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It's that time of year to plan out and book your cruise. We've gathered up the most interesting and affordable itineraries currently available.

Crystal Adds Low-Priced Alaska Cruise to 2005 Lineup

Who says luxe doesn't come cheap? On May 9, Crystal Cruises (tel. 866/446-6625; www.crystalcruises.com) will sail its 940-passenger Crystal Harmony on a single 12-night Alaska cruise round-trip from Vancouver, with fares beginning at only $2,020 per person, double occupancy. The new itinerary -- added due to a change in the ship's dry-dock schedule -- features a maiden call in Whittier as well as visits to Juneau, Skagway, Seward, Ketchikan, Glacier Bay, Hubbard Glacier, and Columbia Glacier. Crystal Harmony rounds out its Alaska season with a series of ten 12-night cruises round-trip from San Francisco as well as a 7-night cruise round-trip from Vancouver (which can also be taken as a 9-night voyage beginning in Vancouver and concluding in San Francisco).

Expedia and Orbitz Pile on the Freebies for Winter Bookings

It's wintertime, and with cruise lines policing advertised fares ever more strictly, the cruise sellers are coming up with new incentives to draw customers their way.

On January 5, Expedia.com launched its annual "Expedia Cruise Days" promotion, offering fare savings, upgrades, and shipboard credits on most cruises, as well as gift checks redeemable at www.giftcertificates.com for products or services ranging in value from $25 to $300, based on the length of cruise and cabin category. For example, an outside cabin for a three-night cruise can earn a cruiser a $25 certificate; a suite for 10-plus nights will earn $300. Cruisers receive their certificate by e-mail approximately four to six weeks after the completion of their sailing.

Expedia Cruise Days deals can be found under "Expedia Cruise Days" at www.expedia.com/cruise. The promotion applies to bookings made between now and February 28, 2005, for select sailings departing on March 1 through September 30, 2005.

Over at Orbitz, the "Orbitz Cruise Bonus Event" features cruise deals, cash-back incentives, shipboard credits, and other deals on cruises booked through February 14, 2005.

American Express Cardmembers enrolled in the Membership Rewards program can earn triple points for every dollar spent for a cruise on Orbitz, and Orbitz customers who book an oceanview stateroom, balcony stateroom, or suite -- using any payment type -- are eligible for an American Express Gift Card worth up to $300. (Note: Offer not valid on Carnival Cruise Lines.)

Orbitz customers can secure additional savings through mid-February -- including cash-back offers, free airfare, and shipboard or spa credits -- on the following cruise lines.

  • Royal Caribbean: $25-$100 additional savings
  • Norwegian Cruise Line: $100 shipboard credit
  • Celebrity: $50- $200 additional savings
  • Holland America: spa credit, free dinner upgrades, and complimentary wine
  • Disney Cruise Line: $25 shipboard credit
  • Oceania Cruises: two-for-one prices, $100 shipboard credit, and free airfare

Complete details are available at http://cruises.orbitz.com/promotion/amexsale/Default.html.

Deals from Discounters

Below are some of the best deals a handful of major travel agencies are advertising this week. Cruises are capacity-controlled and offers may be withdrawn at any time. Similar deals may be available from competing online and brick-and-mortar agencies. All rates are per person and include port charges. Rates for the ultra-lux lines may also include gratuities and some or all beverages.

CruisesOnly (tel. 800/278-4737; www.cruisesonly.com)

  • Carnival Elation: 7-night western Caribbean, round-trip from Galveston. From $449, May 1 and 8 sailings.
  • Holland America Oosterdam: 7-night Mexican Riviera and Sea of Cortez, round-trip from San Diego. From $598, Oct 1 and 8 sailings.
  • NCL Norwegian Dream: 7-night Alaska, Vancouver to Seattle. From $599, May 14 sailing.
  • Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas: 7-night Caribbean, round-trip from New Orleans. From $779, April 10 sailing.
  • Celebrity Century: 12-night Scandinavia, round-trip from Amsterdam. From $1,630, May 21 sailing.

Cruise Value Center (tel. 800/231-7447; www.cruisevalue.com)

  • Carnival Triumph: 7-night eastern Caribbean, round-trip from Miami. From $449, Dec 3 sailing.
  • Carnival Destiny: 7-night southern Caribbean, round-trip from San Juan. From $429, Sept. 18 sailing.
  • Celebrity Zenith: 4-night western Caribbean, round-trip from Miami. From $295, Dec. 8 sailing.
  • Celebrity Mercury: 7-night Alaska, round-trip from Seattle. From $799, May 27 sailing.
  • Celebrity Mercury: 7-night US West Coast, round-trip from San Francisco. From $599, April 10 sailing.
  • Holland America Westerdam: 7-night eastern Caribbean, round-trip from Ft. Lauderdale. From $542, Dec. 10 sailing.
  • Holland America Zuiderdam: 7-night western Caribbean, round-trip from Ft. Lauderdale. From $549, Sept. 24 sailing.
  • Princess Golden Princess: 7-night eastern Caribbean, departing from New York. From $399, Oct. 22 sailing.
  • Princess Grand Princess: 7-night western Caribbean, round-trip from Galveston. From $508, Dec. 12 sailing.
  • Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas: 7-night eastern Caribbean, round-trip from Miami. From $559, Oct. 10 sailing.
  • Royal Caribbean Legend of the Seas: 7-night western Caribbean, round-trip from Tampa. From $461, Dec. 10 sailing.

Icruise (tel. 866-942-7847; www.icruise.com)

  • Royal Caribbean Splendour of the Seas. 7-night western Caribbean, round-trip from Tampa. From $789, Feb 5 and Apr 2 sailings. Deal includes a free bottle of wine each night.
  • Costa Victoria: 7-night Greek Isles, round-trip from Venice. From $1,039, May 23, and May 30 sailings
  • NCL Norwegian Sea: 7-night western Caribbean, round-trip from Houston. From $430, Apr 2 and Apr 9 sailings
  • Celebrity Constellation: 14-night Scandinavia/Russia, round-trip from Dover. From $2,300, Jun 18, sailing.
  • Carnival Triumph: 7-night eastern Caribbean, round-trip from Miami. From $515, Apr 9 and May 7 sailings
  • Princess Golden Princess: 7-night southern Caribbean, round-trip from San Juan. From $699, Apr 17 sailing. Deal includes a $100 per cabin onboard credit, one bottle of wine and a photo credit.

Just Cruisin' Plus (tel. 800/888-0922; www.justcruisinplus.com)

  • Carnival Conquest: 7-night western Caribbean, round-trip from New Orleans. From $599, Feb. 27 and Apr 10 sailings.
  • Carnival Elation: 7-night western Caribbean, round-trip from Galveston. From $499, April 3 through May 15 sailings.
  • Carnival Pride: 7-night Mexican Riviera, round-trip from Los Angeles. From $649, Feb. 6, Feb. 27, May 1 and May 8 sailings.
  • Carnival Spirit: 8-night Mexican Riviera, round-trip from San Diego. From $679, Mar. 1 and Mar 8 sailings.
  • MSC Opera: 7-night western Caribbean, round-trip from Ft. Lauderdale. From $595, Mar. 19 sailing..
  • Costa Atlantica: 7-night eastern Caribbean and 7-night western Caribbean back-to-back, round-trip from Fort Lauderdale. From $899 first week; $299 second week, Jan 16 and 23, Feb. 27 and March 6, and March 6 and 13 sailings
  • Holland America Zuiderdam: 7-night eastern Caribbean, round-trip from Fort Lauderdale. From $623, Sep 3, Sep 17, and Oct. 1 sailings
  • Holland America Zuiderdam: 7-night western Caribbean, round-trip from Fort Lauderdale. From $623, Sep. 10, Sep 24, and Oct. 8 sailings
  • Princess Caribbean Princess: 7-night eastern Caribbean, round-trip from Fort Lauderdale. From $559, Oct. 8 and Oct. 15 sailings
  • Celebrity Mercury: 7-night Pacific Coastal, round-trip from San Francisco. From $600, Apr. 10 and Apr 17 sailings
  • Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas: 7-night Mexican Riviera, round-trip from Los Angeles. From $599, May 1 and May 8 sailings

Largay Travel (tel. 800/322-9481; www.largaytravel.com)

  • Holland America Ryndam: 7-night Alaska, round-trip from Vancouver. From $886, May 8 sailing.
  • Cunard Queen Mary 2: 7-night Trans-Atlantic, New York to Southampton. From $1,567, Jun 9 sailing.
  • Crystal Serenity: 14-night Panama Canal, Ft. Lauderdale to Los Angeles. From $4,010, Dec 6 sailing.
  • Holland America Prinsendam: 12-night Mediterranean, Venice to Lisbon. From $1,897, Oct 28 sailing.
  • Crystal Harmony: 14-night North Pacific Circle, Tokyo to Vancouver. From $3,360, Apr 26 sailing.
  • Seabourn Pride: 11-night Mediterranean, Lisbon to Barcelona. From $4,268, Apr 9 sailing.
  • Seabourn Spirit: 15-night India and Arabian Sea, Singapore to Dubai. From $5,383, Apr 10 sailing.
  • Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas: 9-night Caribbean, round-trip from Baltimore. From $2,148, Aug 19 sailing.
  • Holland America Maasdam: 7-night New England, round-trip from Boston. From $896, Jul 9 sailing.

Mann Travel and Cruises/123Travel (tel. 800/835-9828; www.123travel.com)

  • Royal Caribbean Enchantment Of The Seas: 5-night Caribbean, round-trip from Ft. Lauderdale. From $646, Mar. 14 sailing
  • Princess Tahitian Princess: 11-night Tahiti, Honolulu to Papeete. From $1,795, May 3 sailing.
  • Celebrity Mercury: 7-night Alaska, round-trip from Seattle. From $1,015, Sept 9 sailing
  • Carnival Fantasy: 4-night Bahamas, round-trip from Port Canaveral. From $359, May 1 sailing
  • Celebrity Horizon: 6-night Bermuda, round-trip from Norfolk. From $1,060, June 12 sailing.
  • NCL Norwegian Majesty: 7-night western Caribbean, round-trip from Charleston. From $449, Feb. 26 sailing
  • Holland America Zuiderdam: 7-night eastern Caribbean, round-trip from Ft. Lauderdale. From $773, May 14 sailing
  • Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas: 5-night Bermuda, round-trip from Baltimore. From $592, Sep. 11 sailing
  • Carnival Pride: 7-night Mexico, round-trip from Los Angeles. From $669, Apr. 17 and 24, May 1 sailings.
  • Celebrity Century: 10-night Mediterranean, round-trip from Rome/Civitavechhia. From $1,380, Sept 23 sailing

Vacation Outlet (tel. 800/690-2210; www.vacationoutlet.com)

  • Carnival Spirit: 8-night Mexican Riviera, round-trip from San Diego. From $619, Oct 31, Nov 16, Dec 2 and 10, 2005 sailings.
  • Royal Caribbean Rhapsody of the Seas: 7-night western Caribbean, round-trip from Galveston. From $639, April 3,10 and 17, 2005 sailings.
  • Holland America Volendam: 10-night southern Caribbean, round-trip from Ft. Lauderdale. From $849, Nov 25 sailing.
  • Celebrity Century: 14-night Transatlantic, Ft. Lauderdale to Amsterdam. From $880, May 7 sailing.
  • NCL Norwegian Dream: 10-night Alaska, round-trip from Seattle. From $949, May 30 sailing.

Vacation Shoppe, Inc. (tel. 866/7-CRUISE, www.vacationshoppe.com)

  • Princess Star Princess: 17-night Iceland/Greenland Transatlantic, Copenhagen to New York. From $2,090, Sep 22 sailing.
  • Crystal Symphony: 11-night northern Europe, Copenhagen to London. From $3,690, Aug 23 sailing.
  • Princess Royal Princess: 17-night South America, Santiago to Ft. Lauderdale. From $2,045, Mar 7 sailing.
  • Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas: 12-night northern Europe, round-trip from Harwich. From $1,699, May 15 sailing.
  • Royal Caribbean Splendor of the Seas: 7-night western Mediterranean, round-trip from Barcelona. From $749, Oct 8 sailing.
  • Royal Caribbean Adventure of the Seas: 7-night southern Caribbean, round-trip from San Juan. From $589, Dec 4 sailing.
  • Holland America Veendam: 7-night northbound Alaska, Vancouver to Seward. From $848, Jun 19 sailing.
  • Holland America Maasdam: 10-night Caribbean, round-trip from Norfolk. From $1,073, Mar 10 sailing.
  • Holland America Prinsendam: 12-night Greek Islands cruise, Barcelona to Athens. From $1,814, May 23 sailing.
  • Princess Tahitian Princess: 10-night Tahiti, round-trip from Papeete. From $1,145, April 2 sailing.

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