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Photo of S/V Mandalay courtesy of Sail Windjammer's Facebook page
Each month we scour the web for the best cruise deals on mainstream cruise lines and luxury ships, as well as river cruises, small-ship companies and expedition vessels. As the end of 2014 approaches, a number of cruise lines are drastically discounting fares. Here are our favorite special offers for December:
Crystal's End of the Year Savings on Cruises Worldwide
The Offer: Luxury operator, Crystal Cruises is running two year-end sales to entice cruisers. The first is the "End-of-the-Year Savings"for last-minute sailings in December to Asia and the Caribbean (including holiday cruises) at 25 percent off rack rates. The second is the "Book Now" fares with itineraries spanning the globe. Prices vary based on itinerary, and air discounts of up to $800 are available on select cruises in Asia and Australia.
Booking Information: Book the "End-of-the-Year Savings" deal by Dec. 20 for travel through Dec. 31. The "Book Now" offer expires Jan. 2, 2015 for travel on various dates throughout 2015.
The Catch: Many ships embark soon, so get cruising!
AMA Waterways Free Airfare on Mekong River Cruises
The Offer: AMAWaterways is offering free airfare on its Mekong River voyages through Cambodia and Vietnam, or passengers can opt for up to $2,500 off per stateroom. To sweeten the pot, the offer is also valid on the AmaDara's inaugural cruise on Aug. 17. Rates for the cruise-only portion start at $2,299 per person (plus free airfare) or $1,049 per person for the fare discount option.
Booking Information: Book by Dec. 31 for travel valid from June 23 through Sept.15, 2015.
The Catch: Free airfare only applies to Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Atlanta.
Windstar's Tropical Cruises Discounted up to 73 Percent
The Offer: Luxury small-ship cruise line, Windstar, is known for its tall sailing ships that visit small ports and peaceful coves. The company's "Best of the Tropics Sale" is slashing prices up to 73 percent on nine different itineraries in the Caribbean, Central America, Asia, and the South Pacific. Cruises also include Windstar's new private events such as island dinners and cultural dance shows. Prices start at $1,449 per person for the Caribbean voyages.
Booking Information: Bookby Dec. 12, 2014 for travel valid through Sept. 2015.
The Catch: Airfare is not included and most Caribbean cruises embark from the islands (instead of the usual ports in South Florida).
Save $1,170 on Spring River Cruise with Emerald Waterways
The Offer: New river cruise company Emerald Waterways debuted in Europe in 2014 and is introducing a spring itinerary on the Rhine River at discounted rates. Among other unique features, Emerald's elegant ships have a heated pool area that transforms into a cinema. Every cabin category is reduced on the seven-night "Highlights of the Netherlands and the Beauty of Belgium" tulip cruise for a savings of $1,170 per couple - with gratuities included. Prices start at $1,995 per person.
Booking information: Book by Dec. 31, 2014 for travel on April 6, 2015.
The Catch: It's still chilly in April (shoulder season) with temperatures hovering around 50 degrees.
Sail Windjammer Caribbean Cruise Discounts up to 30 Percent
The Offer: Sail Windjammer specializes in carefree cruising in the Grenadines aboard the S/V Mandalay, a wooden sailing ship that calls on the lesser-visited islands. The "Summer Sailings Sale" features 20 percent off one, and two-week voyages with select cruises up to 30 percent off - bringing starting prices down to $1,119 per person.
Booking Information: Book by Jan. 1 for travel through May 17, 2015.
The Catch: Tack on another $99 per person in port fees plus airfare to Grenada.
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