Cruise Deal Alert: There’s Still Time to Score a Spring Break Bargain

March 2, 2012
spring-break-cruise-deal (10:50 a.m. EST) --There's still time to score a bargain on a last-minute cruise getaway during spring break. In the past, cruises departing during spring break season -- from early March to mid-April -- were priced at a premium and sold out early, but thanks to a still-soft economy, we're seeing more availability than usual during the school holiday and Easter week timeframe. Better yet, with such a good variety of last-minute deals available, spring break cruises won't cost you an arm and a leg to book.

We've compiled five of our favorite spring break deals, with a diversity of cruise travelers in mind. Just keep in mind that these sailings all depart in less than two months, so you'll need to book soon.

Best for the College Crowd: We all know that Carnival's cruise ships have a reputation for being party ships, or “fun ships” as the line likes to call them, and we can't think of a cruise line better suited to high-energy co-eds. Our suggestion? The five-night Bahamas sailing aboard Carnival Ecstasy, departing on March 17. From as little as $82 per night, you'll get to visit Key West, Nassau and Freeport for some fun in the sun. Plus, this cruise returns on a Thursday, so passengers will have a long weekend to recuperate. You may even be able to score onboard credit. (Please note that if you're under 21, you will not be allowed onboard unless you're traveling with your parents or sharing a cabin with your spouse or someone aged 25 or older.) Find out more about the deal here.

Best for Value: Don't just limit your bargain hunting to the cheapest deal you can find. Often, it's added amenities and booking incentives that will make one cruise deal better than the next. This is definitely the case for the weeklong March 24 sailing aboard Holland America's Eurodam departing from Fort Lauderdale. Inside cabins are available from $71 per night, plus you may be eligible for onboard credit, a reduced deposit, a coupon book, free cabin upgrades and prepaid gratuities, which can all help to offset the cost of airfare and in-port spending. Find out more here.

Best for Escaping Spring Break Crowds: If you have time off during spring break but want to avoid being overwhelmed by herds of children and university students during your vacation, a luxury cruise may be your best bet. Fares can be restrictive for the average spring break cruiser, but if you have some cash socked away -- not to mention some frequent flier miles -- we suggest Silver Shadow's weeklong Asia cruise departing from Singapore on March 28. Throughout the week, you'll get to visit ports in Thailand, Malaysia and Sumatra. Fares start at $3,599 per person for suite accommodations, and include alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, gratuities and butler service. You'll even get $500 in onboard credit, which can be used toward shore excursions, spa treatments and the like. Find out more here.

Best for Families: When it comes to family cruising, it's essential to have tons of onboard activities available to keep kids in every age group content. With its 4,200-square-foot playroom and 1,800-square-foot teen club, Carnival Valor's family programs and expanded kids' facilities fit the bill. The ship even features a huge onboard waterslide. All that to say, there will be plenty of kid-friendly activities to keep your crew occupied on the ship's weeklong Eastern Caribbean Easter break cruise, which departs from Miami on March 31. Rates start at just $549 per person, and dependent on cabin category booked you could be eligible for onboard credit and/or a free cabin upgrade. A tip: there are lots of bargains to be had the following week, so if you're okay with keeping the kids out of school for a few extra days, you may be able to score an even better bargain. Find out more here.

Best for Cultural Exposure: If you're more into museums and architecture than cartoon characters and arcade games, consider spending Easter break in the Mediterranean. MSC Spendida is sailing roundtrip from Genoa on a weeklong Eastern Mediterranean cruise, departing the day before Easter, and will hit up Barcelona, Tunis, Valletta, Messina and Rome. With anywhere from six to 11 hours in each port, you can choose to do just about anything from shopping in local markets to visiting historic sights like the ruins of Ancient Carthage, the Picasso Museum and the Coliseum. Rates start at $564 per person -- discounts may be available for children traveling as the third and fourth passengers in a cabin. Find out more here.

For all deals, fares are per person, based on double occupancy. Government taxes and fees may be additional. Prices and offers are subject to availability and may change or be withdrawn at any time. Further restrictions may apply.

Haven't found what you're looking for? Scan our cruise deals pages for more money-saving bargains:

Last Minute Cruise Deals
Caribbean Cruise Deals
Alaska Cruise Deals
Carnival Cruise Deals
Celebrity Cruise Deals
Holland America Cruise Deals
Norwegian Cruise Deals
Princess Cruise Deals
Royal Caribbean Cruise Deals

--by Shayne Rodriguez Thompson, Editorial Assistant