I would like to take a W. Mediterranean cruise in mid-July, 2004 sailing from Italy. I have studied major lines (Celebrity, Princess, RCCL, NCL), and couldn't find one fitting my time frame. Then I surfed those Italian lines (Costa, First European/Festival, and MSC), and found both European Star and the coming MSC Opera (similar ships) will have a 7-night cruise from Genoa visiting Naples, Palermo, Tunis, Palma, Barcelona, and Marseille, which is good for me. Now, Costa only has schedule to April, 2004 on web. Because I have never cruised on those lines, I would like to learn from experienced cruisers.
1. Which line gives better value? Does Costa always decide their intinerary only 4 months in advance?
2. What is a reasonable price to expect to pay on a 7-day high season (July) cruise in an inside cabin (I found brochure prices are high, which is not a surprise).
3. Should we book as early as possible as dealing with those major lines and wait/hope for price drop? How to know when they will have a promotion or sale?
Also, all your booking/cruising experience with those lines are very appreciated.
Thanks a lot!