Monday, December 29, 2008

Cruise West extends early booking deals for Alaska

Cruise West, which runs small expedition-style cruises to Alaska (among 0ther destinations), is extending its early booking discount for its 2009 Alaska cruises and waiving the fuel surcharge for passengers who book and pay in full by January 30, 2009.

You can save up to $1,210 per cabin, double occupancy, on a 2009 eight-night Alaska's Inside Passage cruise, including one night's hotel accommodations in Juneau. The itinerary starts at $3,999 per person. This promotion may be applied to existing bookings.

The company is also waiving the fuel surcharge on all its 2009 cruises for passengers who pay in full by the final early booking discount dates for those cruises. For instance, if you pay in full for fall Japan cruises by January 17, 2009, or by March 27, 2009 for Panama and Costa Rica, Mexico's Sea of Cortes, or Columbia and Snake River cruises, you can escape the fuel surcharge.

For more information or bookings, go to the Cruise West website or call 800/296-8307.

Photo from Cruise West.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Holidays from Smarter Cruising

Wishing you all the best -- cruising and otherwise -- during the holiday season and throughout the New Year.
Clark Norton
The Smarter Cruiser

Friday, December 19, 2008

Hurry! Viking River Cruises sale ends tonight

In an effort to encourage more people to take a river cruise, Viking River Cruises is offering a special promotion for anyone who has taken an ocean cruise -- a $1,000 per couple discount on any 2009 Viking itinerary.

This is in addition to the early booking discount of up to $2,000 per couple that is also being offered. Cruise prices start at $1,449 per person.

In total, you can save up to $3,000 per couple on two itineraries: a 15-day Grand European Tour along the Rhine, Main, and Danube rivers, from Holland to Hungary; and the 16-day Eastern European Odyssey.

You can save up to $2,000 per stateroom on other Viking itineraries ranging from the 16-day Russian Rhapsody to the 17-day China's Cultural Delights tour, which includes a 10-day Yangtze cruise.

But you have to hurry -- the offer expires at 7 pm PST (10 pm EST) tonight, December 19, 2008. To take advantage of it, you have to pay in full by tonight. Be sure to request fare code 30W when you call. Viking can be reached at 866/200-5395 or 800/304-9616, or call a travel agent now.

Photo courtesy of Viking River Cruises.

Elegant Cruises offers discounts on 2009 Adriatic and other European voyages

Elegant Cruises and Tours is offering $300 per person discounts on a variety of 2009 small-ship cruises ranging from the Adriatic to the Azores to remote Scottish Isles.

Elegant Cruises is also waiving the singles supplement on three April 2009 departures of its week-long Venice and Dalmatian Coast cruises of Croatia -- its most popular itinerary -- and offering 30 percent savings on shore excursions for those trips.

The cruises aboard the m/s Monet or the m/s Andrea must be reserved by January 31, 2009, in order to take advantage of these offers.

Elegant is also offering $300 off per person on seven Red Sea cruises in January and February 2009 (with visits to Egypt and Jordan) if you reserve by December 31, 2008.

Having sailed down the Dalmatian coast on the m/s Monet, I can vouch for the quality of these cruises, from the excellent onboard accommodations and food to the historical and cultural lectures and friendly crew. The ships' intimate size provides an opportunity to get to know everyone on board.For more information or bookings, go to Elegant's website or call 800/683-6767 (e-mail

Photo courtesy of Elegant Cruises and Tours.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cruise lines ending fuel supplements

The sharp downward trend in oil prices is leading a number of cruise lines to drop the fuel supplements they implemented in the past year. Fuel supplements typically averaged $7-$9 per day, usually up to a maximum of $70 to $120 per passenger per cruise, depending on the cruise line. This is good news for cruise-goers, who can scratch at least one unexpected added fee to the cost of their voyage. Not having to pay a fuel supplement, for example, essentially cancels out the cost of tipping for many cruises.

Here are two of the most recent announcements:

**MSC Cruises eliminated fuel surcharges for all new bookings for 2009 beginning December 16, 2008. Passengers who have already booked for 2009 cruises will receive a shipboard credit equal to the amount of the fuel supplement. If fuel supplements are re-imposed in the future due to newly rising oil prices, anyone who books with a deposit prior to that decision will be protected from having to pay it.

**Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines eliminated fuel surcharges on all bookings made on or after December 17, 2008. Passengers who have already paid fuel surcharges will receive shipboard credits for the full amount of payment. (Bookings for Fred. Olsen in the U.S. are handled by Borton Overseas; call 800/843-0602 and press 6 at the prompt).

Photo of the Fred. Olsen ship Balmoral by Peter Knego.