It's time to take a cruise
Since September 11, most of our attention when it comes to
travel has been focused, and rightfully so, on the airline
industry. While you were away, the cruise lines were quietly
going about their own recovery of sorts. Like most travel
businesses, the cruise lines depend on the airlines to deliver
their customers to the various ports. Faced with cancellations
and rerouting, the industry took it on the chin for a few
weeks until the airlines started flying once again.
But they didnít get hit as bad as other segments of travel,
in part because of rigid cancellation polices. The cruise
lines essentially forced passengers to honor their prior arrangements
or risk forfeiting their money. To be fair about it Holland
America and Silversea were a little more liberal with their
cancellation polices, but the majority basically stuck it
to their passengers.
Several cruise lines reported they were operating at 90 to
100 percent capacity in recent weeks and thatís true, but
all is not what it seems and thatís good news for you. As
the inventory of those passengers who booked prior to September
11, starts to dwindle, the lines are scrambling to come up
with incentives to encourage potential cruise goers to board
their ships. There are great deals out there, even for the
heavily traveled holiday season. Competition for your dollar
on sailings to the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Mexico and Bermuda
are fierce, driving prices down. Another problem the cruise
industry has that works in your favor is excess capacity.
Several new ships come on line early next year increasing
capacity by another 10 percent, meaning more savings for you.
Hereís a quick sampling of some of the bargains I found.
A 10-day Panama Canal Cruises through Princess Cruisesí $775
An 11-night Hawaiian Cruise on Princess Cruisesí
$949 Carnival has a 7-night Western Caribbean Cruise out of
New Orleans $469
Carnival and Celebrity Cruisesí are offering Christmas sailings
starting at $599
This is a small sample of what I found in just 10 minutes.
These prices and deals may change by press time, but there
are plenty of others to choose from. I would start my research
on the Internet, then make calls to your travel agent and
the cruise lines themselves to find the best deals. If you
go online, here are a few sites to get you started. www.cruisesmates.com
www.cruisecritic.com www.cruises.about.com For those still
afraid to fly, several cruise lines are moving ships closer
to home making it easier for passengers to drive rather than
fly. Cruise lines have also increased security to calm passenger
fears. Luggage is being search, IDís are being more carefully
scrutinized and visitors are no longer allowed to board. Several
companies have hired bomb-sniffing dogs and firearms experts
to search ships.