Q. My husband and I overheard a conversation at a party about taking a cruise in Europe, which we've never done before. The couple speaking were bragging that they found an airfare-included one-week luxury cruise for $2200 per person last year. Since airfares to Europe are so expensive right now (about $1500 for summer travel from where we live), I can't imagine how this would be possible. Perhaps such a deal could be found on a Carnival cruise, but we're looking for something better. Do you know of any airfare-inclusive luxury cruises in Europe this summer?

A. Unfortunately, no. Cruises continue to be one of the best bargains in travel, but as you've found, airfares to Europe can be quite high for peak summer travel dates. However, I have seen some amazing airfare-included cruise deals in past months. Last year, the ultra-luxurious Seabourn Cruise Lines had some seven-day, shoulder-season (late summer, early fall) airfare-included cruises in Europe for $2000 per person, double occupancy, plus port taxes--close to what your fellow party-goers were discussing. The cruise industry has built a lot of new ships in the past few years, and they're not all filling up. So huge price reductions can be found. The best way to learn about them is to sign up for emails from various cruise lines or to contact a travel agent specializing in cruising, or even check out CruiseCritic.com.

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