Can it get any more dreary than what much of the country is seeing today? Besides icy winds and record cold temperatures we also have this economic downturn on our minds. But it is possible to escape the doldrums and take advantage of the lower prices the cruise lines are currently offering.
Two years ago we visited France in early April. There are already tourists everywhere, with major cities like Paris very crowded already. Not only were Americans visiting, but relaxed travel rules for the European Union along with a very strong Euro meant that more Europeans were traveling as well.
Well, things have changed over there. The Euro is much weaker at $1.31 compared to $1.64 two years ago. Even more amazing, the British Pound, which was at $2.00 to one Sterling is now just about equal to the current value of the Euro, now trading at one Pound = $1.41.
Our number one concern for Europe this summer is the air travel. The airlines are doing everything they can to fly full this year. If you plan on traveling this summer expect to pay high fares, close to $1300 pp. But if you book now and travel early you can save a lot of money. We are seeing roundtrip airfare bargains to Europe now in the $600 range.
Even better, shop for the air-inclusive cruise deals which are still very reasonable. Most of the deluxe and luxury cruise lines are including airfare in their cruise prices, and some are even offering free shore excursions. River cruises in Europe are well-known for their pricing model which includes wine with dinner and free shore excursions.
As always, we suggest that you make the most of your journey overseas by adding a few days before and after your cruise to enjoy your first and last ports (most likely major cities). You will have time to shake off the jet lag, and be sure that you don't miss your ship due to over-crowded flights.
Also, remember that just because you book your air travel through the cruise line it does not guarantee they will get you to the ship if you miss your first port, unless you buy travel insurance. In addition, booking your cruise through a qualified, service-oriented travel agent will also help you tremendously if you find yourself in a bad situation. At least you will have someone to call and help you out of your jam.