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Undoubtedly, cruisers used to bargain-basement fares on mass-market mega-ship cruises to Mexico or the Caribbean might experience some initial sticker shock when first considering a European river cruise vacation. Granted, sailing the storied waterways of the European heartland – from Lorelei’s Rhine to Strauss’s Blue Danube – does indeed require a bit more of an upfront investment (7-night sailings average high-season rates of around $3,000), but when breaking down the rates in more detail, these intimate trips (rarely carrying more than 200 guests) actually deliver some terrifically comprehensive value.
Most European river cruise lines offer a nearly all-inclusive vacation, meaning that along with cruising’s standard inclusions of room and full board, transportation from place to place, and onboard entertainment and lectures (though expect considerably less bells and whistles in this department than you’d find on the big ships), you’ll typically also get guided shore excursions, ground transfers, select beverages (including wine and beer), onboard Wi-Fi, and sometimes, even gratuities bundled into the rates. And anyone who’s been on an ocean-going vessel knows that those shore excursions and frothy cocktails can really add up fast.
Read on for five great tips for saving money on a European river cruise vacation, followed up by some exceptional cruise deals that are just ripe for the pickin’. Read more
We’ve just dug up a tempting cruise deal for select European river sailings in 2012 aboard luxe Avalon Waterways. Book via Premier River Cruises by November 25, and nab comped rates on second passenger fares when paying full fare for the first passenger. This limited-time offer is valid on select 7- to 14-night cruises, like the 7-night Paris & Normandy sailing, with rates starting as low as $2,098 for two people – working out to just $1,049 per person. Other available sale fares include $2,490 for two ($1,249 per person) for the 7-night Burgundy & Provence sailing, or $2,598 for two ($1,299 per person) for the 7-night Danube River cruise. (Note that taxes and fees are additional, and are applicable for the promotional fare, as well.) What’s more, guests participating in this promotion will also receive up to $250 inshipboard credit, valid for redemption for onboard purchases at the spa, gift shop, and more. Read more
When I stepped aboard the bite-sized Avalon Panorama, I had no idea what to expect from a ship built to navigate a quarter-mile-wide waterway. The 166-passenger and 47-crewmember cruiser (the ninth Avalon Waterways vessel to be inaugurated into the European river cruise fleet since 2006; two more are in the pipeline for 2012) sailed a five-night christening voyage from Frankfurt to Amsterdam on May 13 and docked at historic countryside and city ports on the Main, Rhine, and Mosel rivers.
Designed more like a floating hotel than a cruise ship – a characteristic of river vessels – the 443-foot-long Panorama is short enough for passengers to walk from the self-serve beverage station at the back to the outside viewing deck at the bow in less than five minutes. This ship trades commercial ocean liner facilities like casinos, theaters, and climbing walls for truly exclusive touches, such as floor-to-ceiling windows in public spaces and suites, insightful local tour guides, and the Silent Drive System for soundless cruising, so you can enjoy the rolling riverside without the background hum of a motor – at unexpectedly affordable prices.
Located about two hours east of congested Los Angeles, the recently-renovated Holiday Inn Resort – Palm Springs is offering ShermansTravel.com readers an exclusive deal that will have them enjoying the greens while saving some green. Valid until April 1, 2010, the Sherman’s Legend package is $154, and this price point includes a one-night stay at the resort (rates usually are $199/night), and one round of golf, which is valued at $75 dollars. In addition, ShermansTravel.com readers will receive one sleeve of Titleist Pro V 1 golf balls, a free rental of Cobra clubs, as well as breakfast and lunch.
To book this exclusive deal, call 1-760-323-1711 and mention ShermansTravel.com.
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