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.