June 20, 2001
EuropCar, an auto rental firm that specializes in Europe (along with Mexico) gets the “great idea award of the month” with its launching of Cruise and Drive. The program, aimed at what EuropCar says are 40 percent of cruise passengers who don’t take shore excursions, simplifies the whole renting-a-car-in-port conundrum that can give headaches to even the savviest independent travelers. The program works like this: let’s say your cruise stops in Nice and you want to rent a car. The big appeal of EuropCar is that the firm will deliver the vehicle to the cruise ship dock in the morning (and arrange for you to leave it there at the end of the day), which avoids costly and/or time consuming taxi rides to off-site rental car facilities. Sure, other car rental agencies will provide dock-to-dock service but not on a consistent, network-wide basis. Another element of the program, as EuropCar gears up for Cruise and Drive, is that company officials in each of the 18 European countries it represents, plus Mexico, have created handy “only got a day to explore” sightseeing tips as well as directions. In Monte Carlo? Head to Antibes or drive on the old coast road in search of Romanesque churches. Headed to Southampton? Take the cathedral tour of Salisbury and Winchester. EuropCar is owned by Volkswagen. Prices for daily rentals are competitive and there’s no extra fee for the at-the-dock service. Advance reservations are highly recommended, whether made through a travel agent or by booking direct. The company hopes to expand the service to other logical cruise destinations, such as the Caribbean and South Pacific, by the end of this year.