Prices in U.S. dollars mean cruise travelers get better deal on a Europe cruise
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Explore centuries-old destinations, appreciate different cultures and relish the splendid sights of Europe -- all in U.S. dollars. That's one of the primary perks of a European cruise.
Sure, the dollar is falling in value against the euro. But your airfare, accommodations, food and drink, entertainment and other onboard amenities all are charged in U.S. dollars. Even shore excursions are charged to your shipboard account in American money. Travelers can cruise the Caribbean year-round, but because of the weather, European sailings begin in late spring and barely reach into early fall. Options range from the sunny Mediterranean and the exotic St. Petersburg, Russia, to the rocky cliffs of Ireland. Because there's so much to see and do, European cruises tend to be longer -- 10 to 14 days on average. But shorter sailings still exist.
Here are some of the popular regions and ports.
Cruising the Mediterranean lives up to its exotic reputation.
Opt for a European experience onboard and ashore on the Italian Costa Cruise Lines. The modern fleet's ships exude lively Italian hospitality, but ship hosts all speak English.
To celebrate Costa's 60th anniversary, the line is offering up to 60 percent off brochure rates on select Mediterranean sailings on five ships. These fares range from $699 to $1,149 a person. Airfare from Indianapolis to the Rome airport, which is near one of the port cities, Civitavecchia, starts at around $1,000 for a round-trip flight including taxes and fees.
Sightseeing highlights include the Moorish Castle in Gibraltar, the rugged scenery of Corsica, the cradle of civilization in Greece, the vivid reds and yellows that paint Spain, the two souls -- Greek and Turkish -- of Cyprus and France's unendingly picturesque sophistication.
Beginning in May, Cunard's regal Queen Elizabeth 2 plans seven Mediterranean itineraries, varying from 10 to 16 days. All voyages sail round-trip from Southampton, England. A 15-day Mediterranean Odyssey docks in Lisbon, Sardinia, Naples/Capri, Messina, Dubrovnik, Zakinthos, Athens, Gibraltar and Vigo, with pricing from $2,495.
Bask in ultimate pampering aboard the award-winning luxury line Crystal. Special fare savings on the Serenity begin at $3,440, but keep in mind that this is a true upscale cruise.
Take advantage of elegantly appointed staterooms, butler service, complimentary bottled water, soft drinks and specialty coffees, and high-end amenities such as Frette bathrobes.
Especially for those who remember the Cold War, having your feet firmly planted on the square in St. Petersburg, Russia, or in old town Tallinn, Estonia, can be exhilarating.
Making its debut in May with Mediterranean sailings, Carnival's Splendor heads to Northern Europe in July. This marks the first time a Carnival floating resort has plied the waters of the North Sea and the Baltic.
On these 12-day sailings, travel round-trip from London to Copenhagen, Warnemunde (Berlin), Helsinki, Tallinn and Amsterdam, and spend two days in St. Petersburg.
Pick a shore excursion that takes you to Anne Frank's House in Amsterdam or to the windmills and Dutch countryside. In Copenhagen, kayak the canals or stroll Tivoli Gardens.
The enchanting city of St. Petersburg wows with a White Nights Neva River cruise, folkloric performance or a walkabout in the Hermitage, one of the world's premier art museums.
Splendor sailings run from an ocean-view cabin for $1,849 to a balcony spa stateroom at $2,499 per person. Third and fourth guests cost an additional $799 each.
If you'd rather test the waters with a shorter cruise, check out Royal Caribbean's four-nighter, which departs Amsterdam and sails to Copenhagen and Oslo. Terrific savings on the mid-sized Jewel of the Sea can be found starting at $249 for an interior cabin and up to $849 for a deluxe stateroom.
Round-trip flights from Indianapolis to Amsterdam begin at around $1,290, including taxes and fees.
The United Kingdom
Hear an Irish lilt, Scottish brogue or impeccable English accent as you tour the British Isles. Amble down the steep hill from Edinburgh Castle to Old Town, visit literary sites in Dublin, traipse the massive stones at Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland, or look for that real or imagined monster in Loch Ness.
This summer, Celebrity's Century goes round-trip from Amsterdam to Kirkwall and Inverness, Scotland, the Channel Islands and Norway. An ocean-view stateroom begins at $1,697 and a suite at $3,399. The Century's other nine- and 12-day sailings journey to Cork, Dublin, Belfast, Edinburgh, Inverness and St. Peter Port (Guernsey). Inside cabins run $1,599 and a veranda, $2,799. Many cruises sail from Southampton, England, for which round-trip tickets from Indianapolis cost around $1,700, including taxes and fees.