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Entries in Cruises (3)

Wednesday
Feb082012

Italian Cruise Ship Tragedy Could Mean Deals for Travelers

Laura Lezza/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- With the non-stop media coverage of the Costa Concordia tragedy and the image of the capsized ship bombarding screens, monitors and mobile devices for several weeks, it probably comes as no surprise that people may think twice before booking a cruise.

Both Carnival Corp. and Royal Caribbean International reported booking declines in the low-to-mid-teens in the weeks immediately following the accident compared with a year earlier. Carnival is the parent company of Costa Cruises, Holland America, Princess Cruises and Seabourn Cruise Line. Royal Caribbean also has a fleet, including Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises, among others.

For better or worse, one person's tragedy can be another's opportunity. As travelers reconsider cruise vacations, deals have surfaced.

"When demand is soft, the cruise lines will either reduce prices or add additional incentives to entice customers to book," said Matt Lee, vice president of cruises for Travelocity. "Typically, they'll add incentives like free upgrades, onboard credit and reduced deposits before they'll decrease the price of the cruise."

Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor-in-chief of popular cruise review website CruiseCritic.com, said that last-minute opportunities are robust right now, especially for the Caribbean in February and March -- peak times to cruise in the region.

"I haven't seen so many deals for seven-night cruises under $600 in a long time, especially for these months," she said.

Still, bargain hunters need to act fast. Though several cruise lines have launched new short-term sales to spur demand, said Lee, he expects bookings to bounce back and the window to close quickly.

"Now may truly be the best time to book all year. Take advantage of these deals before the demand catches up with supply," he said.´╗┐

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug302011

Travel Bargain: Repositioning Cruises Offer Great Deals

Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Lines/Getty Images(MIAMI) -- Could you use a little pampering at sea?

Every fall and every spring, the major cruise lines move their ships around the globe like chess pieces, repositioning them to take advantage of the changing seasons. Starting in September, when travelers' fancies turn to warmer climes, ships begin to migrate from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean, from Alaska to Mexico or to the South Pacific. The reverse occurs in spring.

These voyages, says Robert Sharak, executive vice president of marketing for the Cruise Lines International Association, tend to be both longer and significantly cheaper than a standard cruise.

A 16-day transatlantic crossing from Barcelona, Spain, to Galveston, Texas, onboard Carnival Cruises' newest ship, the Magic, costs $864. Ports of call include Palma de Mallorca and Malaga, Spain; Las Palmas, Canary Islands; and Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos.

Why so cheap? The trips occur off-season, says travel expert Aaron Saunders, who writes about cruising at FromTheDeckChair.com. "How do you fill a ship in late September or mid-October?" he asks. "You price it so that people can't say no."

Because the cruise lines are shifting their fleets, passengers also have the opportunity to visit ports that might otherwise not be accessible.

"Travelers can really get a fantastic deal," said Emerson Hankamer, president and COO of travel website VacationsToGo.com, "especially if they're willing to begin and end their trip in an atypical port."

He cites a 14-night trip on Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas departing from Mallorca, Spain, and finishing at Colon, Panama. Price: $36.92 a day.

"Until recently, people didn't take advantage of these cruises," said Jeffrey Laign, editorial director of Porthole magazine, which covers the consumer cruise industry. "But now repositioning cruises have started to catch on."

"The per diems are often half of what you'd pay for a regular cruise," Laign said, "and they tend to have itineraries with ports of call not regularly visited."

Because these trips have many more days at sea than a standard cruise, they tend to appeal to seasoned travelers who "really like to sail," he said, "cruise veterans who are looking for something a little different."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Aug272011

Hurricane Irene Causes Flight Cancellations, Train Disruptions

William Thomas Cain/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As Hurricane Irene slammed into North Carolina this morning, commuters and travelers across the country are feeling its impact.

More than 8,300 commercial airline flights have already been canceled this weekend, and that number is expected to rise, according to the website Flightware.com.

All airports in the New York area—Newark, John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia—will stop accepting domestic and international arrival flights at noon Saturday.

Public transportation in New York City will stop running at noon, and airport officials do not want arriving passengers to be stranded at the airports.

Sam Schwartz, former commissioner for New York City's Department of Transportation said it will take eight hours to get all the trains and buses tucked safely away.

Philadelphia International Airport will shut down Saturday at 6 p.m.

Most airlines are now giving out travel waivers, meaning they will not charge any fees for flight changes.

But in many cases, you have to book your next flight within a short window.

In the central terminal at LaGuardia Airport, several passengers are stranded in the food court, trying to plot their next move. Many airport shops and restaurants may close at noon.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said it is ready for potential disruptions.

"Additional staff and contractor employees will be assisting customers as needed in every area of airport operations," said the Port Authority, and they will "stock hundreds of cases of bottled water, diapers, cots, blankets and pillows to provide to stranded passengers if necessary.

Under terms of the agency's concession contracts, at least one food vendor in every passenger terminal must remain open 24 hours so that food is available at any time of day or night."

Despite the fact that thousands of flights have been canceled, the departures area at LaGuardia was packed at 6 a.m. Saturday with people trying to get home before they get stranded.

Flights will continue to take off as weather permits.

Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority told ABC News Friday morning about 100 out of 400 flights have been canceled Saturday at RDU and it anticipates further disruptions for flights along the East Coast through Monday, Aug. 29.

How quickly airports can function after Irene will depend on more than clear skies. If the public transportation in New York is not running, many airport personnel may not be able to get to work.

President Obama cut his vacation short by one day, conferencing with his emergency response team, and warned citizens of the dangers of Hurricane Irene.

"I cannot stress this highly enough: If you are in the projected path of this hurricane, you have to take precautions now. Don't wait. Don't delay," Obama warned Friday morning from Martha's Vineyard, urging citizens to visit ready.gov if they are unsure how to prepare.

Amtrak canceled most trains traveling south of Washington, D.C. for Saturday and Sunday.

The railroad announced at 5:40 p.m. Friday it is canceling more East Coast trains with service reductions beginning on today and will not operate trains in the Northeast on Sunday.

Amtrak may make additional announcements as the storm travels north.

Most cruises set sail on weekends, so the ships that had already departed were clear of the storm by the time it made landfall, said Paul Motter, editor of CruiseMates.com.

However, all the major cruise lines have altered their schedules to some degree.

As of 10 a.m. Saturday, Carnival Cruise Lines announced changes to cruises departing this weekend to the Bahamas and Key West, updating guests and suggesting they continue checking the company website.

Carnival Pride has been directed by the U.S. Coast Guard to arrive early from the previous cruise and proceed to a secure, alternate location until the storm passes.

Celebrity Cruises Celebrity Summit did not depart Kings Wharf, Bermuda, Thursday at 6 p.m. Instead, the ship will remain in Bermuda until 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 26. As of Friday morning, the cruise line anticipates the ship will arrive in Bayonne, New Jersey, on Aug. 29.

Holland America HAL's Veendam which left August 21 for a seven-day Bermuda Cruise, departed Bermuda at 5:00pm on Thursday, Aug. 25, and is scheduled to arrive in New York one day early on Saturday, ahead of the storm's anticipated arrival, as of 10 p.m. PDT Thursday.

Norwegian Cruise Line announced changes to the schedules of the Norwegian Jewel on Friday at 2 p.m. and asked travelers to check the companies website.

Royal Caribbean's "Explorer of the Seas" will depart Cape Liberty, Bayonne, N.J., on Saturday at 4 p.m., one hour earlier than originally scheduled.

On Friday at noon, it also cancelled the "Majesty of the Seas" call to CocoCay on Saturday and the "Monarch of the Seas" call to CocoCay on Sunday.

The safest location for a ship during a hurricane is at sea, well away from the storm. A ship should never be in port when a storm hits, because the vessel can be dashed against the pier and sustain damage, he said.

The biggest challenge comes when a hurricane makes landfall the same day that the ship is scheduled to be in its U.S. home port, Motter said. Cruise lines will usually opt to keep ships out to sea until "the coast is clear." The passengers get an extra day of "fun," although the seas may be rougher than usual.

Motter said the worst part of a hurricane during a cruise may be the airline reservation chaos passengers face when they disembark a day later than planned.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐







ABC News Radio