Cruise prices plunge as summer ends

Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Pearl in Alaska.

Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Pearl in Alaska. (Credit: Handout)

Summer will be over before we know it, and fall will usher in the lowest cruise prices of the year.

"Kids are in school and fewer families can travel," said Stewart Chiron, chief executive of cruiseguy.com. "This means ... cruise lines have to work harder to sell individual cabins." And that, Chiron said, means drastically reduced prices.

Not only do many fares drop below $100 a day per person in fall, but cruise lines sometimes add other incentives, among them onboard credits, free upgrades and free or reduced airfare.

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Then, too, at this time of year, said Colleen McDaniel, managing editor of Cruise Critic, an online travel resource, "There are fewer crowds and there's still some weather."

Early fall, when autumn days are turning landscapes into palettes of color, is the perfect time to take a cruise from New York along the New England coast to maritime Canada. Several lines offer such cruises in September and October. Though the dates vary each year, autumn colors along this coast usually reach their peak in the first two weeks of October.

Cruises to another popular destination for Long Islanders -- Bermuda -- are tapering off at this time of year, so you may be able to latch onto a late-season bargain.

The biggest fall discounts, however, are on repositioning cruises. These are one-way voyages the cruise lines make to move their ships from one seasonal base to another.

In the fall, dozens of ships will be moving from Alaska and Europe to warmer climates in the United States. They are usually longer voyages, with more time at sea, but fares can be as low as $33 a day per person and sometimes they call at ports not often visited. Of course, the passenger has to pay for one-way airfare, but that can provide a pre-cruise land visit abroad.

Listed below are several examples of advantageously priced fall cruises. The deals were in effect in early August. However, all fares and terms are subject to change without notice. In general, the earlier the booking, the better the deal.

Prices quoted are starting prices per person, double occupancy, for an inside stateroom unless otherwise stated, and may include taxes, fees and fuel surcharges.

BAHAMAS AND FLORIDA

Here's a chance to sail on the brand-new Norwegian Breakaway, which is based year-round in New York City. The 4,028-passenger Norwegian Cruise Line vessel, which entered service in May, carries a New York City theme throughout (complete with roaming hot dog stands) and features the latest in onboard innovations, such as a ropes course and a plank (don't worry -- guests are harnessed). A $599 starting fare is available on a Nov. 17 sailing that calls at Port Canaveral, Fla., and Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas. That price also is available Dec. 1, 8 and 15, as well as on several Bermuda cruises in September. (ncl.com)

Also sailing out of New York City, Carnival Cruise Lines' Carnival Splendor offers a fare of $369 for a similar seven-night cruise to Florida and the Bahamas. Ports of call are Port Canaveral, Fla., and Nassau and Freeport in the Bahamas. (carnival.com)

CARIBBEAN

With winter coming on, here's a cruise that will warm you up: Royal Caribbean's Jewel sails out of San Juan on a 14-night voyage Dec. 7 that calls at 10 islands. This is a back-to-back sailing, with the first week calling at St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. John, Martinique and St. Lucia, returning to San Juan for the second week, when the ship calls at Tortola, St. Maarten, St. Kitts, Dominica and Barbados. Lots of time to get a tan before Christmas. A guaranteed balcony stateroom costs $1,898 and there's an onboard credit of $150 per cabin. Round-trip airfare is included from Miami. From New York, air is priced at $275. (onlinevacationcenter.com)

REPOSITIONING

Few, if any, ships have been as extensively renovated as Carnival Cruise Line's former Carnival Destiny, now named the Carnival Sunshine. Besides the addition of 182 cabins, the renovation installed three new dining-drinking spots and a water sports park.

Returning from Europe after its $155-million makeover, the ship will sail Nov. 1 from Barcelona on a 16-night trans-Atlantic cruise to New Orleans at prices as low as $33 a night. Ports of call include Mallorca, Malaga, the Canary Islands and Grand Turk. (carnival.com)

Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Constellation sails from Rome to Fort Lauderdale on a 15-night cruise Nov. 24. It will make port calls at Livorno, Italy (for Florence); Cartagena, Spain; Agadir, Morocco; and Langarote and Gran Canaria, Canary Islands. Fares start at $649, book by Aug. 25. (cruisedeals.com)

NEW ENGLAND/CANADA

Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas has an Oct. 13 seven-night round-trip sailing out of Boston starting at $519. The ship calls at Portland and Bar Harbor, Maine, and St. John, New Brunswick, and Halifax, Nova Scotia. (rccl.com)

Holland America lists a seven-night, one-way sailing Sept. 28 on the Veendam from Quebec City to Boston starting at $649 with up to $500 shipboard credit, depending on stateroom class. Itinerary includes an overnight in Quebec City, Prince Edward Island, Sydney and Halifax in Nova Scotia, and Bar Harbor, Maine. (hollandamerica.com)

For an extended visit, book a 10-night one-way cruise on the Emerald Princess sailing out of New York Oct. 16 that calls at Newport, R.I.; Boston; Bar Harbor, Maine; St. John, New Brunswick; Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia, and Charlottetown, and ends in Quebec City. Fares start at $699, plus an onboard credit of up to $100 per cabin, depending on stateroom class. Other sailings Sept. 26 and Oct. 6 (reverse itinerary) start at $1,099. Book by Aug.20. (princesscruises.com)

SEEING ALASKA

As temperatures cool down, Alaska cruises wind down, too. Most end in September, when the ships head for warmer seas. Late-season sailings often offer reduced prices. Holland America's Oosterdam, for instance, has a seven-night Alaska cruise round-trip from Seattle Sept. 21 starting at $599. Itinerary includes Puget Sound, Tracy Arm, Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Victoria, B.C. (hollandamerica.com)

A seven-night round-trip sailing on Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Pearl, departing from Seattle, starts at $599 on Sept. 1 and 22 sailings. Upgrades and onboard credit of up to $350 also are offered, depending on stateroom class. Itinerary includes Inside Passage, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan and Victoria, B.C. (ncl.com)

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