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.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

One-day Carnival sale for late fall Caribbean sailings

Carnival Cruise Lines is holding a one-day sale today (Wednesday, September 12) with savings from $140 to $240 per stateroom on selected three- to eight-day Bahamas and Caribbean cruises out of Miami and Fort Lauderdale between October and mid-December 2007.

Voyages include a four-day western Caribbean itinerary departing Miami December 17 with prices starting from $229 per passenger in double occupancy, and a seven-day eastern Caribbean itinerary departing Miami on December 2 with prices starting at $429 per person.

The fine print: The sale ends at one minute before midnight tonight. Government taxes and fees are additional, and full deposit is required at the time of booking. Full savings are based on double occupancy and only new bookings apply. You must request fare code CPDW.

For more information or bookings, visit Carnival's website or call 888/-CARNIVAL or a travel agent.

Photo from Carnival Cruise Lines.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

NCL "Hot Deals" include cabins under $200, best available cabins

Norwegian Cruise Line's "Hot Deals" for this week include inside cabins starting at $149 per person and oceanview cabins starting at $199 for a four-day Pacific Coast cruise from Vancouver to Los Angeles departing September 24, 2008.

As part of this "Pity the Procrastinator" sales event, NCL is promising the best available inside, oceanview, and balcony cabins (the latter starting at $299) at time of booking. If you book today, you could receive up to an 11-category upgrade.

Two other deals: A seven-day Boston-Bermuda roundtrip departing this September 16 (hurry!) starting at $349 per person and a five-day western Caribbean cruise roundtrip from Miami October 14, 2007, also starting at $349.

A number of other cruises are on sale as well, including voyages in the eastern Mediterranean, Hawaii, the Mexican Riviera, South America, and the Panama Canal ranging from later this month until spring 2008; on most of them, NCL is promising the best available inside, oceanview, and balcony cabins at time of booking.

To take advantage of these deals, you must book by September 14, 2007; ask for promo code PGSD1. Government taxes and fees are additional.

Visit the NCL website or call a travel agent for more information or bookings.

Photo from NCL.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Bring your friends, land a discount on ACCL

The small-ship cruise line American Canadian Caribbean Line is featuring a Bring Friends offer for fall 2007.

Here's the deal: if you book two cabins on the same itinerary -- and at least one cabin's guests are new to ACCL -- then each cabin receives up to a $500 discount, depending on the length of the cruise.

The offer is valid only on non-discounted cruises and isn't combinable with other offers; still, up to $1,000 off for two cabins can make a big difference in your bottom line. Non-discounted rates range from $1315 to $4295 per passenger in double occupancy.

Loyalty is prized and rewarded here (nearly two of every three passengers signs up for subsequent voyages). Currently, passengers taking 10 cruises (based on 12-night trips) receive their 11th voyage free of charge. Like any special offer, though, this one is always subject to change.

And here's another benefit: passengers can bring their own wine or other alcohol on board -- potentially reducing what can otherwise be huge bar bills aboard more typical cruise ships.

For more details or reservations, click here or call ACCL at 800/556-7450. Since there's no definite end date for the offer, ask if you can apply it to sailings beyond this fall as well.

Itineraries for ACCL's two expedition-style small ships (with just 50 cabins) are destination-oriented and focus on coastal New England, the Great Lakes, the canals and rivers of the northeastern U.S. and Canada, and the Intracoastal Waterway and bays of the U.S. East Coast. Cruises range from five to 15 nights. ACCL also offers some off-the-beaten path Caribbean itineraries that include Belize and The Bahamas.

Because of their compact size and special features (including a retractable pilot house that allows transit under low-lying bridges on the Erie Canal), its ships can navigate areas usually only accessible to small private yachts. The atmosphere aboard these family-owned ships is casual, non-commercial, and uncrowded.

Photo courtesy of ACCL.

Friday, September 7, 2007

New price reductions for Marco Polo's farewell season

In its farewell season under the umbrella of NCL, Orient Lines is offering two specials on lengthy cruise tours aboard its ship Marco Polo during November and December of this year.

Second passengers in a stateroom are eligible for half off their fares on a 32-day repositioning cruise tour from Barcelona, Spain, to Rio de Janeiro starting November 12, 2007; and also half off their fares on a 24-day cruise tour to Antarctica starting December 5, 2007.

Inside cabin fares start at $3,099 for the first passenger and $1,550 for the second passenger on the November repositioning cruise, and $5,199 for the first passenger and $2,600 for the second passenger on the December Antarctica cruise. For ocean view cabins, add $1,000 and $500 per passenger, respectively, on both cruises.

The cruise tours include hotel accommodations and sightseeing tours of the departure cities before or after the cruise.

For bookings or more information, click here or call Orient Lines at 800/333-7300 or a travel agent. For the transatlantic repositioning cruise, ask for promotion code MPO60EBF50; for the Antarctica cruise, ask for promotion code MPO63EBF.

For our earlier posting on the future of the Marco Polo, click here.

Marco Polo photo from Orient Lines.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

SeaDream Yacht Club holds Caribbean half-off sale

The luxury line SeaDream Yacht Club is holding a short sale of up to 55 percent off for six voyages later this year.

Starting with a repositioning cruise from Tenerife to Miami on November 3, 2007, the seven- to 11-day sailings include five voyages from Miami to St. Thomas, San Juan to St. Thomas, and San Juan to San Juan during the rest of November and December, 2007.

Prices start at $2205 per person based on double occupancy; some fees are additional. Staterooms up for sale are limited and the offer could be withdrawn at any time before the deadline, which is midnight tomorrow EDT, September 7.

To take advantage of this sale, you'll have to contact a travel agent and have the agent call or e-mail SeaDream; the promotion is not on SeaDream's website.

Photo from SeaDream Yacht Club

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Free travel insurance offers when booking online

One of the latest perks being offered by various online cruise travel websites is free travel insurance with bookings.

Here are some offers we've come across recently: offers complimentary cruise travel insurance to all vacationers who book through their site. It insures all the passengers in a stateroom and not just the first two. Coverages include trip interruption and cancellation, emergency dental and medical expenses, emergency medical evacuation, travel delay, and baggage delays and losses.

Cruise Value Center offers free cruise travel insurance when you book voyages on select Carnival, Celebrity, and Royal Caribbean sailings. The deal includes most of the above coverages but applies to new bookings for first and second passengers in a stateroom only. offers free cruise travel insurance with every new online booking through its website. This is described as a "limited time offer" but no expiration date is noted.

As with any free offer, it's important to read the fine print and compare it with other offers before signing up. Cruise travel insurance benefits can vary widely, and not all contingencies that could force you to miss your cruise may apply.

But if you are able to take advantage of one of these offers, it could save you several hundred dollars off your total costs.

Cruise ship photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Cruise West features early booking rates for holiday voyages in the Sea of Cortez

The small ship cruise line Cruise West is offering early-booking discounts of up to $175 per passenger for five specialty voyages in Mexico's Sea of Cortez this holiday season.

The cruises will take place in December 2007 and January 2008 aboard the 138-passenger Spirit of Yorktown. Besides Christmas and New Year's sailings (December 22 and 29), both with holiday-themed events, Cruise West is offering two John Steinbeck-themed cruises (January 5 and 12, 2008) and one photography-themed cruise (January 19).

To claim the complete $175 savings, you'll need to book your trips by September 14, 2007, and pay in full on that date. Early booking savings of $125 are available if you book and put down a deposit only by September 14. Prices start at $2,399 per person, double occupancy.

Real early-birds can save up to $350 on departures in December 2008 if they book and pay in full by October 5, 2007.

For more information, click here or call 888/851-8133 or a travel agent.

Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Saturday, September 1, 2007

MSC Cruises announces Senior Saver deals

A few days ago we posted an item about MSC Cruises' Family Plan fares to the Caribbean aboard the MSC Lirica.

Today we can tell you that MSC Cruises has announced Senior Saver prices for its 2007-8 Caribbean sailings aboard the Lirica, starting at $479 per person, double occupancy. (Government taxes and fees are extra.)

To take advantage of the offer, only one guest in the stateroom has to be 50 years of age or older on the departure date. Bookings must be made by September 30. If you're a North American resident, you only need to place a $100 deposit per person at time of booking, based on double occupancy.

For more information or bookings, click here or call a travel agent. Photo of MSC Lirica from MSC Cruises.