Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Europe: wait till fall for bargains?

This is the third in a four-part series on finding bargain destinations for 2007. Demand has risen faster for European cruises than any other destination this year.

The Mediterranean, the Adriatic, the Baltic, and river cruising throughout Europe have all ballooned in popularity over the past few years, and last-minute bargains and cut-rate deals for this summer in Europe are much tougher to find.

But, if you're willing to wait till this fall -- after the summer high season (but when the weather can still be very pleasant) -- you can find some excellent deals.

Most important, keep in mind that cruising may be the most economical way of seeing Europe these days, short of donning a backpack.

The key is that when you book a cruise in the U.S., you can pay in dollars. But when you travel by land through most countries in Europe, you have to change your dollars into euros -- and right now, the dollar is getting clobbered by the euro in exchange rates. (One dollar will only get you .72 Euros, while one Euro is worth 1.38 dollars.) So Europe -- which is already a very expensive destination -- has become much more so for Americans.

Unless, that is, you go by cruise ship and pre-pay most of your expenses in dollars. Yes, the initial cruise rates will be higher for Europe than they are for the Caribbean or Hawaii. But if the Continent is on your agenda this year, cruising is the way to see it -- without having to mortgage your house before you go.

Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

No comments: