Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Cruise Ship Discounts

There's nothing like a picture published worldwide of a half-sunk megaship off the rocky coast of Italy to make people think twice about taking a cruise. The tragedy of the Costa Concordia will not, I hope, have any lasting negative impact on the cruise industry, but it is bound to make some people think twice. That in turn is leading to price reductions, even on some very expensive cruises.
The website keeps track of cruise bargains, and there are some amazing ones out there, such as Seabourn Cruises starting at about $300 per day, a huge reduction from normal fares on this luxury line. Some bargain cruises start at less than $100 per day for short cruises in the Caribbean. When you consider that a cruise includes not just lodging but meals and transportation, even $300 per day per person can stack up well compared to other forms of transportation.
The lines usually make a lot of money on shore excursions, but by researching your cruise stops in advance you can often figure out ways to see the sights at lower cost. For example, in Piraeus, the port for Athens, you can take the subway downtown instead of an expensive excursion, and walk up to the Acropolis on your own (provided, that is, there are no strikes on the subway or at historic sites.)
While ship travel is generally very safe, security at sea is always a concern. The tendency of the cruise industry to promote cruise ships as floating hotels may lure passengers into too much complacency. The last time I sailed on the QE2 (the ship, not the monetary policy) in September, 2001 I was reassured when the Sunday service included the singing of the traditional sailors' hymn "Eternal Fatheer Strong to Save" with its line about those in peril on the sea. That seemed to be a ship where safety was not taken for granted.

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