Cruises are big this year: Where to look for deals

If the trip bookings at the AAA travel show, Great Vacations Expo this past weekend are any indication of the type of travel many people are looking for, it’s cruises, cruises and more cruises. While there, I ran into Bill Purpera, editor of Home and Away magazine for the Ohio section who filled me in on the statistics when I asked him about the biggest vacation sellers on Saturday.

Given that the temperatures plummeted to well below zero on Friday, enough that Columbus schools were closed, it’s not a surprise that people have a strong hankering to head south.

Carnival Cruise Lines were the strongest seller, followed by Royal Caribbean International, with Holland America and Princess Cruises tied for third place. Along with the pull of southern waters, cruises are the hottest travel deal this year, according to the woman who was representing Royal Caribbean.

She said that people are more likely to take cruises to the Caribbean for the first time, but once they’ve been on a cruise they are hooked and head to other destinations. One cruise that a friend of a friend of mine was most excited about was Uniworld’s cruises on rivers of Europe. As she said, the idea that you don’t have to pack and unpack at each city makes for an appealing travel option. The advantage of this sort of travel is that the sticker price of a trip won’t take you by surprise if you know the price options when you sign up.

When I was telling my father about this being the year for cruises, he reminded me that if you are traveling as a single person, cruises are more expensive. Price structures are generally set up for doubles. As a person who travels alone, my dad misses out on most cruise deals, but they can be found with sleuthing.

If you’re looking for cruise deals, here are four places to look: –Some cruises are grouped according to Top 3 Cruise Deals and More Great Cruise Deals. If you want to see if a cruise is a travel option you’d enjoy before you book a ticket. You can take a virtual cruise at this site. There are useful tips about travel insurance and passports as well.–This site offers one-day sales, along with allowing you to search cruise options on a pull-down menu. If you’re interested in a shore excursion, but not a cruise, there are deals on tours. This means if you’re on a trip to Alaska, but not on a cruise you can take advantage of a shore excursion tour. –An easy to navigate site, there is a list of cruise destinations to give you ideas and a drop down menu. There are also links to pages that offer cruises based on activities and interests such as wine and food cruises; art culture and antiquities; and luxurious spas for mind, body and spirit. –As a cruise clearing house, this site is one to subscribe to if you’re looking for last minute deals. According to the site you can save up to 75% off. The links along the left side of the homepage allow you to search according to age group–there’s one for 55 and over, plus several other discount options like teacher rates, military etc. Here would be a place for browsing just to see what is available and what fits you. I receive the e-mail newsletter which summarizes deals each week.