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Thanks to the increased popularity of cruises, more than 10 million people travel by ship annually. The
 choice of ports, cruise lines, ships, itineraries, cabins, and prices can be confusing for the customers, but
  do professionals in the travel industry have enough understanding of what is going on in the sector?
    Are we able to give informed advice on itineraries or on suitable options for families with children?
                   Are we capable of analyzing the queries of budget conscious travelers?




                      affordable luxury –
                               budget cruises
                                                                                                                                  May, 2007
                                 T R a n sp oRT: afford abl e luxur y- bu dge t c r ui s e s


How To ReseaRCH and
puRCHase a BudgeT CRuise
                                                                              2. Find a Frugal Travel Agent
                                                                              This advice doesn’t always thrill budget travelers, but there
                                                                           are times when even the most staunchly independent of them
                                                                           will make that phone call. A cruise vacation, unlike your hiking
                                                                           trip through Greece, is largely predetermined by the ship’s itin-
                                                                           erary. So it might be best to find a specialist who can get you
                                                                           discounts and give you advice. Remember, cruises are among
                                                                           the most popular «freebies» accorded to travel agents. They
                                                                           tend to have extensive personal experience. Warning: beware
                                                                           of an agent who seems to recommend a particular cruise line to
                                                                           the exclusion of other options.
                                                                              3. Get the best airfare possible to-and-from your depar-
                                                                           ture port
                                                                              There was a time when cruise lines routinely included airfare
                                                                           in their quotes. There were extensive «add on» tables for people
                                                                           who didn’t leave from a major hub. But most quotes you’ll find
                                                                           on cruise Web sites do not include airfare. It pays for you to find
                                                                           the lowest fares to your departure point. One of the best ways to
                                                                           do that is to consult airline Web sites for the best deals.
                                                                              4. Search out a bargain hotel room near the departure
                                                                           port
                                                                              Before or after your trip, you might want to explore the port
                                                                           city from which you will depart. Many times, it is just as interest-
                                                                           ing as the ports you’ll visit on the cruise itself. Another thing to
                                                                           consider is that some travelers need time to readjust to solid
                                                                           ground, especially after a trip over turbulent seas. In such cas-

  M       any would-be first-time cruisers are overwhelmed by
          the prices, lines and itineraries involved. Some are also
amazed at the bite a cruise can take out of your travel budget.
                                                                           es, scheduling an extra day and finding a bargain hotel room
                                                                           can do wonders for your disposition.
                                                                              5. Carefully consider travel insurance that is not sold by
All this despite the fact that the Internet makes it easier than           the cruise line
ever to pinpoin the trip and cost that will meet your needs. Here             Shop for a policy that covers trip interruption or cancella-
are some tips for researching and purchasing a budget cruise               tion from a broker who has no particular interest in your cruise
trip.
  Difficulty: Average
  Time Required: Less than an hour
  Here’s How:

  1. Know the five ways to track down a bargain cruise
  The word «bargain» means different things to each traveler.
Some look at per diem costs, while others want a total tab that
comes in under a certain figure. Whatever your goal, there are
techniques that can be used in combination or individually to
guide you to the best cruise fares. Learn them and put them to
work for you.

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                                                                           warmer winter climates, often crossing great distances. Cruise
                                                                           lines like paying customers to help offset the costs of these trips,
                                                                           so they offer excellent per diem rates. Another bonus: ships of-
                                                                           ten stop at ports-of-call rarely seen by tourists.
                                                                              7. Book passage on a freighter
                                                                              It’s not for honeymoons or tight schedules, but some travelers
                                                                           prefer the solitude and itinerary a freighter can provide. It’s not
                                                                           as rough as it might sound. Freighters accepting passengers
                                                                           usually have a section of cabins reserved for travelers. But the
                                                                           schedules are designed to meet cargo deliveries, not necessar-
                                                                           ily vacationers. The result can be long periods at sea and longer
                                                                           layovers in port. The benefits include lower per diem costs and
                                                                           a chance to see some exotic places not found on the luxury
                                                                           itineraries.
company of choice. Then compare your findings with what the
cruise line offers. Many times, the terms and prices are better
from an independent source.                                                From Mark Kahler
   6. Look into repositioning cruises                                      http://budgettravel.about.com
   Is this a new term in your travel glossary? If so, consider that
these so-called repo cruises can be very economical. Twice
a year, many lines reposition ships that are in places such as
Alaska or Scandinavia during the summer. These ships sail for




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maJoR CRuise lines puT
a HalT To BaRgain HunTing




  C      ruising the Internet and canvassing travel agents for the
         best deal on your next cruise may not produce the bar-
gains you have been used to in the past.
                                                                               Before such policies went into effect, agents could sacrifice
                                                                           percentages of their commissions in order to beat their compe-
                                                                           tition and win the sale. With that opportunity removed, bargain
   Several of the major cruise lines have decided to stop playing          hunting for super cruise prices will be limited to those cruise
the competitive game to win your vacation dollars by institut-             lines that have not gone along with the new restrictions.
ing new restrictions on the travel agent’s part to discount the                Anne Campbell, editor of CruiseMates. com, told Mercu-
deal. Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Celebrity have              ryNews. com, «With a bit of effort, you can still find a cheap
halted the competitive fighting and put new pricing policies in            Carnival cruise because agents can rebate as long as they
place.                                                                     don’t advertise it.» So all hope isn’t gone, it will just take more
   What does this mean for the consumer? Simply put – fewer                work on the consumers part to find the bargains.»
deals and perks from your favorite travel agent or online travel           From Donna L Montaldo,
site. Travel agents will now be restricted to offer only the cruise
                                                                           Source: MercuryNews.com             http://couponing.about.com
line’s preset minimum and are forbidden to go lower. Norwe-
gian’s «price advertising policy» will no longer allow agents to
advertise anything but Norwegian fares.




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CHoose
   a CRuise

  T       hinking about sailing into the sunset on a honeymoon or
          romantic-getaway cruise – but feeling a little confused
because there are so many ports, cruise lines, ships, itinerar-
                                                                            * What kind of cabin will be comfortable in? While inside cab-
                                                                              ins are cheapest, they are windowless and cramped. Today
                                                                              more and more ships feature balcony cabins, which are es-
ies, cabins, and prices to choose from? Unless one is related                 pecially romantic.
to a travel agent, all first-time cruise passengers feel that way           * Do we want to meet lots of new people… or would we rather
at first. And it is true that selecting a cruise is more complicated          keep to ourselves? Some cruise ships have fixed seating at
than choosing a resort. But it can also be more fun to vacation               dinner time and only a few tables for two. Everyone else sits
on a floating hotel than one that stays in the same place.                    at large tables. If that doesn’t appeal, look for cruise ships
  Key Questions                                                               that allow more flexibility in dining.
  Before you choose a cruise, ask yourselves:                               * Do we want to get dressed up, or do we prefer to be casu-
                                                                              al? If the latter is true, don’t choose a cruise that has formal
* What can we afford to spend per person? Cruises are all-inclu-              nights.
  sive to some degree, meaning the price covers your cabin and
  all meals plus on-board entertainment. Things like bar drinks             * Are we considering getting married on board? Most ships
  and sodas, spa services, and shore excursions are extra.                    contain small wedding chapels. Normally onboard weddings
                                                                              take place in the couple’s home port, with guests disembark-
* How many days can we afford to get away? Cruises range                      ing before the ship sails.
  in length from two-day «cruises to nowhere» to 130-day
  around-the world voyages.                                                 * Is having an on-board spa important? Kids’ facilities? A ca-
                                                                              sino?
  Most are in the 4 to 7 to 11 day range.
                                                                              Sail Away
* Where do we want to cruise to? Cruises ply waters around
  every continent. In the USA, many first-time cruise passen-                 Since every cruise line is different, potential cruise passen-
  gers enjoy cruising to the Caribbean Islands or Bermuda.                  gers can feel overwhelmed by the surfeit of choices.
* Do we mind flying to where we embark – or do we want to                     Cruises for Every Budget
  drive to the closest port? Today more than 40 % of the US                   «Travelers can be assured of top-of-the-line service, food,
  population lives within driving distance of a port, which is a            and entertainment, no matter what level of accommodations
  boon for nervous flyers.                                                  they select,» says Bob Sharak of Cruise Lines International
                                                                            Association (CLIA), a trade group which represents 24 North
                                                                            American cruise lines.
                                                                              «Budget-conscious travelers can choose a cruise for as little
                                                                            as $50 per person per day,» he points out, «including transpor-
                                                                            tation, meals, accommodations, and most activities, depending
                                                                            on choice of cabin, ship, and itinerary – to more than $500 per
                                                                            person per day.»
                                                                              Cruising is Unique
                                                                              Whether your dream vacation consists of visiting a tropical
                                                                            or exotic destination, dining casually or in gourmet restaurants,

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enjoying activity-filled or relaxing days, you will find a variety of        and compare cruises. «The Web has a wealth of information
cruise lines and ships to choose from.                                       such as cruise reviews, cruise ship schedules, deck plans,
   On the newest cruise ships, amenities are equal to those of               photos of cabins and common areas, lists of shore excursions
fine hotels: Spas that pamper, swimming pools, even concierge                and activities, onboard activities such as spa treatments, and
and butler service. In port you can choose to participate in land            sample dinner menus to help plan a cruise,» explains Linda
and water sports, tour historical and cultural points of interest,           Garrison, Guide to Cruises on About.com.
and shop for duty-free goods.                                                  Online travel agents such as Expedia and Travelocity,
   At night on a cruise you can stroll on the deck under moonlit             she adds, «offer free search capabilities where you can
skies, choose from a martini menu, dance to live music, see a                select a timeframe and destination and see a list of avail-
Broadway-style show, and try your luck in a casino. And with                 able cruises.»
satellite telephone service and 24-hour Internet access, cruise
passengers can stay connected with friends and family – or                   By Susan Breslow Sardone,
choose to cut loose completely.                                              http://honeymoons. about.com/
  Cruising for Info Online
  While nearly 90 percent of travelers book cruises through
a travel agent, the Internet is an excellent place to research




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family TRips, euRopean
poRTs among TRends
in CRuising
                                                                             «We’re betting that a roller coaster is going to be next,» said
                                                                          Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor of CruiseCritic. com, which of-
                                                                          fers consumers information about cruises. A readers’ poll on the
                                                                          Web site asking for other pie-in-the-sky ideas for future cruise
                                                                          ship innovations suggested a ferries wheel, revolving top-deck
                                                                          restaurant, and, Spencer Brown’s favorite, balconies with pri-
                                                                          vate plunge pools.
                                                                             In addition to an industry-wide emphasis on gee-whiz fea-
                                                                          tures, other trends in the cruise industry include the continued
                                                                          popularity of family cruising and European ports of call, along
                                                                          with overall growth, with a record number of guests last year
                                                                          and 30 new cruise ships under construction through 2010.
                                                                             As for destinations, Mediterranean and European ports com-
                                                                          prise 20 percent of the cruise market, second only to Caribbean
                                                                          itineraries, according to CLIA.

                                                                             FAMILy TRAvEL
                                                                             Interest among families is part of that trend. This summer
                                                                          marks the first time that a Disney cruise will hit European ports
                                                                          when the Magic ship launches a series of Mediterranean trips.
                                                                          «We poll our guests all the time as to what destinations they
                                                                          want to go to, and Europe was top of the list,» said Disney
                                                                          Cruise spokesman Jason Lasecki. The 10 – and 11-night itiner-
                                                                          aries include eight stops with 190 choices for excursions, from
                                                                          traditional sightseeing in places like Pompeii and the Coliseum,
                                                                          to a Ferrari test-drive and a visit to Narni, Italy, the town said to
                                                                          have inspired «The Chronicles of Narnia.»

  In   case you missed it, ice skating rinks, giant trampolines
       and rock-climbing walls on board ships are old news,
along with wine cellars and menus from celebrity chefs.
                                                                             Vicki Freed, senior vice president for sales and marketing
                                                                          for Carnival Cruise Lines, said Carnival is also «seeing contin-
                                                                          ued growth in the number of
  The latest innovations for having fun in the middle of the ocean        families taking our European
include a bowling alley aboard Norwegian Pearl, and a Flowrid-            cruises. By 2006, our second
er, which lets you ride an artificial wave, on Royal Caribbean’s          year of cruising in Europe, it
Freedom of the Seas. Norwegian Pearl took its inaugural voy-              was normal to have several
age in December, Freedom of the Seas launched last May, and               hundred kids per voyage dur-
another Royal Caribbean ship, Liberty of the Seas, which will             ing the summer travel period
also feature a Flowrider, debuts this May.                                and we expect that trend to
  «They’re trying to outdo each other in terms of innovation,»            continue.»
said Celebrity Cruises president Dan Hanrahan at a January                   She added that «a lot of
news conference organized by the Cruise Lines International               families have moved way
Association. CLIA represents 21 cruise lines, including Carni-            beyond the summer road trip
val, Celebrity, Disney, MSC, NCL, Princess, Holland America,              and are looking for more en-
Crystal, Cunard and Royal Caribbean.                                      riching cultural experiences

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                                                                             CRUISE BOOM
                                                                             If the explosion in family cruising hasn’t destroyed the stereo-
                                                                          type of cruises as a vacation choice for older travelers, perhaps
                                                                          this will: Sixty-eight percent of Gen-Xers, those born roughly
                                                                          between 1965 and 1978, say they intend to take a cruise. That
                                                                          compares with 65 percent of baby boomers and 59 percent of
                                                                          seniors. The data comes from market research conducted on-
                                                                          line for CLIA last year among 2,000 people.
                                                                             January, February and March comprise what’s known in the
                                                                          cruise industry as the «wave season,» when many cruisers
                                                                          book their vacations for later in the year. While 90 percent of
                                                                          cruises are still sold through travel agencies, many of those tick-
                                                                          ets are now sold over the Internet using Web sites like CruiseC-
                                                                          ompete. com, where consumers pick a ship and a sail date,
                                                                          get quotes from agents online, and then book the best deal.
                                                                          CruiseCompete sold close to 24,000 cabins in 2006, according
                                                                          to a spokeswoman, Heidi Allison-Shane.
they can share together.» A cruise makes it easy to explore a
                                                                             Last year, a record 12.1 million passengers sailed on cruises
new place in a port of call, then return to your own room with
                                                                          worldwide, up from 11.2 million in 2005 and 10.6 million in 2004,
familiar food and child-friendly activities on the ship at the end
                                                                          according to statistics provided by CLIA. CLIA forecasts another
of the day. Besides, you only have to unpack once.
                                                                          increase this year to 12.6 million guests, including 10.6 million
   More than 1 million children under 18 now cruise each year,            North Americans.
according to CLIA. While Disney’s cruise ships, which launched
in 1998, led the way in making cruising fun for kids, today there           DEMAND GROwING
is hardly a big ship that doesn’t try to appeal to families. It’s           CLIA expects growth and demand will continue to increase.
not just children’s menus and glorified babysitting; it’s video           The association’s surveys find that only 17 percent of Americans
arcades, spa treatments for teenagers, kids’ karaoke competi-             have taken cruises, and that 31 million Americans are likely to
tions and scavenger hunts, not to mention basketball courts,              take a cruise within the next three years.
teen nightclubs and on-board water parks.
   Spencer Brown even admitted that she was «splitting                    http://story.indiagazette.com/
hairs» when CruiseCritic. com came up with a recent list of
«Best Family Ships.» She does, however, think your kids
will have the most fun in programs that are closely targeted
to their age.




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