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Cruise lines expect a record season in Europe

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) announced today that the 2007 Europe cruise season will be bigger and better than ever. The organization cites the increased number of ships in the region, the diversity of itineraries and ports-of-call, and a lengthened cruising season as the reasons for the boom.

This year, ships will continue to visit popular European destinations like London, Florence, and Rome. However, cruise lines are also adding calls in new regions for the industry, such as Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast, Italy’s Puglia region, the Greek Isles, and the coast of Turkey.

Other innovations consist of longer sailing seasons, including nine-month and year-round deployments, and more overnight stays in port. Shore excursion options are expanding to allow for more active tours.

Wonder why this record-breaking season is occurring now? Just look at the value of the dollar compared to the euro or pound. Cruise passengers, who pay for transportation, accommodations, meals, and entertainment in dollars, can visit Europe without suffering from the exchange rate. Americans are less fearful of flying than they were right after 9/11, and have become less interested in Caribbean cruises. This combination of events and attitudes is a winning one for the cruise line’s Europe itineraries.

The upshot of Europe’s growing popularity is that you need to book your cruise as early as possible. If you want to sail this year, time is running out quickly. If you want to cruise next year, now’s the time to book as well. The new ships launching in Europe throughout 2007 may still not be enough to serve every traveler who wants to cruise across the pond.

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