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As the competition in Europe among river cruise lines becomes fierce, a whirlwind of cruise bargains are popping up, and they’re bringing down the price tag on 2011 itineraries to little more than some of the latest mega-cruise ships. Free airfare giveaways, reduced rates, and all-inclusive pricing are just a few reasons to make the switch to river cruising. Perhaps the best part of these intimate ships is that you’ll never have to stand in long lines at the breakfast buffet with thousands of hungry passengers, or stake out the packed pool deck for a lounge chair to become available. Here’s a sampling of a few early-bird specials:
As another newcomer to the industry, Avalon Waterways already has several prestigious awards under its belt, including Travel Weekly’s Magellan Awards and our own Smart Luxury Awards. Plan ahead and save $1,500/couple on a number of 2011 itineraries like the 13-day Blue Danube to the Black Sea, or two peak-summer departures of the Windmills, Vineyards, and Paris cruise. To receive the maximum savings ($750/person) you must book the air-inclusive cruise fare by August 31. Non-air inclusive savings total $500/person.
This river cruise veteran unveiling a grand total of 29 European itineraries in 2011, and while nearly every one of them has a promotion attached, you’ll save an incredible $1,200/person on four lengthy cruises (27-31 days) including two that are brand new to 2011 – the Grand European River Voyage and the Grand European Odyssey. If you can’t take that much time off of work, many shorter cruises are also reduced up to $1000/person (depending on length). Book by October 31.
Flights to Europe will set you back around $1,100 during the summer months, which makes Scenic Tours’ free airfare promotion so tempting. Several popular itineraries are included in this promotion such as the Romantic Rhine and Moselle which coasts from Amsterdam to Basel, or the Jewels of Europe voyage from Amsterdam to Budapest. Plus, on each ship, two full decks are lined with bona fide balcony cabins (many others feature French balconies – which just lead to a railing) so you won’t miss a minute of the scenery. Book a 2011 cruise by October 31 to take advantage of this offer. Airfare taxes are not included.
The well-established Viking River Cruises is extending its 2010 promotion to 2011. Brochure rates have been slashed by 50 percent, plus receive up to $400/person on airfare and enjoy complimentary wine with dinner. Applicable cruises range from classic 7-night sailings along the Danube on the newest ship, the Viking Legend, to the two-week Grand European Tour which calls in six European nations from April-November.