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New ships for 2005 and how to save

SmarterTravel

The frantic pace of shipbuilding we saw last year has finally slowed, and only four new ships will set sail in 2005. That’s still plenty of new itineraries to give cruisers a multitude of destination options and a variety of new spaces to explore. Plus, if you wish to be one of the first aboard, you can often take advantage of early-bird discounts and have your pick of staterooms when you book your sailing as soon as the new ship goes on sale.

This year, Carnival, Norwegian, and Oceania are all debuting new ships. Read on for the details about these new sailing vessels and any applicable discounts.

Carnival

Carnival has a new ship launching in 2005, but we should still mention the Carnival Valor, which debuted in late 2004. On December 19, 2004, the ship began its year-round schedule of alternating seven-day Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises, sailing round-trip from Miami. You can find discounted sailings on the Valor at Carnival’s website.

The Carnival Liberty, however, is actually making its debut in 2005. It will begin Carnival’s first ever Mediterranean cruises on July 20, and sail between European ports through mid-October, when it will reposition to Ft. Lauderdale. The Liberty houses 1,487 cabins, 60 percent of which offer ocean views. Ship amenities include 22 lounges, children’s and teen hangouts, and four swimming pools, one with a 214-foot-long water slide. Carnival is also offering discounted fares for Europe cruises on the Carnival Liberty on its website.

Norwegian

Norwegian has two new ships debuting this year, the Pride of America and the Norwegian Jewel. The Pride of America was supposed to launch in 2004, but it was so severely damaged in a storm while it was still at the shipyard that the Pride of Aloha debuted in its stead. The ship will be ready this year, and will be delivered on June 6. It will sail a series of inaugural cruises and then begin its regular itinerary of seven-day cruises sailing round-trip from Honolulu on July 23. The Pride of America will feature several firsts for a Norwegian ship, including a conservatory, a new category of family suites, a tennis court, and an art gallery.

Shortly thereafter, the Norwegian Jewel will enter the scene with two European cruises on August 10 and 23 before the ship departs for the U.S. on September 4. The Jewel will sail 11-day Canada and New England cruises before repositioning to Miami for a winter season of Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises. The ship features 10 courtyard villas, which are luxury cabins that share a private courtyard with a swimming pool, Jacuzzi tub, and small gym, along with a private sundeck. In addition, the Jewel will introduce Bar Central, three interconnected bars, including a martini bar, wine bar, and pub.

You can now book sailings on both the Pride of America and the Norwegian Jewel. If you’re looking for discounts, you can often find low fares for the Pride of America‘s Hawaii sailings on Norwegian’s Weekly Specials page.

Oceania

Oceania Cruises currently possesses only two ships, but in late November, the third member of the fleet will arrive. The Nautica will debut on November 28 and sail its maiden voyage from Athens to Singapore. The ship will remain in the Far East, sailing between Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Beijing before returning to Athens in early May. Book early and you can take advantage of two-for-one fares with free round-trip economy airfare. For more information, visit Oceania’s website.

General tips for saving

If you want to try out one of these new ships, but still aren’t sure how to find the best price, don’t worry. These days, it’s pretty easy to find a low fare on a cruise vacation, even during a ship’s inaugural season. Here are some basic tips to saving that will come in handy whether you’re booking a trip on a new or seasoned ship.

  • Book early: Many cruise lines offer discounted fares for cruisers who book their itineraries early. In addition to the low fares, you’ll also find that you’ll have your pick of staterooms, dinner seating, and shore excursions.
  • Pick your dates wisely: Certain weeks of the year are more popular for sailing than others, and are therefore more expensive. A Caribbean cruise during Christmas vacation week will be pricier than the same itinerary in the late summer or early fall. Book a cruise during a destination’s shoulder season and you’ll find lower fares and fewer crowds.
  • Shop around: Today, there is no end of ways to purchase a cruise. You can contact a travel agent, book directly through a cruise line, or use an online cruise broker. As different sellers tend to offer differing sales, special perks, and levels of service, make sure you shop around before you hand over your credit card. And don’t forget to ask if the second agent will beat the price of the first because often they will.

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