|by Fran Golden||10|
This month you're probably thinking foliage and Halloween, not cruises. But the cruise lines are hoping to change that, declaring this month National Cruise Vacation Month.
Yes, that's a marketing effort, so why do we care?
Because during National Cruise Vacation Week, Oct. 17 to 23, a whole bunch of fare deals will be offered through travel agents in what's being billed as "The World's Largest Cruise Sale."
If this sounds familiar, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the industry's main marketing group, used to promote with a 24-hour sale. Last year the agents sold $47 million in cruises during the month-long promotion, according to Bob Sharak, executive vice president of CLIA.
This year the sale may be tougher with cruise passengers, like other travelers, tightening their belts due to economic uncertainty.
But there will be temptations during the sale week including discounted fares, two-for-one deals, onboard spending credits (that you can use for things like drinks), spa credits (that you can use for a massage) and more.
The offers apply to both ocean and river cruises in 2012, and in some cases beyond.
So what kind of savings are we talking about?
As a sampling, those booking a Celebrity cruise will receive a $50 to $150 onboard credit, the offering applying to nearly every sailing between Jan. 1, 2012 and Apr. 30, 2013. Italian line Costa is promoting fares from $749 for select 10-day sailings and from $399 for weeklong cruises. And Avalon Waterways is discounting select European river cruises by up to $1,000 per person on some dates.
More than 4,900 agencies have signed on to do physical events during the sale week such as cruise nights — your agent invites you to a party to hear about cruises — and virtual events online, according to CLIA.
A special CLIA web page has been set up to help those who don't have an agent find one.
More from Budget Travel: