One cruise line executive, Bob Dickinson of Carnival, refered to Europe as "The new Caribbean of 10 years ago" for cruise lines, in the sense that the region is growing in popularity with cruisers so much that demand is outstripping the supply of ships and staterooms. This means prices and profits are up for the cruise lines there.
Why am I telling you this now, since you have either already made your plans or it's too late. Well, maybe it isn't too late. If you are looking for last-minute bargains, the best deals are there if you are ready to leave in two weeks (good luck on airfare) or if you are willing to sail in November.
Would I go to Europe in November? Yes, I would, when I can find a cruise selling for 50% less than what it costs just a few weeks prior. Plus the peak tourism travel season is over and so airfare becomes much more affordable and the planes less crowded.
But what's the rush? I also see very attractive pricing in Europe for 2008 already.
How about a 10-night cruise on Crown Princess sailing from Copenhagan to Finland, Russia, Sweden, Estonia, Poland and Norway with prices as low as $1078 per person.
For those of you who may not know, here are the basics of European cruising. There are three major cruising areas; the Baltic Sea (please don't call it "the Baltics"), the Western Mediterranean, and the Eastern Mediterranean.
There are also other options, one is sailing the Atlantic Ocean between Portugal and Denmark, including the British Isles. The other alternative is river cruising, with dozens of high quality passenger vessels (not barges) sailing all of the major rivers from Spain to Russia; including the Seine, Rhine and Danube among many others.
The Baltic Sea is the northerly body of water that separates the Scandinavian nations from Europe. In the north you have Finland, Sweden, and Norway. On the south coast you have Denmark, Germany, Poland, The Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) and Russia.
The Western "Med" cruises may include "the Riviera" as in Barcelona, the resort Islands of Spain such as Ibiza and Majorca, St Tropez, Nice, Monte Carlo, the French and Italian islands and possibly parts of Italy. The Eastern "Med" covers Italy, Turkey, Athens, Crete and other Greek Islands and may extend as far east as Egypt.
In any case, the number of cruise passengers in Europe has been increasing between 10% to 15% every year for the last three years (including scheduled 2008 deployments), so it is a hot ticket. The farther you plan ahead, the better availability you have for your choice of sail dates, itineraries, staterooms and air carriers.
New SeaMiles Credit Card
And speaking of ways to plan ahead, you might want to take a look at the banner below for the new seamiles credit card. Unlike the previous card for Carnival Cruise Lines the points you accrue on this card can be applied to any cruise line and they have a specific cash value of $100 for every 10,000 points. There are no blackout dates and the points can go to any cruise you want. No annual fee, either.
The "New" Windstar Cruises - Part 2
The best and worst of the ship. Part two of our Windstar Wind Surf European cruise report.
The "New" Windstar Cruises
Now sailing under a new cruise line, it's as good as it ever -- and getting even better.
Norwegian Jewel - Updated Ship Review
Read a recently updated cruise ship review on one of NCL's finest Free-style ships: Norwegian Jewel
Ship Smoking Policies are Changing
Smoking Areas on Ships: Few and Far Between. Here's a look at how smoking policies are changing on a number of major cruise lines.
NEW YORK TIMES:
"Many sites that offer reviews are selling cruises, which raises questions about impartiality. An exceptions is CruiseMates."
"The Web's best site for articles, advice, or chatting with Cruise People. Self-financed and run independently of the industry, so their opinions are impartial"
John Heald Blogger Cruise
Carnival Freedom, January 19, 2008.
We have the best prices available, from $532 pp plus a $100 shipboard credit and CruiseMates cocktail party. Click in for details!
A 14-night transatlantic cruise.
April 2008, from Florida to the Caribbean then to Europe including the Canary Islands, Spain, Florence Italy and ending in Rome - starting as low as $699 per person. This one is filling up fast!
7 nights in the Eastern Caribbean.
Carnival Freedom, Thanksgiving, 2007.
Kiplinger's Magazine named CruiseMates to its
Top 25 Best Value Travel Sites for 2006
Cruisemates is the most useful cruise-review site. We especially like its advice columns, which are written for people of different ages and interests.