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Black Friday cruise deals often more than a day

It started with televisions and stereo systems going on sale at the crack of dawn, and it was known as the kick-off to the Christmas shopping season.

Black Friday.

As the day between Thanksgiving and Saturday, its naming roots go back more than 40 years, when pedestrian and vehicle traffic was so intense that it was a "dark day." The name came to be known as the day that enabled retailers to be profitable, or in the black.

Black Friday still kicks off the shopping season for Christmas, still causes retailers to open when most people are sleeping, and still features televisions and stereos. Also phones, toys, clothes, jewelry…

And yes, cruises.

As foot soldiers in the army of people trying to find good deals for you, here is what some cruise lines have to offer customers on Black Friday:

Norwegian — Credits up to $250 per stateroom and air credits up to $1,000 in what is really "Black Friday Week" because it goes from today to next Tuesday.

Celebrity — In keeping Black Friday shrouded in mystery, the sale starts one minute after midnight with three "incredible offers on over 400 sailings."

Princess — Savings of up to $600 per stateroom, plus an upgrade, a bottle of wine and a few pennies to spend on the cruise, in another Wednesday-to-Wednesday sale.

And then there are the agents that sell cruises on behalf of the lines…like VacationsToGo, and CruiseCritic and Cruise.com.

Sometimes, they're able to come up with the best deals of all.

Even on Black Friday.

Sapphire Princess
4 nights
January 20, 2014
Los Angeles (return): Catalina IslandEnsenada
Inside: $269
Cost per day: $67

Cruise Lines Like Big Apple's Taste

Last year, Norwegian announced it was going to make New York home for its newest ship, the Breakaway.

Last month, Royal Caribbean announced its new ship, Quantum of the Seas (2014), will be "permanently" sailing from Bayonne, NJ, just across the river from Manhattan, which was the site of the press conference.

Last week, Celebrity announced it would have a two-day sale while setting up shop with The Lawn Club in Grand Central Station, in the heart of Midtown in New York City.

Is New York so hard to miss that it's just been "discovered" by the cruise industry as a major market? When did 8.3 million people in a concentrated geographical area become so easy to regard as just another Baltimore?

There have always been cruise ships regularly sailing in and out of New York, of course. What seems to have changed is the focus. These days, New York is big-time in cruising just like it is in just about every other way.

For Celebrity, taking over 12,000 square feet of Grand Central Station is nothing less than a mini trade show. The Lawn Club is the feature item on the top deck of all Solstice Class ships, something of a country club at sea, with a half acre of real grass and a handful of activities. In Grand Central, those activities will include a croquet challenge, local jazz musicians to entertain you and an opportunity for wannabe chefs to create their own spice rubs at The Lawn Club Grill.

For the two days — next Monday and Tuesday — the other carrot for visitors will be a chance to win a cruise to Bermuda, and to save $1,000 on a European cruise or $500 when booking one to Alaska, Bermuda or the Caribbean.

Did we mention that it all happens in a place that's hard to find…New York?

Coral Princess
14 nights
July 31, 2013
Vancouver (return): Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, College Ford, Anchorage, Hubbard, Glacier Bay, Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan
Inside: $1,514
Cost per day: $108

A Day for Leaping to…Trivia

Tomorrow is a day associated with trivia, this being a leap year, so today’s blog  is also associated with trivia…that doesn’t make it a trivial blog. Does it?

February 29, of course, only comes as often as presidential elections (and in the same years).

Having said that, there’s nothing trivial about the Leap Day Sale at Princess Cruises. How good does a free day in Alaska sound, on a cruisetour? Of course, you have to “buy” the other days to get the free one, but having been on a Princess cruisetour to Alaska, our opinion is that it’s the best way to enjoy the 49th state.

Now, about the trivia.

On this most unusual of days, an American president (Eisenhower) announced he was running for re-election and a Canadian prime minister (Trudeau) announced he was not. Celebrating birthdays once every four years were bandleader Jimmy Dorsey, entertainer Dinah Shore, hockey players Henri Richard and Simon Gagne and spiritual leader Pope Paul III, who would have been 136 tomorrow, in leap years.

Desmond Tutu was arrested on February 29, and the cartoon Family Circus was born. Hockey’s Gordie Howe scored his then unheard-of 800th goal, and Hattie McDaniel became the first black person to win an Academy Award, for Gone With the Wind.

Queen Victoria (not the one the Cunard ship was named after) asked Prince Albert to marry her because, in those days, February 29 was the only day on which women were allowed to propose to men. In Finland, if the man refused he had to buy her some fabrics for a skirt, and in Denmark the same refusal meant buying the non-bethrothed 12 pairs of gloves…

Had enough?

Holland America Volendam
23 nights
April 10, 2012
Sydney, Noumea, Ile des Pins, Lifou (New Caledonia) and Suva (Fiji), Apia (Samoa), Fanning Island (Kiribati), Honolulu and Hilo (Hawaii), Vancouver
Inside $2198

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