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Cruise prices hit rock bottom

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Depending on the cruise line and the destination, prices for many cruises have hit rock bottom over the past few weeks.

While the winter sailing season is yet to come, cruise lines already have their re-positioning cruises available for the spring. The one thing I have noticed is that starting prices on these trips are higher than this fall's re-positioning cruises when ships were returning to traditional winter areas such as the Caribbean, Mexico, Australia and South America.

With that in mind, I went hunting for bargains and interesting destinations as the cruise lines re-position their ships in the spring of 2010.

Will the prices of these cruises decline as their departure dates near? The best rule of thumb is to find one that interests you then immediately book the best possible cabin choice at a price you can afford. If you're a gambler, then you can wait until closer to the sailing date.

Here are some of the trips I found. All are starting prices, based on per person, double occupancy and do not include taxes and fees. All of these were available at time of writing, but could have changed by the time you read this.

* Carnival Cruises is positioning their Carnival Elation from San Diego to Mobile, Ala. for the winter. This is a 15-day cruise that departs on April 30, 2010 and includes a trip through the Panama Canal. Ports of call include Cabo San Lucas, Acapulco, Puntarenas, Cartagena, Grand Cayman and Tampa. The starting price is $979 US. For more details, visit carnival.com.

* Celebrity Millennium departs San Diego on April 30, 2010 for Vancouver on an interesting 14-night west coast and Alaska cruise. Ports of call include Seattle, Sitka, Hubbard Glacier, Skagway, Juneau, Icy Strait Point, Tracy Arm, Ketchikan, Victoria and Vancouver. Prices start at $929. Find out more at celebritycruises.com.

* Holland America, a premier cruise line, is calling this trip "Incan Empires." It's a long, 34-day cruise that starts in San Diego, sails to South America, then finishes in Vancouver. It will be on what will be the newly refurbished Rotterdam. Once you get to Lima, Peru you have three days to explore. It also includes overnight stops in Fuerte Amador and Huatulco. The starting price is $3,658. The cruise departs on April 10, 2010 heading south to Puerto Vallarta, Zihuatanejo, Puerto Quetzal, Corinto, Fuerte Amador, Salaverry, Callo (Lima), Guayaquil and Manta Ecuador, Puerto Chiapas, Huatulco, Cabo San Lucas, San Diego again, Victoria to Vancouver. For more information, go to hollandamerica.com.

* Norwegian Pearl sets sail on April 24, 2010 from Los Angeles to Vancouver with stops at San Francisco, Astoria, Victoria and Nanaimo. The cost is $399 US. Find out more at ncl.com.

* MSC Poesia sails on April 27, 2010 for an 18-night trip from Fort Lauderdale to Hamburg for a price of $999 US. Ports include New York, Azores, Lisbon overnight, La Coruna, Bilbao, Dover then into Hamburg. There are lots of sea days on this one. Children under 17 travelling in a cabin with two adults travel free. Get more info at msccruisesusa.com.

* There is another Atlantic crossing on April 19, 2010 aboard the Princess Ruby, which is the line's newest ship. It sails 16 days from Fort Lauderdale to Barcelona. Ports of call include Madeira, Sardinia, Gibraltar, Rome, Florence/Pisa, Genoa and Monte Carlo. The starting price is $1,314. Read all about it at princess.com.

Following are some re-positioning cruises coming up this month. I am not sure if they will be available by the time you read this since they are coming up so soon and are being offered at fire-sale prices.

* Celebrity Solstice, which was launched just last year, will depart Rome for Fort Lauderdale on Nov. 30 for 13 nights. Starting price is $629.

* Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas will depart Barcelona for Galveston, Texas on Nov. 29 for a 14-night trip with a starting price of $519.

In six weeks, I will examine the spring prices to see if there are any reductions. Until then, I will be aboard the Carnival Dream and the Oasis of the Seas. You can read about my impressions of both these new ships at portsandbows.com.

Visit portsandbows.com for daily updates on the latest cruise news, best deals and behind the scenes stories from the industry. You can also sign up for an email newsletter on the site for even more cruise information. Phil can be contacted directly at preimercanwest.com.

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 28, 2009 E3

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