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Why Upscale Cruise Deals Are Rare

You may have noticed in our Daily Deals — five days a week, 52 weeks a year — that bargains on "upper premium" cruise lines appear only rarely. There’s a reason for that: The “deals” are often…well, confusing.

An example is one we just received from Oceania.

What caught our eyes was Free 3-night Winelands & Wildlife Safari Land Tour on 6 Voyages promotion. That led us to randomly choose one of the six voyages, a 30-day trip on the Oceania Nautica from Dubai to Cape Town, South Africa, and dig deeper into some of the details:

• 2 for 1 cruise fares — Oceania does a lot of this and the problem is that it’s based on a “brochure fare.” On this one, the promotional fare is $9,999 for an inside stateroom, compared to a brochure fare of $26,398. That’s per person. Really? Somebody would consider paying almost $1,000 a day, per person, on the Nautica?

• Free Airfare* — The asterisk (*) is for the gateway cities where your coach air fare applies, and that transportation to say, Atlanta, is extra. Fair enough. By the way, ground transportation is not included.

• $500 shipboard credit — Okay.

• Free pre-paid gratuities & Internet — That’s pretty straightforward, until you read the fine print, where it says “Free Internet is one per stateroom and applies to Concierge Level Staterooms.”

• Free safari land tour — Also straightforward, except that it is “capacity controlled, limited availability.”

So, here’s the bottom line: Your cruise fare is half the “rack rate” and your air fare is paid from major airports; on the ship you get $500 credit per stateroom, the Internet is free if you book a concierge room ($13,299) or higher, and you get a free African safari for three days as long as it’s not overbooked by people looking for the same freebie.

Confusing?

We thought so, too.

Today at portsandbows.com: Beautiful Budapest at night

Celebrity Millennium
7 nights
June 12, 2015
Anchorage, Hubbard Glacier, Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point, Ketchikan, Inside Passage, Vancouver
Inside: $549
Cost per day: $78
www.celebritycruises.com

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