With some three feet of snow piling up outside my front door in Ohio, an email from Cruise Lines International caught my eye: Cruises are on sale, with discounts deeper than my swirling snow.
The reason: The U.S. economy is awful, but the world's cruise ships are still sailing.
Every cruise line wants to leave the dock with vacationers sleeping in each cabin. So prices tend to keep coming down until all cabins are sold. CLICK for list of cruise line discounts.
"Ships will cruise, and ships will cruise full," says Rick Sasso, president of MSC Cruises (USA).
MSC is the largest cruise line you may never have heard of. It's one of the fastest growing lines in the world, concentrating a majority of cruises in Europe, but also with two ships this winter in the Caribbean, the MSC Orchestra and MSC Lirica.
Left is the Savannah Bar on the MSC Orchestra.
MSC's fleet is mostly new ships; the newest, Fantasia, debuted in December (2008) in Italy.
Ever the optimist, Sasso sees the bad economy as an opportunity to add passengers who have never cruised. In difficult times, people vacation where they get the best value for their money, he said.
"People still want to go to Europe," said Sasso, in his Fort Lauderdale, Fla. office. "You can do a European holiday for half the price of a comparable vacation on land. And land prices in Europe are not coming down."
The best bang for your buck this winter, says Sasso, is a cruise on the Mediterranean Sea. The air fare is cheaper than in summer, the cruise is cheaper and the ports are less crowded.
"Don't worry about the weather," he said. "Bring a sweater. You didn't go to Europe to go to the beach anyway."
For a free subscription to Travel Maven, type your email address in the box at left, or click upper right to add an RSS feed.
Molyneaux is editor of TravelMavens.net. CLICK for articles on cruising, golf, Florida, Europe, adventure and travel gear and gadgets.