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Looking for a 2013 cruise adventure that won’t break the bank? Set sail into the New Year and save with one of these five budget-friendly cruise picks. Cruising from close-to-home cities to popular ports in Mexico, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, and beyond, these great-value 3-, 4-, and 7-night cruises all ring in from under $409/person – and one from as little as $199.
Just hurry up and book – prices are sure to spike soon, so don’t miss the boat on these priced-to-go sailings. Read more
It’s 4pm aboard the just-launched Carnival Breeze and while the bars are humming, this too-late-for-lunch-too-early-for-dinner hour tends to be a bad time for anyone looking for food, which would be me. But just when I’m thinking that my choices will be limited to ice cream (not enough) or a sandwich (boring), I turn a corner and find myself staring straight at a guy hand-making pizzas.
I’d read about Pizza Pirate in my cabin, but assumed, I suppose because of the name, that it would be more of a kid-centric Chuck E. Cheese-type place. Instead, I found a tiny pizzeria turning out plate-sized made-to-order pies. Eight minutes after placing my order for a margherita pizza, (four cheese, mushroom, and pepperoni are also on the menu), I found myself biting into a hot, blistered crust topped with fresh-tasting sauce and even buffalo mozzarella. And the best part? It was free.
Last week Carnival Cruise Lines introduced a new customer loyalty program with updated perks for frequent cruisers and even rewards for first-time customers. Cruisers can sign up for the Very Important Fun Person (VIFP) Club before they book a cruise for access to special offers and promotions.
For those who sail Carnival regularly – members of Carnival’s previous loyalty program can transfer their accounts to VIFP – benefits range from a free alcoholic beverage on board for second-time cruisers to a free dinner for two at any of your ship’s specialty restaurants for those who have logged 200 or more days at sea with the line.
Carnival will also acknowledge cruisers who sail 25, 50, and 75 times with a shipboard credit equal to 25, 50, or 75 percent of their total fare; customers who sail 100 times will earn a free 7-night trip to the Caribbean, Mexico, or Alaska.
Not one of the 20,000 international travelers that are flying in for Oz’s greatest, gayest event of the year, Sydney Mardi Gras (née Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras)? Well, dry those eyes with your yet-to-be-used boa: You can still shake your booty with the best of ‘em and join in the fun of Australia’s most iconic public parade as Optus streams it to a worldwide audience for the first-time ever at MardisGrasTV.org.au — in high-def so you can be sure to catch every shimmering sequin.
Always a hoot, the festivities are shaping up for a banner year, expecting to top the $30 million it pumped into the local New South Wales economy last year. One reason: pop star Kylie Minogue, who returns after 25 years to be queen of the parade, in addition to a sure-to-be-show-stopping performance at the signature main event Mardigrasland. (See below for a video from the diminuative diva.)
Ring in 2012 from the high seas with this roundup of priced-to-go cruise deals on Carnival. We’ve found six sailings to warm-weather destinations in the Caribbean, Bahamas, and Mexico embarking from a trio of destinations in Florida (Jacksonville, Tampa, and Miami), San Juan in Puerto Rico, Charleston, and New Orleans. Set sail for four to six nights, with rates working out to as low as $104/night, and savings to as high as 65 percent off brochure rates. Book now while everybody else is distracted with holiday preparations and have yet to set their sights on New Year’s Eve plans – these low fares are bound to spike in the weeks to come, when latecomers start scrambling for quick New Year’s getaways. Read more
A long-time cruise specialist, my aunt Sheila was the first person in the travel industry whom I recall using the term “floating city” to refer to both a ship’s physical size as well as the remarkable depth of things to see and do aboard an ocean liner.
In a way, that term helps shape an important travel-planning question for your family vacation: If you want to take your kids on a cruise, you’ll naturally look hard at the cruise line’s overall reputation. But you’ll also want to factor in which “city” – aka, which ship within any given cruise line – has both a good reputation and the specific attractions and activities that suit your family best.
Did summer manage to slip away before you had a chance to plan that little getaway? No need to dismay – we’ve dug up a trio of short-and-sweet sailings embarking next month that are primed for quick weekend escapes to either the Bahamas or just for some well-spent R&R days at sea on “cruise to nowhere” itineraries. Departures are available from Miami; Norfolk, Virginia; and New York City and are priced as little as $149 for a two-night getaway – that’s just $75 per night, per person – and reflects a savings of up to 58 percent off brochure rates. Read more
Looking to rock the boat on your next cruise vacation? A series of rock-and-roll themed cruises have been announced through spring 2012 that are sure to make waves with music fans – read on for a selection of our five favorites, featuring some of the top headliners headed to sea:
Headliners: Slightly Stoopid, Michael Franti and Spearhead, G. Love & Special Sauce, Citizen Cope, and more
Sail Dates: September 29–October 3, 2011
Ship: Carnival Inspiration
Ports of Call: From Tampa to Cozumel, Mexico
Booking Details: www.rombello.com; rates from $499 Read more
Who says you get what you pay for? Following in the wake of the shocking failed health inspection on luxury Cunard line’s Queen Mary 2, mega-ship, budget cruise leader Carnival has come through with a perfect score on two of its ships during recent surprise government health inspections. The Carnival Glory (currently based in NYC) and Carnival Paradise (in Long Beach, California) managed to reel in a whopping 100 percent perfect score during the Center for Disease Control’s surprise inspections on Monday; only a nominal fraction of ships receive such glowing endorsements annually. The agency ranks on areas like food handling, storage procedures, and overall ship cleanliness.
Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates and travel deals on cruises and more.
Setting the stage for the erratic dance of the four most-recent tropical storms, the Atlantic has been a less-than-friendly cocoon for leisurely cruising in the last nine days. The hurricane season, which lasts from June 1 through November 30, has carved four more notches on its belt, blanketing coastal areas of prime cruise destinations such as Bermuda, the Caribbean islands, and the Eastern U.S. and Canada in hurricane warnings at breakneck speed. Cruises headed toward these regions are altering their course to err on the side of caution, some switching from the Eastern to the Western Caribbean, others idling in harbors longer than planned, and more still canceling port calls completely.
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