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Deal watch: 7-night Europe cruises selling for less than $200 as lines struggle to fill ships

Nov. 08, 2022
5 min read
MSC Fantasia
Deal watch: 7-night Europe cruises selling for less than $200 as lines struggle to fill ships
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Have you always wanted to cruise in Europe? If you can get yourself there on short notice, this could be the time to do it.

With demand for fall cruises in Europe weaker than expected, one major cruise line has dropped fares for soon-to-depart sailings to stunningly low rates to increase bookings, while a second line also is offering notably low fares.

As of Monday, Europe-based MSC Cruises was offering soon-to-depart, seven-night fall voyages in Europe for as little as $180 — or less than $26 a day. Rival Costa Cruises was offering seven-night fall voyages in Europe for as little as $449 — about $64 a day.

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The deeply discounted fall cruises include:

  • A seven-night MSC Virtuosa round-trip sailing out of Hamburg, Germany, to Amsterdam; Zeebrugge, Belgium (the port for Bruges); Le Havre, France; and Southampton, England, departing Nov. 14 starting at $180 — about $26 a day. Departures on Nov. 27 and Dec. 11 start at $249 and $419, respectively. Passengers can also embark and disembark for the same sailings in Le Havre or Southampton for the same price.
  • Seven-night MSC Fantasia round-trip sailings out of Naples, Italy, to Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Marseille, France; and Genoa and La Spezia, Italy, departing Nov. 15, Nov. 22, Nov. 29, Dec. 6 and Dec. 13 starting at $189 — $27 a day. Passengers can also embark and disembark in any of the other ports in the itinerary at the same price.
  • A seven-night MSC Bellissima sailing out of Valencia, Spain, to Barcelona with stops at Palma de Mallorca, Genoa, La Spezia and Naples, departing Nov. 12 starting at $199 — about $28 a day.
  • A seven-night Costa Deliziosa round-trip sailing out of Trieste, Italy, with stops at Split, Croatia; Kotor, Montenegro; Katakolon and Piraeus (the port for Athens), Greece; and Bari, Italy, departing Dec. 10 starting at $449 — about $64 a day.

Costa on Monday was also selling a six-night Costa Deliziosa round-trip sailing out of Trieste with stops at Split, Kotor, Katakolon and Bari departing Dec. 17 starting at $399 — about $67 a day.

All the deeply discounted fares above are only available for the lowest-category cabins on each of the ships, which all are windowless "interior" cabins. However, the lines are offering notably low rates on ocean-view and balcony cabins on the ships, too.

Related: 6 ways to get a deal on a cruise

Ocean-view cabins (that is, cabins with a window) on the seven-night MSC Virtuosa cruise departing Nov. 14 were listed on MSC Cruises' website Monday for $360 — just $180 more than a windowless cabin. Balcony cabins on the sailing were listed for $560. That works out to about $80 a day for a balcony cabin.

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In addition, all the fares are per-person base rates that include accommodations, meals and entertainment; fares don't include port taxes and fees, which range from $140 to $150. Cruise lines typically advertise their fares without port taxes and fees included but add these costs to final bills at the time of checkout.

Europe sailings on MSC Fantasia are available this fall at just $27 a day. MSC CRUISES

Perhaps more significantly for a U.S.-based customer, the fares don't include the cost of flights from North America to Europe to reach the ship. That said, Americans looking to take advantage of the deals on short notice might be able to use miles and points to reach Europe.

As is typical with cruise ship pricing, the per-person fares are "based on double occupancy," which means they are available only to passengers when booking two people in a cabin. Customers who want to have a cabin to themselves will pay more.

Passengers who book many of the lowest fares available also will pay extra for things like alcoholic drinks, Wi-Fi and service charges while on the cruises.

Deal alert: This single Amex offer could cover half the cost of your Royal Caribbean cruise

Still, even with such extra charges, the cost of the above cruises is notably low when compared to the sharply rising cost of staying in a resort or hotel on land. Cruise pricing this year has fallen significantly behind pricing for lodging on land, with some industry watchers saying the differential is now in excess of 30%.

The low rates for fall cruises in Europe come as cruise lines struggle to fill ships in the region. Some Europeans — the main market for European cruises at this time of year — have cut back on spending amid worries about fuel shortages for the coming winter, high inflation, rising interest rates and slowing economic growth.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

Featured image by IVAN SARFATTI/MSC CRUISES
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

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4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
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  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

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    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
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  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees