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And the Award for the Most Deal-Friendly Cruise Line Goes to...

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By , dealnews Senior Feature Writer

When it comes to vacationing, it's tough to beat all-in-one packages offered by many cruise lines. The endless buffets, the 24/7 entertainment, and the chance to island hop in the Caribbean are irresistible for vacationers on a strict budget.

Fortunately, we have good news for cruise lovers. While the cruise industry as a whole took a beating at the start of the year, here at dealnews we've noticed that one company in particular has been offering consistently aggressive deals since January: Carnival Cruise Lines. (The same company operates Costa Cruises, which captured the world's attention earlier this year when one of its ships tragically capsized off the coast of Italy.)

In 2011, 13% of the cruise deals we posted came from Carnival. That number has more than tripled in 2012; a whopping 41% of cruise deals this year have been for Carnival cruises. And we expect that number to swell when autumn arrives, which is typically a soft period for the cruise industry as children are back in school and hurricane season thrives in the Caribbean. For these reasons, we're deeming Carnival the most deal-friendly cruise line right now for cash-strapped travelers.

The Best Cruise Deals Set Sail in the Caribbean

If you're looking to get the most from your vacation, we recommend booking a Carnival cruise to the Caribbean, as 46% of the Carnival cruises we've posted this year have been to destinations in the region. By comparison, Carnival cruises to Mexico account for 20% of our Carnival deals this year and those to the Bahamas account for 24%. The locations with the fewest deals — Alaska and the Mediterranean.

That said, one of the cheapest cruises currently available isn't for the Caribbean at all; this Carnival Cruise 3-Night Bahamas Cruise for two (from $318, a low by $40; expires July 31) is available at the lowest price we've seen this year for a 3-night Bahamas cruise from any provider. In the past two months, we have seen 10 different Carnival packages drop to prices under $400.

Sweeten Your Deal with Onboard Credits

Just because you're getting a discount on the cruise of your choice doesn't mean the savings should end there. When booking, always look for deals that include onboard credits or room upgrades. Credits can range from $15 to $100 per cabin. Typically, the pricier your cabin, the higher your onboard credit will be.

Finally, when booking remember that your chances of scoring a deal on a cruise are much higher if you book through providers like Sherman's Travel, Travel-Ticker, Travelscream, or Travelzoo, all of which feature deals from Cruise.com, Vacations to Go, and Direct Line Cruises. You can find these and other offers in our cruise deals section.

Ready to book your cruise? In addition to checking out our daily travel deals for the latest cruise sales, why not set up an email alert to be immediately notified when we post a new cruise offer to the site?



An avid gadget lover, Louis Ramirez has covered technology for Gizmodo, CNET, Laptop, and various other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @LouisRamirez

Follow @dealnews for the latest roundups, price trend info, and stories. You can also sign up for an email alert for all dealnews features.


Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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