It's no news that consumers are cutting back on spending. All of us have less discretionary income these days, and we're becoming more cautious about parting with our money.
What is a revelation is that vacations are one thing that people are not giving up, at least according to such statistical soothsayers as the U.S. Travel Data Center, the Travel Industry Association of America, Travel Industry Indicators and Cruise Lines International.Their combined conclusion is that while vacationers might have become more frugal, going from luxury to economy, for instance, or might have cut down on the duration of their holidays, vacations remain on top of people's must-do list.
Escape has almost become a necessity. More than ever, there's a need to get away, to reduce stress by leaving home, work and responsibility behind even if it is for just a few days.
Weekend vacations climbed 28 percent between 1984 and 1989, and indications are that this year the figure will climb even higher. The trend toward quickie getaways may not only be due to cost-cutting efforts but also to the time crunch faced by an ever increasing number of two-income households with conflicting family schedules.
Hottest on the list of those shopping for brief reprieves are short cruises. Last year, 85 percent of the more than 3 million Americans who took cruises sailed for seven days or less, with an increasing number on three- and four-day sailings, according to Cruise Lines International.
If you're among the thousands who are focusing on value for a weekend getaway, here's a list of what's available in the way of quickie high seas escapes originating from Los Angeles. (Reservations may be made through most travel agents).
AZURE SEAS: Built in 1954, completely reconstructed in 1980, the 756-passenger vessel sails every Monday and Friday through April 29 on three and four-night cruises to Ensenada and Catalina. San Diego is added to the longer trip. The fully air-conditioned vessel has eight all-teak public decks, all cabins have at least two lower beds, wall-to-wall carpeting, phones, three music channels. A dining room features continental and American cuisine, there is live entertainment, theater, four bars and lounges, swimming pool, video games, card room, library, beauty and barber shop. Continental breakfast available in cabins, lunch is indoor and outdoor buffet. The ship moves to Port Everglades in Caribbean. Rates $345 to $1,145 per person, double occupancy, (higher for four-day cruises). Call Admiral Lines, (800) 327-0271.
JUBILEE: Built in 1986, there are accommodations for a maximum of 1,896 passengers in 743 cabins, including 10 suites on this 48,000-ton vessel. It sails every Sunday year round for seven days to Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas. There are 10 decks; cabins feature closed circuit TV, stereo, telephone and 110 AC current. There are three swimming pools, golf facilities, public rooms include two dining rooms, one of the largest casinos afloat, indoor-outdoor bar and grill, numerous lounges, health spa, whirlpool, massage room, shopping area, children's playroom, card room, live entertainment. Rates $795 to $2,195 per person, double occupancy. Call Carnival Cruise Lines, (800) 327-9501.
SOUTHWARD: Built in 1971, the 16,607-ton vessel sails every Monday and Friday on three- and four-day cruises to Catalina and Ensenada, with San Diego added to the longer trip. The ship carries 752 passengers in 376 staterooms, all with twin and double beds; many cabins have folding upper berths to accommodate third and fourth passenger. Fully air conditioned throughout with individual control in each cabin. Public rooms include dining room, show lounge with new Las Vegas-style revue, beauty and barber shops, seven decks, sports deck, outdoor dancing, numerous cocktail lounges, cinema, casino, duty free shopping arcade, swimming pool, sauna, gymnasium. Rates $315 to $810 per person, double occupancy for three days; $375 to $845 for four days. Call Norwegian Cruise Lines, (800) 327-7030.
FAIR PRINCESS: Built in 1956 for Cunard, rebuilt in 1971-72 and completely remodeled in 1984 and fall of 1989, the stately, old-world 25,000-ton vessel has retained much of its wood paneling and sails every Saturday from Sept. 29 through Nov. 3 and Nov. 17 through Jan. 6 on seven-day trips to Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta. It has accomodations for 925 passengers in 467 cabins with wall-to-wall carpeting, air-conditioning, four-channel music system, phones, four spacious major suites and 26 mini-suites. Three pools, nursery, playroom, teen-age club, two dining rooms, pizzeria, two-level theater, fully equipped gymnasium, casino, nightclub, duty-free shops, barber and beauty salon. Rates &745 to &2,385 per person, double occupancy. Special standby fare, $595 is available if applied for 21 days in advance of sailing and is confirmed 21 days prior to sailing. Call Princess Lines (800) 421-0522.
VIKING SERENADE: From Sept. 29 through Dec. 29, the ship will sail every Saturday for a seven-night sailing to Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. Rates $745 to $2,045 per person, double occupancy. After a $75 million refurbishing that will add 260 cabins, boosting occupancy to 1,500 passengers, the ship will debut three- and four-night cruises on May 17, 1991, that will call at Catalina, Ensenada and San Diego. Rates for the three-day cruises, $315 to $1,195 per person, double occupancy and $345 to $1,300 for four-day sailings. Call Royal Caribbean, (800) 327-6700.