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Quick cruises to nowhere from $179

/ Source: Sherman's Travel

Book by: ASAP
Travel by: Select dates through November 2009

The deal
If the idea of cruising without port stops has you scratching your head, consider why people attend fashion week. It’s a chance to show off the latest creations from the hottest lines. The same concept applies to the cruising world as new ships are introduced. Since each unique ship appeals to different personalities, these short cruises provide an affordable way of finding your perfect match, without having to fully commit for the long haul. It’s kind of like speed dating for travelers. Besides, who needs a reason to take a quick, luxurious ocean escape complete with dinner and dancing? So don’t over-analyze, simply jot down the embarkation dates for these sampler cruises leaving from New York and Fort Lauderdale. All are headed for the next A-list port of call: nowhere.

If you’ve been curious as to what exactly Norwegian Cruise Line’s “Freestyle Cruising” is all about, this one-night sailing serves up a quick taste. () The sixth and final ship in the Jewel class, the recently launched Norwegian Gem departs from the New York on January 3. Expect all-star onboard treatment with amenities like the Yin and Yang Spa and Beauty Salon, an art gallery, fitness center, video arcade, and a four-lane bowling alley. The bright, modern décor in the staterooms has triggered a new era in cabin design, while category options range from inside staterooms and “courtyard villas” to the 5,000-square-foot Garden Villa. The ship also boasts 12 restaurants and 11 bars and lounges to sample, and with so many choices you may find that one night just isn’t enough. Prices start at $179 for interior cabins, or splurge on a suite from just $249.

Be among the first to sail aboard this new ship and see if the Carnival Dream lives up its name. Spanning a length of nearly three football fields, it will be the largest ship in Carnival’s fleet, providing enough room for over 1,800 cabins, most of which offer an ocean view. In addition, the new family cabins come complete with two bathrooms, which can be a lifesaver when trying to get to breakfast on time. Some other enhancements on this ship include a water park, cantilevered scenic Jacuzzis, and a dance club with outdoor deck access. In continuing the dream theme, the ship offers the Cloud 9 Spa with new enticing features like the Aromaspa Ocean Wrap made using warm seaweed, and a Thalassotherapy pool with jets of hot ionized water to soak in. The cost of this two-night preview starts at $349 for interior staterooms, and ocean view cabins are available from $389. The ship sails from New York November 13, 2009 —book early to ensure your spot.

This inaugural cruise aboard the Celebrity Solstice, on offer from CruisesOnly, provides some unusual luxurious amenities. The Cellar Masters experience brings together wines from all over the world for passengers to sample, while the Grand Epernay Dining Room offers highlights like a two-story glass wine tower and sparkling chandeliers. The freshly manicured lawn on the top deck may make you forget that you are floating around on the ocean. Stop by the Silk Harvest Restaurant and savor the cuisine from Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, China, and India served on built-in lazy-Susan’s. Although it goes against the grain, balcony staterooms are available from $329 — the same price as the interior cabins, and even less than oceanview rooms (which start at $379). Unlike the 2009 voyages, which will sail next January 3 and November 13, leaving from New York, this preview sailing departs from Fort Lauderdale this year on November 21. Hurry to secure your spot!

The dollars
All quotes are per person and based on double occupancy. Rates cover accommodations, meals and entertainment on the ship. Fees and taxes, as well as shore excursions, personal expenses, alcoholic beverages, and tips are additional.

The catch
It won’t be long before nowhere becomes commercialized. There’s already been talk of a Starbucks going in.

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