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Industry watchers: Some last-minute cruise deals 'reminiscent of post 9/11'  Nov 13, 2008

Got an opening in your calendar in the next two months? If so, there are some cruise promotions out there that you might find hard to pass up.

"NCL is offering Caribbean and Mexican Riviera deals right now (for November and December) that are reminiscent of post 9/11 offers," notes longtime industry watcher Stewart Chiron. And it's not just NCL dropping prices sharply, he says.

"Deals are available on most major cruise ships and sailings of varying cruise lengths to worldwide destinations," says Chiron, who once ran a big cruise travel agency and now speaks frequently on the industry under the moniker The Cruise Guy. "The opportunities include the newest and best cruise ships in the world."

As we've written about several times in recent weeks, cruise lines have been slashing prices on voyages scheduled between now and next summer to jump start bookings that have stalled along with the economy. But what's really got industry watchers talking this month are the close-in deals.

Chiron points to seven-night Western Caribbean voyages on Princess' newest vessel, the Ruby Princess, priced starting at just $599. Seven-night Caribbean trips on Royal Caribean's much-ballyhooed Liberty of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas are now going for as little as $499, he adds.

As for NCL, Chiron notes that upcoming seven-night voyages in the Caribbean on the Norwegian Pearl -- one of the line's newest and best ships -- are going for as little as $249 per person. The Norwegian Star out of Los Angeles is going for $299, he says.

"The cruise lines are being very aggressive with pricing (on soon-to-depart voyages) in order to keep new bookings coming in," says Linda Bailey of Navigant Vacations. "We just had some guests book an inside cabin on a Carnival cruise leaving Jan. 31 for seven nights for $210 person ... which is an incredible value."

Bailey notes that there even are substantial discounts on normally-booked-up Thanksgiving sailings, although the best pricing often is limited to people who can take advantage of resident specials or senior rate specials. "Clients who are within driving distance from a port, or who qualify for resident or senior rates, are seeing some of the best pricing available in a very long time," she says.

Industry watchers: Some last-minute cruise deals 'reminiscent of post 9/11'
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