Friday, January 11, 2008

Top 10 short cruise vacations

MSNBC reports:

There’s little doubt that a cruise craze has swept the nation — some of us were just born with seafaring souls, some love cruising for the popular (or yet-to-be-discovered) ports of call, while still others are simply in it for the hassle-free vacation that a cruise vacation can provide. The catch, for many of us, however, is finding the time to make our dreams of deck-time a reality.

Well, happily your ship’s come in, thanks to these short cruise vacations that will get you just about anywhere from popular islands with turquoise shores to south-of-the border hotspots, or from the banks of the Mississippi to the historic harbors of New England. From mega cruise ships to houseboats, and steamboats to windjammers, we’ve got you covered. Best of all, each of these short sailings — ranging from one to four nights in duration — depart from ports within the continental U.S., making these quick cruise escapes within easy reach.

1. Bahamas cruise
Although most adults would jump at the chance to lie out on exotic island shores for a week or two, long-haul Caribbean cruises don’t always appeal to the entire family. That’s why a 3- or 4-night Disney Cruise Lines sailing to the Bahamas is just the ticket for the whole gang to enjoy. Cruises set sail year-round from Port Canaveral, Florida, just 60 miles from Walt Disney World Resort, and head towards the Bahamian capital of Nassau, plus Castaway Cay — Disney’s own private island. The 875-cabin ship, Disney Wonder, offers character encounters and kids-only Oceaneer Clubs, as well as game rooms, a sports deck, fully loaded spa, Broadway-style shows, and a trio of family-friendly pools designed to look like the head of everybody’s favorite mouse.

Cruise Vacations

Here's an audio report:

>> My wife and I went on a cruise vacation this summer, and it was one of the best experiences of our lives. Because there are many cruise travel destinations and cruise packages, we first contacted a cruise travel agent who supplied us with a lot of information and travel tips about the whole cruise experience. He told us that cruise lines cater to different crowds, including singles, honeymooners, and families, and each cruise provides different activities and facilities on ship. Because we were going on our honeymoon, we steered away from a family cruise and choose one geared just for people like us. I was a little worried that we would spend all our time on ship, but the cruise agent said that cruise vacations often offer land and shore excursions where you can get off the ship and explore the different lands and cultures during your vacation. Before deciding on the cruise package, the cruise agent suggested that we plan our trip during a favorable time of year in terms of price and weather. The price of a cruise is less in the off season (fall and spring), but the fall is hurricane season in the Caribbean, so this is something to consider. In the end, proper planning helped us have a wonderful cruise experience.

Part II: Discussion

What do you think is the attraction for people to go on cruise vacations? What kinds of activities does a cruise provide that you might not be able to experience on a different type of trip?

Part III: Online Investigation

You have just been notified that have won a "free" cruise vacation for seven nights in the Caribbean, but a friend is afraid you will end up spending more money than you think. What "hidden" fees can you expect to pay for a cruise vacation that might not be including in the "free" vacation or normal price of such a trip? Search the Internet for advice and information on this topic.

Cruise Vacations


This Week's Special Deals P/P from
Caribbean 5 Day • Century $339
Mexico 7 Day • MS Oosterdam $424
Caribbean 7 Day • Norwegian Majesty $439
Caribbean 7 Day • Victory $469
Alaska 7 Day • MS Volendam $607
Caribbean 6 Day • MS Westerdam $539
Caribbean 7 Day • Caribbean Princess $604
Caribbean 7 Day • Mariner of the Seas $549
Caribbean 7 Day • Norwegian Dawn $569
Mexico 8 Day • Norwegian Star $629
Europe 7 Day • Romantica $604
Alaska 7 Day • Norwegian Star $699
Europe 7 Day • Norwegian Gem $699
Bahamas 7 Day • Disney Wonder $699
Mexico 10 Day • MS Ryndam $872
TransAtlantic 6 Day • QM II $863

Navigating rough waters: Booking a cruise yourself

Bill McGee writes for the USA Today:

Many of us have become our own bank tellers, gas station attendants and grocery clerks. And since about half of all travel purchases are made online now, it's safe to say quite a few of us have become our own travel agents as well.

But booking a two-hour flight or a midsize car for the weekend is one thing. Buying a cruise vacation is another. I recently researched this topic for Consumer Reports and found that while the Internet has remade the face of airline ticket distribution, the overwhelming number of cruises are still booked the way they were before there was a World Wide Web: through travel agents.

Some experts question if this will change significantly any time soon. "I don't see booking direct in a big way," says Fran Golden, travel editor for GateHouse Media and author of Frommer's Alaska Cruises. "The vast majority of cruise passengers still book through agents, whether on the phone or with online agencies."

These days, it can be fairly hard to mess up an online booking for a domestic round-trip flight or a one-night hotel stay. But a lot can go wrong if you don't know how to book a cruise.

Hop aboard and make the ocean your playground

Tom Wharton writes:

Thought about logically, cruising makes little sense.
Several thousand people hop on a boat and spend four days to two weeks around semi-exotic locations, stopping to totally overwhelm what initial charm a port of call might have possessed.
While on the boat, passengers eat prodigious amounts of food, watch entertainment, swim in saltwater-filled pools, gamble, go to spas, people watch, shop, attend art auctions or dance.
Described like that, cruising seems to be on the strange side.
The reality is that, unless you are prone to seasickness, cruising can be enjoyable and inexpensive.
I've gone on six cruises over the past 15 years, three in the Caribbean and three along the California and Mexico coasts of the Pacific.
The most unusual was the smallest, a seven-day Caribbean cruise aboard the Royal Clipper, one of the world's largest sailing ships but a relatively tiny ship compared with most. There were only 132 passengers on this trip (though it can carry 227), which made for a more personal experience.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Cheap Cruises: All The Comforts Of Full Fare

David Faulkner writes:

If you’ve never been on a cruise, you don’t know hat you’ve been missing. And if the reason you’ve never been on a cruise is that you just didn’t think you could afford one, there’s good news. If you know where to find them, cheap cruises are plentiful and will offer you the chance to either relax or cut loose in some of the world’s most enticing locations. Cheap cruises are available for singles, couples, and entire families.

If there’s one thing which life aboard a cruise ship definitely is NOT, it’s boring. Even better, almost all cruise ship activities are included in the cost of your fare. You can have your choice of live entertainment including some very impressive magic acts, or miniature golf, a fitness center, at least two swimming pools, a hot tub, cooking demonstrations with free samples, dance or karaoke contests, and even rock climbing walls.

What’s Included

All meals, except for those in the specially designated theme restaurants, and beverages, except for alcohol, are included, and most cruise ships have food available 24/7. Don’t forget the casinos, but you’ll have to use your own money to gamble. And most cruise line have professionally trained child care staff with free kids’ activities so that Mom and Dad can relax on their own.

Cruise ships have pool tables and libraries, and can provide you with Internet access for a fee. And passengers who can find fares for cheap cruises will be treated just as courteously as those who paid full price. Even better, they can use their savings to pay for the extras like onshore excursions, or some tropical drinks, or to put toward the gratuities for their onboard service.

How To Book Cheap Cruises

The trick to booking cheap cruises is to wait as long as possible--up to two weeks before sailing time if you can--and then book your fare through one of the many online websites devoted to finding the best deals for travelers. All cruise lines are loathe to have any of their ships set sail with empty cabins, and you can save as much as fifty percent on your fare if you are willing to reserve you cabin at the last minute. You may not be able to get ocean view cabins when you book cheap cruises, but if you intend to use your cabin only for changing your clothes, showering, and sleeping, it doesn’t matter much.

Try to book your cheap cruises from those which depart ports within driving distance, so that you can save on airfare by renting and dropping off your vehicle before sailing. And “Bon Voyage!”

Discount travel websites can often beat the prices quoted by cruise line, and are great ways to find discount cruises if you can travel on short notice. No cruise line operators like to have their ships sailing with empty cabins, and if you can wait until about tow week before a cruise is set to depart, can often pick up a cabin for as much as fifty percent off the regular price.

By spending some time comparison shopping, you can learn about the features of the various cruise ships and find the ones most likely to provide activities you’ll enjoy. You can find discount cruises for singles, for families, and for groups with particular interests.

You can also find more info on caribbean cruises and discount is a comprehensive resource to know more about Luxury cruises.

Read more articles by: David Faulkner
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Cheap Cruises - The Best Time To Pick Up A Cheap Cruise

Dean Caporella writes:

The art of finding cheap cruises is relatively easy today. In fact, it's often said it's too easy.

The term cheap cruises has almost lost it's meaning because the simple truth is, cheap prices for cruises today are almost standard.

There has been a revolution in recent years with companies putting bigger and better ships on the water enabling more people to be able to take advantage of cruise holidays.

Finding Cheap Cruises

However, there are still some "secrets" to nailing cheap cruises which many won't be aware of. One of the best times of the year to look for cheap cruise deals is the second half.

If you have a little patience and can be flexible with your travelling times then waiting until the last few months can be very lucrative in terms of making savings.

With the presence now of online booking facilities and information websites the competition is fierce for the vacation dollar. This is also true among the various cruise lines who simply want to fill their cabins before their ships leave port.

Closeout Cruise Deals

Towards the end of the year you should be on the lookout for what are termed as closeout deals. Some of the savings one can make are substantial.

Closeout deals are basically so-called because the end of the year is approaching and with so many cruises scheduled to depart from the various ports around the world, cruise lines look for a last minute rush on cabins.

This is especially so in the northern hemisphere with winter in full flight and the festive season approaching. Many people prefer to stick around home with family and friends and cabins are usually much more available.

Where To Find Closeout Deals

You could simply phone the cruise lines themselves however, a prudent shopper of cheap cruises will head to their local travel agent or simply phone around.

In fact, you don't have to leave this until the last minute as you could talk to travel agents earlier in the year and let them know what you're after and how much you want to spend.

The other excellent source of closeout deals are the online booking services and websites. Like office-based travel agents you also have the option of being alerted to possible deals via regular newsletters.

For more great tips on your next cheap cruise vacation plus, advice on how to prepare and find the best cheap cruises.

How To Find A Discount Cruise

Here are tips on finding cheap cruise vacations:

If you are thinking you cannot afford to take a cruise you may be right-unless you are aware of off-season cruises. That’s right. If you are traveling during a time that is not considered the busy season for a cruise line you could receive a hefty cruise discount.

How To Find A Discount Cruise
Off-season and/or winter cruises are often displayed on travel sites. These are sometimes marketed as vacation cruise, but they sometimes are sold as business cruises, honeymoon cruises, or family cruises. These discount cruises are sold for any occasion or any reason. The reason why it is so easy to find a cheap cruise during off-season travel months is because fewer vacations are booked during this time of the year. Cruise ships need your service during this time of the year and they will do nearly anything sometimes (within reason) to get it.

The Best Cheap Cruise Locations
Sometimes you can board a large cruise ship to a Thai beach, or you may be able to find cheap family cruise vacations too Disney world. In fact, you may even be able to book a Caribbean cruise and take a day or two to relax in the Bahamas.

Other Types Of Discounts
You may receive a discount for other reasons besides for traveling off-season. For example, cruise tickets are often sold at the last minute. This is another way that cruise ships can be filled-both in season or off-season (usually in-season, though). You may also find discounts on cruise tickets that are booked for whole groups.

Follow the crowd: 4 travel secrets of the herd

MSNBC reports:

Sometimes, the mob knows best.

I reached this unlikely conclusion after years of listening to my colleagues telling everyone to go against the grain. They sent us to ski resorts in the summer and to the beach during the winter. They told us to fly the red-eye and take the repositioning cruise. And I think they’re sending many of us down the wrong road.

Now, before I go any further, let me admit that I’ve done it, too. I never stopped to question the wisdom of being a contrarian and dispensed the same advice that I now think is utterly misguided. So, travel experts out there who want to flame me, save your keystrokes. I’ll do it for you.

Here are four times when you should go with the flow, and when the herd knows best:

When you’re visiting family for the holidays:

Ask travel experts how to have a trouble-free trip around he holidays, and they’re quick to offer the following advice: schedule your flight on the actual holiday, like Christmas Day, when everyone is opening presents, or New Years Day, when half the world is hung over. The roads are quiet and the flights are flying practically empty.