Saturday, October 31, 2009

CLIA's Top Ten Reasons To Sell New Cruises

From Travel Agent Central

The Cruise Lines International Association’s (CLIA) member cruise lines offer stress-free, no-work family celebrations in every part of the world during the winter holidays, CLIA reminds agents. And, as a bonus to spark sales, CLIA is offering a list of the top ten reasons to celebrate the winter holidays plus a sampling of what CLIA member cruise lines are offering this year. Great list. Great sampling. Great tools for cruise selling travel agents.

1. CLIA member cruise lines offer holiday cruises of all lengths on all types of ships, including the world’s newest and largest, in all parts of the world, from Africa to the Caribbean to the Mediterranean to Antarctica.

2. When quality family time counts the most, a holiday cruise offers flexibility and choice in recreational activities, entertainment, relaxed dining and fun for travelers of all ages.

3. With special pricing, an abundance of diverse activities and plenty of entertainment, cruising for the holidays is the ideal choice for multigenerational groups or groups of families and friends.

4. Holiday cruisers do not need to worry about planning and preparing menus, doing the dishes or cleaning the house. On a cruise, you can leave holiday chores behind and concentrate on enjoying time spent with loved ones.

5. In times of stress, the chance to totally escape is just what the doctor ordered. Vacationing has been proven to be healthy and good for one’s well-being.

6. With a caring ship’s staff doing all the work, including the entertaining, a holiday cruise means more time to celebrate and enjoy the festivities.

7. With so many different cruises and cruise ships to choose from, there is a holiday cruise for every budget.

8. Featuring inclusive pricing, incomparable comfort and convenience, and travel to some of the most popular vacation destinations in the world, no holiday celebration offers more value for money spent than a cruise.

9. What better or more-appreciated gift could there be than the lifetime memories of a holiday cruise with family or friends?

10. It’s not too late; many CLIA member lines are waiting to welcome last-minute cruise shoppers for the holidays.

Amadeus Cruises

The festive, traditional Christmas Markets of Vienna, Regensburg, Cologne, Prague and Paris are among the highlights of Amadeus Cruises’ winter holiday voyages on the great rivers of Europe. Strolling through bustling village squares decorated with lights and Christmas trees, passengers can shop for everything from home-made gingerbread to hand-carved wooden toys, returning at the end of the day to a ship festooned with a holiday décor. In addition to such special touches as a formal Christmas Dinner and New Year's Eve Gala Dinner, the company is offering “wonderful winter savings” with “Companion Cruises Free!” pricing. Passengers traveling in single accommodations may elect to waive the single supplement charge.

Avalon Waterways

Travelers can experience the holiday season the Central European way with Avalon Waterways on deluxe "Christmastime" river cruise vacations on the legendary Danube and Main Rivers. They will enjoy the enchanting atmosphere of 1,000-year-old-Prague and delight in the sights, smells and tastes of local Christmas markets in Frankfurt, Nuremberg, Regensburg, Würzberg, Bamberg, Miltenberg and Vienna. And, when they're ready to return to the ship after festive sightseeing, they’ll enjoy moving scenery from their spacious staterooms complete with floor-to-ceiling windows and French balconies as well as regionally inspired cuisine aboard award-winning ships. Cruisers booking before November 3, 2009 can receive 50 percent off airfare on already reduced winter savings.

Carnival Cruise Lines

Throughout the Carnival fleet, the winter holidays are celebrated with Christmas trees, wreaths and mistletoe, seasonal music, holiday entertainment, Christmas-themed movies and more. Santa Claus always makes an appearance toting a bag of gifts and an elaborate production show enables children to participate onstage, showcasing decorations they have made in Camp Carnival. Holiday menus feature such traditional favorites as oven-roasted turkey and pecan pie. On New Year's Eve, guests of Carnival Cruises are provided with party favors, noise makers and Champagne.

Costa Cruises

With Costa Fortuna and Costa Atlantica sailing the Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale, Costa offers a warm and festive Italian style winter holiday experience. The ships are completely decorated with Christmas trees, twinkling lights and beautiful ornaments and, on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Santa Claus makes special visits with keepsake gifts. Special holiday dinner and lunch menus offer a mix of the Italian cuisine and traditional favorites. A special New Year’s Eve “gala” night provides the opportunity to dress up for the holidays. Both ships feature holiday sailings from $599, complete with an up-to four category upgrade while kids sail for just $199 on all Costa Cruises Caribbean holiday voyages. Deposits have been reduced to $150 on all Caribbean sailings as well.

Crystal Cruises

This Christmas and New Year, Crystal Symphony will be cruising Antarctica and South America, allowing guests to experience both the South American spring and a white Christmas in Antarctica and Cape Horn. For a warm-weather Christmas, Crystal Serenity will be in the Caribbean for the holidays, sailing roundtrip from Miami on December 21. Ports include Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, St. Barts, Turks and Caicos, Bonaire and departing from Miami. All Crystal Cruises Holiday voyages feature more than $100,000 in seasonal décor, handcrafted decorations, lavish feasts and parties and a black tie New Year’s Eve gala. They also offer the Crystal Family Memories program, with special savings, shipboard credits, free fares for children and more for groups.

Cunard Line

Imagine the winter holidays in picture-perfect Copenhagen and other Scandinavian capitals filled with antiquity and charm. Cunard Line is offering a special "complimentary double upgrade" promotion on Queen Victoria’s December 9, 2009 “Winter Wonderland” voyage. Roundtrip from Southampton, this Scandinavian itinerary includes overnight stays in Hamburg, Germany and Copenhagen. Both Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2 will hold Hanukkah services December 21 - 29 and will have kosher culinary offerings available to guests. The Cunard Cruises ships will also be festooned with greenery, including trees and wreaths, ornaments, nutcrackers, gingerbread cottages and twinkling lights for Christmas, and kids will be delighted to find Father Christmas handing out gifts.

Disney Cruise Line

The spirit of the season surrounds guests of Disney Cruise Line during the winter holidays. Starting with Disney characters in their finest holiday attire welcoming guests at the decorated cruise terminal in Port Canaveral, the festivities include: “King Triton’s Tree Lighting” ceremony; family crafts such as stocking decorating and building gingerbread houses; holiday storytellers sharing tales of Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwaanza; traditional holiday feasts in three themed dining rooms and “Til We Meet Again,” a special holiday edition of the line’s cheerful farewell on the final night of the voyage. Disney Magic sails on seven-night eastern and western Caribbean holiday cruises; Disney Wonder offers three- and four-night Bahamian holiday cruises.

Holland America Line

Holland America offers 20 holiday cruises between December 16 and December 28. The Caribbean beckons with 11 holiday sailings from Fort Lauderdale and Tampa that range from seven to 14 days over one or two holidays. In a new offering for 2009, ms Maasdam will sail a 10-day Western Caribbean itinerary and an 11-day Eastern Caribbean itinerary. Most sailings feature a visit to Half Moon Cay, the line’s award-winning private Bahamian island. Holland America also offers roundtrip seven-day holiday cruises from San Diego to Mexico, three Panama Canal cruises departing from Fort Lauderdale and California, a 15-day Circle Hawaii itinerary and longer cruises in Australia, New Zealand, South America and Antarctica.


Hurtigruten is offering an all-inclusive package with all of the trimmings for the Christmas season. The penguins won't be the only creature wearing a tux as Hurtigruten’s festive 21-Day Christmas and New Years - Antarctica cruise-tour, departing December 19, 2009 celebrates the holiday season with traditional Norwegian Christmas breakfasts and dinners, onboard musicians, Christmas carols, a Santa Claus laden with gifts and a New Year's Eve dinner and midnight party -- all against a backdrop of stunning Antarctic landscapes. This offer can be booked using Hurtigruten's interest-free "Layaway Getaway" monthly payment plan.

MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises celebrates the winter holidays with an international flair, with festivities and traditions practiced around the world. In the Caribbean, MSC Poesia will offer a seven-night “Happy Holidays, Caribbean-Style” Eastern Caribbean voyage from Fort Lauderdale departing on December 20, and a seven-night “Caribbean  Confetti NewYear’s” Western Caribbean cruises departing December 27. In the Mediterranean, from Genoa to Egypt, guests can celebrate on MSC’s two newest ships, the MSC Splendida and the MSC Fantasia, on Eastern Mediterranean and Western Mediterranean holiday cruises. Children 17 and under sail free with MSC when sharing a stateroom with two adults paying full fare.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian cruises make Christmas at sea an unforgettable experience. All ships are festively decorated, crew members stage an interactive holiday show in the ship's theater, cruise directors and staff sing carols and Santa takes time out of his busy schedule to hand out gifts on Christmas Day. Holiday-themed menus feature dishes such as honey-glazed black forest ham with sweet potato mash, roasted turkey with apple and apricot stuffing, pumpkin soufflé and a pear and chestnut torte. Hanukkah is celebrated with kosher menus and the lighting of a menorah each day to commemorate the eight-day celebration. While kids enjoy Norwegian's youth program, parents enjoy the high-energy, festive White Hot New Year's Eve party.

Princess Cruises

Princess’ 17-ship fleet offer a wide range of sailings in the Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Panama Canal, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, South America, Hawaii and South Pacific for Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s. Whatever the destination, guests will find Yuletide carolers, waiters wearing Santa hats, festive décor, live seasonal music and films, and special holiday feasts featuring all the traditional favorites. Popular with families, Princess Cruises holiday voyages offer young travelers parties, sing-a-longs, arts and crafts, and the chance to help decorate the ship’s Christmas tree. They also may participate in a holiday theatrical production and, on Christmas Day, Santa Claus makes a surprise appearance, bringing gifts and joy for all.

Regent Seven Seas Cruise

The ships of Regent Seven Seas Cruises, beautifully decorated over the holidays with trees, garlands, bunting and ginger bread houses, will be in the Caribbean, French Polynesia and transiting the Panama Canal over the winter holidays this year. A 10-night voyage roundtrip departing from Fort Lauderdale features many of the Caribbean “Saints”: St. Thomas, St. Barts, St. Kitts, and Saint Maarten as well as the Turks and Caicos Islands. The Panama Canal is the featured attraction of sailings between Fort Lauderdale and California and Papeete is the departure point for sailings in Polynesia. The voyages also offer an ecumenical religious service over the holidays for those guests wishing to attend, and a special Christmas dinner menu in the main dining room.

Royal Caribbean International

Families will have the opportunity to sail the newest, biggest ship in the world this holiday season when the 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas departs December 19 from Fort Lauderdale to the Caribbean. In addition to seasonal decorations, the entire RCI fleet will offer such holiday favorites as classic movie screenings, caroling, cookie decorating, festive music and readings of classic Christmas stories. The December 12 sailing of Independence of the Seas, also from Fort Lauderdale, will combine the Jewish Festival of Lights, or Hanukkah, with an eight-night Eastern Caribbean cruise. RCI offers holiday sailings from 10 domestic ports, including Bayonne, Baltimore, Port Canaveral, Miami, Port Everglades, departing from Tampa, Galveston, departing from San Diego, Los Angeles and departing from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Seabourn Cruise Line

Seabourn cruises welcome guests to a warm, sparkling Caribbean Holiday voyage this winter. Holiday revelers can choose from a seven-day "Legendary Christmas" voyage departing Fort Lauderdale on December 21 and ending at Barbados on December 28, or a "Legendary New Year's" cruise from Barbados on December 28 ending at Fort Lauderdale on January 4, 2010. Or, they may combine the two voyages and sail on a 14-day round trip voyage to enjoy both the holidays’ festivities and fun. Seven-day fares on Seabourn Legend start from $3,499 per person, double occupancy and the full 14-day cruise starts from $6,999 per person, based on double occupancy. Accommodations are a 277-square foot ocean-view suite.

SeaDream Yacht Club

SeaDream I and SeaDream II, the company’s twin luxury mega-yacht cruisers, will make four Caribbean holiday sailings this year. Offered as a roundtrip voyage from San Juan or one-way between St. Thomas and San Juan, the five-, seven- and nine-day voyages all feature an overnight stay at St. Barts in the French West Indies. Late evening stays in several other Caribbean ports of call allow for holiday shoreside festivities. Ports of call include islands in the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, the French West Indies, the Grenadines, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, depending on the cruise chosen. SeaDream Yacht Club fares include all meals, wine with lunch and dinner, open bar with selected premium brands, plus use of “water toys” from the vessel’s Marina, and gratuities.

Silversea Cruises

The six globe-trotting Silversea cruise ships, including the brand new Silver Spirit, celebrate the holidays from Antarctica to Zanzibar on itineraries ranging from eight to 17 days. Silver Spirit will holiday in the Mediterranean and North Africa, offering an 11-day maiden voyage from Barcelona to Lisbon. Silver Wind will spend 14 days in Africa and the Seychelle Islands, departing December 20 from Mahe. Prince Albert II departs Ushauaia on December 21 on a 17-day expedition to Antarctica. Silver Shadow departs December 11 from Barbados on a nine-day Caribbean itinerary, and on December 20 on a 15-day roundtrip voyage from Fort Lauderdale through the Caribbean. Other voyages over the holidays feature South America and the South Pacific.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises

Come one, come all with Uniworld Cruises 2 for 1 Savings and Single Supplement Waived Offers on 2009 Europe Holiday River Cruises. Cherish all the glory and magic of the season in grand European style as you cruise along the magical rivers during this festive time of the year. Uniworld’s 2 for 1 Savings and Single Supplement Waived offer applies to the following cruises: European Holiday Markets, Vienna to Nuremberg, December 14; Rhine Holiday Markets, Basel to Cologne, December 20; and Rhine & Main Holiday Markets, Nuremberg to Cologne, December 17. Cruises include: elegantly appointed riverview staterooms, meals with complimentary wine, beer, and soft drinks, celebratory events and entertainment, fully escorted shore excursions, and all transfers on arrival and departure days.

Windstar Cruises

Windstar Cruises offers special rates on holiday and New Year's cruises in the Caribbean and Costa Rica. Wind Spirit's holiday sailings feature a new seven-day St. Martin itinerary that includes the British Virgin Islands, St. Barts and Jost Van Dyke. Wind Star offers an in-depth discovery of Costa Rica, and Wind Surf sails roundtrip from Barbados, calling on such islands as St. Lucia, Guadeloupe, Iles Des Saintes, St. Kitts, Bequia and St. Barts. The ships are decorated with beautiful holiday decorations and feature a special holiday menu prepared by the executive chef. New Year's cruises include a festive New Year's Eve party including party favors, live music, an official countdown by the captain and a Champagne toast.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Huge Savings on Mexico Cruises - Lock In The Lowest Prices on Mexico Cruises

Reeling Mexico hopes travel deals bring back the tourists
USA Today

PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico — During a visit to San Diego in April, Pratik and Priti Chavda thought they'd slip over the border into Tijuana just to do a little shopping, have a quick meal and say they had made it to Mexico. But upon hearing the plan, staffers at their hotel sounded the alarm.

"Swine flu! Drug cartels! Don't go!" Pratik Chavda, 32, recalls them warning of his Mexico cruises.

Six months later, the Chicago couple have finally made it south of the border, where they're enjoying a meal of grilled shrimp with a panoramic view of a golden sunset. And they didn't even have to wait for a table.

What started out as a gangbuster year, with international tourist arrivals up about 6% in the first quarter, came to a screeching halt in late April when Mexico became the first to report an outbreak of the H1N1 virus. The flu scare, coupled with news accounts of gruesome drug-related violence, caused visitors to stay away in droves. From April to June, tourist arrivals plummeted by more than 19% over the previous year.

Discounts are also recession-driven

Now, flu furor has quelled somewhat. The State Department lifted its virus-related travel alert in May, by which time Mexican officials were being lauded for their efforts to contain the outbreak. The drug wars still rage, but they've always been primarily confined to select areas, far from where mainstream tourists tread. (However, the State Department in August updated a travel alert advising Americans to avoid unnecessary travel to the states of Chihuahua and Michoacan.)

At this point, many believe, it's the lingering global recession that may be casting the greatest pall over Mexico's desires for a robust winter tourist season. In Cancun, the nation's No. 1 vacation destination, arrivals are down 12% over last October.

Travel wholesalers "are telling us we're in the same (booking) range as the rest of the Caribbean," says Jesus Almaguer, head of Cancun's Convention & Visitors Bureau. "Of course, we'd love to be better, but given the situation, it's not that bad."

Maybe not. But with a hotel building spree in many sun-drenched spots, competition among Mexican resorts has heated up. And that's likely to spark more rate reductions and value-added cheap Mexico cruises in the coming season.

"There are some really good deals out there," says Laura Del Rosso, the Mexico contributing editor for the trade publication Travel Weekly. "Even last year, they were worried about overcapacity because of the number of big resorts that opened. This year, it's the economy that's the bigger issue."

From the small office of her 11-unit Casa Andrea in Puerto Vallarta's historic "Romantic Zone," Andrea Edelstein directs employees preparing to reopen the hotel after a four-month shutdown. Her guests are mostly loyal regulars who come for weeks at a time. Not this year. Occupancy dropped to 40% in April, and by June she decided to temporarily close.

"It's not even that people are looking for discount Mexico cruises," she says. "They're just not coming."

At Barcelona, a popular tapas restaurant, business appears relatively brisk.

"I'm not as busy as people think," says owner Bill Carballo, whose business dropped by about a third over the summer. "Everyone is suffering."

And along popular Playa de Los Muertos — Beach of the Dead — Pablo Celestino, wearing the patient demeanor of a man who has been trudging these sands for 21 years hawking jewelry to tourists, shrugs and says: "Business is quiet. But times have been worse. Maybe next month, people will come."

Beach resorts massage their prices

As in other beach resorts, early fall is typically slow in Puerto Vallarta. But after April's flu alert, cruise ship calls were suspended. Flights were cut back by 20%. And local officials ramped up marketing efforts (and discounts) aimed at domestic tourists.

Now, even with cruise ships returning to short Mexico cruises and more international tourists trickling in, "I think you're going to see a lot of creative packaging," says Dennis Whitelaw, general manager of the CasaMagna Marriott and president of the local CVB, which has issued a first-time discount booklet.

Local purveyors are offering their own incentives. A small beachfront hotel spa in the city's Old Town offers $23 50-minute massages — down from $35. Nearby, a lunch of freshly grilled fish and a cold beer at seaside stands goes for less than $4.

Tourists to other Mexican beach resorts report similar deals. Tyler Daugherty, 27, of Las Vegas, on two bargain-priced back-to-back Mexican cruises, has enjoyed a $54 3½-hour massage and salt scrub in one port of call and a $2 snorkeling trip in another. Now he's careening over the jungle and rappelling over waterfalls on a zip-line tour. (His cost for the six-hour outing: $93 vs. $140 if he had booked it on the ship.)

"The second I heard about swine flu in Mexico, I booked the cruises. I knew the flu (scare) would be something stupid, and the cruises would be cheap," he says.

'Wonderful and safe and comfortable'

But perceptions die hard. Americans' often-shaky grasp of geography, coupled with long memories for bad news, could prolong Mexico's tourism slump. When Amy Weirick, an Ohio publicist for Experience Columbus, announced plans to attend a professional meeting in Guadalajara earlier this month, she had to quell her family's fears.

"My son was frightened, and my husband was even a little paranoid," she says. "But I found Mexico to be wonderful and safe and comfortable. I had a terrific trip."

Meanwhile, Puerto Vallarta, which possesses an artistic soul and a culinary heart not found in many beach resorts, is banking on events such as the International Gourmet Festival (Nov. 12-22) and the Puerto Vallarta Film Festival (Dec. 2-6) to draw visitors from beyond the mainstream.

Its historic center, hugged on one side by the sweeping palm-fringed Banderas Bay and the verdant bulk of the Sierra Madre Mountains on the other, retains a truly local ambience that might be less apparent in more lucrative times when it's crawling with foreign tourists.

In the main plaza, a folkloric dance troupe has ample space to practice. Across the way on the malecon, or seaside promenade, a mostly Mexican crowd gathers to cheer on comic buskers. Vendors circulate, hawking cups of egg custard, paper sacks of oily potato chips and drinks ladled from gourds.

Some locals say they'd welcome this less crowded, more relaxed time, if it weren't at such a cost.

"We've been hard hit by the swine flu propaganda and the narco-trafficker rumors," says Liv Boughn, 35, a transplanted Californian. "But we have paradise to ourselves. That's the irony of it. If it weren't affecting the economy, I'd love it."

Monday, October 26, 2009

Two New Ships Launch For Costa Cruises

USA Today

GENOA, Italy -- Costa Cruises inaugurated its two newest cruise ships Friday during an unusual dual ceremony that lasted eight-hours and culminated well after midnight.

Strong winds prevented Italian paratroopers from parachuting onto the two vessels -- the Costa Pacifica and Costa Luminosa -- to deliver the bottles of Prosecco that were destined to be smashed against the new ships’ hulls. But more importantly, when the moment came, both bottles broke on their first swing.

Israeli recording artist Noa named the Pacifica and Italian Olympic fencing champion Valentina Vezzali the Luminosa, at the same time, in an event that is now marked in the Guinness Book of World Records as the first time that two cruise ships built by the same shipyard and belonging to the same company were christened together at the same time and in the same place - a remarkable achievement, boding good fortune for discount Costa Cruises.

The evening began with a nine-plane flyover performed by Frecce Tricolori, the Italian National Aerobatic Team. It was followed by a Gala dinner before invitees filed into a grandstand set up between the noses of the two ships, both moored in Genoa’s Porto Antico.

The ceremony aboard cheap Costa cruises, featured performances by Italian musicians and a rhythmic gymnastics team, as well as a set of songs by Noa.

The strong winds at times muffled the performers’ voices and brought a chill that eventually drove many people away before the ceremony’s end.

A massive fireworks show that was planned never happened – Costa did not say why, but the high winds might have been responsible.

Online Travel Market Holding Steady In Europe

From Hotel Marketing

European online travel bookings are projected to grow slightly by 0.6% in 2009 according to PhoCusWright. Internet distribution channels continue to outperform the European travel market as a whole, which is projected to decline by 10% in 2009.

“As Europeans seek to make the most of their treasured time off this year, they are increasingly using online options to plan the best holiday for their budget,” says Carroll Rheem, director, research at PhoCusWright. “Online travel agencies are weathering this economic storm better than any other booking channel.”

While the online leisure and unmanaged business market was able to stay in positive territory in 2009, it is clearly suffering from the drop in travel demand. The double-digit growth seen in recent years is gone and is not expected to return in the next several years. It is the strong performance of online travel agencies (OTAs) that will drive online growth as supplier Web sites will decline slightly for the year. OTAs are projected to reach gross bookings of €23 billion in 2009, with much of the growth driven by hotel products and discount Europe cruises.

“Even in the bleak travel backdrop of 2009, some travel companies are thriving—and not all of them are OTAs. Countercyclical trends bolster these companies while exacerbating decline for others. Those dependent on business travelers are among the hardest hit,” adds Rheem. The Northern Euriope cruises market is projected to decline by 17%, substantially more than the total market decline. As companies have slashed their travel budgets in response to their own challenges, both transaction volume and prices have fallen significantly across markets and travel verticals.

Economic recession and weakened consumer spending have affected all European nations and exposed strengths and weaknesses among each regional market and industry segment. PhoCusWright’s European Online Travel Overview Fifth Edition is a comprehensive analysis of the European online travel market. It includes an overview of the European market and detailed analysis of the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Scandinavia and Spain.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Cost Of Luxury Is Dropping In Latin America

NY Times

LATIN AMERICA has long enticed budget-oriented travelers with its low prices, and as the global economic crisis lingers, the bargains are increasingly tempting — especially when it comes to a luxury vacation.

Meals are often half the cost of their European counterparts, hotels are generally more luxurious than what you’d get for the same money in the States, and spa treatments and other private services are so affordable you feel good about splurging, because, really, you’re saving — or at least that’s what you tell yourself.

And things are getting cheaper still. Hotel prices across Latin America fell by 18 percent in the first half of 2009 compared with the same period last year, according to’s Hotel Price Index. That’s slightly steeper than hotel rate decreases in North America and Europe.

Some of the best places for affordable luxury are Argentina and Mexico, in part because of swine flu scares earlier this year. Also, the dollar is going farther than a year ago, at about 13.5 Mexican pesos (versus 12.5 in October 2008) and 3.9 Argentine pesos (against 3.3). And both countries have long attracted well-heeled tourists, with established resort towns and bustling cities.

Stylish boutique hotels in Buenos Aires like the Craft, Moreno and cE Hotel de Diseño, are listing rooms for less than $100 a night at Tablet Hotels, a booking site that specializes in design-oriented hotels.

In Mexico, some of the best deals are at ultra-luxurious megaresorts along the Riviera Maya, just south of Cancún, like Grand Velas, an all-suites resort and spa, which was just opening as the travel downturn hit. The Banyan Tree Mayakoba, where villas have their own plunge pools, is offering 50 percent off two-night packages with daily breakfast, a massage and dinner for two. Nearby, the Mandarin Oriental has a seven-night Holiday in Mexico deal that includes breakfast, airport transfers, dinner for two and a private yoga class from $354 a night until Dec. 18. Earlier Swine Flu scares have also brought down the prices for Mexico cruises.

Not interested in the beach? Starting rates at the Four Seasons in Mexico City are $225 a night on weekends, not bad considering that it’s $70 cheaper than the Four Seasons in Austin ($295). A Swedish massage costs about $100 at the hotel in Mexico versus $130 in Austin.

Large tour operators, such as Globus, recognize the good value in Latin America and are adding more itineraries and new destinations that emphasize luxury for less. Abercrombie Kent, the high-end tour operator known for its luxury safaris, is expanding its 2010 “signature” Latin American itineraries. The packages, designed for travelers who don’t want to take a group tour but still want the Abercrombie Kent experience, include the same comforts and sightseeing of its group excursions but with private guides from $5,995 a person for a nine-day trip to Ecuador.

For travelers looking to spend less, Group Voyagers, the parent company of Globus, Cosmos, Monograms and Avalon Waterways, recently added four Latin American itineraries, including Ecuador and the Galápagos from $3,379 and three Monograms packages from $1,299 for eight days in Costa Rica.

The strategy seems to be paying off. Collette Vacations, based in Pawtucket, R.I., recently reported that revenue for its Discover South America tour more than doubled from last year. Interest in Peru in particular is picking up. Its 12-day trip through Peru, visiting Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, Lima and the Paracas National Reserve, with rates from $2,449 a person, is already beginning to fill up for 2010. Holland America Cruise Lines have recently announced tours to South America in 2010 and 2011.

“Travelers start out thinking it’s too exotic and therefore out of reach,” Allison Flint, Collette’s product manager, said in a statement. “But then are pleasantly surprised at how affordable it really is.”

Though airline cutbacks have reduced flights to some regions, low-cost carriers have helped bring fares down in many markets. No-frills Spirit Airlines, for example, which is based in Miramar, Fla., and sometimes sells tickets for as little as $9, began service to Latin America in 2007. It now has routes to Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua in Central America, and to Peru in South America.

In Brazil, low-cost airlines, like GOL Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes and WebJet, now account for a significant portion of Brazil’s domestic market. And in Mexico, InterJet and Volaris have expanded service.

Tour operators are also going beyond the big cities and popular destinations and offering more trips off the beaten path. Country Walkers, based in Waterbury, Vt., for example, used to visit only popular places like the Galápagos in Ecuador. While it still offers a Galápagos add-on, the company is focusing this year on the Ecuadorean Highlands, with its working farms and the Indian markets of the Imbabura region.

The tour is not exactly cheap at $3,598 a person, but all meals and accommodations are included, and obtaining the kind of access and local insight the trip offers would be time-consuming and more difficult on one’s own. Travelers spend nine days with personal guides trekking from one hacienda to the next, past farms where locals still use ox-drawn plows and spectacular backdrops with snow-peaked volcanoes.

There are perks, especially if you’re a big shopper. Handmade leather handbags from the town of Cotacachi, for example, can be bargained down to about $20. “The same would retail for at least $100 in the U.S.,” said Sonya Bradley, the Latin America tour manager for Country Walkers.

For affordable luxury outside the city of Buenos Aires, Vanessa Guibert Heitner, of Limitless Argentina, a luxury travel agency, recommends that visitors head northwest to the provinces of Salta and Jujuy, to explore indigenous ruins, colonial architecture and the natural scenery of the region. Legado Mitico Salta, a boutique hotel within walking distance of colonial cathedrals, museums and restaurants, starts at $170 a night with breakfast. For $295 a person, Limitless Argentina can arrange a private tour of Salta and the wine belt of Cafayate, about two hours away, including visits to artisanal goat-cheese makers, hikes through canyons and a private food and wine pairing at a winery.

It’s also a good time to visit Rio de Janeiro, which is celebrating its 2016 Olympic bid win. Getting to Brazil is easier with 14 new flights this year from the United States, including daily nonstop service from Houston to Rio on Continental and flights three times a week from Atlanta to Brasília on Delta. Several more are planned for 2010.

Recife, a historic town on Brazil’s northern coast, dubbed the Brazilian Venice for its many bridges and rivers, is one of the places expected to benefit from new flights, with routes from Atlanta and Miami. In late February, when the average temperature is 82 degrees there, rates at the Internacional Palace Hotel in Recife start at about 196 Brazilian reais, about $110 at 1.78 reais to the dollar.

To maximize your budget, go just after Carnival, which runs Feb. 12 to 16, when hotel rates drop sharply. The Pestana Rio Atlantica in Rio, with views of Copacabana Beach, for example, is 490 reais a night in late February, down from 1,495 during Carnival.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Extraordinary Cruise Savings

Major Cruise Discounts
Limited Time Offers
Here Now, Gone Tomorrow!
Discounts Available When You Call: 1-800-826-4333


Save on Princess cruises with unprecedented savings during our one week sale.

Request A Quote: 1-800-826-4333

excludes sailings less than 7 days.

• Reduced deposit $200 per stateroom (excludes World Cruises)

• Coupon Booklet valued at $650 per stateroom in onboard savings

• Additional AMENITIES on select dates

• Additional DISCOUNTS for Residents and Past Passengers

• Combinable with the new Summertime BALCONY BONUS
Receive a Free Balcony upgrade when you book an Oceanview stateroom.

Or take advantage of FREE double upgrades on Alaska Cruisetours

Not combinable with Flash Fares.


Pricing based on USD, double occupancy, per person, cruise only, group space availability and inventory controlled. Government fees and taxes are additional. Princess reserves the right to impose a fuel supplement of up to $9 per person per day on all passengers if the NYMEX oil price exceeds $70 per barrel, even if the fare has already been paid in full. Amenities vary by ship and sailing date. Coupon book available on select dates, for new bookings only made from 10/1 - 10/31/09. Coupon book limited to the first two passengers in cabin only. There is no cash value for unused coupons. Coupons are nontransferable and are not combinable with some discounted fares. Some restrictions apply. Coupons shown reflect voyages in 2009. Coupons for 2010 may vary. Prices and discounts are quoted in U.S. dollars. Coupon book offers are based on current Onboard Value Booklet which is subject to change. Applicable on voyages of 7 days or longer. Reduced deposit applies to each of the first two passengers in a stateroom. *$100 deposit does not apply to the World Cruises and 45+ day World Cruise Segments. The deposit for the World Cruises and 45+ day World Cruise Segments is 5% of the cruise fare. Not combinable with Flash Promotions. Other restrictions may apply. 2009 ©Princess Cruises®. Ships of Bermudan and British registry. The Cruise Marketplace is not responsible for errors or ommissions.


For reservations call 1-800-826-4333

Book October 14 - November 7, 2009

• $200 Onboard Credit Per Couple on most 2009-2010 departures
• Select voyages include:

  • Gracious onboard hosts
  • Complimentary Cocktail Parties
  • Prepaid Gratuities
  • Your choice of a shore excursion or shipboard credit up to $300 per couple in lieu of shore excursion.
Your Crystal experience. The world awaits you at the absolute pinnacle of travel. Welcoming, graciousness and a friendly smile. An unwavering standard of excellence by professionals who share your passion for world discovery. The essence of Crystal Cruises lies in its people.

Pamper Yourself on a Crystal Cruise:

• Elegantly appointed staterooms and suites, many with private verandahs
• Fine dining, including 24-hour complimentary in-room dining
• Indulge creativity with special classes on every voyage

For reservations call 1-800-826-4333



Celebrity Alaska Cruisetours

when you book an Alaska Cruisetour by December 31, 2009!

Featured Cruisetour: 10-Night Alaska Cruisetour starting from $1,149
Featuring a 3-night pre-cruise land tour from Anchorage to Seward and 7 nights aboard Celebrity Millennium®.

Many more cruisetour packages available, call us for the best price!

Celebrity South America Cruise Tours

when you book an South America Cruisetour by December 1, 2009!
Featured Cruisetour Packages

Celebrity Infinity®
4-Night Pre Escorted Land Tour
Buenos Aires & Iguazu Falls

  • Day 1: Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Day 2: Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Day 3: Buenos Aires/Iguazu Falls
  • Day 4: Iguazu Falls
  • Day 5: Iguazu Falls/Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Day 5: Board Celebrity Infinity

Sail Dates for Pre Package:
14-Night Antarctic Cruise
January 31; February 14, 2010

Ports of call: Buenos Aires, Argentina •
Port Stanley, Falkland Island • Elephant Island, Antarctica • Gerlache Strait • Paradise Bay, Antarctica • Ushuaia, Argentina • Cape Horn, Chile • Puerto Madryn, Argentina • Montevideo, Uruguay • Buenos Aires, Argentina
For reservations call 1-800-826-4333

Book now through October 14 - 28, 2009 Only

(and get an Onboard Credit, too!)

Disney Cruise Ship

Take a long deep breath of fresh sea air. Gaze upon a blue you never knew existed. Soak in the magical time that can only be had on a Disney cruise. Kids’ imaginations set sail on a world of wonder and enchantment. And while they’re having the time of their lives, you’ll have time to relax and enjoy each other. But the real magic happens when you come together as a family to enjoy spectacular fireworks, original Disney stage shows, and a visit to Disney’s exclusive island, Castaway Cay. It’s all part of what makes a Disney cruise perfect for everyone—especially you.

And, by booking between October 14 - 28, 2009, you’ll enjoy an onboard credit that can be used for merchandise, photography, spa treatments, shore excursions and other onboard activities.

• 7-Night Cruises or Longer itineraries
$100 onboard credit for cruises sailing Jan. 9, 2010 - Dec. 18, 2010
• 3-, 4- and 5-Night Bahamian Cruises
$50 onboard credit for cruises sailing Jan. 3, 2010 - Dec. 19, 2010

For reservations call 1-800-826-4333


Book now through October 31, 2009 Only
All categories furnished in modern, functional style to give you the sense of being on holiday.

• Your cabin includes Satellite TV, adjustable air-conditioning, a safe, and a telephone for making international calls.

• Tasty snacks and meals at all times of day.

• Free Small-group sporting activities: muscle-toning exercise, aerobics, Streth&Tone, LAB, Aquagym, Yoga or Pilates classes.

• Wellness & Beauty services: Restorative treatments and therapies for mind and body

• Fun daytime and evening activities for the entire Mom, Dad and children of all ages. On request, baby-sitting service.

IMPORTANT! Fares are in U.S. Dollars, per person, double occupancy, cruise only, and may not include port charges, govt taxes and other cruiseline required fees, unless stated otherwise. These offers may be time-sensitive and capacity controlled. All promotions and rates are subject to availability at the time of booking. To ensure the best price please contact us today for a firm quote. The Cruise Marketplace is not responsible for errors or ommissions. This recurring email was sent to you by Cruise Marketplace. 

Subscribe to our newsletter at

Visit our Website:
A division of Figone Travel Group, Inc.
530 El Camino Real, San Carlos, CA 94070
Toll FREE: 1-800-826-4333