Luxury cruises lure with deals

With the recession dragging on, prices are plunging for cruises on high-end ships this fall and winter to popular ports of call, including the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and the South Pacific.

Some sailings are available at record-low prices. Luxury ship operators, including Regent Seven Seas, Silversea, Crystal and Seabourn -- which is owned by Carnival -- are so eager to fill fancy cabins that they're also offering other perks.

These deals include two-for-the-price-of-one cruises, kids sail free, and freebies for air fare and shore excursions. The deals are often on new vessels, including the Seabourn Odyssey and Sojourn, and Silver Spirit. Perks also include all beverages free -- including alcohol -- on Regent cruises, and on board credits of $2,000 on Crystal.

"Due to how far in advance cruise lines must order ships, a few new luxury ships have launched in the past two years," said Erica Silverstein, a senior editor at "Some have more berths to sell than ever before."

Higher-end lines that offer luxury cruises typically operate smaller ships--of 1,000 passengers or less--with bigger cabins, better service, and, of course, higher prices than trips on mainstream lines.

With luxury cruises, it can be difficult to compare prices year-to-year, because new prices may include added perks rather than cheaper staterooms, Silverstein said. "While you may or may not, be paying less you're definitely getting more for your money than ever before," she added.

The luxury line with the most noticeable price drops for this fall's sailings is Seabourn, which has advertised cruises for around $300 a night -- something that was "nearly unheard of for them in years past," Silverstein said.

While luxury lines are maintaining the sweeping deals they started to offer in 2009 when the economy was a dicier, mainstream lines have raised prices in 2010, especially during peak travel season, said Melissa Paloti, managing editor at "This means that now is a good time to upgrade to luxury if you've been considering it," Paloti added.

Even so, fall fares on some mainstream lines are also dipping. Experts say this isn't do to a languishing economy, but to the fact that the fall months before the holidays are typically a slow time for cruise lines. Still, there are a plethora of deals for inside staterooms under $75 a night for sailings in October and December.
Read Full Story