More Bang for the Buck
Photo courtesy of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection.
If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to book that vacation you have been thinking about. As I write this column, the U.S. dollar continues to strengthen against global currencies, meaning that travelers can now buy more for their dollars in destinations across the globe.
In particular, the current strength of the dollar is a boon for Europe-bound travelers because Americans are seeing the most favorable exchange rates in more than a decade. According to active members of the U.S. Tour Operators (USTOA), the dollar’s strength is indeed prompting U.S. travelers to book more European vacations. Many have expanded already robust tour programs to meet growing demand and/or provide special value offers.
USTOA tour operators provide unparalleled access to the local culture and customs of European destinations. Tour and travel prices are negotiated a year or more in advance to lock in savings and protect travelers against rising costs, and once in Europe, the current exchange rate means that traveler’s dollars will go even further for shopping and additional excursions. Here’s a sampling of European itineraries from USTOA members, many of which are new, where travelers can take advantage of the rising strength of the dollar:
This operator has recently added 12 new itineraries to Europe and is now traveling to nearly every single country on the continent. On the 10-day “Dalmatian Elegance” journey to Croatia, guests can sample wines at a local winery in Korcula, enjoy a typical village feast of Croatian delicacies in Kuna, and ride a cable car to the summit of Srd Mountain to enjoy scenic views over the famous fortifications in Dubrovnik. The program, which has multiple departure dates May through October 2015, starts at $2,566 per person based on double occupancy. Early payment discounts are available.
Cox & Kings:
This company has made it easy to tailor the perfect European vacation with its new Spotlight Journeys, a collection of immersive, single-destination four-day/three-night itineraries to popular European cities. Journeys start at $750 per person and can be easily combined to create a longer, multicity trips. The “Italy-Florence, Bernini Palace” journey, for instance, includes three nights in the heart of Florence, breakfast daily and a half-day sightseeing tour with a local guide.
Travelers can take particular advantage of the stronger U.S. dollar on the new “Glacial Wonders of the South Coast” itinerary from Avanti Destinations. This four-day foreign independent tour includes two nights in Reykjavik, one night in Vik, a Solheimajokull glacier hike and a Myrdalsjokull glacier snowmobile excursion. The program is priced at $759 per person, double occupancy, land only.
SITA World Tours:
This operator recently launched a new Europe product line, Europe Value Tours. On the seven-day “The Great Wine Regions of France-Champagne, Burgundy and The Rhône Valley” guests can learn how bubbly wine is produced at a family run champagne house, discover regional wines from local experts, and explore the eateries and boutiques in charming, historic towns. The program costs from $3,615 per person, double.
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection:
In addition to launching a new super ship, S.S. Maria Theresa in 2015, Uniworld has added a handful of new European itineraries, including the 12-night “Jewels of Spain, Portugal and the Douro.” Guests will visit a number of cities, see a flamenco show in Madrid, meet winemakers who run picturesque quintas and taste Lisbon’s famous local dessert, pastéis de Belém, a custard pastry. Available April 2015 through July 2016, the river cruise is priced from $5,299 per person double occupancy.
Guests can save up to $2,000 per cabin on Collette’s “Legendary Waterways of Europe,” a 16-day itinerary departing May 1 or May 15, 2015. While cruising along the waters of the Rhine, Moselle, Main and Danube, guests will visit Holland, Germany, Austria, Hungary and Slovakia. Local highlights include a Dutch folklore show, exploring the market in Miltenberg and learning about Vienna’s imperial architecture, from Hofburg Palace to the Vienna Opera House, from an expert. Prices start at $4,049 per person, double, land only.
For more information on our members and their products, visit www.ustoa.com.
More by Terry Dale
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A version of this article appears in print in the April 2015 issue of Vacation Agent Magazine.
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