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CRUISE DEALS PROLIFERATE -- BUT BE CAREFUL, WARNS AGENT GROUP

 NEW YORK, Feb. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Economic recovery or not, cruise discounts will be more prevalent than ever in the coming year say the experts -- travel agents who specialize in cruises. That's saying a lot, as most of these agents report they're already selling more than 95 percent of their cruises at discount.
 The national poll revealed that actual selling prices will vary according to the passenger's home town, as well as according to destination. This apparently reflects the increasing weight of air fares included in cruise package prices. Cruise prices continue to decline, while many air fares are rising.
 For example, East Coast members of the National Association of Cruise Only Agencies (NACOA) say their most expensive cruises are to the Far East and Alaska. A "typical" Far East cruise will last two or three weeks and cost $3,240 to $4,740 per person.
 On the West Coast, NACOA members cite Europe and the Mediterranean as the most expensive destinations. "But from either coast," says NACOA President Cheryl Myerson, "the all inclusive prices of cruises make them less expensive than comparable land-based vacations."
 Three-day weekend cruises are the least expensive cruises, the NACOA poll shows. But seven-day Caribbean and Mexico sailings cost less per day. Seven-day rates range from $100 to $200, with three-day rates often $10 to $20 per day more.
 "Weekend cruises cost a little more per day, but they're a safe choice for someone taking a first cruise," notes Myerson. "They're cruising's 'trial size' in time and money. It can still be a one-week vacation because the three-day cruises are often packaged with a four- day resort stay. NACOA members line up rental cars and everything else needed to make a seamless vacation."
 Myerson warns consumers to be wary of "deals" that may be less than great. "Be sure to ask if the advertised price includes air fare to and from the ship. If it doesn't, be sure you can get a good air fare that matches the ship's schedule.
 "Prices that seem too good to be true, probably are. If in doubt," says Myerson, "call up the cruise line involved and ask whether they've done business with the agency in question and whether the 'deal' is legitimate."
 Consumers can find legitimate bargains at travel agencies that specialize in cruises. These agencies have the high volume and special arrangements to scoop up the best prices.
 For a free list of local NACOA agencies, send a self addressed, stamped envelope to NACOA's headquarters, 113 W. Sunrise Hwy., Suite R, Freeport, N.Y. 11520.
 -0- 2/17/93
 /CONTACT: Cheryl Myerson, president of NACOA, 303-424-7245/


CO: National Association of Cruise Only Agencies ST: New York IN: LEI SU:

LR -- NY064 -- 7307 02/17/93 11:53 EST
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Date:Feb 17, 1993
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