Is Cruising in Europe a Value?
I came across an article that said that a real misconception spreading across the Internet is that cruising in Europe is a value. I read this article
and must say that I totally disagree with the author’s view on this. First, I will say that I do sell cruises, do cruise and consider myself an independent traveler.(I just bicycled with my husband across the US this past summer. I hope that gives an idea of my level of independence and adventure.)
The author says that her article will incur hate mail, so perhaps she knew from the start that her opinions wouldn’t be popular and maybe that is because she was not comparing similar vacations. Since when is a cruise similar to renting a villa? I think that many travelers are intelligent enough to be able to fairly compare expenses and might see the flaws in her case against the value of cruising in Europe.
Starting in the first paragraph, Perrin says that there are cheaper ways to see Europe than on a cruise, but doesn’t really mention what they are. She goes on to say that the sightseeing experience from hotels is different than that from a cruise ship. I honestly don’t know what she means by this. I know that my sightseeing experience from either a hotel or cruise ship is different from fellow guests at the hotel or cruise ship.
Next she goes on to say that she rented a villa in Spain for a week that accommodates eight people for $2136. That came to $38 per person per night. Later, when someone comments on how crowded it might be, she says that there were really only four of them, so that makes the cost $76 per night.
Now, this rate was for May and June. Don’t you think that this is shoulder season and rates might be lower? And this was in Spain. Spain is one of the less expensive countries in Europe, so there is already more unfairness in her comparison. Here is a list of prices that Rick Steves put together to compare costs in different countries. If you read the article you will notice that he points out that prices can be less in the countryside, which I hazard to guess is where most villas are located.
Next in this article, Perrin describes a cruise mentioned in a Travel + Leisure article. She claims that this magazine and other publications are pandering to the cruise industry, very odd since if you continue reading this article, you will see that it also mentions renting apartments and villas as a good alternative for cutting costs in Europe. Cruising is simply one of several options.
Of course the referenced article does mention sailing on Crystal, a luxury cruise line, which as Perrin metions is $385 per person, per day. I would agree that the villa is a better option if this particular ship stayed in the same port for seven days. Doesn’t that make it a more fair comparison?
Another point that Perrin makes is that cruising doesn’t include the cost of sightseeing and that shore excursions are expensive. So, how much free sightseeing can you do from your rental villa? Don’t you need a rental car? Does it run on gas, which on a recent visit to the UK cost us $8 per gallon? How much will it cost to travel to the ports on the cruise that she was using as a comparison ( Athens to London, with stops in Sicily, Málaga, Seville, Lisbon, Oporto, and Bordeaux) ?
Perrin blasts the NY Times for saying that your dollar will go farther because you pay for your shore excursions and spa treatments in dollars rather than euros. She claims that since shore excursions are overpriced that this isn’t a bargain. Some of us are savvy enough to research and organize our own shore excursions. Even if the port isn’t right in town, we usually can find an economical way to reach the destination that costs much less than a shore excursion. She would pay a price if she hired a tour company with a similar itinerary as a shore excursion. We would also incur costs if we hired a tour company and paid them in euros. Her point is that there are additional costs incurred. According to her logic, if you stay at a villa, you would not pay for tours, spa services or other incidentals.
I don’t understand her extreme attacks on those she calls cruise propogandists just because she disagrees that cruising is a good way to save money in Europe. She claws at them for not mentioning that cruises only call on ports for eight hours and that passengers have limited time in each port. This isn’t unique to European cruises. All cruises, no matter the location, basically operate on the same time schedules. For some of us, cruising is the ideal way to see several different ports in a short amount of time. The ship travels at night, so daylight hours aren’t wasted traveling. I will admit that on our first trip to Europe we bought Eurail Passes. We wanted to see lots of Europe, so we visited a lot of towns and rarely spent eight hours in one town. We never slept on the trains or traveled overnight. Of course, this isn’t anything like living in Europe, but we wanted to get a taste of it. It was a giant tray of hors d’oeuvres. We could sample a lot and remember what we really liked and return to for an extended stay at a later date if we so desired. Isn’t that what we do when we cruise?
Her next attack is on the all-inclusiveness of a cruise. It is absolutely true that everything isn’t included and that when ashore, you might want to try the local cuisine, which costs money. Sounds like if you stay in the villa, you shop and cook everything yourself. Some people don’t want to cook on vacation. And even if you shop for food, do you know how to cook local dishes? Do you even know what they are?
Read through the comments on the original article. Something was mentioned about an NCL cruise and having to pay for cappucino. Well, on our recent NCL cruises, cappuccino was included for FREE at meals. No additional expense there.
I continue to believe that cruising in Europe is a good strategy to improve the value of the weak dollar.
Value involves more than just monetary issues. Although cost is always a concern, so is personal enjoyment.
Next time: A look at some cruise deals and cost comparisons with land vacations.