Want to take a cruise vacation but concerned about Zika virus in popular ports-of-call?
For those worried about heading to Florida and the Caribbean this fall and winter because of the disease carried by mosquitos (check this Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site for the latest information), there are plenty of other cruise options.
October is the Cruise Lines International Association's Plan a Cruise Month, and plenty of lines are offering seasonal deals and promotions as the weather cools down. A lot of travel can be booked online, but if you're looking maximize your vacation, consider using an agent to find the best deals and upgrades and also figure out the right cruise line and ship for you and your traveling companions.
Here are six trips to consider in Zika free zones that won't bust your budget:
1. A European Expedition.
Cruise Europe year-round aboard the Norwegian Spirit with embarkation in Barcelona and Rome (ask about the Free at Sea promotion with unlimited open bar, specialty dining and WiFi). Costa Cruises also sails in the Mediterranean all winter with rates starting at just $499. Or see Italy and Greece without the summertime crowds, while paying lower fares for flights and cruises. Azamara Club Cruises, known for smaller ships and longer times in port, will have a ship in Europe through Nov. 6 and is touting complimentary upgrades. MSC Cruises also cruises the Med in winter, including the Canary Islands where sunny weather is pretty much guaranteed this time of year.
2. Cross the Atlantic.
Cross the Atlantic the old fashioned way aboard Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 from New York to Southampton—seven nights from May-December with some sailings starting at under $600 per person double occupancy with the special fall savings event. Experts on board will teach you about everything from jazz to constellations. You’ll have plenty of time to soak up the shipboard experience. High tea anyone?
3. Hawaii's hot spots.
See Hawaii's main islands aboard Norwegian’s Pride of America, the only ship that sails year-round from Honolulu on seven-day cruises with nearly 100 hours of port time in Maui, Kauai and the big Island of Hawaii. The ship recently underwent a bow to stern enhancement with newly designed public spaces, dining venues and guest staterooms. Carnival also has some sailings to Hawaii from Los Angeles this fall and in January.
4. Adventure to East Asia.
East Asia calls, especially in Japan, where it is cooler this time of year but the rainy season is over. Princess Cruises has ships homeported in Japan. Cruise Critic notes that Royal Caribbean International has a variety of East Asia sailings throughout fall, winter and spring, as do Holland America, Celebrity Cruises and others.
5. Passage to French Polynesia.
Sail in French Polynesia aboard a Windstar sailing yacht among the Tahitian Islands. You can snorkel or dive, enjoying the complimentary watersports toys right from the yacht’s Watersports Platform. Treat your favorite family and friends to a private beach feast. There are no more than 300 passengers aboard so the smaller ships can stop in boutique ports not accessible by larger ships.
Eileen Ogintz is the creator of the syndicated column and website Taking the Kids. She is also the author of the ten-book Kid’s Guide series to major American cities and the Great Smoky Mountains. The third-edition of the Kid’s Guide to NYC has just been released.