By paul motter
This is officially shopping season, but with so much news about new ships coming out this last few weeks, such as Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas and Carnival Dream, we haven't had much time to focus on the best cruise values on tap right now. So, consider this newsletter our belated Black Friday specials report.
America's Vacation Center has been cited as one of the top cruise agencies by almost every cruise line within the last few years. Taking a look at their web site, here is a synopsis of the best bargains one is likely to find anywhere right now:
It is very hard to pass up the current NCL specials. The line is offering 7-day cruises on one of their most popular ships, Norwegian Pearl, starting as low as $329 per person for a 7-day cruise from Miami to Samana Bay in the Dominican Republic, St. Thomas, Tortola and to the NCL private island. One of the best things about Norwegian Pearl is that it is one of the newest ships in the NCL fleet - which means everything about it is the best NCL has to offer. Experience the one and only NCL freestyle cruising with 12 unique dining venues, great entertainment and even a bowling alley.
What makes this NCL deal even more enticing is that any cruise you book on NCL right now comes with onboard ship credit that you can spend any way you like; including the spa, shore excursions, alternative dining or even the casino. The amount of shipboard credit you receive depends on the category of stateroom you book, including credits as high as $250 per stateroom available for suites costing less than $1000 per person. Balcony cabins on this seven-day cruise are as low as $629 per person right now - that's a really good deal, and they cone with a $200 shipboard credit
Thinking about a Mediterranean cruise this summer? It's hard to beat Oceania Cruises in Europe. The only reason you don't hear that much about this is because it sells out purely by word of mouth every season. Why? Port intensive itineraries, great food and comfortable staterooms make it the perfect cruise line for people who want see the world by cruise ship, not just lay in the sun. You can cruise on the Oceania Insignia on a 10-day cruise from Istanbul to Marseille France for just $3528 pp. Your stops along the way include Ephesus in Turkey, the beautiful Greek isle of Santorini, Malta, Tunisia (which is home to some of the most unique Roman ruins in the world), and a special visit to Cinque Terre in Italy for a beautiful walk along the Italian seacoast before you land in Marseille, France.
Looking for something a little closer to home? How about a seven-day Caribbean cruise aboard the premium cruise ship Celebrity Summit? This cruise, starting at just $413 per person, features a new port nearly every single day of the cruise. Beginning in San Juan and sailing to St. Thomas the next day, what follows is St. Croix, St. Kitts, Antigua, St. Lucia, and finally one day at sea. Once again, you can get a balcony cabin on this beautiful ship for as low as $749 per person. For the premium Celebrity Cruises experience that is an excellent bargain.
Looking for a more active ship? How about leaving from the West Coast and going to the Mexican Riviera? You can board Mariner of the Seas, one of the vaunted Royal Caribbean Voyager-class ships, at prices starting as low as $389 per person. This one-week cruise takes you to Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta Mexico.
There are not many ships as active and sports oriented as these larger Royal Caribbean ships. Included in the price of the cruise are rock climbing walls, ice skating rinks, rollerblading, miniature golf, a full-sized basketball court, a full gymnasium and a jogging track. You also get the great Royal Caribbean entertainment and alternative dining options including Chops Grill and the Portofino Italian Restaurant, not to mention Johnny Rockets for great hamburgers and shakes.
Looking for something completely different in Europe? Experience the difference small ship cruising with Cruise West makes. The line is offering a number of voyages of two weeks and longer throughout Europe and Asia. You can get a 15-night cruise sailing from Mumbai, India to Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Dubai, and Oman. Or, you can take a 15-night journey beginning in Singapore and sailing to Malaysia, Thailand, Burma and India.
Cruise West ships typically do not hold more than 120 guests and the cruise fare includes all of the food, tours and wine pairings with every meal. The small ships make for personalized and memorable up close travel experiences, and their small size makes it easy to meet new people and make new friends.
No matter which of the above cruises you choose, this is a great time to be booking a cruise before the industry "Wave Season" starts right after New Year's Day. Wave season is the busiest cruise booking season of the year, which means prices will go higher. Right now is the time to steal a great cruise bargain, before the long post-holidays, cold winter season sets in.