Image: Waikiki beach
Wang Yan  /  AP file
This fall could be the last time to bag a great Hawaii cruise bargain as Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) is reducing its Hawaiian Island fleet from three ships to two. With fewer sailings, prices are bound to rise soon.
By Anita Dunham-Potter Travel columnist
updated 9/17/2007 12:57:44 PM ET 2007-09-17T16:57:44

Are you dreaming of an escape from raking all those autumn leaves? How about a cruise around the Hawaiian Islands, the Caribbean or the Mediterranean? Not far enough? How about heading to South America, where it isn't even fall? Believe it or not, the fall and early-winter seasons offer great values on these popular cruise destinations.

"Competition for your vacation dollars becomes quite fierce this time of year as ships return from their summer ports in Alaska and Europe," says Stewart Chiron, a cruise industry expert who is nationally recognized as The Cruise Guy.

Chiron has uncovered some incredible deals that are hard to pass up. A few even include airfare and hotel stays. It's important to note that the following fares are starting prices, which means they are for inside cabins. You will almost certainly pay more for an outside cabin.

Caribbean cruises

Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas
Navigator of the Seas and Enchantment of the Seas will both have four- and five-night sailings to the Western Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Better deals will be available on Enchantment, as it was recently refurbished. Itineraries include Key West, Cozumel, Belize, Grand Cayman and Ocho Rios (Jamaica). Fares that were formerly priced from $979 per person can now be had for as little as $299.

Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas and the brand-new Liberty of the Seas
Thank goodness the biggest cruise ships in the world don't charge the highest prices. With the launch of Liberty of the Seas in May, Royal Caribbean's fares have actually become more affordable. For example, check out the popular seven-night Eastern Caribbean itinerary round-trip from Miami, which includes stops in San Juan, St. Thomas and St. Maarten. Fares used to start at $1,749 per person; now they start at $799. Ditto for the Western Caribbean itinerary, which stops in Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Montego Bay (Jamaica) and at Royal Caribbean's private island in Labadee, Haiti.

Carnival Cruise Lines' Carnival Triumph
Check out the seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruises round-trip from Miami that include stops in Half Moon Cay (Carnival Corporation's private island), St. Thomas, San Juan and Grand Turk. Fares that once fetched $1,749 per person are now going for $499.

Carnival Cruise Lines' Carnival Liberty
The Liberty offers great deals on six- and eight-night Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises from Fort Lauderdale. Ports of call include Freeport (Bahamas), Grand Cayman, Limon (Costa Rica), Colon (Panama), San Juan, St. Thomas/St. John, Antigua, Tortola/Virgin Gorda and Nassau. Fares that used to start at $1,519 per person and are now priced at $449.

Disney Cruise Line's Disney Magic
After running summer cruises in Europe, the Magic is now back in Port Canaveral and offering up sensational deals on both Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings. Stops include St. Maarten, St John/St Thomas, Castaway Cay (Disney's private island), Key West, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Starting prices have been cut from $1,699 per person to $799.

European cruises

Norwegian Cruise Lines Norwegian Gem
From early October until early December you can cruise on Norwegian's newest ship on several different Western Mediterranean sailings from Barcelona that stop, variously, in Malaga (Spain), Casablanca and Agadir (Morocco), Arrecife and Las Palmas (Canary Islands); Lisbon, Cadiz (Spain), Gibraltar, Southampton, and Palma de Mallorca (Spain). Prices that formerly started at $2,399 per person now are a bargain, from $899.

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Mexican Riviera

The lowest fares on Mexico sailings are found from early November to the end of January, excluding the holidays. Why? Several cruise lines are now offering year-round sailings from southern California, and the resulting heavy competition has caused seasonal prices to drop.

Princess Cruises' Golden Princess
After finishing up its Alaska season, Golden Princess will sail seven-night cruises from Los Angeles on the Mexican Riviera itinerary made famous on the old "Love Boat" television series. Stops include Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. Fares that were from $1,389 per person are now a terrific bargain from $399.

Hawaii cruises

Chiron says that this fall could be the last time to bag a great Hawaii cruise bargain as Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) is reducing its Hawaiian Island fleet from three ships to two. With fewer sailings, prices are bound to rise soon, especially since NCL is switching the Pride of Aloha to 10-and 11-night sailings (Pride of America will continue to offer seven-night sailings).

Norwegian Cruise Line's Pride of Hawaii
Cruise seven nights around the Hawaiian Islands from Honolulu with stops in Hilo, Maui, Kona and Kauai. Prices, which were $3,999 per person, have been slashed to $1,299 per person. What makes this deal so amazing is that it includes round-trip air travel from select U.S. gateways and two nights in a hotel in Honolulu. You can book the cruise without the air transportation and hotel from $699. Chiron point outs that this cruise includes a whopping 86 hours of port time since it overnights in both Maui and Kauai. It's one of the best deals he's ever seen for a cruise package. Get it while you can!

South America cruises

Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Dream
On November 7, November 21 and December 9, you can sail 14- or 18-night South American voyages from Valparaiso , Chile, or Buenos Aires, Argentina, with stops at Talcahuano (Concepcion), Puerto Chacabuco, Punta Arenas, Ushuaia, Puerto Montt, (Corral) Valdivia, Coquimbo, the Falkland Islands, Puerto Madryn and Montevideo. Prices formerly starting at $3,899 per person and are now from $1,899 — and that includes round-trip air tickets from select U.S. gateways. A terrific deal!

These off-season cruise deals are truly easy to fall for, so put down the rake and pick up the phone.

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