We are on the brink of the summer travel season, best known as the Summer of the Strong Dollar. For the first time in many years, American vacationers are enjoying an edge--a definite edge--in the costs they encounter in locations ranging from Europe to Japan to South America. To Europe especially, and despite sporadic reports that the European economy is improving, the European currency--the Euro--continues to trade at the low end of its recent range, from $1.05 to $1.06 per Euro. And thus the Old World has become measurably cheaper for persons having U.S. dollars to exchange.
We are also approaching the Summer of Mediterranean Cruising. In addition to the many normal cruiseships sailing from Barcelona, Rome and Venice to all the storied sights of that historic sea, Royal Caribbean Cruises has suddenly dumped another 10,000 berths a week on the supply of Mediterranean sailings, by assigning not simply its mammoth, new, 5,500-passenger Harmony of the Seas, but also its mammoth, new, 4,500-passenger Anthem of the Seas to Mediterranean itineraries throughout the summer and early fall. There will thus be plenty of space (at fairly low rates) for persons deciding that they can best enjoy Europe from the decks of a modern cruiseship.
And though airfare will not be low, they will be slightly cheaper than was earlier feared, mainly because the strong dollar has persuaded many Europeans that they can no longer afford to cross the Atlantic to the United States, thus freeing up a great many seats for travel in the opposite direction. One particular bargain will be on a small, but well-established, Italian carrier know as Meridiana, which will be operating many non-stop flights between New York and Palermo, Sicily, for as little as $548 round-trip. Though not all of of Meridiana's summer dates are priced that low, enough are to create a real opportunity for smart tourists who have heard of the delights of a Sicilian vacation starting in Palermo and going completely around the island (usually by self-drive car) to Agrigento, Siracusa and Taormina before returning to Palermo and home. Contact any reputable discounter like Kayak, Momondo, or Expedia, to learn about the dates when a remarkable trans-Atlantic airfare is available on Meridiana.
Finally, although the nation of Egypt is certainly not within Europe, a small but increasing number of Americans are using the occasion ot their European trip to tack on a side excursion to that key middle eastern country. In a recent article entitled "Tourists are Trickling Back to Egypt", a well-kinown travel writer for the Washington Post, Andrea Sachs, has made the point that with certain fairly obvious precautions (stay away from the Sinai and from most Red Sea ports, stay away from political demonstations and other hot spots), Egypt, she says, is today reasonably safe for tourism. She talks about the enthusiasm with which ordinary Egyptians greet western tourists, about the lack of lines and crowds at famed Egyptian attractions, about the ultra-low prices of Egyptian rooms, meals and sightseeing,, and altogether constructs quite a case for cautious trips to Egypt. (You may well disagree, and confine your trip to the continent of Western Europe).