Monday, February 12, 2007

A Bahamas mini-cruise with Imperial Majesty

Here's another mini-cruise that's definitely worth checking out: the year-round three-day, two-night Imperial Majesty cruises from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to Nassau in the Bahamas. It's an ideal introduction to cruising for first-timers, and a fun getaway for anyone at bargain prices. Residents of (or visitors to) South Florida can drive to the dock, park for $12, and hop on -- with advance reservations, of course.

With rates starting at $179 per passenger (double occupancy) -- including plenty of shipboard food and entertainment -- it makes for a nice deal. (Most rates are in the $200-$300 range, depending on type of cabin.) Passengers get a full day in port in Nassau, where they have the option to join a paid Bahamas shore excursion or just hire a taxi to to go the beach, straw market, or aquarium.

Make no mistake -- you can spend more money on board on items such as spa treatments, casino gambling, and alcoholic beverages -- but these are all optional. There are also kids' programs onboard, and kids get a break in the rates as well. So do adult passengers who constitute the third or fourth occupants of a cabin.

One of the prime selling points is the grand old ship, the MV Regal Empress, a vintage wood-panelled, 1,200-passenger ocean liner with loads of character. While the Empress may be showing a few wrinkles, it was recently spruced up -- and since it's due to be retired permanently in 2010, now's the time to take it.

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