Cruise lines lower their prices to attract passengers

March 26, 1995|By Arline Bleecker | Arline Bleecker,Orlando Sentinel

There are lots of ways cruise lines lure passengers into booking a cruise -- from selling the sizzle to baiting the cruise hooks with gourmet food. Short of giving away a free cruise, though, the lures that probably make the most waves are the deals and discounts.

Here are several that have been recently announced:

* For years, Seabourn, a line at the top end that sails luxury vessels, has prided itself on staying out of the price-war fray; cruisers on its two ships generally plunk down around $1,000 a day for a cruise. But Seabourn has just announced a "repricing" of its Caribbean and Panama Canal cruises between October 1995 and April 1996 that represents savings of from 17 percent to 38 percent off published rates.

Eight cruises, ranging from four to 11 days, are earmarked for Seabourn's new pricing strategy. Fares now will range from $399 to $601 per person per day, including economy-class airfare from designated North American cities, a one-night precruise hotel stay and transfers.

Both Seabourn's luxury vessels also have a firm no-tipping policy.

The brochure price for Seabourn's 11-day March 6, 1996, cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Barbados, for example, is $8,175 for a standard suite on the all-suite 204-passenger Spirit. New pricing for this cruise is $5,325; and past passengers can save an additional 10 percent. Passengers who booked their cruises before new rates were announced will receive refunds for the difference.

For more information, call (800) 929-4747.

* Star Clipper has reduced cruise-only rates on its two tall-masted sailing vessels, the largest clipper ships under sail. Fares for double outside cabins have been reduced by about $600 per couple on selected seven-day Caribbean voyages of Star Clipper through August. Reductions also are available on a seven-day Mediterranean sailing from Cannes on its sister ship, Star Flyer, departing May 13. For more information, call (800) 442-0551.

* Pearl Cruises is offering two-for-ones on an exotic 21-day "Borneo & the Ring of Fire" cruise aboard the Pearl to the rain forests and wildlife areas of Southeast Asia. Fares for the cruise/tour, departing by air from the United States April 6, start as low as $1,875 per person, double occupancy, and include a three-night stay in Bali and a two-night stay in Singapore.

For more information, call Pearl Cruises, (800) 556-8850, or Spur-of-the-Moment Cruises, a California cruise discounter, (800) 427-8473.

* Interested in a tax-time bargain? Celebrity Cruises is offering a $99 deal for children on the April 15 sailing of the Meridian. The seven-night cruise departs from Fort Lauderdale and offers four full days in Bermuda.

The Meridian provides supervised on-board activities by age groups, and baby-sitting services are available. The youth fare applies for third or fourth occupancy in a cabin. Because not all cabins can accommodate three or four people, bookings are on a first-come, first-served basis. Cruise-only rates for adults begin at $919 per person, double occupancy; children under age 2 travel free.

For more information call (800) 437-3111.

* Norwegian Cruise Line's series of fleet-wide repositionings this spring and fall offers price-wise cruises that include Panama Canal transits and Alaska Inside Passage voyages.

Among NCL's eight repositionings are Windward's 14-day canal cruise April 23 from San Juan, Puerto Rico; Windward's eight-day Alaska highlights cruise (during which passengers also will have a chance to audition to become contestants on "Wheel of Fortune"), departing May 7 from Los Angeles; Seaward's six-day Virgin Islands and Bahamas cruise, departing May 8 from Miami; Starward's six-day Caribbean sailing, round trip from San Juan, departing Sept. 30; and Dreamward's 15-day Caribbean-Bermuda highlights cruise departing from New York Oct. 14, concluding in Fort Lauderdale.

In addition, Norway, NCL's flagship, will sail three seven-day western Caribbean cruises, departing May 27, Sept. 16 and Nov. 4. Traditionally, the Norway sails only eastern Caribbean routes, but these sailings call at Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Grand Cayman; Playa del Carmen; Cozumel; and Great Stirrup Cay, the line's private island in the Bahamas. For rates and information, call (800) 327-7030.

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