NEW YORK, July 2nd
Summer is traditionally one of the most expensive times of the year to take a cruise, but this year is an exception.
Stewart Chiron — aka "The Cruise Guy" — told ABCNEWS' Good Morning America that summer cruise prices have hit a 10-year low.
Since Sept. 11, travelers have been taking shorter trips, spending less money and staying closer to home, according to the Travel Industry Association of America. So cruise lines are trying to lure people back with irresistible deals.
"There are great deals, whether you're going for a week or just a weekend getaway. Some are under $300," Chiron said.
Carnival Cruise is offering a three to five-night Bahamas or western Caribbean cruise from Miami for about $279 per person from July through October 2002. That's down from its regular price of $729, Chiron said. Rates in the fall will drop even more. These type of cruises are good sampler cruises if you do not have time for a full week, or are just testing out a cruise for the first time.
Royal Caribbean Explorer and Voyager of Sea (largest cruise ships in the world) are offering a seven-night eastern or western Caribbean cruise from Miami for only $849 per person from July through September 2002. That cruise would regularly go for more than $1,709, Chiron said. The Explorer cruise sails from Miami to Labadee (private island), San Juan, St. John/St. Thomas and Nassau. The Voyager sails from Miami to Labadee, Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman and Cozumel.
"All of the cruise lines are offering lower prices, so it's a good idea to take a look at all of the current deals," Chiron said. "Don't call the cruise lines directly for their fares; you'll end up paying a lot more."
Chiron suggests looking to his Web site, www.cruiseguy.com, and other outside sources for the best deals.
For those who are worried about security, cruise companies say security is tighter than ever before.
If you think you don't have the money to get to a port, you're probably underestimating your options, Chiron said. Beyond the traditional ports of Miami and Fort Lauderdale, cruises take off from New Orleans, Galveston, New York, San Diego and even Baltimore. Whether travelers live in the South, North, East or West, they may be able to drive to a port instead of paying for a flight. This is also a plus for would-be travelers who have been afraid to fly.