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How To Find the Best Cruise Deals in 2011

Cruise Holidays of Chicago North provided advice on finding deals and other "best practices" for booking a cruise. We always recommend using the services of a cruise travel professional to book your cruise vacation.


The following text is an excerpt from the USA Today story, published January 4, 2011.


This item was written by Johanna Jainchill, who covers cruising for Travel Weekly. Jainchill is serving as Guest Editor of The Cruise Log while USA TODAY Cruise Editor Gene Sloan is away.


Rob Clabbers, president of Cruise Holidays of Chicago, recommended looking at the shoulder season in Europe, just before the ships cross the Atlantic to start the Caribbean season, such as Mediterranean cruises in October and November 2011.


"An additional advantage is that at that time, although the weather is not great for sunbathing and swimming at that time, it can be excellent for sightseeing," he said. "And since there are fewer tourists at that time, especially some of the smaller ports will be even more appealing and feel much less crowded."

Clabbers said Europe during the peak season would be high, and cited certain hot itineraries like anything "that includes the Norwegian Fjords."


Clabbers expected that 2011 in general would bring higher cruise fares.


"As North America-based travelers we must not forget that the cruise lines rely more and more on passengers from Europe, Australia and other areas," he said. "The growth of those international markets is bigger than the growth from North America, which means that cruise lines can keep their prices up - or even raise them, despite the increased number of cruise ships plying the seas."

He cautioned cruisers to not wait too long to book.


"Many of our clients having already booked their 2011 vacations in the fourth quarter of 2010," Clabbers said. "We suspect that the trend of booking earlier will return, as opposed to the last few years where last-minute bookings reigned supreme."


Clabbers said the newest ships would carry price premiums, but recommended checking if the older ships have been outfitted with the newer ships' amenities.


"[Celebrity Cruises] is now 'Solsticizing' its Millennium class ships, while Royal Caribbean is now outfitting some Freedom class ships with features from the Oasis and Allure of the seas," he said. "So people who are looking for a deal on the newer ships should talk to their cruise travel specialist to find out whether any of the older ships offer a similar experience, at possibly a lower fare."