Classic Europe scores high for luxury travelers

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Economic woes, terrorist incidents and the crisis in Greece can do their worst, but even combined they have done little to dim Europe’s luster among well-heeled travelers, according to the Virtuoso 2015 Travel Dreams Survey. The survey was conducted with 5,800 travelers who divulged, among other categories, their top 10 dream trips of a lifetime.

The good news for Europe specialists?

Of the top 10 responses in this category, Europe featured prominently in five, even though these are bucket list vacations for travelers who could choose just about anywhere and for whom budget is not a key consideration.

European river and canal cruises topped the list, especially those targeting families with kid-friendly onboard features and shore excursions.

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The blend of family travel and river and canal cruising makes sense. Being able to hop on and off the vessel with minimum fuss, bike ride through picturesque villages and interact with locals via cool, kid-friendly activities are factors that make a vacation both authentic and hassle-free.

Also on the list, at No. 4, is Greece, which has seen a whopping 41% increase in travel to the islands since last year’s survey among Virtuoso agents. Granted, the survey was conducted in February and March before the current crisis reached its peak, and while it’s still too soon to guess how the next few weeks will play out, so far the destination is on Virtuoso’s Hot List of fastest growing destinations, with travelers especially keen to visit Santorini, Mykonos, Crete and Rhodes.

Coming in at No. 6, 7 and 8 were Italy’s Amalfi Coast, Ireland’s castles and countryside, and Provence’s villas.

What struck me about these choices is the lack of emerging European destinations such as Croatia, Slovenia or Georgia. Instead, the list comprises perennial, even iconic, favorites, suggesting that luxury travelers are looking to revisit classic Europe, but in style and preferably with the kind of insider information on restaurants and golf courses that a travel agent can provide.

For the record, world cruises and multigenerational travel, which can certainly include Europe, came in No. 2 and 3, with Australia, the Galapagos and Tahiti rounding out the list at No. 5, 9 and 10.

By Felicity Long Courtesy Travel Weekly

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