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The Bargain Corner

Sailing at a Discount

September 14, 1986|JACK ADLER

Discounts on cruises may be obtained through the Cruise Line, a Miami-based cruise consolidator that blocks or buys space on various cruise lines on a volume basis. Much like a tour operator obtaining lower hotel room rates for its packages through volume purchasing, the Cruise Line can then offer lower cruise fares.

Further, the cruise space sold is not necessarily distress merchandise that generally requires flexibility and being able to make your travel plans close to the departure date to take advantage of lower prices.

According to the Cruise Line, their space is blocked or bought well in advance, so travelers can also book far in advance of sailings. The company said it has cruise space available up to the end of 1987.

There is no membership or service fee, nor any recorded phone messages to learn about the latest offerings. You can call a toll-free number to get information about discounts on cruises around the world.

In addition to learning what the regular price is for cruises you may be interested in, and the specific saving involved, you can have brochures mailed to you and ask to be placed on a mailing list for a complimentary newsletter.

To make a booking, call the same number. Air fares and ground arrangements, such as hotels and car rentals, can also be handled by the Cruise Line, although its specialty is cruises.

Because time is not as crucial as with last-minute bookings, payment can be made by money order and personal check as well as by credit card. Payment by credit card gives you more leeway in coping with any problems.

The Cruise Line can also request such shipboard arrangements as first or second sittings, a nonsmoking area if available and sitting at a table for two or in larger groups.

Discounts can range up to 40% on sailings to the Caribbean and 25% to Mexico, with a Cruise Line spokesman estimating an average saving of $300 to $600 per person on sailings to these areas. The discount generally doesn't get larger the closer it is to departure time.

Several cruise lines, it should be noted, offer assorted discounts to passengers making early bookings on some sailings. This is another factor worth checking.

Phone the Cruise Line at (800) 327-3021.

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