The lazy days of summer are setting in, but if you can set your sights beyond summer, there is a pile of deals and discounts waiting for fall sailings. Here's a sampling:
- Free air fare to Barbados from New York or Miami is offered with three 11-night cruises on Fred Olsen Lines' 797-passenger Black Watch (formerly the Royal Viking Star).The sailings, departing from Barbados on Oct. 16 and 28 and Nov. 9, call at ports in the French West Indies, the Grenadines, British Virgin Islands and more. Fares start at $2,016 per person and include air fare and port charges. Air tax and transfers are additional. Discounts are available for children. For more information, call 1-800-688-3876.
- Windstar Cruises will introduce the Wind Surf in the Caribbean this fall with savings of 40 percent off brochure rates. The sleek, 312-passenger sail/cruise vessel, formerly the Club Med 2, entered service two months ago in the Mediterranean.
Fares for seven-day cruises start at $2,257 per person, including port charges and taxes. The ship will be based in Barbados, plying alternate north and south routes. Wind Surf features an alternative restaurant and a 10,000-square-foot spa. For more information, call 1-800-258-7245.
- Crystal Cruises is shaving up to $2,000 off per double-occupancy cabins on Australia/New Zealand and South Pacific cruises aboard the Crystal Harmony. Departures on Nov. 18 and 29 and Dec. 10 are discounted by $2,000, $1,500 and $1,000, respectively. Fares for the 11-day cruises start at $2,485 per person, double occupancy. Round-trip air transportation is available for $300, $500 and $600 from Western, Central and Eastern gateway cities, respectively.
The Nov. 18 and 29 itineraries include the New Zealand ports of Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin; Hobart, Tasmania; and Melbourne and Sydney, Australia. The Dec. 10 departure from Auckland heads east to Honolulu, calling at Nuku'Alofa, Tonga; Apia, Western Samoa; and Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. For more information, contact a travel agent.
- Beginning in 1999, the passenger/freighter company Ivaran Lines will include gratuities in its fares on sailings of the Americana.
The 88-passenger vessel, which sails from Houston, Texas, makes round-trip voyages of about 23 days. The vessel calls in eastern Mexico, Costa Rica and the Caribbean as well as along the northern coast of South America. Ivaran Lines calls the ship a luxury passenger/freighter; it doubles as a high-tech container ship.
Amenities include a pool, sauna, sun deck and open-seating restaurant. Cabins feature a TV with VCR, a phone, a refrigerator with minibar and a sitting area. Rates start at $4,290. For more information, call 1-800-451-1639.
- Delta Queen Steamboat Co. has inaugurated a unique way of promoting some cruises: The line won't tell you where the cruises are going, because the itinerary is open. These sailings, aboard the Delta Queen paddle wheeler, are called tramping cruises, because the ship stops wherever and whenever depending on the whim of Capt. Gabe Chengery. Chengery says he is indulging in his longtime desire to offer this kind of travel.
"Nothing is definite, except that I guarantee an adventure," he says.
The first eight-night tramping cruise will depart Aug. 25 from Cincinnati to who knows where. Fares start at $1,350 per person.
Two seven-night tramping cruises also will be offered in 1999, the first departing May 4 from Cincinnati. If you make a deposit at least eight months in advance for any cabin except those in the minimum category, which starts at $1,050, you'll get free round-trip air fare. Some restrictions apply. For more information, call 1-800-543-1949.
- Any member of America On-line can cruise Disney at a discount. Fares at 25 percent off brochure rates are available for three AOL-member sailings on seven-day air/sea packages on Sept. 21, Oct. 5 and Nov. 16. The packages include four nights at a Walt Disney World resort, a three-night cruise on the Disney Magic, unlimited admission to theme parks and some AOL-member perks, which in-clude an open-bar cocktail party.
Discounted rates for AOL members start at $1,094, including air fare and port charges; the brochure rate for this cruise is $1,469. Anyone who doesn't need air fare can deduct another $250 per person from the discounted fare.
Those who are fans of AOL's Cruise Critic area can sail Oct. 5 with Anne Campbell, host of the section.
Anyone booking the first two cruises gets added perks from Disney, including a $500 "Fall Fantasy" savings booklet (one per family) that offers shipboard credits and coupons for savings at Walt Disney World resorts and theme parks. Passengers also can choose one of a number of additional perks, from nine holes of golf or a "Mickey 'n' You" photo to a copy of Birnbaum's Walt Disney World 1998: The Official Guide. These perks are not available on the November cruise.
For more information, call the Vacation Store at 1-800-825-3633.