Sick of baggage fees, rate hikes and costly onboard meals that have redefined the once-friendly skies? Book a cruise from the Port of Los Angeles and leave the hassles of LAX ashore. Whether you're looking for a lavish rendezvous aboard a yacht or an economical three-day getaway aboard a virtual sailing city, there is a perfect cruise for everyone.
From a one-night coastal getaway to a 15-day tour of Central America and the Panama Canal, several itineraries aboard Norwegian Cruise Line can cost you less than $60 a day. The Norwegian Pearl boasts a bowling alley, as well as 16 dining options and 13 bars and lounges.
Known as the party line, Carnival's signature "Fun Ships" offer affordable weekend cruises to Mexico, as well as nine-day sailings for a more extended vacation. At $199 per person, a relaxing weekend will cost you less than most airline tickets. Despite its affordable prices, fare from Carnival's Mardi Gras and Carnivale dining rooms has been hailed some of the best at sea.
Explore exotic South America or sail into a colorful Mexican sunset aboard Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas. Enjoy tasty burgers at Johnny Rockets, ice cream from Ben & Jerry's and your favorite merlot at Vintages wine bar. In addition to its famous rock-climbing wall, the ship boasts an ice-skating rink, as well as a nine-hole miniature golf course.
A favorite among seasoned voyagers, Princess Cruises is known as classy and elegant without a hint of stuffiness. During winter months, the popular Sapphire heads south from Alaska for several 7-day Mexican Riviera cruises. In 2011, ship will be outfitted with 300-square-foot television screens that play movies, concerts and sporting events at outdoor pools throughout the day and evening hours.
Sail aboard Disney Cruise Line's massive Disney Wonder, which is being relocated to Los Angeles from Port Canaveral, Fla., in 2011. In addition to the unlimited activities for kids, grownups will enjoy the adults-only Quiet Cove. You'll know you've arrived at your latest port when you hear the ship's horn blow the first seven notes of "When You Wish Upon A Star."
Holland America Line conveniently categorizes its wealth of shore excursions into four categories based on passengers' interests and previous experiences. Booking a cruise is even easier when you can plan everything from a day at the beach to a zip line adventure. Not willing to do a 14-hour flight? Take a cruise aboard the ms Volendam to Australia and stop in Hawaii, Samoa and Fiji along the way.
Suites aboard Cunard Line's Queen Victoria offer up to 2131 square feet of pure luxury, as well as a reserved nightly table at the Queens Grill Restaurant. Refrigerators are stocked to the brim with your favorite drinks and a concierge or butler will gladly tend to your every need. Sailings from Los Angeles range from quick trips to Ensenada to a 42-night voyage through the Caribbean and across the Atlantic to Europe.
The Yachts Of Seabourn
The Yachts of Seabourn's World Cruise, World Voyage and World Sojourn itineraries are perfect for those celebrating retirement, a sabbatical, or even college graduation. Several 31- to 111- day itineraries with stops in New Zealand, Israel, Malaysia and Tahiti depart from Los Angeles in 2011. Expect white-glove service aboard these all-suite ships that have verandas in 90 percent of the staterooms.
• Check with your travel agent or booking Web site to make sure you can be refunded the difference in price if fares go down before your cruise. While you may not be given cash back, you should at least get a credit that can be used toward anything you need onboard, including drinks, cover charges for fancy restaurants and shore excursions. However, it's up to you to constantly check the price of your cruise and contact your booking agent if it should drop.
• Costco Travel is just one of many agencies to offer cheaper fares, store gift cards and onboard credits to members. Travel insurance is also available – and highly recommended – for a minimal cost.
• Nearly every cruise line has deeply discounted rates in recent years. Most of them have additional sales several times a year, so be sure to visit cruise Web sites and sign up for newsletters and e-mail alerts. These sales can result in discounts that will save you thousands of dollars, especially when booking luxury cruises.
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