Finding the Cheapest Cruise Vacation Packages

Hey, I understand.  In these economic times, most people don’t cruise-shop for the most extravagant cruise, the one that hits the most ports, or the one with the biggest liners. They go for the one that offers good quality at the lowest prices. And no one can blame the public for this. So who offers the best overall prices?

As recently as the early 1990s, Premier Cruise Line offered some of the most reasonable cruise prices available. They’d specialized in purchasing older ocean liners and converting them into cruise ships, primarily around the tropics. Premier began transporting scads of people to Disney World and was raking in money like autumn leaves. Disney even allowed them to bring Mickey and Goofy on board as guests to charm the families. But then, alas, Disney initiated its own cruise line and yanked the cartoon characters. Then, to make things worse for Premier, Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Lines, and Royal Caribbean began a massive building program of new liners. They grew so large that they could undercut almost any discount cruises Premier put out there. The company finally folded in September of 2000.

There’s one small cruise line left and, at the time of this writing, it still offers the lowest priced package, all things considered. It is the Imperial Majesty Line with its two ships: the Regal Empress and the Ocean Breeze. The prices start at $39 per person per day in the lowest category cabin, and the two-day cruise starts at $45 per day. The ships sail primarily to the Bahamas.

A travel expert claimed recently that of the large cruise lines, the least expensive cruises are offered by Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL), and Royal Caribbean. Of course, a few lines such as Celebrity and Princess occasionally compete with a lower priced package, and Costa is a property of Carnival.

Another situation in which any large cruise line can offer rock-bottom rates is on repositioning cruises. This means that when a liner must be repositioned to a different part of the world, the trip for vacationers is offered at a huge discount. A repositioning cruise such as a trans-Atlantic voyage can cost as little as $32 per person per day.

But, aside from situations like that, Carnival, NCL, and Royal Caribbean usually offer the lowest prices. The briefer cruises are often on older ships but you get some incredible deals. And don’t imagine that just because a ship is older, it is shabby or inferior. In many cases, passengers are not even aware that their liner has been in service longer than others. Carnival and NCL now offer three-day cruises for $56 per person per day, and you can get a four-night cruise for about $52 per day. If you do a 7-10 day Mexico or Caribbean cruise, your rate will probably be the lowest of all. However, as the economy improves, expect that rates may go up a bit.

I’m not about to try to compare the overall quality of the three most economical cruise lines. Why not book brief cruises with all three and you decide? Or read up on them yourself and decide which one you like the best. However, whatever you decide I seriously doubt that you will come away disappointed, no matter which company you select. Go out there and have some fun.