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European cruises to remain popular in 2013
Published Wednesday, January 2, 2013 3:00 pm
by Michaela L. Duckett

 European cruises are expected to remain popular travel destinations in 2013, but options may be more limited than they were in 2012.

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European cruises will remain a hot ticket item for 2013. Mann Travels and Cruises President Gary Silverstein said now is the time book your vacation before it's too late.

“Already, 2013 is shaping to be a banner year for European travel,” said Barry Liben, CEO of Travel Leaders Group. “Mediterranean cruises landed in our top three for the first time ever and European river cruising is the ultimate ‘hot ticket’ – in just two years it has jumped 13 places to the eighth most booked international destination in our survey.”

 TLG released its annual Travel Trends Survey in December. According to the survey, three of the top five travel destinations for the year and half of the top ten international destinations are European.

 “There is a lot of interest in going to Europe,” said Gary Silverstein, president of Mann Travel and Cruises. “But there won’t be as many choices, especially in the Eastern Mediterranean.”

 Silverstein said fewer ships are traveling the Eastern Mediterranean due to turbulence and violence in the region.

 “Even though 99.9 percent of the time it is safe, people just don’t want to take the chance,” he said.

 Silverstein said ships are still traveling out of Western Europe with Barcelona, Monte Carlo, Florence and Rome all being popular starting points.

 River cruising, also referred to as ocean cruising and blue water cruising, are smaller cruises on ships with 180 people or less.

 “It’s a relaxing way to travel,” Silverstein said. “It’s getting to be more popular. All of your major cities of Europe are on rivers, not on the inland.”

Silverstein said the spring is an ideal time to take a river cruise through Amsterdam to the tulip fields during tulip season.

A river cruise can run about $2,000 per person, whereas a regular cruise can cost about $1,500. Silverstein said airfare can often be more expensive than the cruise.

“There is just no cheap air to Europe,” he said.

Silverstein said other popular options for travel and cruising in 2013 are Mexico, Jamaica and Alaska. He said travel to South America is picking up with a growing interest in visiting the ruins in Peru.

“There is some neat stuff down there,” said Silverstein.

Looking for somewhere exotic and off the beaten path? Silverstein suggests the snowcapped mountains of Chile.

“It’s picking up in popularity, but it’s not slammed with tourism like some places can be,” he said.

Travel tips:

1. Plan now. “Cruises are already getting booked up through February,” Silverstein said. “A lot of the nicer ships are selling out, but it’s not too late. Now is the time for booking for the spring, summer and fall.”

He recommends that you book your cruise as soon as you decide the dates you want to travel. You don’t have to pay for the cruise in full when booking, but may need to only make a deposit.

2. Buy trip cancellation insurance. “You don’t know what is going to happen,” said Silverstein. “A family member could get sick and leave you unable to go on a trip, or you can get sick while you are traveling and have to cancel the remainder of your trip.”

Trip cancellation insurance will cover you if you have to cancel any part of your trip. If there is an emergency, it will cover the cost to get you back home, any medical expenses and reimburse you for any portion of the trip you missed.

3. Use a travel agent. Usually there is no additional cost. Most travel agents are compensated by hotels, air carriers and the like.

“Some of the smaller companies don’t pay us so we have to charge a small fee,” said Silverstein. “But in most cases there is no fee. If you are planning a cruise there is no fee.”

An added bonus of having an agent is that if you arrive and find that the hotel you booked has misrepresented itself or for some reason is unsatisfactory, you have someone to go to bat for you.

Silverstein recalled when he had a client go out of the country for his honeymoon. When he arrived at the hotel with his bride, he found the doors locked. There had been a dispute earlier that day with the staff.

“I got him a better room at a nicer hotel next door at no charge,” Silverstein said.



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