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European Cruise Deals

European itineraries are best separated into two large categories: Northern, and Mediterranean. The obvious difference is temperature, and what that means in terms of outdoor activities while on board. High season Mediterranean cruises offer weather suited for sun-tanning and sitting outside. The beginning and end of the Med season will bring cooler temperatures, and less tanning weather, but still comfortable for enjoying Spring and Fall outdoor weather. Northern Cruises of the Baltic Sea (Scandanavia and Russia) , Norwegian Fjords, Arctic Circle, and British Isles, will bring layers of clothing, and little or no outdoor activity. Because of this difference, pay special attention to the ports of call for northern european cruises, as they are the main highlight of the cruise. Grand Europe cruises sometimes combine both elements of Northern and Med cruises, by combining it with a voyage around the Iberian Peninsula and along the coast of France. These cruises tend to be longer in duration. Mediterranean cruises typically can be subdivided into Eastern and Western Med. Western often begins in Barcelona or Italy, cruising along the French and Italian Riviera, and visiting some of the Balenaric Islands. Eastern often begins in Italy, cruising throughout the Agean and Adriatic, calling on the Greek Islands, and often combining either Turkey, or Israel and Egypt. Longer combinations are possible, including the Grand Mediterranean, which basically gives you the whole enchilada. Look carefully at any Med cruise that purports to go everywhere in ten or eleven days. Often these cruises are a bit superficial; it is really best to see the Mediterranean in two iterations as there is so much to see.

Cruising Europe seems expensive, and the sticker shock often scares away potential clients that will often spend just as much money (or more) on a land tour, or an independent (Car Rental and Bed and Breakfast) vacation. It is best to take the cost of the cruise, and break it down into a "per diem". Simply put, divide the total cruise cost by the number of days, and evaluate the daily cost. How much would you pay for four and five star accommodation in city centres (where your ship often docks)? Add in the cost of meals, and remember to compare the quality of those meals to cruise fare, and remember that Europe is ridiculously expensive in these areas. Factor in car rentals, taxes, insurance, gasoline, and parking if you are going to rent a car. Airport transfers, tour escort tips, meals not included in tours, and the premiums charged on beverages in European cities are often forgotten costs on coach tours. If you truly look at the full cost of a European vacation of similar quality, cruising is suddenly more affordable than you may have thought. The additional advantages of having the facilities and entertainment on board, the lack of packing and unpacking, no driving, and outstanding quality and cleanliness are other big advantages. The disadvantages of less freedom to change one’s itinerary, or "go at your own pace" are more than offset by the number and diversity of the ports of call.

Transatlantic crossings offer unbelievable value when viewed from a per diem cost – lower than almost any holiday you can imagine. Heading from North America or the Caribbean to Europe in April, and back again in November, these longer duration cruises are popular with repeat cruisers who have the time. A few ports of call are worked into the itinerary at either end, but inevitably, the cruise has several days at sea in a row. While this sailing is not as calm as a Caribbean or Alaska cruisse, most transatlantic crossings take the southern route, where seas are not nearly as rough as the shorter North Atlantic crossings made by transportation ships decades ago. The cruise lines have a lot of trouble selling these sailings, also because of the awkwardness of the airfare, and they often turn them into theme cruises of some kind (comedy, jazz, big band). The duration of these cruises attract an older clientele, and the pace on board is far slower than any other cruise. If you are planning a longer trip to Europe, or if you are simply visiting relatives overseas, what a great way to get there! If you have the time, this is an experience you should try; the money is certainly not an obstacle.