As Oasis of the Seas mania revs up to fever pitch this week, news outlets are speculating whether the ship, which debuts officially on December 1, will offer fire-sale fares to fill berths on its inaugural cruises.
In the first of our ongoing reports about Oasis of the Seas pricing, we're seeing rates drop on closer-in sailings, but no genuine bargains to be had. Some observations:
Most agencies aren't touting Oasis cruises as deals on their "specials" pages. They list prices and lots of details about the new ship, but aren't claiming the rates are amazing or reduced in any way. Royal Caribbean does not include Oasis of the Seas in the "Limited Time Offers" or "Hot Deals" sections on its Web site.
Some agencies are advertising "Oasis deals" in their ads, but then link to a page of regular pricing. Or the Oasis "deals" they tout are simply value-added offers, like free travel insurance or onboard credit -- but not actual dollars off. Other agencies say they have deals, but you don't find out what they are until you call or start the booking process.
It's tough to say what really is a good Oasis "deal" because the ship is priced so much higher than the Freedom-class trio of ships, Royal Caribbean's newest, largest and most amenity-laden vessels -- after the one-of-a-kind Oasis. Here's an example: Prices for a seven-night Caribbean cruise on Liberty of the Seas, departing the second week in December, start at $399 for inside cabins and $749 for balcony cabins. On Oasis, that same week, an inside will cost you $1,089 and a verandah starts at $1,419.
Sometimes it pays just to hunt around. For instance, one reader wrote to tell us, "I was one of the lucky ones. I am going on the Make-A-Wish cruise [the November 30 christening] in an outside balcony for $250 per person. I am staying on the ship for the December 1st cruise in another outside balcony for $650 per person, including taxes and port charges. The total for all 5 days is $900 for an oceanview balcony. I couldn't be happier. Last night when I was checking prices they wanted $1,049 per person for the December 1st cruise for a Central Park balcony, which I didn't really want."
Got a great price on an Oasis sailing? Tell us about it by e-mailing email@example.com.
--by Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor and Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief
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Oasis of the Seas Cruise Deals: Can You Find a Steal?
November 19, 2009