Budget

Budget Europe 2008

by Ralph Martin

CRUISE CONTROL

Flying may be faster, but a cruise across the Mediterranean captures a far more glamorous age, and you're paying in dollars for food and accommodation, no matter which port you're in. Cruising Europe is on the rise—up 42 percent in two years—driven partly by the ability for travelers to control expenses in advance, so even if the greenback keeps on sinking, cruisers have hedged their bets. Of course, this means less indulgence in on-shore food and drink, but the trick is picking the right vessel. The Western Mediterranean region contains its share of Europe's greatest hits (Barcelona, Cannes, Florence, Naples), accessible on big ships like Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas. Size does matter—megaships like those on the Carnival and Disney lines can only stop in megaports like Rome's Civitavecchia, which is two hours from the city itself. For those leery of the floating-mall feeling, the big yachts of Sea Dream Yacht Club (from $5,599 per person per week—pricey, but a fraction of what the five-star experience costs on land these days) and Star Clippers' tall ships (from $2,095 per person per week) offer intimate scale and visit islands that hurried travelers often bypass, such as Corsica and Menorca, and famous seaside villages like Portofino (pictured). Just make sure that your cruise line is based in America; European lines lose the dollar advantage.

Royal Caribbean
Tel: 866 562 7625

Sea Dream Yacht Club
Tel: 800 707 4911

Star Clippers
Tel: 800 442 0551

NEXT: Hear the world's finest musicians—for a song

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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