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 And, in fact, the offer is subject to availability, so it could be withdrawn when cabins are booked up, even before the deadline.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.