(8:30 p.m. EDT) -- With all the talk of fare hikes, the disappearance of cruise bargains and Carnival's recent crackdown on agency-added discounts and incentives, it might seem that getting a good deal on your next cruise is practically impossible. However, Cruise Critic has picked up on a trend, carried over from last year, that may just be your ticket to a more affordable cruise vacation. What is it? Summer sales from a number of cruise lines that are featuring Wave Season-like incentives for travelers who can book soon.
Whether it's discounted fares (many less than $100 per night), free cabin upgrades or onboard credit, these offers are a great way to snag some savings or extra value on your next sailing, whether you're planning to cruise this fall or during the first half of 2011.
Here's what we're seeing so far:
Through August 1, 2010, NCL is offering free cabin upgrades -- including inside to outside, outside to balcony or balcony to deluxe balcony -- on select 2010 and 2011 sailings. Plus, if you're planning a cruise on the newly launched Norwegian Epic, you may be eligible for up to $150 in onboard credit and a 50 percent reduced deposit.
If you book select Carnival cruises by July 30, 2010, you will find discounted rates on cruises to the Caribbean, the Bahamas and Mexico. Plus, you'll be eligible for up to $160 in onboard credit and free cabin upgrades (depending on the length of your cruise).
Princess Cruises is now offering discounts on select 7- to 14-night Caribbean cruises. In fact, you can book a weeklong Southern Caribbean sailing for as little as $399 per person -- about $57 a night. A wide variety of sail dates and itineraries are available.
Azamara Club Cruises is offering two-for-one fares on 2010 Europe cruises aboard Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest, and if you book an outside cabin or above, you'll be eligible to receive up to $500 in onboard credit and a $1,000 ChoiceAir credit per couple. The promotion expires August 31, 2010.
Remember to always shop around before booking your cruise to make sure you're getting the best price and perks available to you. A great place to start your search is the Cruise Critic Deals page, as we add new deals daily.
--by Shayne Rodriguez Thompson, Web Content Producer
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Summer Cruise Sales Offer Big Savings and Extra Perks
July 15, 2010