Just how far will cruise prices fall next season?

The Dallas Morning NewsJuly 14, 2014 

Fall is a great time for cruise deals.

Rates often drop 35 to 50 percent compared with busy summer-season prices, and sometimes even more. Airfares drop in the fall, too, so the total cost to travel can be substantially cheaper.

You can save hundreds of dollars compared with summer rates. A five-night Carnival Cruise out of Galveston started at $619 per person departing July 28; the price dropped to $279 per person for departures in October. Royal Caribbean has a seven-night Southern Caribbean cruise from San Juan with prices starting at $994 for a July 26 departure and dropping to $610 for a Sept. 6 departure.

Repositioning cruises

If you've ever wanted to take a cruise at a bargain price, repositioning cruises can be a great option. Such cruises typically make fewer stops and spend more days at sea, but you still get all of the perks and amenities of a regular cruise. These cruises are offered in the fall and spring, when cruise lines want to move their ships for the upcoming sailing season.

We see repositioning cruises in the fall from Vancouver to ports in the Western U.S. and out of Europe to the U.S. from September through November. Repositioning cruises to and from Europe can be 14 days or more, so you'd need at least two weeks of vacation time.

Many of the West Coast cruises that depart out of Vancouver are three to five days long, so they can be a great option if you don't have a ton of vacation days or you want to make a shorter trip. Also, airfares to the West Coast and Vancouver are much cheaper than Europe, and you don't have to pay the hefty fuel surcharge.

Another bonus: If you fly into Vancouver and cruise out, you can get decent one-way fares without having to pay Canadian exit fees. At press time, it cost $40 more to fly one-way from Vancouver to Dallas compared with a one-way flight from Dallas to Vancouver.

Most Vancouver repositioning cruises have final destinations in San Francisco, Los Angeles or San Diego, giving you a choice of three great cities to finish your cruise. One-way fares from these cities to Dallas are averaging $139.

We recently found West Coast repositioning cruises for as low as $50 per night for sailings in September and October. Norwegian offered a four-day Vancouver to San Diego cruise starting at $199 and a five-day Vancouver to Los Angeles journey starting at $279. Both cruises departed in late September.

If you want a really quick cruise, Princess is offering a one-night cruise from Seattle to Vancouver, starting at $59 per person for an inside cabin, $69 for an ocean view, $99 for a balcony and $129 for a suite. The cruise departs Sept. 21.

Transatlantic cruises

If you like to plan far in advance, Norwegian is offering a 16-night transatlantic cruise from Barcelona to Houston starting at $649 for an inside cabin, $799 for an ocean view and $1,049 for a balcony cabin. The cruise departs Oct. 29, 2015.

Royal Caribbean has a 14-night transatlantic cruise departing Southampton, England, to San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Nov. 2. Inside cabins start at $699 per person, or $50 per night. This cruise stops in Funchal, Portugal; Tenerife, Canary Islands; St. Maarten; St. Kitts and St. Thomas before arriving in San Juan.

When checking prices, you should know sometimes the better cabins aren't much more expensive than the lowest priced cabins. No matter what type of cabin you are in, you'll have access to the same amenities, such as free meals, snacks, activities and entertainment.

One final note, today is the final day to take advantage of Carnival's special military rates for sailings through Dec. 31. These can be the cheapest deals available, and you can get the discounted rate for up to three cabins on the same sailing. The offer is valid for active or retired U.S. military members and those who have served in the military and were honorably discharged. You must submit DD-214 papers to be eligible. Visit carnival.com/specials/military-discount.aspx.

Tom Parsons is CEO of bestfares.com.

(Tom Parsons is CEO of www.bestfares.com. Email him at media@bestfares.com.)

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