Skip to primary navigation Skip to main content

Cruise fare cheaper than Motel 6

ByChristopher Palmeri
April 10 (Bloomberg) -- Carnival Corp. is offering a Caribbean cruise for as little as $38 a night, less than a stay at Motel 6, after an engine fire on the Triumph stranded passengers at sea for several days.


A four-night trip on Carnival’s Imagination, leaving Miami on April 22, costs $149 a person, including meals and some beverages, according to the cruise company’s website yesterday. The lowest nightly rate at the budget-priced Motel 6 chain was $39.99, according to an online ad.

Carnival, based in Miami, generated headlines worldwide in February after the engine fire on the Triumph left 3,100 passengers at sea for several days with limited food and toilet service. The ship broke loose from its moorings in high winds last week in Mobile, Alabama, where it is being repaired.

“The prices did go down,” said Manny Lubian, president of Futura Travel Inc. in Miami. “An empty ship doesn’t make as much money. They’d rather have bodies in them, buying drinks and spending money.”

Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer Howard Frank said on a March 15 conference call that fares were running slightly ahead of last year. Bookings in the three-week period after the Triumph incident were lower for the company’s Carnival-brand ships, he said. Volume recovered after the company offered “new marketing promotions,” he said.Cruise pricing also took a hit last year after Carnival’s Costa Concordia ran aground off the Italian coast, killing 32 passengers.


Vance Gulliksen, a spokesman for the world’s largest cruise operator, declined to comment on pricing. The Imagination’s four-night itinerary includes stops in Key West, Florida, and Cozumel, Mexico, according to the website.

The week was expected to be slow, following spring break in the U.S. and tax season, Lubian said.
Immediately after the fire, cruises on the Triumph were offered as low as $319 a person for four nights, or $80 a night, after its return to service later this year. Today, the lowest advertised price for a five-night trip on the Triumph out of Galveston, Texas, with stops in Cozumel and the Yucatan, was $289, or $58 a night, for an Oct. 7 departure.

The $149 fare on the Imagination is nonrefundable and based on two travelers, according to the website. Government fees and taxes bring the total to $454 for two.

Would you put your vacation on layaway?

VacationWant to put your vacation on layaway? Sears is offering a way to do just that.

On, consumers can put hotels, cruises, rental cars and airline tickets on layaway, or choose from one of 100 vacation packages starting at $399.

But is it a good idea?

Here's some good advice from Time magazine:

The one big problem with layaway: it’s often not a smart financial move. One study has shown that consumers who use a credit card over layaway will end up paying less interest on the purchase, even on a card with a high APR.

The one positive aspect of choosing layaway over using a credit card is that there’s virtually no way consumers can get buried in overwhelming debt in the same way they can when using plastic.

Before jumping at Sears’ vacation layaway plans, make sure you know what you’re getting into. Read the plan’s fine print, know precisely when your payments are due and how much time you have to pay off the purchase. Plus, figure out what Sears’ fees are for late payments and whether you’ll have to pay any additional travel booking fees. For hotels and cruises, Sears says there are no fees added, but a booking fee may be charged to air reservations.

But even before all of that, consider whether taking a vacation this year is a wise move. Because if the only way you can afford one is to work out a layaway plan, maybe this summer you should consider staying home.

Get a better hotel rate

Here is today's MoneySmart tip of the day:


If you notice an empty-looking parking lot when checking into a hotel, try to negotiate a better rate. They're more likely to give you a break if they have a lot of empty rooms.


---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Airlines are excited about new 23-inch seats. How about you?


If you thought space was tight on your last flight, wait until you see the latest "ultra high density" SkyRider seating designed by Italian company AvionInteriors.


The seats have passengers nearly standing upright, but tucked back into shallow, angled "saddle-type" seats. They take up 25 percent less room than traditional seating, meaning airlines can pack more seats--and more people--onto planes. As a result, passengers will have just seven inches of space between their face and the back of the seat in front of them.


The airlines promise the extra seating will help them cut costs, which will allow them to pass savings on to customers. How low would a ticket price have to be for you to sign on with an airline using the SkyRiders?


---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

The most and least expensive cars to insure

Insurance has put together a list of the most and lease expensive cars to insure. The figures estimate national average annual insurance premiums for a 40-year-old male with a good driving record.

The least expensive 2010 models to insure:

1. Mazda Tribute I, two-wheel drive four-door utility, four cylinders: $1,070.25.

2. Honda Odyssey LX, five door, two-wheel drive, single overhead camshaft van, 6 cylinders: $1,095.26.

3. Mazda Tribute I, four-wheel drive, four-door utility, four cylinders:$1,103.29.

4. Chrysler Town & Country LX, two-wheel drive, four-door 3.3 liter wagon, six cylinders: $1,119.83.

5. Jeep Wranger X, four-wheel drive, two-door 3.8 liter utility, six cylinders: $1,124.38.

The most expensive 2010 models to insure (no big surprises here):

1. Porsche 911 Carrera GT2, two-door coupe, six cylinders: $2,943.78.

2. Mercedes S65 AMG, four-door sedan, 12 cylinders: $2,863.03.

3. Dodge Viper SRT-10, two-door coupe, 10 cylinders: $2,851.89.

4. Porsche Panamera Turbo, All-wheel drive four-door sedan, eight cylinders: $2,837.39.

5. Dodge Viper SRT-10, two-door convertible, 10 cylinders: $2,815.90.

And here are some average car insurance premiums for the top 10 selling vehicles:

1. Ford F-Series pickup: $1,492.71.

2. Toyota Camry: $1,274.61.

3. Chevrolet Silverado pickup: $1,383.10.

4. Toyota Corolla: $1,302.68.

5. Honda Accord: $1,301.20.

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Fly JetBlue for 10 Bucks by Midnight

It seems almost too good to be true.

To celebrate its 10th anniversary, Jetblue is offering $10 one-way flights among its first 10 destinations for travel March 9 and 10.

Since Buffalo is one of those first 10 destinations, we can book travel to the other nine (and vice versa) for just $10 each way, including Fort Lauderdale, Fla; Tampa, Fla.; Orlando, Fla.; Rochester; Oakland, Calif.; Burlington, Vt.; West Palm Beach, Fla.; Salt Lake City, Utah and Fort Myers, Fla.

Travel must be booked by 11:59 p.m. Monday March 8.

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Crisis PR in the Internet age

Director Kevin Smith has brought a firestorm down on Southwest Airlines after being ejected from a flight for being too fat, demonstrating the power consumers wield with social media.

Southwest got some practice implementing crisis control in the Internet age after Kevin Smith sent out a flurry of Twitter messages to his legion of followers. Fans were furious, the media picked up on the story and the rest was history.

Southwest Airlines has apologized in blogs and defended itself in the face of furious Tweets. The fracas brought so much attention, it crashed their feedback page.

So many public relations people diligently make a daily practice of blogging, Tweeting and Facebooking, mostly to an audience of no one. Only when things fall apart is the importance of having those established networks made clear.

But the true test is whether Southwest's spin control was able to smooth the feathers it ruffled. Are you satisfied by Southwest's reaction? Do you think Smith was making a big deal over nothing? Do you think Smith got the reaction he did only because he's famous, or do you think an average consumer could have made the same impact?

Still, Smith doesn't think Southwest handled things very well. But in a situation like this, who gets the last word?

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Megabus to give away 100,000 free seats

Doubledeckers, a low-cost, city-to-city express bus service, has announced it will give away 100,000 free seats to stimulate travel this winter.

Of the seats available, 40,000 are earmarked for travel to New York City. The rest will be split among Megabus' other routes in the Northeast and Midwest. Megabus routes from Buffalo travel to New York, Syracuse, Toronto and Rochester.

The free seats will be available for travel from Jan. 6 to March 20. You can book now using the promotional code GETAWAY. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis and while supplies last. There is a 50-cent booking fee. offers free Wi-Fi, reclining seats and power outlets.

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Sneak a Peek at Hotels with Video Previews

Ever been disappointed with a hotel room that didn't measure up with its photo and description online?


In this economy, when every penny has its place and precious luxuries like vacation travel are enjoyed only rarely, that sort of thing can become more than a mere annoyance. When you finally get a chance to kick back and relax, you want everything to be just right.


As a response, a new Web site is offering travelers a more thorough look at potential lodgings with video tours of hotels in major cities around the world. bundles the tours of rooms, lobbies and other accommodations with user reviews, maps and photos while allowing users to check room availability and pricing.


It's a great resource to add to your consumer toolbox when making out-of-town plans. Checking out lavish international hotels from your computer also makes for a nice, virtual mini-escape on a dreary Monday afternoon.

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Unlimited Flights on Jetblue for $599


JetBlue airlines is offering a month of unlimited travel for $599 with its All You Can Jet pass. Passholders can fly for free to any city JetBlue serves as often as they like from September 8 to October 8.

The price includes all taxes. Tickets must be purchased by August 21. The airline flies to 57 cities and has more than 600 daily flights.

The deal is an attempt to get more travelers into the air during September and October, which are the slowest months for leisure airline travel.

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

« Older Entries