Royal Caribbean President Says Look for Cruise Deals This Winter

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Royal Caribbean's latest mammoth cruise ship, the 5,400-passenger Allure of the Seas, arrives in Fort Lauderdale this week, and is expected to command premium fares. But don't for a minute think that means there won't be bargains on cruises this winter, Royal Caribbean President Adam Goldstein tells AOL Travel News.

"We had positive yield development in 2010, and expect positive yield development in 2011. That suggests on balance, prices are rising," Goldstein says. "But in winter there are more ships in the Caribbean than in summer. And you are going to see a variety of pricing actions."

Discounting of cruises, Goldstein says, "isn't going to go away," just because there are new ships in the Caribbean market.

The Allure of the Seas, like its popular, year-old sister ship, Oasis of the Seas, is so big it has neighborhoods. Features on the 225,282-ton ships include a Boardwalk area with a real carousel and high-diving show, Entertainment Place with an ice rink, open-air Central Park with thousands of real plants and trees and a Pool and Sports Zone with a zip line. Allure also debuts new features including appearances by DreamWorks characters (Shrek, Fiona, et al) and the first Starbucks at sea.

People are paying premium fares to get onboard, Goldstein says. Allure officially debuts on December 1.

"Both (Allure and Oasis) are performing about equally well and really outstanding economic performers," Goldstein says.

A check by AOL Travel News shows the lowest fare on Royal Caribbean's website for a weeklong western Caribbean cruise on Allure or Oasis in January is $865 per person. The starting price is as high as $1,115 for a weeklong eastern Caribbean cruise on Oasis on some January sailing dates; from $1.065 for Allure. Surprisingly, December fares are lower, with the weeklong Christmas cruise on Allure priced from $829.

By way of comparison, you can spend a week in the eastern Caribbean in January on Royal Caribbean's amenity-filled, 3,634-passenger Liberty of the Seas, cruising from Miami, from $609. A 6-night western Caribbean cruise on Liberty is priced from $509.

Or cruise for five nights on the 3,114-passenger Navigator of the Seas, from Fort Lauderdale, from only $279.

Goldstein says vacationers looking for a cruise bargain should be flexible, especially in terms of when they choose to cruise.

"If you as a consumer have flexibility in regard to sailing date, you can find relative bargains as opposed to other sailing dates," Goldstein says.

He also recommends travelers book their winter cruises through an experienced travel agent who knows how to spot deals.

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