Following its last trans-Atlantic crossing in early to mid-November, the elegant ocean liner the Queen Mary II will return to New York for a series of 11-night cruises to the Caribbean at a price so low as to be news. The giant, glamorous ship will sail round-trip from and back to New York on Nov. 27 and Dec. 8, charging as little as $599 per person in inside cabins for those 11 nights at sea (an unprecedented $54.45 per day). It will stop during those lengthy, almost two-week-long sailings, at such interesting ports as St. Lucia, Grenada, Barbados and Grand Turk.
The $599 price is for passage, meals and entertainment aboard a deluxe ship that observes all the grand traditions of the sea (quiet decks, no zip lines, no bowling alleys or boxing rings, no effort to resemble an amusement park). And the prices I've quoted are from Online Vacation Center (800-329-9002; www.onlinevacationcenter. com).
I'll refrain from making any further comments on the current state of a cruise industry that needs to fill a ship as glorious as the Queen Mary II for as little as $54 a day. It will be interesting to see whether cruises remain at such bargain levels in later periods of the upcoming winter.
Harrah's show bargain
The nine Las Vegas hotels of the Harrah's chain made other news several months ago by offering a pass for $39 to eat as much as you might want at any of the eat-all-you-want buffets in their nine hotels, over a 24-hour period; by judiciously spacing your meals, you could devour as many as four of them for that $39 price — a big saving. Now, Harrah's has topped that offer with what could be called "a buffet of shows" — a $99 pass entitling you to attend as many theatrical shows as you choose in a 48-hour period at any of the 16 shows currently presented at the eight Vegas hotels of the Harrah's chain.
To a normal show-goer, this would enable you to attend one matinee and one evening performance on each of two days for $99, reducing your show costs to just under $25 per show. But for a super-charged, avid fan of Las Vegas shows, going to morning performances, two oddly scheduled matinees, and one normal evening show and one late-night show (like the 10:30 p.m. performance of Jubilee!), it's possible to visit as many as five shows a day on each of two days, thus going to a total of 10 shows for $99 — that's $9.90 per show. Will theater replace gambling as a reason for visiting Vegas?
Another phony Caribbean village is taking shape on the north coast of Jamaica. Its official name is "Historic Falmouth Port," and it will consist of more than 90 new shops and 45 crafts kiosks, plus hotels, restaurants, bars and more, in buildings constructed in the architectural style of England's Georgian period of the late 1700s. The developer: Royal Caribbean Cruises, which will deposit passengers at the "Historic" port as they disembark from two giant, 6,000-berth cruise ships known as Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas. Although there is another real, and rather shabby, Falmouth behind the newly constructed village, it's obviously the cruise line's hope that passengers will remain in the confines of the newly built "Historic Falmouth Port," thus doing all their shopping, eating and drinking at stores, restaurants and bars controlled by Royal Caribbean Cruises.
Some historic port! Some foreign cruise! Some travel experience!