This week, I am attending Cruise Shipping Miami, the world’s largest cruise industry event. People from all over the world are here, and what’s buzzing before the conference begins is the strength of the dollar against European currencies.
For Americans like me and most likely you, depending on what country you’re reading this in, the dollar’s strength means a “bargain Europe.”
It’s not quite “Europe on $5 a Day,” as Arthur Frommer titled his book in 1957, but Europe is now much cheaper for Americans than it was just half a year ago, and much, much cheaper than it was a few years back.
The Europeans attending this conference are bemoaning the cost of everything in Miami – dinners, drinks, hotel rooms. Granted, it’s pricey for everyone here during Spring Break, but the Europeans are paying about 20 percent to 25 percent more than they were last year because of the dollar’s strength and 50 percent to 60 percent more than they were spending in 2008. Fewer of my European colleagues are bringing empty suitcases to fill with “cheap” American goods to take back home.
The scenario is reversed for those of us crossing the Atlantic in the opposite direction, flying to Europe to, if you take my advice, join a river cruise. In fact, if I were you, I’d be staying in the European capitals a few days before and after the river cruise. Your dollars are going to go a lot further than they would have gone in previous years.
It’s about time we got a break. The euro has traded higher than the dollar since 2002, with a peak of US$1.60 in 2008. That was painful for those of us traveling Europe. Today, the euro is at US$1.06. The accounting firm Goldman Sachs predicts the dollar will be worth as much as the euro by September. I am thinking it may happen by the end of the week.
It gets worse – for Europeans. Goldman Sachs predicts the euro will hit 80 U.S. cents to the dollar by 2017. Making long-term plans to travel in Europe over the next few years seems to be a good hedge.
In fact, the euro is experiencing such a precipitous drop in value that my joke is, forget traveling in Europe, I’m buying a castle. I’m only joking, of course; my pockets don’t run that deep.
I’m collecting my dollars, however, and heading to France for six weeks. I am doing a series of river cruises that I’ll write about here on the Cruise Specialists’ blog. Uniworld will be the highlight, as I cruise on the new S.S. Maria Theresa from May 3 through May 17 from Budapest to Amsterdam.
The euro’s plummet has created an environment that will make Americans feel like kings and queens in Europe, which is a welcome change from the days when our dollar felt as though it was worth less than the paper it was printed on.
The golden age of travel appears to be once again at our doorsteps. Take your dollars and go forth to explore Europe’s treasures. And you may just want to take an empty suitcase to fill with “cheap” European goods. Europe is on sale, at least for now.