Though cruise lines tout cruising as the biggest bang for your buck, fares still can be daunting for families. Add grandparents to the mix and the numbers can be numbing.
However, several cruise companies are extending a helping hand by offering special deals for those who want to tote everyone along on their seagoing vacation except the family pet.
Crystal Cruises, for instance, is unveiling a "Mediterranean Memories" package suitable for family reunions of 10 or more members, which features one complimentary berth accommodation for every 10 paid berths. The program, which is available on most Crystal Serenity itineraries from May 19 to Oct. 30, also includes prepaid gratuities for the group; $100 per person shipboard credits; one group portrait per stateroom; free third berths for guests ages 17 and under; and a $500 credit toward Crystal's private excursions priced at $2,500 or more.
As an additional incentive for smaller families, on all new bookings made by March 31, Crystal will lop 10 percent off all veranda and nonveranda stateroom fares and 5 percent off penthouse accommodations for virtually all of Crystal Serenity's European cruises departing May 19 through Sept. 5. The promotion offers savings of up to $1,650 per couple on 10 cruises leaving from Rome, Venice, Italy, Athens, Greece, Barcelona, Spain, and Monte Carlo, Monaco.
The "Mediterranean Memories" family package applies to all Med voyages on Crystal Serenity, excluding the May 7 and Aug. 24 departures.
Crystal Serenity's Mediterranean voyages are priced from $2,995 per person, double occupancy. For more information, call toll-free 1-800-446-6620 or visit www.crystalcruises.com.
Cruise West, a small-ship line featuring cruises in Alaska, also is sweetening the pot for families, offering special pricing for kids ages 18 and under on all three- and four-night 2008 Glacier Bay Highlights departures, with savings of up to 75 percent off the standard fare in a deluxe cabin or 50 percent off the fare in lower cabin categories. Fares start at $1,799 per adult and $900 for one child sharing a cabin with a full-paying adult.
Both short cruises spend two days in Glacier Bay. The four-night cruise also makes a port call at the historic town of Haines. Special pricing is available on round-trip cruises from Juneau from May through September. For details about fares, call toll-free 1-800-296-8307 or visit www.cruisewest.com.
Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Cruise Lines also adds its own brand of bargains for children traveling with adults. In conjunction with the launch of its new "Circle C" onboard program aimed specifically at 12- to 14-year-olds, Carnival is offering lower rates for third and fourth passengers in a cabin, starting at $199 per person for three-day cruises and $329 per person for seven-day cruises on select dates.
The "Circle C" program complements the line's other youth-oriented programs, including "Camp Carnival" for younger kids and "Club O2" for 15- to 17-year-olds. For specifics, call toll-free 1-800-438-6744 or visit www.carnival.com/family.