Cruise prices rise but bargains are out there, nevermind the view

As promised, cruise lines have raised prices in reaction to increasing demand. It seems the all-inclusive nature and higher-than-other-things safety level of a cruise vacation is once again filling up ships. But there are still a few bargains out there, if you don’t mind the view.

Royal Caribbean International, who eternally vowed to never discount new Oasis and Allure of the seas is doing the next best thing. In what they call a summertime “family-friendly” promotion running through the 13th of April, the line is offering $200 onboard credit for sailings during June, July or August 2011.

Vacationers booking two or more Central Park- or Boardwalk-view balcony staterooms, that are grouped together, will receive a $200 onboard credit per stateroom, up to a maximum of three staterooms for a total of $600 onboard credits per group.

Here’s the catch: Nobody wants those cabins.

When most people think “balcony” they think “overlooking the ocean”. These don’t. Your view will be of whoever is across the interior Central Park Neighborhood if you look straight ahead or of the Central Park landscaping below. Look up and you will see the sky but not much of it.

The Boardwalk-view location is better or worse depending on how you look at it. The aft location does provide a view of the ocean. Sort of. If you look past the Aqua-theater and there is a lot going on back there. The down-side is that there is a lot going on back there. Someone who wants a lazy day on the balcony watching the ocean roll by will be disappointed if not angry.

I was on the ship with a bunch of really loud people who we put out on the balcony, hoping they would fall off. They didn’t fall off but when the balcony door was closed and I was standing inside the cabin looking at them it was like putting them on mute setting.

Still, this is a great promotion if you don’t have plans to relax, fool around, smoke or otherwise misbehave on your balcony. Concerns over noise from the area below are more true in the bustling Boardwalk area than the serene Central Park but not very well founded.

Don’t get me wrong, Oasis and Allure of the Seas are great ships. The cupcakes from the Cupcake Cupboard alone are reason enough to sail on either one. Take Royal Caribbean up on this deal and you’ll have plenty of cash for them.

Photo: Whitney Owen