Deal of the Week: Cruise into Savings! (12/07/2001)
Diana: Rudy, what's on the menu today?
Rudy: Well, remember that old song with the chorus, "Come on along and lemme take you on a sea cruise"?
Diana: Oh, yeah.
Rudy: Well, there's not a cruise line out there right now that wouldn't want to take just about anyone on a sea cruise these days for a lot less money than ever before.
Diana: Let me guess -- the travel downturn has led to bargains.
Rudy: Right, cruising has been hit especially hard ... couple that with all the huge new SuperLiners and there's such a glut in the industry. By my count, there are at least a dozen new ships due to start service next year, and there are just too many cabins available … not enough folks to fill them.
Diana: Okay, sounds like a recipe for savings. Give us some deals.
Rudy: First of all, no one EVER pays the prices that cruise lines quote in their fancy brochures. That makes it tough to compare retail rates, but these days, the prices are so low, the deals are self evident. What I did was scan four web sites that promise deals on cruises. On Expedia.com, I found a seven-day Caribbean cruise on the Dawn Princess out of San Juan for $500 per person. The prices I'm quoting do not include airfare and, often, shore excursions and taxes.
Diana: Is this for a particular departure date?
Rudy: It is - December 15. But you'll find a list of other dates through April-some for five hundred, some for slightly more. Now, over at Travelocity.com I came up with sailings on Celebrity Cruise's ship called "The Millenium" for $699 per person - including taxes and port charges. This one's out of Ft. Lauderdale with stops in San Juan, Catalina Island, St. Thomas and Nassau. Again, you'll see varying prices for sailings through February.
Diana: So you're saying a couple can have accommodations and all means for less than $200 a day on board a ship?
Rudy: That's right. Listen, it's too late for this one, but Priceline.com had a cruise leaving this Sunday on Carnival's ship called the Victory - seven days in the Western Caribbean for $399! There are prices for similar trips throughout the next year at rates such as $579 and $679. My guess is that if you can afford to wait 'til the last minute to reserve, those prices will come down even further.
Diana: Amazing. Are there other web sites?
Rudy: There are dozens. I checked at cruisediscounts.com, for example, and found the exact same prices on the same ship for the same dates as I found on some of the big boys. But the main ones - Expedia, Travelocity, and Priceline - are a good place to begin. And don't forget that travel agents who specialize in cruises may be able to find you bargain basement deals AND get you a cabin upgrade if they do a lot of business with a particular cruise line.
Diana: Thanks, Rudy. As usual, there's no reason to stay at home, is there?
Rudy: Not if I have anything to say about it.
Diana: : Thanks, Rudy! See you next week!
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