-CARNIVAL or a travel agent. Be sure to request fare code COWR.

Photo from Carnival Cruise Lines.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

P&O Cruises offers kids cruise free deals

Here's an item for our readers Down Under -- or anyone who wants to set off on a cruise from Australia.

P&O Cruises is offering kids cruise free deals on more than 20 Pacific Dawn and Pacific Sun sailings from Sydney and Brisbane in January, April, July, and December 2008, including school holidays. A maximum of two children aged 12 and under get to cruise free when accompanying two adults in the same cabin.

For instance, kids can sail free on the March 18, 2008, Pacific Dawn sailing from Sydney to the Isle of Pines, Noumea, and Ouvea, with adult fares starting from Australian $1,486 (U.S. $1278) per person in double occupancy. Or cruise for free on a seven-night Pacific Sun sailing from Brisbane to Noumea, Lifou, and Vila departing January 26, 2008, in which adult fares start at Australian $1,195 (U.S. $1,028) per person.

P&O Cruises is known as a family-friendly cruise line with plenty of activities available for kids on board.

For more information or bookings, click here or call a travel agent.

The kids cruise free deal is available for bookings made by September 30, 2007.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Holland America special cruise offer serves up Black Sea, Egypt, Turkey, and Israel

Holland America is offering a 12-day cruise roundtrip from Athens to the Black Sea via Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, and Turkey next May 2 or May 14 with inside cabins starting at $1,899 and ocean view cabins starting at $1,999.

To sweeten the offer, you can bring a third or fourth guest in your stateroom for rates starting at just $299 extra.

This 2008 ms Rotterdam itinerary is extremely enticing, touching down in eight different countries. Besides those mentioned earlier, the cruise also stops at ports in Bulgaria, Ukraine, and Romania. It includes an overnight in Istanbul, 12 hours in Israel, 17 hours in Egypt, and at least nine hours in all the other ports.

The fine print: Fares are valid through October 15, 2007, but are subject to availability. Taxes are additional.

For bookings or more information on the itinerary, click here, or call 877/724-5425 or a travel agent. When you request a booking, ask for Promo RD. If you're interested in adding the third or fourth person in your cabin, ask for Promo Z3.

Istanbul photo from Dennis Cox/WorldViews.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Save up to $2,000 per couple on Uniworld river cruises

Uniworld Grand River Cruises is offering savings of up to $2,000 per couple if you book and pay in full for a variety of their 2008 European river cruises by September 30, 2007.

The special discounts apply to nine different 2008 itineraries, ranging from rivers in Holland and France east to Eastern Europe.

One particularly interesting itinerary, the 16-day Eastern European Explorer, visits seven countries including Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Romania, as it wends its way from the Danube to the Black Sea. Prices for this cruise start at $3,489 per person.

The top savings are available in the three upper-level cabin categories; savings of up to $1,000 per couple are available for the three lesser cabin categories.

If you prefer booking and putting down a deposit (rather than paying in full) by November 30, 2007, you can save up to $600 per couple on Uniworld's early booking discount.

For more information or bookings, click here or call 800/733-7820 or a travel agent.

Photo courtesy of Uniworld.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Late booking opportunity: Grand Circle Travel offers half off two European river cruises

Grand Circle Travel of Boston, Massachusetts, is offering 50 percent off on two of its upcoming European river cruises (a total of five sailings) this October, if you book by Monday, September 24, 2007.

Its 16-day Great Rivers of Europe itineraries departing October 24 and 25, 2007, between Amsterdam and Vienna via Germany (on the Rhine, Main, and Danube rivers) start at just $1,747 per passenger in double occupancy, rather than the full brochure price of $3,495 that you'll find on its Website.

And its 16-day Romance of the Rhine and Mosel voyages through Switzerland, France, Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium departing October 8, 10, and 13, 2007, start at just $1,972 per passenger rather than $3,945.

Both itineraries include roundtrip international airfare from either Boston or New York; on the Romance of the Rhine and Mosel trips, roundtrip airfare from Newark is also included.

But you must book either of these trips by September 24 to get the special price.

For more information on itineraries, click here. For bookings, call Grand Circle at 866/313-3744 and ask for code EAJN884. (These special prices are not featured on the Grand Circle website.)

The fine print: This offer applies to new bookings only. Additional government taxes and fees apply. Some dates may require the purchase of a pre- or post-trip extension.

Photo from Grand Circle Travel.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Extra, Extra: Cruise news you can use

Publisher's Note: This is the first installment in the Smarter Cruising Blog's periodic parade of three-dot news roundups ("Extra, Extra") helping to bring you up to date on cruise industry doings.

If a cruise line changes names, retires a ship or adds a new one of note, adopts a major new itinerary -- or if any other newsworthy item comes our way, we'll report it to you in a timely fashion.

As always we'd be delighted to hear your comments, and hope you find this new feature helpful and informative when planning your future cruises.

Extra, Extra:

Norwegian Coastal Voyage -- known as Hurtigruten in Norway for more than a century while navigating Norwegian fjords and coastal waters -- is changing its name for the North American market to none other than Hurtigruten. The change reflects the fact that Hurtigruten has now branched out to many other regions of the world beyond the Norwegian coast including polar destinations such as Antarctica, Spitsbergen, and Greenland. Hurtigruten's newest explorer ship, the MS Fram, was built and launched in April for Greenland expeditions...

...easyCruise, the innovative and informal line that sails only in mornings to allow maximum time in port each afternoon and night, has added a second ship for its popular Greek Islands itineraries starting in April 2008. The 500-passenger easyCruise Life will cruise among six different Greek Islands as well as visit Bodrum, Turkey, for the first time; roundtrip passengers may board in either Athens or Bodrum. Meanwhile, easyCruise has dropped its former ship easyCruise Two, which operated on European rivers, after being forced to cancel a number of scheduled trips due to leasing problems...

...Royal Caribbean's 160,000-ton, 3,600-passenger behemoth Independence of the Seas -- the newest in the line's three Freedom ships equipped with water parks, ice rinks, boxing rings, climbing walls and other amazing amenities -- has made its first test run from the Finnish shipyard where it has been built and is now being readied for service starting in May 2008. Based in Southampton, England, it will be the largest cruise ship ever home-ported in Europe...

...An independently run website,, is marshaling support for saving Majestic America Line's historic Delta Queen steamboat, whose 80-year existence as a Mississippi riverboat is currently being threatened in the U.S. Congress. A few congressmen are holding up a vote needed to allow an exemption for the Delta Queen from meeting all the terms of the Safety at Sea Act, which requires inflammable materials to be used in boats that carry overnight passengers. While the 1926-era paddlewheeler is made of wood, it has an excellent safety record over the years and many built-in safety features. If the exemption isn't granted, Majestic America Line plans to retire the Queen in November 2008...

...As we reported in late August, the hurricane-ravaged cruise ship docks at Mexico's Costa Maya on the Yucatan Peninsula will take the better part of a year to rebuild. Now it appears that it will take at least a year -- until next September -- to reopen for business, and until spring of 2009 before the docks are again fully functional. Carnival has already announced that it won't revisit Costa Maya until 2009. Meanwhile, cruise lines are substituting other nearby ports such as Progreso and Cozumel to the north in Yucatan, and even some in other countries such as Roatan, Honduras, and Ocho Rios, Jamaica...

Above photo courtesy of Hurtigruten.

Carnival adds extra day to sale

Carnival Cruise Lines has just announced that it has added an extra day to its previously announced one-day sale September 20 that includes free upgrades for most of its cruises through 2008 -- and that extra day is today, September 19. They're calling this their "One Day Sale Preview."

For further details, click here to see our blog posting from yesterday about the sale.

Oceanview stateroom photo from Carnival Cruise Lines.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Carnival holds one-day sale with free upgrades this week

Carnival Cruise Lines is holding a one-day sale Thursday, September 20, 2007, in which it's offering sale prices and free upgrades on most of its cruises between now and the end of 2008. The sale lasts for 24 hours only, and it's best to be on the early side of those 24 hours to land the best pricing and availability.

Cruises include Carnival destinations such as The Bahamas, the Caribbean, Mexico, and Europe.

For instance, discounts and free upgrades are available on an eight-day Mexican Riviera cruise from San Diego on October 29, 2007, where prices start at $529 per person in double occupancy; a three-day Bahamas cruise from Miami on September 12, 2008, with prices starting from $229; and a five-day western Caribbean voyage out of Mobile on September 13, 2008, with prices starting at $299 per person.

The fine print: Two-category upgrades are available within the same cabin categories (such as inside, oceanview, etc) and some cruises do not have oceanview upgrades available. The offer is valid on new bookings only and isn't combinable with other discounts.

For bookings, click here or call 888-CARNIVAL or a travel agent. You must request fare code CP1S.

Photo from Carnival Cruise Lines.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Holland America offers two-week Australia-New Zealand cruise for $1599

Holland America has a special offer on a 14-day Auckland, New Zealand, to Sydney, Australia, voyage departing on January 5, 2008, with inside cabins starting at U.S. $1,599 per person and outside cabins starting from U.S. $1,799 per person, both in double occupancy.

The itinerary includes seven port stops in New Zealand, including Fjordland National Park on the South Island, and two stops in Australia -- Burnie, Tasmania, and Melbourne -- besides Sydney.

For more information and bookings, click here or call Holland America at 877/724-5425 or a travel agent. Ask for Promo RH.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Smarter Cruising Secret

If you've been following the Smarter Cruising blog, you're well aware that great cruise deals pop up quite frequently. Just this month alone we've tipped you off to 15 or 20 fantastic deals.

But what if you've had your eye on a particular destination -- one we haven't covered much?

What if you need different sailing dates? An extra cabin for the kids?

How do you get the best deal on the cruise you've been dreaming about?

The answer is simple: read the Smarter Cruising guide "How to Book the Best Cruise Deal." Inside you'll find the answers to such common cruise-booking questions as:

  • Who your best friend -- or worst enemy -- in the cruise industry is
  • What to do to get free or low cost upgrades
  • When to book your cruise to get the best bargains
  • Where to go to find the hottest cruise deals online
  • Why you shouldn't believe everything you read in cruise line brochures
Obviously, booking a cruise is a significant investment in both time and money. Don't go into "battle" negotiating your cruise fare without first arming yourself with all the money-saving tips inside "How to Book the Best Cruise Deal!"

And with all the money you'll save, you'll be that much closer to booking your next cruise vacation!

To find out more about "How to Book the Best Cruise Deal," click here now.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Win free cruises from Princess during eight-week sweepstakes

Starting this week, Princess Cruises is offering up eight free cruises as part of its World of Escapes Sweepstakes. All you need to do is go to the Princess Website and fill out an entry form.

A new drawing is held each week, and you can enter every day of each week if you'd like. No purchase is necessary, nor will it increase your chances of winning.

Free cruises -- which range from one to two weeks in length -- include this week's seven-day Caribbean voyage.

Future cruises to be given way include a week-long Alaska cruise, a 12-day Europe/Mediterranean cruise, a seven-day Mexican Riviera cruise, a two-week Hawaii cruise, a 10-day Panama Canal cruise, a 12-day South America/Cape Horn cruise, and a 12-day Australia-NewZealand cruise.

The fine print: Airfare is not included, and the contest is limited to legal U.S. residents age 21 and older. The sweepstakes began September 10 and will end on November 4, 2007; you have to enter each week to be eligible for that week's prize.

Photo from Princess Cruises.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Planning a group cruise? Try, a four-year-old competitive cruise-shopping Website that allows consumers to request multiple offers from travel agents in order to land the best cruise deals, has just added a new Group Cruises feature.

If you're planning a cruise with a group of 16 people or more -- such as a family reunion, wedding, or corporate meeting -- you can go to, click on the Group Cruises tab, fill out a brief form, and expect to hear back from several agents with an expertise in group travel.

After contacting you for more information, the agents will provide you customized quotes for cruise rates and, if you decide to use their services, will help with planning your group cruise from start to finish -- including on-board parties and receptions, meetings, team-building activities, and group shore excursions.

If you are planning a group cruise, it's best to get started as early as possible since securing large numbers of cabins on a ship gets increasingly difficult the closer you get to sailing date -- and this is one of the easiest ways to start putting it all together.

Photo: passengers enjoy on-deck activities aboard a Carnival cruise ship, by Dennis Cox/WorldViews.