Early booking can net major savings in coming months

CruisesTravelTourism and LeisureHolidaysTrips and VacationsTour Operations IndustrySeabourn Cruise Line

This has been a banner year for bargain cruise rates. Here are the latest:

Holland America (www.hollandamerica.com) has reduced its fares for 19 holiday cruises. Sale prices start at $699 per person, saving as much as 64 percent off brochure rates. All cruises sail over one or both of the major holidays of Christmas and New Year's. These early-booking fares include cruises of seven to 21 days with varied itineraries.

The cruise line also offers teachers reduced fares for seven Christmas cruises. These Teacher Appreciation fares include seven-day western and eastern Caribbean itineraries, a 12-day Panama Canal cruise and a 21-day South America/Antarctica itinerary. They're available to teachers currently working and those who have retired. A teaching certificate or a union card must be shown upon request.

Booking deadline is Sept. 30.

>For planners, Princess (www.princess.com) will offer cruises from Galveston, Texas, to the western Caribbean starting in fall 2004. The line will base its 2,600-passenger Grand Princess in Galveston. It will be the largest and newest ship to sail from the city and it will offer the port's only weeklong, four-port itinerary. Sailing dates are Nov. 13, 2004, to April 9, 2005. Early-booking fares start at $549.

>High-luxury Seabourn Cruise Line (www.seabourn.com) is offering savings of up to 50 percent on November and December cruises aboard the 208-passenger, all-suite Seabourn Legend bound for Panama, Belize and Costa Rica.

The two-week luxury adventure cruises depart Nov. 22 from Fort Lauderdale and Dec. 6 from San Jose, Costa Rica. Fares start at $3,998 per person with free economy-class airfare. Fares start at $4,995 per person for identical itineraries in 2004 departing Jan. 3 and 31 from Florida or Jan. 17 and Feb. 14 from Costa Rica.

>The Delta Queen Steamboat Co. (www.deltaqueen.com) offers a historic 43-night vacation along the waterways of America. The Delta Queen will depart July 30, 2004, and traverse a third of the nation on the authentic paddlewheel steamer. The company is offering exclusive bookings to its past passengers for the entire trip through Sept. 15. After that date, bookings will be open to the public for the entire voyage as well as various individual segments or combinations of segments.

Book by Oct. 31 and get two-for-one pricing, with the entire cruise for as little as $8,885 for two. After Oct. 31, those rates cover one traveler (per person, double occupancy). All cabins feature outside views.

Delta Queen will also offer a new New Orleans vacation beginning April 12. Their New Orleans & Riverboat Adventure Week is a seven-night package that couples a three- or four-night cruise on the American Queen with three of four nights featuring some of the Crescent City's finest hotels, restaurants and attractions.

There will be New Orleans departures every Monday year-round for a four-night cruise and every Friday for a three-night cruise. Ports include Baton Rouge and Natchez. The seven-night package starts at $995. Book by Dec. 31 and save $300 per person.

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