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Catch the tide

Catch the tide

With the cruise industry trying to stay afloat by rolling out discounts and all-inclusive family deals, this is the best time to take to the waters.

TAKE A CHANCE ON THE MAIDEN JOURNEY
Line
Ship
Launch
Inaugural Deals
Carnival Carnival Dream September 2009 Save 33-73% on brochure rates, plus a 10% discount on select shore excursions.
Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas December 2009 Save up to 50% on January departures of the sevennight Eastern Caribbean cruise.
Silversea Cruises Silver Spirit January 2010 Sail 30 consecutive days and receive $250 on-board credit per suite, based on double occupancy.
Costa Cruises Costa Deliziosa February 2010 Shave 38% off the brochure price on the inaugural Egypt, Yemen, Oman, Dubai circuit.
MSC Cruises MSC Magnifica March 2010 Two children under 18 years can sail free as third/fourth occupants in the cabin/suite.

Too expensive? Too difficult to arrange as India does not offer any? There are many excuses to not take a cruise, but if there is one travel experience that you can’t afford to miss in the near future, it is this. Why? Because the recession-hit industry is rolling out attractive freebies like never before. Because the cruise industry has revamped to not only cater to every lifestyle but also every age group. And because this is your chance to bag huge promotional discounts as at least 15 cruise liners are undertaking their maiden voyages by September 2010.

Typically, the industry hikes fares by 2-5% annually. However, things are different at the moment. Given the sluggish recovery that the global economy is posting, most travellers are hedging their bets for 2009 sailings, if not cancelling plans entirely. According to industry insiders, this has compelled most players, including Celebrity Cruises (Alaska and Europe sailings) and Silversea (Hawaii) to offer discounts of up to 40%. Says Anthony Hamawy, president, Cruise.com, the largest online player in the business: “We are seeing the cheapest deals since 9/11.” The liners that balk at lowering rates have other tricks in store like free shore excursions and on-board credit.

The bad news is that the party is bound to wind up sooner rather than later. According to Carolyn Spencer Brown, one of the world’s top cruise experts, “Right now, it’s fashionable to be thrifty, but this won’t last.” Luxury cruises are sure to bounce back, possibly by 2010, she adds. This means that the earlier you book, the better the deal you bag, not to mention benefits like your pick of accommodation, dinner seatings, even itinerary.

Cruise Lines International Association, the worldwide industry trade group, anticipates nearly 13 million cruise-takers this year, up 2,00,000 from last year. Players are introducing the biggest discounts up to nine months in advance, at least for sailings in 2010, to cater to this increased number.

The bottom line: this is possibly the best all-inclusive vacation deal you can get for family fun this year. If nothing else, consider a cruise to Lakshadweep. The MV Kavaratti, launched in August 2008, is not a luxury liner, but at Rs 20,000 per person for a five-day tour of Kavaratti, Kalpeni and Minicoy islands from Kochi (Rs 12,000 for children under 12 years), this could be a great initiation to the world of cruising.

Published on: Nov 05, 2009, 4:28 PM IST
Posted by: AtMigration, Nov 05, 2009, 4:28 PM IST