Highs and Lows of Seasonal Sailings

Attention cruising fans; there’s good news and bad news on the sailing front this season.

The not-so good news is that you will have to dig a bit deeper if you are planning to take a holiday trip on the high seas. Carnival Cruise Lines just announced that it plans to raise its tipping guidelines for the first time in more than a decade. Rather than paying $10 per passenger, per day, the company is instituting a suggested gratuity of 15% or $11.50, which is automatically added to your bill. For couples cruising together the increase means shelling out an extra $21 on a weeklong sailing. The price hike takes effect on voyages embarking on December 1, 2011, and later.

Carnival says it made the change in order to stay competitive with other cruise lines. Currently, Norwegian Cruise Line recommends gratuities of $12 per day, while Royal Caribbean recommends $11.65.

Now, the good news.

While tipping recommendations are rising, the price for repositioning cruises are falling. If you have always dreamed of sailing away on an extended cruise, but didn’t think you could afford the trip, these deeply-discounted vacations could be your ticket to paradise.

Late fall, early winter and spring are the most popular months for repositioning cruises. These select times of the year are when cruise companies move their vessels to seasonal destinations, so they can offer new itineraries during the peak season.

The greatest benefit to booking a spot on a repositioning cruise, especially during the pre-holiday season, is the price. You can score rock bottom rates as cruise companies try to fill their vessels. In some cases, savings exceed 60 percent off rack rates. In addition, you will enjoy more time at sea. Most repositioning cruises last two to three weeks, and since they are one-way journeys you are treated to stellar service, incredible entertainment options and world-class amenities.

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.