Mid Winter Cruising: Plan a Getaway Now and Save!

By Amanda Orr

Oil prices are down and cruise lines have eliminated the fuel surcharges that were recently added to the price. Add to that the steep discounts that are available for early bookings and this season’s cruises deals are hard to resist. If you’ve never cruised before, this may be the year. Cruises can be the ideal family vacation because, yes indeed, they do have something for everyone, and you don’t have to deal with meals, transportation or entertainment while you’re on board. Oh, and one more thing…Kid’s Clubs. Need I say more? If there's a little left in the family budget this year for travel, this is one way to make those bucks go twice as far! Here are our picks for mid-winter cruises.

Spring Break Deal 1: The week-long family adventure for East Coasters

7 night southern Caribbean, Royal Caribbean, Serenade of the Seas: Help break in this brand new ship as it makes port calls at St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Antigua, St. Lucia and Barbados. We like this trip because it packs in a lot of interesting stops in a week, and the new ship is a nice bonus. The ship sails mid-January through late February and prices start at $549 per person. This is great for older kids who are up for some fun shore excursions.

Spring Break Deal 2: A week-long adventure for West Coasters

Mexico is a cruiser’s dream. It combines fabulous relaxing beaches with fascinating historical stops (so if you want to combine a little lesson with the relaxation, this is our pick). The Norwegian Cruise Lines “Star” ship leaves Los Angeles every Saturday in March for a week long trip that stops at Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas. Norwegian is known for their “freestyle cruising which is nice for families who don’t want to commit to a specific dinner table or restaurant for the week.

The Romantic Getaway

Don’t forget – cruises don’t have to be all about stopping at exciting ports of call. With cruise ships now featuring every amenity under the sun – literally – there’s no need to leave the boat. That’s why we love this four-day cruise from Florida to Nassau, Bahamas offered by Carnival on their “Sensation” ship. Put the kids in Camp Carnival, relax under the sun, dip in the pool, jog around the track, visit the spa… you get the picture. The ship stops for two days in Nassau so you can tour at your leisure. February rates start at $269 per person and only $99 per person extra.

Exotic 7 Day Western Caribbean

Holland America’s ms Veendam takes a different approach to the Western Caribbean. Leaving form Tampa, Florida, this cruise stops at Key West, Belize City, Belize, Santa Tomas de Castilla and Costa Maya, Mexico. This is one of the more interesting Western Caribbean itineraries and Holland America is offering staterooms starting at $613 per person. This ship sails only in February, 2009.

Before you book, be sure to check out the member cruise reviews on cruisecritic.com. They have the most impressive chat boards in the industry and are invaluable in planning a cruise.

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