Friday, August 31, 2007

Win a free Bahamas cruise with web-hosting sign-up

If you're looking for a Web host, you might want to consider signing up with, which is offering a free two-night cruise to The Bahamas for two if you purchase a Windows Web hosting plan by September 30, 2007. The plans start at $9.95 per month.

The cruises are aboard Imperial Majesty's mv Regal Empress, a ship we've written about in this blog, most recently in this posting. The cruises regularly sell for prices starting at $129 per passenger in double occupancy, and sometimes less with special offerings. They leave from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and travel roundtrip to Nassau in The Bahamas.

There's a big loophole in this offer, however: You'd be responsible for transportation to and from Fort Lauderdale, and residents of Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties in Florida (the area in and around Fort Lauderdale and Miami) aren't eligible. You'd also have to pay $59 per person in port charges. So this offer would only be attractive to someone who was planning to be in the Miami area on vacation or business and wanted to take a short, almost free cruise getaway as part of the trip. If this applies to you, it could be worth checking out.

For more information, click here or call 866/233-0602.

Nassau photo courtesy of

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Cruise the South Seas in December at two-for-one prices plus free airfare and Tahiti hotel

Vantage Deluxe World Travel has a one-sail-date only special for a 10-day South Seas cruise aboard Regent Seven Seas' ultra-deluxe small ship, the m/s Paul Gauguin.

Departing Los Angeles on December 9, 2007 -- free airfare is included from LA in the deal -- you can fly to Papeete, Tahiti, and spend three nights in the Radisson Plaza Resort there before embarking on a 10-day cruise through the Society Islands and the nearby Tuamotus. The itinerary includes Moorea, Huahine, Bora Bora, and Rangiroa, among other islands.

Fares start at $3,097 per person in double occupancy, half off the retail price of the cruise. Besides the cruise, the hotel stay and the free airfare, the price includes complimentary wines and other beverages throughout the cruise, shipboard gratuities, and all transfers and baggage handling if you make your air arrangements through Vantage.

For comparison, Regent Seven Seas is offering the same cruise on its website for $2,595 per passenger in double occupancy -- but without the airfare or the hotel in Papeete included. The same airfare if purchased through Regent would run you an extra $1,100 alone.

For more information, click here or call Vantage at 800/322-6677, and request promotional code EM1352. Better jump on this fast, because prices could go up at any time. Tell them Smarter Cruising sent you.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

MSC features Family Plan for New Year's sailing to Caribbean

Want to take your family to the Caribbean for New Year's?

You might want to consider MSC Cruises Family Plan for its December 28, 2007, seven-night Western Caribbean itinerary roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with stops in Key West, Georgetown, Cozumel, and Nassau, plus two days at sea, on the MSC Lirica. The Lirica features Italian cuisine and European-style ambiance.

You can fill a four-person inside stateroom for as little as $499.50 per passenger, or an ocean-view stateroom starting at $574.50 per passenger, also based on quad occupancy. Government taxes and fees of about $51-$55 per person are additional.

To qualify for this plan, reservations must be made by September 30, 2007. (North American residents who place a reservation are required to put down only a $100 deposit per person, based on double occupancy.)

Before you reserve, you should compare this rate to other offers, which include "kids sail free" or deeply discounted youth-fare promotions -- then choose the offer best for you and your situation.

On MSC, for instance, as many as two children ages 17 and younger staying in the same Lirica stateroom with two full-paying adults can cruise for free on voyages leaving from Fort Lauderdale for the Caribbean on December 4 and 14, 2007; and January 9, 19, and 29 and February 8, 18, and 28, 2008. On the ship's December 21 and 28 holiday sailings, the kids' price rises to $199 when sharing a stateroom with two full-paying adults.

For the December 28 sailing, early booking rates for adults start at $999 for adults; multiplying that by two and adding $398 (two times $199) would make the Family Plan a better deal by about $400. For other sailings, the kids sail free deals may be just the ticket.

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

Photo of MSC Lirica from MSC Cruises.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

General Tours World Traveler offers early bird discount for small ship cruise bookings

Celebrating 60 years in business, General Tours World Traveler has announced its Diamond Anniversary Early Bird Special for all 35 of its 2008 small ship cruise offerings around the world.

If you book a cruise by September 30, 2007, you can save $600 per couple on any cruise. Voyages span the globe from Russia to Egypt, Europe to Asia and South America.

New offerings in 2008 include a dozen "Affordable Luxury Cruising" European river voyages with Peter Deilmann ships, which include all meals, port charges and sightseeing excursions -- yet are priced lower than 2007 sailings. With the Early Bird Special, prices start as low as $1,099 per person for an eight-day luxury cruise along the Danube aboard the five-star mv Mozart.

And General Tours' new Singles Ahoy! program features no singles supplement on 43 sailings on the Rhine, Moselle, and Elbe rivers. Solo travelers can stay in a private outside stateroom for the same price as the per person twin share rate.

For more information or brochures, click here or call 800/221-2216.

Click here for my earlier report on other General Tours discounts.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Carnival gives price breaks to military, interline personnel

If you're in the military or an honorably discharged Armed Forces veteran with at least two years of service -- or if you're currently a fulltime employee of a passenger airline, Amtrak, cruise line, or certain transportation-related agencies or associations such as the FAA or IATA -- Carnival Cruise Lines may have a deal for you this fall.

For all these groups, Carnival is featuring the following sailings:

A five-night cruise to Ensenada and Cabo San Lucas departing October 9, 2007, from San Diego and starting at $259 per passenger; a three-night sailing from Miami to Nassau and return departing November 16, 2007, and starting at $199; and a seven-night Eastern Caribbean voyage roundtrip from Miami, departing November 25 and starting at $349 per person. Government fees and taxes are additional.

Military personnel should request fare code CPM2; interline personnel should ask for fare code CPGO or CPG3. The offers are good for new bookings only, and will end when available cabins fill up, so it's best to act soon.

For more information or bookings, click here or call Carnival at 888-CARNIVAL or a travel agent.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Grab early-booking savings on Oceania to the Caribbean in spring 2008

The premium line Oceania Cruises has done well for itself by consistently offering attractive early-booking fares -- usually two-for-one off the full brochure price (50 percent reductions) -- that include free roundtrip airfare from nearly 20 U.S. cities around the country. (And if you don't need the air or prefer to make your own arrangements, they'll usually give you a generous additional discount.)

Oceania is now featuring early-booking savings and free airfare for three cruises aboard the 684-passenger Regatta in February and March 2008. The offer expires August 31, 2007.

Two are to the Caribbean, roundtrip from Miami. A 14-day cruise departing February 25, 2008, starts at $2,799 per passenger in double occupancy, with multiple port calls along the Caribbean coast of Central America, including Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Panama. A 12-day cruise that departs March 10 starts at $2,299 per person, with stops in the Dominican Republic, British Virgins, Antigua, St. Lucia, Dominica, St. Barts, and the Turks and Caicos.

The third is a 12-day repositioning cruise from Miami to Barcelona that departs March 22, 2008, stopping in Madeira along the way. With fares starting at $1,299 per passenger, it's a steal -- if you like long sea voyages.

For more information or to book a cruise, click here or call 800/531-5619 or a travel agent by August 31. Some fees and taxes are additional.

Photo of ocean-view room courtesy of Oceania cruises.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Costa Maya port to close for much of next year after hurricane Dean slams Yucatan

While islands like Martinique, St. Lucia, Dominica, Hispaniola, Jamaica, the Caymans, and Cozumel were spared the worst possible damage from hurricane Dean -- bad though it was, including at least nine deaths across the Caribbean -- the monster storm did slam smack into Yucatan's Costa Maya south of Cancun.

Along with destroying a number of dwellings in the area, Dean did significant damage to the cruise ship pier in the port of Costa Maya -- which may be unusable for as long as the next eight months. Other infrastructure in the region was also damaged. It's not likely that cruise ships will be able to call again in the popular port until perhaps late spring of 2008.

If you've already booked a cruise that includes Costa Maya on its itinerary, your cruise line will need to choose a substitute port of call or perhaps add a day at sea to compensate. Each line will make an individual determination on scheduling, so you'll need to contact the line or your travel agent for further information.

Amid all the destruction, most of the tourist infrastructure on Jamaica, the Caymans, Cancun/Cozumel, St. Lucia, Dominica, and Martinique did appear to weather the storm in reasonably good shape.

If you'd like to contribute to humanitarian relief, click here for the Red Cross.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Looking for a simple way to find an Antarctica cruise? Try Adventure Life

The tour company Adventure Life, which represents all cruising options to Antarctica, is offering a new web-based Antarctica search engine that should make it easier to locate and book your cruise to the frozen continent online.

The search engine allows you to choose the criteria that are most important to you, such as class of ship, dates, length of the cruise, prices, or desired itinerary. You can also check availability, and then, if you wish, book your cruise online at the Adventure Life website at no additional cost.

And there are plenty of choices to be made. Antarctica cruises range from those aboard refurbished research ships and ice-breakers to luxury expedition cruises with five-star amenities. For instance, I clicked on "Antarctic Peninsula" and "Expedition Cruise Ship" and came up with seven options, including the very reasonably priced ms Andrea from Elegant Cruises; if you book either the January 8 or February 4, 2008, 11-day cruise on the Andrea by September 30, 2007, you can save $500 per passenger.

To check out the search engine yourself, click here. You can also contact Adventure Life at 800/344-6118.

Photo of ms Andrea in Antarctica from Adventure Life.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Take a Holland America cruise, get free parking

Here's a nice perk for those cruising out of San Diego to Mexico, Hawaii, or Tahiti and who book an ocean-view stateroom on Holland America this fall and winter: free parking near the cruise terminal.

For instance, with the free parking perk, you could save $70 if you drive to the San Diego cruise terminal for a week-long Mexican Riviera voyage. (Outside staterooms start at $599 per person for those cruises.)

If you take a 10-day cruise at $899, you could save $95 on parking. On a 15-day cruise to Hawaii and back ($1,599 per person and up), the savings could amount to $145. And for a 30-day cruise to Hawaii, Tahiti, and the Marquesas, where outside staterooms start at $5,525, the parking perk could save you $290.

For more information on these cruises, click here or call 877/SAIL-HAL.

ms Zaandam photo from Holland America Line.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Voyages of Discovery offers free air, discounts on Antarctica cruises

Voyages of Discovery, formerly Discovery World Cruises, is offering three expedition-style cruises to Antarctica in November and December 2007 that come with free roundtrip airfare to Argentina, a three-night pre- and post-cruise hotel package in Buenos Aires, and an extra 10 percent off early booking fares.

A 20-night Antarctica, Falklands, and South Georgia cruise departing November 26 is priced from $4,795 per person; a 15-night Antarctica cruise departing December 12 is priced from $4,120 per person, and a 19-night Antarctic Peninsula and South Georgia cruise December 21 is priced from $4,975 per person.

If you don't need the free air offer, you can deduct $500 per person from the cost of the trip.

Voyages of Discovery is known for offering good value, and these are among the most competitively priced Antarctica cruises on the market. While there's no expiration date on these offers, it's wise to grab these early.

The voyages are aboard the line's 650-passenger mv Discovery, and include plenty of onboard lectures and landings ashore to view wildlife and glaciers.

For more information or bookings, call 866/623-2689 or click here to go to their website. Tell them Smarter Cruising sent you.

Photo courtesy of Voyages of Discovery.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Carnival kicks off two-week West Coast sale

From Monday, August 20, through Monday, September 3, Carnival will hold a two-week sale on dozens of selected three- to eight-day sailings to Baja Mexico and the Mexican Riviera from Los Angeles and San Diego during the rest of 2007 into January 2008.

During the sale you'll be able to save up to $100 per stateroom on short voyages and up to $200 per stateroom on long voyages. You may also be able to land a "best available upgrade" within the same cabin category.

Rates for three-day cruises will start at $249 per passenger for an inside cabin, four-day cruises at $199 (that's not a typo), five-day cruises as low as $279, and seven- and eight-day cruises at $499 ($599 for ocean view and $729 for a balcony). Government taxes and fees are additional, and you must make a full deposit when you book. Sale fares are based on double occupancy, and only new bookings qualify.

To book or for more information, call a travel agent or Carnival at 888/CARNIVAL and request fare code CPBA.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

WWII Historical Cruise at heavily discounted prices

Vantage Deluxe World Travel has just announced a 34-day Western Pacific World War II Historical Cruise from New Zealand north to Japan -- with 13 ports of call in seven countries -- at a starting price of $5,999 per passenger in double occupancy. Savings range up to $13,990 per couple off retail prices.

Included in the price are free roundtrip airfare and transfers from Los Angeles; three nights in Auckland, New Zealand, and another three nights in Kyoto, Japan, both at first-class hotels; and 25 nights aboard Holland America's ms Statendam, plus onboard meals, activities, and entertainment. Government taxes and fees are additional.

Stops at tropical islands en route from New Zealand to Japan include New Caledonia, the Yap Islands, Guam, Saipan, and Iwo Jima, spotlighting scenes of Western Pacific battles of World War II.

This is a one-date-only cruise, departing February 25, 2008.

For more information or to reserve a cabin, click here or call 800/322-6677 and ask for promotional code EM1345.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Two-for-one offers on Viking's Russian river cruises

If you act fast, you may be able to nab a cabin on one of Viking River Cruises' Moscow to St. Petersburg, Russia (or vice versa) voyages in September or October of this year. The 10- or 11-night itineraries, which visit Russian villages along the Volga-Baltic Waterway and Svir and Neva rivers in addition to the world-renowned cities, are being sold at two-for-one prices.

Eleven-night Moscow to St. Petersburg itineraries depart September 19 and 22 and October 10 and 13, with prices starting at $2631 for two in a cabin; savings range up to $2967 per stateroom. Ten-night St. Petersburg to Moscow itineraries depart September 9, 12, 30 and October 3, with prices starting at $2319 for two in a cabin; you can save up to $2679 per stateroom.

Both cruises include 11 tours with English-speaking guides along the way.

Deadline for booking is technically October 1, 2007, but obviously most of these ships will have sailed by then. Call a travel agent or Viking at 877/668-4546 and ask for promotional code 22F.

Savings on Crystal Cruises for 2008

Earlier this month, we posted an item on how to save money on some luxury Crystal Cruises for 2007. Now here's how to save some serious money on selected Crystal Cruises in 2008.

For new bookings made before September 14, 2007, passengers can save 20 percent on all deluxe stateroom accommodations (including verandah staterooms) and 10 percent on all penthouse accommodations on Crystal Symphony's 13-day "Epicurean Odyssey" voyage departing May 25, 2008, from Athens to London. Fares start at $3,995, or about $300 a day -- the price of many first-class hotel rooms in Europe these days.

And if you combine the same May 25 cruise with one directly prior to or following it -- forming a 27-day cruise to Egypt, the Mediterranean, and Western Europe, or a 24-day journey from Greece to the Baltic Sea -- you can save 20 percent on all categories of staterooms and suites for new bookings before September 14. That represents savings of from $1,000 to $2,530 per person.

Combine all three cruises into a 38-day voyage and receive combined savings of $3,480 per person.

The food-and-wine-themed May 25 cruise is part of Crystal's 11-voyage "Value Collection" for 2008: sailings of 10-17 days through the Panama Canal, South America, the Mediterranean, Western Europe, the Caribbean, and a trans-Pacific voyage from Los Angeles to Hong Kong. A November 10, 2008, 13-day sailing from Miami to Los Angeles transits the Panama Canal; prices for that one start at $2,995 per person. Value Collection savings range up to 52 percent.

And there's more: Returning Crystal passengers (who automatically become Crystal Society members) will receive a $150 shipboard credit per person if they book a Mediterranean cruise on the Crystal Serenity departing July 19 or 31 or August 24, 2008.

Returning Crystal cruisers also automatically save between three and four percent on their next cruise. All guests receive a 3.5 percent discount when they pay in full six months in advance of their cruise. And if you book your next cruise while on board your current cruise, you'll get a four to 4.5 percent discount off the upcoming cruise.

For more information, call Crystal at 866/446-6625 or click here for the line's website. Bookings are handled exclusively through travel agents. Call 888/722-0021 if you need an agent recommendation from Crystal.

Photo of Mediterranean coast courtesy of Crystal Cruises.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Uniworld features early booking discounts on 2008 Yangtze River cruises

If you follow this blog and the free-subscription Smarter Cruising Newsletter, you probably know that river cruising is one of the hottest trends in cruising this year. And competition among river cruise lines is fierce, especially in Europe and the U.S. Keep tuning in here for the many discount offers that flow across my desk nearly every week.

Yesterday we posted an item about free air deals on upcoming Amadeus Waterways river cruises in Europe. Our deal today is from Uniworld, another leader in river cruises around the world. In conjunction with Victoria Cruises, which specializes in China, Uniworld is offering early-bird discounts on its 2008 Yangtze River cruises that could save you up to $400 per couple if you pay in full at time of booking, up to October 31, 2007.

If you book and put down a deposit by December 15, 2007, you can receive a discount of up to $200 per couple. In addition, past guests of Uniworld are eligible for an extra $100 discount per person.

Uniworld's 2008 China itineraries include trips lasting from seven to 20 days, including Yangtze cruises that travel through the famous Three Gorges. Besides Yangtze cruises, you can add land tours that include Tibet, Suzhou, and Guilin. Itineraries start at $999 per person double occupancy, and include flights within China, five-star cruise ships, and other transportation and accommodations within China.

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

MV Katarina photo courtesy of Uniworld.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Amadeus Waterways offers free air for European river cruises in late 2007

You can choose among four 16-day "Magnificent Europe" river cruises from Amadeus Waterways this November and December that come complete with a free air offer from either New York City or Boston.

The cruises sail the Danube and Rhine while passing from Amsterdam to Budapest or vice versa, with prices starting at $3,299 per passenger in double occupancy. Departure dates from the U.S. are November 3 and 17 or December 22 and 27; on the latter you can spend Christmas or New Year's in Vienna, which lies en route.

If you fly out of any city besides New York or Boston, you'll have to do an air add-on to take advantage of this offer. You'll also need to pay in full at time of booking. Port charges are additional and this isn't combinable with other offers.

For more information or to book, click here or call 800-626-0126 or a travel agent.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

MSC Cruises offers Caribbean savings

MSC Cruises is offering Senior Saver prices for 2007-8 Caribbean voyages on the MSC Lirica starting at $479 per passenger (not counting government taxes and fees) if you book by September 30, 2007.

The best part? Only one passenger in the stateroom has to be 50 years of age at the time of sailing -- and if 50 is the "new 30," as I at least choose to believe, that's stretching the definition of "senior" from here to Aruba.

In another deal, up to two children ages 17 and younger staying in the same cabin as two full-fare paying adults can cruise for free (not counting government taxes and fees) on ten different Caribbean voyages departing from Fort Lauderdale from December 4, 2007, until March 19, 2008.

For residents of North America, a $100 deposit per passenger (double occupancy) will hold your space.

In a third deal, MSC is offering free airfare from five West Coast gateways for the ten-night Caribbean cruise onboard the Lirica that departs December 4, 2007. For this deal, prices start at $849 per person, so if you live on the West Coast and are 50 or older, you'll have to weigh this offer versus the Senior Saver fare. The free airfare offer expires September 30.

For more information or to book a cruise, click here or call a travel agent.

Photo of MSC Lirica courtesy of MSC Cruises.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Last-minute river cruise op with Majestic America

Vacations to Go is offering the 8-day Majestic America river cruise "American Discovery" from Louisville to Pittsburgh for about $75 per person per day, but you have to act fast to have a chance to nab it: the cruise leaves August 22. Prices start at $674 per passenger in double occupancy.

Other stops on the Ohio River itinerary include Madison, Indiana; Cincinnati and Marietta, Ohio; Maysville, Kentucky; and Point Pleasant and Wheeling, West Virginia. Scenic beauty and tales of history and legend lie en route.

If it's too late for you to book this trip, Vacations to Go has a whole raft of specials on other Majestic America river cruises for 2007 and 2008, including trips aboard the Delta Queen, the historic steamboat currently due to be retired in late 2008. You can book an 8-day July 1, 2008, river cruise from Cincinnati to Memphis aboard the Delta Queen for prices starting at $2,458 per passenger, airfare included.

For more information, call Vacations to Go at 800-680-2858. For the American Discovery cruise, ask for Fast Deal T98368.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Oceania's two-for-one sale on European voyages

If you book by August 31, 2007, you can still land two-for-one fares and free airfare on some of Oceania Cruises' spring 2008 European voyages.

One good deal: Oceania's "Enchanted Escapade," which sails from the port of Rome to Athens visiting Portofino, Monte Carlo, Sorrento, Santorini, Mykonos, and other calls. The 12-day voyage is available for $2,799 per guest. If you opt out of the free airfare deal, you can get several hundred dollars taken off your fare.

Oceania is an excellent premium line that features 600-passenger ships, some of the best cuisine at sea with plenty of dining options, and a low-key onboard atmosphere (think lectures and piano music in the bar rather than Broadway-style revues). My wife and I cruised the Med with Oceania last year and found it to offer an ideal combination of intriguing port calls and onboard professionalism.

The two-for-one fares (off the full brochure price) are double occupancy and don't include government fees and some other extra charges. The free airfare deal is available from 20 gateway cities in North America; if you leave from any other city, you'll pay a bit extra.

To book -- again, by the end of this month to take advantage of these offers -- call Oceania at 800-531-5619 or a travel agent. Click here for the Oceania website.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Big Band Cruises to Bahamas yours for a song

Imperial Majesty Cruise Line is putting its four Big Band Cruises to Nassau, Bahamas, this September and October on sale. Act now and you can score a two-night cruise accompanied to the sounds of a Big Band orchestra for as little as $99 per person -- cheaper than staying home!

The mini-cruises, which leave from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, include private cabin, dining, dancing, and a day in Nassau (shore excursions cost extra if you want one; so do any optional losses in the on-board casino). Dates are September 27-29, September 29-October 1, October 1-3, and October 3-5.

The $99 price is for double occupancy in an upgraded inside cabin. You can also upgrade to an outside cabin for an additional $30.

To book, call 877-772-4625 or click here for the Imperial Majesty website.

For my earlier blog posting on Imperial Majesty's mini-cruises to the Bahamas, click here.

Prince George Wharf, Nassau, photo courtesy of

Friday, August 10, 2007

Explore Lapland and the Arctic Circle at early-booking savings with Elegant Cruises

Elegant Cruises is featuring a tantalizing new 13-day itinerary in the Land of the Midnight Sun for next summer and the summer of 2009 aboard the 106-passenger expedition ship Andrea.

The "White Nights of Finland and Sweden" cruise will explore the Gulf of Bothnia -- visiting secluded towns, villages, and islands seldom seen on cruises, as well as four of Europe's most beautiful cities, Helsinki, Stockholm, Talinn (Estonia), and St. Petersburg, Russia. Among the stops are Lulea, Sweden, north of the Arctic Circle and gateway to the Jokkmokk region, a UNESCO nature and culture World Heritage site; and Rauma, Finland, another World Heritage Site founded in the 1400s.

The maiden voyage will depart Helsinki July 16, 2008; three sailings will follow in July and early August of 2009.

Passengers who make deposited reservations by November 30, 2007, can save $400 each. Prices begin at $3,995 per passenger.

Having sailed with Elegant Cruises on the Andrea's sister ship Monet from Venice to Croatia this spring, I can vouch for the quality and professionalism of this line, and the excitement of being able to dock in small ports well off the mega-cruiseship track. You'll also get to know many of your fellow passengers. If you haven't tried small-ship cruising, I heartily recommend it. Click here for my earlier write-up of the Monet cruise to Croatia.

For more information or bookings, visit the Elegant Cruises website or call 800/683-6767. You can also e-mail them at

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Crystal Cruises puts luxury on sale for 2007

The luxury line Crystal Cruises has just announced a number of discounts and deals for the rest of 2007.

Fares start at $3,890 per passenger for six late August and fall 11- and 12-day Mediterranean voyages aboard the Crystal Serenity. Cruises depart from Venice, Monte Carlo, Athens, Istanbul and Rome. That's up to 48 percent off the brochure rates.

At Thanksgiving time this November, you can save $500 per person on most stateroom categories, including verandahs, on voyages through the Panama Canal and Caribbean on both the Serenity and the Symphony. Meanwhile, kids 11 and under can sail free when sharing a stateroom with two full-fare adults. Fares start at $2,195, a savings of up to 60 percent off brochure fares.

You can also save up to 52 percent on three Crystal Value Collection cruises left in 2007, which sail through the Panama Canal, Mediterranean, and Caribbean.

For more information, contact Crystal Cruises at 866/446-6625 or click here for their website. To book, call a travel agent -- Crystal Cruises are booked exclusively through travel agents.

Crystal Symphony photo courtesy of Crystal Cruises.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Carnival launches one-day sale for winter-spring 2008 cruises

The clock is ticking on Carnival Cruise Lines' latest one-day sale, which offers up to $250 savings per stateroom on select seven- and eight-day 2008 sailings, and up to $150 savings per stateroom on select four- or five-day 2008 sailings if you book by the end of today.

Destinations include the eastern, western, and southern Caribbean, The Bahamas, and Baja Mexico. More than 20 sailings are on sale, for embarkation dates ranging from January 12 to April 14, 2008.

Prices for the four-day cruises start as low as $249 per passenger in double occupancy, for voyages to the western Caribbean, The Bahamas or Baja Mexico. Prices for the seven-day cruises start as low as $449 for an eastern Caribbean itinerary January 13, 2008.

Full deposit is required at time of booking, and government taxes and fees are additional. The offer expires at 11:59 p.m. EST on Wednesday, August 8, 2007.

To book your cruise, call 888-CARNIVAL or a travel agent and ask for fare code CPDW.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Costa puts Mediterranean on sale

Costa Cruises is featuring a number of seven-night eastern Mediterranean sailings this fall (and a few this month) for prices starting at $699.

Itineraries start in Italy and include various Greek islands and ports in Turkey and Croatia, depending on which cruise you choose.

Call Costa at 800-462-6782 or click here and ask for Discount Code ES. The offer expires in one week, on August 15.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Holland America joins the "As You Wish Dining" club

Holland America is the latest line to offer its passengers the option of choosing a flexible dining schedule, phasing in its new "As You Wish Dining" program this fall and the first half of 2008.

Passengers will be able to choose either the traditional pre-set seating and dining times (early and late seatings), or take advantage of open dining service on one level of the main dining room from 5:15 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Guests will need to choose which type of service they want before the cruise begins. Those who opt for flexible dining will be able to make reservations daily or take their chances by walking up any time during dining hours.

The line has been experimenting with the program aboard the ms Noordam and found it to be a success. With the popularity of NCL's Freestyle Dining program and others, flexible dining is definitely the wave of the future for the cruise industry. (And about time.)

Besides the currently operating program on the Noordam, As You Wish Dining will be rolled out on a ship-by-ship basis beginning October 11 with the ms Ryndam and continuing until July 5, 2008, with the ms Eurodam.

Cruise ship buffet photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Sunday, August 5, 2007

MSC's 'Suite Deal' offers savings on balcony suites

MSC Cruises is putting some of its balcony suites on sale for a number of Caribbean departures on the MSC Lirica in December 2007 through March 2008, with savings up to 60 percent off brochure prices.

For instance, you can land a balcony suite for as little as $999 per passenger on a seven-night West Caribbean itinerary out of Fort Lauderdale on December 14, with port stops in Key West; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Georgetown, Grand Cayman; and Cozumel, Mexico.

Or, you can opt for a 10-night roundtrip cruise with four departures from January to March 2008 from Fort Lauderdale and calling at Cozumel; Costa Limon, Costa Rica; Cristobal, Panama; Cartagena, Colombia; and Cayo Levantado, Dominican Republic, starting at $1,449 per passenger for a balcony suite.

Other itineraries ranging from $1,199 to $1,399 per passenger include island stops such as Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Antigua, Tortola, St. Thomas, and Nassau, depending on which voyage you choose.

If you plan to bring children along, this may not be the best deal for you, since you aren't allowed to combine it with MSC's "children cruise free" or any other promotion or discount. (Click here for my earlier blog post on the kids cruise free to the Caribbean deal.)

But if it suits your circumstances, you can book it by calling MSC at 800-666-9333 or a travel agent, and ask for the Suite Deal promotion. The offer expires September 30, 2007.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Save on Heart of the Amazon River Cruise

You can take a week-long Heart of the Amazon River Cruise with free airfare from Miami and another week's stay in first-class hotels in Rio de Janeiro and Bahia, Brazil, at prices starting at $3,799 per person from Vantage Travel. That's a savings of $400 per couple when you book by August 10.

The cruise includes an outside balcony cabin on a deluxe river ship. Departure date is October 7.

Call 800-322-6677 and ask for promo code EM1321. (This offer is not available on the Vantage Travel website; tell them Smarter Cruising sent you.)

Friday, August 3, 2007

Majestic America Line offers free air, holiday deals

Majestic America Line is offering free roundtrip airfare on selected 2008 Mississippi River cruise itineraries and for all of its 2008 Alaska Inside Passage journeys.

The Mississippi River offer is for all 2008 cruises seven nights or longer on all three of its ships sailing the Mississippi, including the historic Delta Queen (which, alas, will cease operations in November 2008 as things now stand).

To take advantage of this offer, guests must book their travels by October 31, 2007. If you don't need the free airfare, Majestic America will issue a $300 credit toward your cruise fare.

For the 2008 Alaska sailings, Majestic America is offering free airfare from Seattle to Alaska or a $400 per person roundtrip airfare credit. You must book by December 31 of this year.

Meanwhile, Majestic America is offering two-for-one deals on a variety of Mississippi River holiday cruises aboard the American Queen during November and December 2007. Children under 17 can cruise for free when sharing a stateroom with their parents. Adult fares start at $895 per person.

For more information, click here or call 206-292-9606 or a travel agent.

American Queen photo courtesy of Majestic America Line

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Save money on special weekly cruise discounts from General Tours

In celebration of its 60th anniversary, General Tours is offering special weekly discounts ("Gems of a Deal") on its 2008 small-ship cruises if you book from now until September 1, 2007.

Offerings for 2008 include voyages aboard luxury river ships in Europe, Russia, Egypt, and China.

The current deal, expiring August 4, allows you to save on a small-ship cruise on Russia's Volga River aboard the luxury vessel Volga Dream.

The deal for the week of August 6, expiring August 11, offers savings on any of six 2008 Yangtze River cruise with Victoria Cruises.

The weekly deals allow you to save up to $200 per person and also combine the discounts with General Tours' other discounts if you wish.

For instance, AARP members can save $210 to $420 per couple on all of General Tours' 2008 worldwide cruise vacations, regardless of when they book. You can also save another three percent if you pay by check, money order, or electronic cash withdrawal rather than by credit card. (Prices are guaranteed upon deposit rather than at final payment, another perk.)

And there's good news for single passengers as well -- no single supplements are charged on the voyages along Europe's Rhine, Moselle, or Elbe rivers.

Click here or call 800-221-2216 for bookings or more information.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Carnival holds one-day sale August 1

Carnival Cruise Lines is offering savings of up to $300 per stateroom on a variety of upcoming holiday sailings if you book today (August 1, 2007) and make a full deposit.

Discounts apply to a number of Carnival's December (and one November) 2007 cruises to Mexico, The Bahamas, and the Caribbean, ranging in length from three to eight days. The maximum savings ($300 per stateroom) applies to the seven- and eight-day cruises. Government taxes and fees are additional, and only certain categories of staterooms are available.

Double occupancy prices start as low as $219 per passenger (for a four-day Western Caribbean itinerary leaving December 17 or a three-day Baja Mexico cruise departing December 21). You can snag a week-long Western Caribbean cruise embarking December 16 for as little as $429 per person.

To take advantage of this deal, call a travel agent or Carnival at 888-CARNIVAL and request fare code CPDW.