Posted April 8th, 2005, 03:44 AM
Last edited by drwong; April 8th, 2005 at 03:46 AM
Most of the cruise lines have posted their Spring-Summer 2006 itineraries and prices on their websites, and Travelocity and Expedia have posted them as well. As you might have noticed, prices are up between 20-40% from last year, recognizing the heightened demand for European cruises and the view that President Bush's war on terror is succeeding.
To meet the surge in demand, ships are being redeployed to Europe from the "Homeland Cruises" and non-European itineraries that were so popular earlier in this decade - for example the Caribbean cruises of Celebrity's Century were cancelled in favor of European ones, and Oceania is bring the Nautica back from Asia . Despite this added capacity, demand is still projected to exceed last year's, so consequently, prices are going to be quite a bit higher than last year.
The cost to the cruiselines of doing business in Europe (port charges, purchasing supplies, shore excursions, etc.) isn't getting any cheaper either, due in part to the strengthening Euro and the declining dollar. In other words, a confluence of events may push your cruise over the $2K mark pretty quickly - for example, HAL's already asking $1939 for 10-day Eastern Med cruise aboard their older Noordam for their May 06 sailings, and a cruise aboard the more modern Rotterdam starts at $2249 for an inside cabin, and those prices don't even include air fare!
One option is to book your cruise in the "pre-season" - March or April, immediately following a trans-Atlantic redeployment. I noticed that some lines are sweetening their repositioning cruises with a few stops in the Western Med if you don't mind spending a few days at sea (and saving a few bucks on shore excursions).
As a matter of fact, we're planning to embark on a 10-day Eastern Med cruise from Athens to Istanbul in April 06 for just over $2000 per person (thanks to our agent's group discount), and the cruise line is throwing in free round-trip airfare as an early booking incentive! Drop me a line privately if you're interested (I don't want to be advertising or promoting specific agents or cruise lines via these general information boards).