Getting the whole family on board a cruise vacation

June 15, 2008|By Chicago Tribune

Though cruise lines tout cruising as the biggest bang for your buck, fares still can be daunting for families. Add grandparents to the mix and the numbers can be numbing. However, several cruise companies are extending a helping hand by offering special deals for those who want to tote everyone along on their seagoing vacation except the family pet.

Crystal Cruises, for instance, has a "Mediterranean Memories" package suitable for family reunions of 10 or more members, which features one complimentary berth accommodation for every 10 paid berths. The program, which is available on virtually all Crystal Serenity itineraries through Oct. 30, also includes pre-paid gratuities for the group, $100 per person shipboard credits, one group portrait per stateroom and free third berths for guests ages 17 and younger. Valid for bookings made by Sept. 30. Call 800-446-6620 or go to crystalcruises.com.

Cruise West, a small-ship line featuring cruises in Alaska, also is sweetening the pot for families, offering special pricing for kids ages 18 and younger on all three- and four-night 2008 Glacier Bay Highlights departures, with savings of up to 75 percent off the standard fare in a deluxe cabin or 50 percent off the fare in lower cabin categories. Fares start at $1,799 per adult and $900 for one child sharing a cabin with a full-paying adult. Special pricing is available on round-trip cruises from Juneau through September. For details, go to cruisewest.com or call 800-296-8307.

Carnival Cruise Lines also adds its own brand of bargains for children traveling with adults. In conjunction with the launch of its new "Circle C" on-board program aimed specifically at 12- to 14-year-olds, Carnival is offering lower rates for third and fourth passengers in a cabin, starting at $179 per person on select dates.

The Offshore Sailing School in Ft. Myers Beach, Fla., unfurls its "Single Parents Week" July 13-18 at Pink Shell Beach Resort & Spa. Single-parent families learn to sail together, staying in resort accommodations ashore, for rates starting at $2,893 for one parent and one child, $3,864 for one parent and two children and $4,835 for one parent and three kids. Meals, resort fee and transportation to Florida are additional. Call 800-221-4326 or go to www.offshoresailing.com.

On the other side of the country, summer and fall conditions are perfect for sailing in San Francisco Bay, we are told. From now until mid-October, the "Learn to Sail: Stay and Play Package" is under way at OCSC Sailing at Berkeley Marina. Priced at $890, including tax, the package covers all instruction, daily lunch and use of gear. The four- or five-day course is offered Monday-Friday or on two consecutive weekends. Students may stay on OCSC boats at no extra charge or at the adjacent Doubletree Hotel for $129 per night per room. Call 800-223-2984 or go to ocsc.com.

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