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To Cruise or Not, what is a typical day like in the Mediterranean?

To Cruise or Not, what is a typical day like in the Mediterranean?

Apr 4th, 2005, 04:53 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 79
To Cruise or Not, what is a typical day like in the Mediterranean?

Oops, I posted this on the Europe site, but meant it for the Cruise site. Sorry for the duplication, but I figure I will receive more info on this site. Here I go again:

I am struggling with the 'to cruise or to travel by land' decision. I have never been and would love to go to Italy, Spain, Southern France, Greece, Turkey, etc. These locations are all listed on quite a few 12-14 day cruises. My question is what does a cruise day look like for say a 7am to 8pm stop at Livorno (70 minutes to Florence from what I have gathered from other posts) vs. staying near or in Florence for say 4-5 days? If I toured the most popular sites, how many would I fit in and what would I miss out on?

I have read other posts on this same subject and there is very good information, but I am wondering what specifically I would miss out on in places like Florence, Venice, Barcelona, Nice, Athens, if I am there for 12 hours.

Also, I don't know if anyone has compared the expense of land travelling vs. cruise and excursions (non-cruiseline arranged excursions), but it seems to me that it is cheaper to cruise. I am not looking at luxury accomodations or fine dining when I am considering the land decision by any means.

Another option is the combination of cruising and travelling on land. If I was to do a 10-12 day cruise then spent a week after in Italy, what would be the best end destination? I would want to see some areas like quaint villages and countryside if I chose this option.

Please help out. We would plan this holiday for September or October.

toontown is offline  
Apr 4th, 2005, 09:51 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 3,399
We'll be doing our first Western European cruise in June.

Cruise plusses:
-You only unpack once and wake up in a different country each day. Traveling to those destinations via land would take a looong time
-Cruising will be cheaper than a land vacation with meals/entertainment included. 5 course dinners every night. If you don't want to eat on the ship you can always enjoy local dining at port.

-sometimes it is hard to capture the true ambiance of a country without sleeping in those 100+ year old buildings
-since you will be on the boat a fair amount of the time you will be missing out on learning about the country's culture
-have to cram all your sight seeing into one day in port. European land tour companies excel here because they are pretty good at budgeting how much time the average traveler likes to spend in a particular city.
-ship shore excursions we thought we were getting a terrific deal on our cruise UNTIL we added the ship's tour excursions. It can become a lot cheaper by getting together on a roll call for your sailing on cruisecritic.com, where travelers form their own groups splitting the cost in foreign cities. We are antisocial so will be doing all of the excursions with the ship, but it's easy to budget sightseeing less expensively on your own.

Do keep an eye out for Samantha Brown's First Cruise on the Travel Channel's World's Best series. Samantha Brown did a med cruise on the Brilliance of the Seas, going to Barcelona, Florence, Naples, Venice, Athens, etc. Very informative.

If you have the time spending an extra several days in the country of your choice would be a great idea. In our case we'll be in London for 5 days before we board the cruise ship. Italy would be an excellent way to end your vacation! If you do that you may want to pick a ship that ends in Italy and do that country on your own.

Have a great trip!
travelinwifey is offline  
Apr 5th, 2005, 06:13 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,334
Cruising and spending a day in a country or a city gives you a taste of it and you can always go back. It is true that traveling to Europe is very, very expensive and that by cruising it is much more affordable. We are NOT anti-social and hope to meet others on our cruise from Barcelona that we can share an excursion..The only place I think we will buy a tour from the ship is Rome... The other day I saw on the Travel Channel which we never watch a story about Nice, Monaco and the little towns... From what I've seen I'd like to go ito the older part where the market is in Nice and Villafranche, but who knows. We are leaving from Barcelona on the Century on 10/14 which I thnk has a great itinerary which includes Nice, Corsica, Rome. Malaga and a few more ports
ParrotMom is offline  
Apr 5th, 2005, 11:38 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 16,253
IMHO, you have to know what you like. Do you like to travel on a bus maybe an hour or two to see something for 3 hours and then reverse that ride back to a ship? Is that relaxing to you? Do you think that you can really get a feel for a city that way? Some people can and prefer not having to pack/unpack etc. Some like the group busing /transports etc. and some don't count that as "vacation" time, but more as a penance that they are willing to pay for the chance to see more countries.

I've done both. And to me, if you have to go much beyond the port, there is so much transport time taken from your "12 hours" that it really isn't "12 hours".
There are certain cities that you couldn't even begin to scratch the surface features of in that time. But if you want to say you were there and did one or two things. And are willing to do another tomorrow, and can afford it- then cruising to see Europe would be for you.

Cruising may be a good way to see many places that you would return to with land travel. Myself, I will not spend 2 hours reaching a place that I have to return from that day. I just don't feel like I have "visited" at that kind of pace. And my vacation time is too dear, to transport very far from the ports. I would look for cruises that feature ports I was very interested in and sightsee there, and not the towns 70 minutes away from the ports. Many of these tours are set up like an endurance contest.

My very best times in Europe have been just serendipity and walking in the towns/ cities/ or down the coasts from town to town. You will not have time to do much of that as you will be scheduled to be back at the ship.
JJ5 is offline  
Apr 5th, 2005, 01:49 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,898

First of all, what do YOU like to do ?

Our first trip to Europe was a land trip-NOT a tour-we rented a car,travelled by rail,picked our hotels, and planned how long we wanted to stay in each town...It was FUN but EXHAUSTING as we had to pack ,unpack,wash out undies, try to make the train in time etc...We had a blast but we were way younger then...

Our next time in Europe was on a 14 day MED cruise..we LOVED it..It went from Barcelona to Venice and YES, we did stop in Livorno ( as the spot to get to Florence).

True- the bus ride to FLorence is long but we used it for what it was-just a bus ride..and then when we got to Florence, we were on our own til the bus headed back to the ship..

Some people hire a driver at Livorno Port- this can be done ahead of time-The cost is not cheap but IF you are 4 people is is LESS than the cruise bus,you have your own private guide at your disposal--can stop for lunch along the way..and make a terrific day of it
IF you want to see the MUSEUMS in Florence, you need to BOOK your tkts ahead of time, otherwise you will stand in line for HOURS...

The BEST thing about the cruise ( in addition to not packing and unpacking) is that you get a FLAVOR of Europe and see towns that you may or may not want to come back to....

If I did a LAND pkg , I would STAY IN FLORENCE as you cannot bring a car into the city -you need to park at a carpark and then walk in...if you cannot walk long distances, this is a no go...
You will have way more fun staying IN the city of Florence as the evenings are as much fun as the days...

Now, BAD side to land trip- OUR US dollar is worth nothing over there so the COST of eating meals on land with teh EURO is exhorbitant..therefore, all meals taken on cruise ship ( with the exception of maybe a lunch on land) is the cheapest way to go...

As far as land excursions, we hardly ever did the ship's excursions as they were a fortune..Most of the time we planned out what we wanted to do and did it on our own or hired a driver to take us around ( ie. Amalfi coast)..
For the most part, you can walk into any of the cities from the cruise ship and do your own thing as far as museums go..the only thing a cruise excursion does for you is provide transportion and get the tkts for the museums..

Having said all that, it is still up to you all..you don't say your ages, but if you are in your 20's , land is better....all other ages, I would start out with a Cruise....

Have a blast!
andy is offline  
Apr 12th, 2005, 05:44 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 49
I've done both and for a first time, it is nice to do a cruise. You will get a taste of many different cities and you will know which ones you would like to return to. If it's your first time, you won't realize how much you missed just being able to visit each city for a day. You always hit the highlights in one day, but you only skim the surface of what is truly available. With the current exchange rate, I think a cruise is a very affordable way to go. It's also the easiest way to do it as you do not have to worry about making every single arrangement by yourself. I did both private and cruise ship sponsored tours on my 2003 cruise and we did not spend hours in buses. They really know how to get a lot of sites packed into a short amout of time. If you are very adventurous and have a lot of time to plan and like total freedom, then I think you'd be better off on your own, but you would end up visiting less places.

I currently like to see more places, even if I do not get to dig into each one as much as I'd like. I know I can always go back to the ones that interest me the most. It's almost a quantity versus quality decision. Do you want to get a taste of 8 places or really dig in and see 3 or 4 places? Either way, Europe is a great place to vacation and I have enjoyed every trip there.
talltraveler is offline  

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