“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

TravelHaven Tips – Cruise Trends: Higher Prices

Bad news for travelers, cruise vacations will have higher price tags in 2010. The low prices of 2009 are starting to disappear as demand rises. Last year many lines resorted to discounts to bring customers in. Like airfares, cruise prices go down when demand is weak until every cabin is filled.

What does this mean for consumers? “As the ship fills up, the prices go up,” said Paul Motter, editor at CruiseMates.com. “They give you the best prices six months to a year out, and at the very end, if there are still empty cabins, they discount them. The best way to get the best deal on a cruise is to book early. Almost all the cruise lines offer price guarantees, so if you see a price lower than what you booked, they will honor that.”

On the other hand, you can still find last-minute bargains in places where the market is “really soft,” according to Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor of CruiseCritic.com. She recommends bargain hunting in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Greek Isles, Turkey, and the Mexican Riviera.

Despite the slow economy, most lines used attractive pricing and active marketing to keep their heads above water. Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) said ships in 2009 sailed at 104 percent capacity on average, meaning that every room was occupied, and some rooms were shared by more than two people. At the same time, the number of passengers keeps increasing: 13.01 million people cruised on CLIA ships in 2008, 13.44 million in 2009 and a projected 14.3 million will sail in 2010.

One way U.S,-based cruises tried to keep their ships full to make up for slow growth in the North American market was by dramatically increasing the number of international passengers. The number of passengers from outside North America has doubled to more than 3 million a year since 2003, while the number of U.S. and Canadian passengers has increased by just 30 percent to 10.29 million.

“Maybe we are not recession-proof, but we are recession-resistant,” said Richard Sasso, CEO of MSC Cruises and marketing director of CLIA.

[Information for this post was taken largely from a story by the Associated Press.]