Forget Backpacking — This Is The Way To See Europe


Does a case of cabin fever have you wanting to leave the country? Now may be the perfect time to book a trip for the spring. While the off-season allows you to take advantage of deals ranging from warm-weather getaways to adventures in Europe, consider jumping on a great cruise deal for easy planning and plenty of bang for your buck.

"In the travel industry, January through March is known as 'wave season,'" explains Calvin Iverson, travel expert at TravelPirates. "During wave season, you can snag a deal by purchasing for off-peak cruise periods: January-March (last-minute cruises) and September-October (hurricane season). Cruise lines drop their prices during these periods in an effort to attract more customers."

If you've never taken a cruise before, the idea can be daunting; after all, nothing could be worse than being stranded in the ocean and wanting to jump ship. But Chris Gray Faust, Managing Editor at Cruise Critic (the perfect place to view ratings, pros, cons, and more), promises that as long as you do your due diligence, you'll be just fine.

"It’s my genuine belief that there is a cruise out there for every type of traveler," she explains. "The secret is doing your research to make sure that you're on the right cruise line and right ship for you and anyone sailing with you." For instance, she says, "If you’re looking for a bustling nightlife onboard – with an array of restaurants, bars and Broadway-caliber shows – you’ll want to look for a bigger cruise line with large ships that have lots of choices. Lines like Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Celebrity would all be a great fit. But if you’re looking for a more low-key trip where the destinations are more the draw, look to smaller lines where the emphasis is on immersive land experiences, fabulous gourmet cuisine or education."

Ahead, check out some of the best cruise deals available right now. Whether you're craving the Caribbean sun, some European culture, or a taste of the Mediterranean, get ready to set sail.

5-Night Belize & Mexico Cruise || $349 Per Person

Yes, you can book a cruise and stay on budget with this TravelPirates pick that includes meals, entertainment, activities, and 10 percent off excursions. Set sail from Miami aboard the Norwegian Dawn (Cruise Critic review), and make stops in Harvest Caye, Belize and Costa Maya, Mexico. There, you'll be surrounded by lush vegetation, coral reefs, and crystal-clear waters. While en route, there's also plenty of fun to be had with an onboard spa, pools, casino, theater, bars, and more, plus over a dozen restaurants to choose from.

You can score interior room tickets for trips leaving on April 21 or 26 at $349 per person; head out on the 12th, and it's just $30 more. While taxes and fees tack on another $287 for two passengers, you'll still enjoy a week's vacation for two for under $1,000.

12-Night Cruise To Portugal, Belgium, France & England || $599 Per Person

This 12-night tour may be the easiest, most affordable way to visit several countries in Europe. Departing from New York City, the Norwegian Getaway (Cruise Critic review) makes stops in Portugal, Belgium, France, and England. You can purchase tickets for $599 per person if you book an interior room from an adventure that begins on April 27. Additional taxes and fees for both cruisers will add up to around $349, but meals, select beverages, entertainment, and a $25 on-board credit are included in the price. One caveat, though: The trip ends in England, so you'll have to buy a one-way ticket home.

While you're at sea, there's plenty to do. If you're up for a thrill, try the rock climbing wall, or test your luck at the onboard casino. If relaxing is more your style, check out the spa for massages, facials, acupuncture, and more.

7-Day Western Caribbean Cruise || $579 Per Person

Get on island time aboard the Holland America's Oosterdam (Cruise Critic review). As it happens, this line was the Cruise Critics' pick for the Best Cruise Line For Value in the ocean category. It sets sail from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and during the cruise, you'll make stops in the Bahamas, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and Mexico. At each port, guests have lots of excursions to choose from, starting on day one with activities like an everglades airboat ride. While on the ship, Cruise Critics editors say, “Cruisers get their money's worth on a Holland America cruise, from the included dining — guided by an award-winning Culinary Council — to the line's excellent service, but it's the plethora of included evening entertainment where the line's value really shines"

Book an obstructed view room for $579 per person, plus an extra $300 in taxes and fees for two. Prices include several meal and activity options, and more choices are available at an additional cost. If this package sounds like a dream come true, book now — these prices are effective on a cruise departing February 9!

3-Night Bahamas Cruise || $249 Per Person

Short on time? Check out this Royal Caribbean option, which spans over a long weekend. The Enchantment of the Seas ( Cruise Critic review) disembarks from Brevard County, Florida and make stops at Nassau and CocoCay in the Bahamas. Onboard meals and entertainment, like shows, bars, and comedy clubs, are included in the ticket price. You can also opt for add-ons like spa services or dining at the ship's specialty restaurants. One thing to note: WiFi will also cost extra, but this is the perfect excuse to stay "unplugged" for a few days.

If your calendar is free April 19 - 22, you can book an interior room for as little as $249 per person, plus taxes and fees that total around $166 for two. Still, this equates to a fairly inexpensive getaway, especially if you're itching to leave the country.

19-Night Mediterranean Cruise || $1,089 Per Person

Score a two-and-a-half week Mediterranean vacation for two without breaking the bank on this MSC cruise. The elegant MSC Divina ( Cruise Critic review) departs from Miami, Florida and sets sail for New York, Bermuda, Portugal, Spain, and France. While in each city, you'll have the option to book excursions like city tours, snorkeling, food and wine tastings, and more. Onboard, you'll stay entertained with a theater, casino, spa, restaurants, and more.

Book an interior room for the cruise leaving March 14, and a trip for two will cost you under $3,000 including taxes and fees. Choose the basic Bella package, which includes some meals and entertainment, if you want to stay on-budget. You can also pick higher-tiered packages (at an additional cost per person) for more options.