Small Ships: Family Cruises and Summer Deals
While these small ship cruises are excellent alternatives for grade school-age children, they are not appropriate for infants or toddlers.
*Cruise West: Costa Rica -- a great, active family destination -- is now quite affordable with Cruise West's 50% discount for kids on its family cruises. Family departures are scheduled for July 20, 27, and August 3 aboard the Pacific Explorer. The eight-night program, including cruise and overnight land stay, explores the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. A special kids' director will tailor activities aboard ship and on land based on the age groups of the children. The line will also offer a children's dining hour prior to the adult seating. Contact: 800-888-9378; www.cruisewest.com.
*KD River: Once again, Europe's KD River Cruises has a "kids under 14 sail free" offer when accompanied by at least one adult in the cabin. It applies for July and August departures on the Rhine, Main, Moselle, Saar, Elbe, Danube and Main-Danube Canal. The adult rates, which include all shore excursions and sightseeing, range from $710 to $2,740 for a four to eight-day cruise. Note, however, they do not feature any special children's activities. Contact: 800-346-6525; www.rivercruises.com.
*Metropolitan Touring: This company is introducing its first family cruises in the Galapagos Islands this year. Its year-round 50% discount for children under 12 is being
extended to include teens under age 18 on two family cruises, July 9 and July 18. The first cruise will be aboard the 40-passenger Isabela II and the latter on the 90-passenger Santa Cruz. There will be child-friendly nature walks, kids' menus, and educationally fun activities. Contact: (800) 527-2500; www.metropolitan-touring.com.
*Pacific Delight Tours: Are your children ready for China? Pacific Delight Tours is offering a discount of $330 to $780 per child (when staying in the same cabin as two adults) on a number of its Yangtze River cruise packages through September 5, 2002. The tours range from 11-day trips (four days are on the river) starting at $1,905 up to 24-day sojourns starting at $3,855. While these cruises are discounted for children, they do not necessarily offer activities just for children. Contact: (800) 221-7179 or www.PacificDelightTours.com.
*Quasar Nautica Galapagos Expeditions: Sail to the Galapagos Islands this summer with kids in tow at a 30% discount off adult rates. Choose from five family cruises aboard the 48-passenger Eclipse: July 6, 20 and 27; August 3 and 10. These seven-night family cruises feature kid-friendly lectures on the Galapagos Islands as well as fun and educational activities specifically for children. There will also be kids' meals, stargazing, and movie nights. Contact: 800-247-2925; www.galapagosexpeditions.com.
Mid-to Large-Sized Ships: Fall Discounts
*Carnival Cruise Lines: A number of ships offer discounts on select Carnival departures. Jubilee: Five-day Western Caribbean cruises start at $429 per person, double occupancy, and at $249 for the third/fourth passengers, with departures on September 7, 16, 21, 30. Inspiration: Seven-day Western Caribbean cruises from New Orleans start at $699 for the first and second passengers, and $399 for the third/fourth, with departures September 1, 15, 22. Paradise: Seven-day alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries start at $649, and third/fourth passenger rates at $299, with departures October 13, November 11 and 17. Carnival Destiny: Seven-day Southern Caribbean itinerary from San Juan starts at $679, with the third/fourth passenger rate at $299, and departure November 10; November 17 departure starts at $649.www.carnival.com.
*Costa Cruises: Throughout Costa's fall-to-spring Caribbean season, children 17 years and under who share a cabin with two paying adults can cruise at a flat rate of $199 per child with the "Costa Loves Kids" promotion. Costa also offers a Friends and Family Fare whereby families traveling together can save an additional $100 per stateroom (double occupany) off the Andiamo (early booking) rates. A minimum of two staterooms must be booked at the same time by the same travel agency. www.costacruises.com.
*Disney Cruise Line: Parents of infants and little ones not yet in school, take note: Disney Cruise Line is offering fall discounts on its three- and four-night cruises to the Bahamas.
Three-night cruises start at $419 between August 29 and November 21 along with December 5 through 19. Four-night cruises start at $519 for departures between September 1 and November 17, as well as December 1 through 15. Kids' rates start at $199 for the three-night cruise and $299 for the four-night. In addition, Disney has a year-round Family Reunion Option package where for $29 you get: a personalized Disney Cruise Line family reunion T-shirt; leather photo portfolio and complimentary photo; and commemorative Disney Cruise Line family reunion certificate. If eight or more staterooms are booked, you get to choose a one-hour cocktail reception, a bottle of wine delivered to each stateroom, or a steamer trunk filled with snacks. www.disneycruise.com.
*Regal Cruises: On a year-round basis, Regal Cruises offers children's fares at 40 to 65 percent off the adult fare. For example, the kids' rates (when sharing a cabin with two adults) are $249 for a five-night New England/Canada summer cruise from New York; $339 for a seven-night Bahamas cruise; and $259 for a seven-night Fall Foliage cruise. Regal offers a youth program in season aboard its 900-passenger Regal Empress. www.regalcruises.com.
*Infant rates: Some lines, such as Norwegian Cruise Line, Costa (in the Caribbean only) and Cunard Line's QE2 allow children under two years to sail free and only pay port taxes and fees. In addition, Disney has a greatly reduced year-round rate for those under three years which is $99 for three and four-night cruises and $119 for seven-night cruises.