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Cruise to Italy? Or no cruise? What are good cruise lines?

Cruise to Italy? Or no cruise? What are good cruise lines?

Old Jan 17th, 2004, 04:42 AM
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Cruise to Italy? Or no cruise? What are good cruise lines?

My husband and i are planning a trip to Italy but my husband now thinks we should do a cruise ( we have never been on one). I have done some research and hate the itinereries b/c it appears that you have to "whiz" through places. HELP! Anybody been on one that they liked? What are the top cruise companies for Italy? Appreciate any help you can give me!
smacknmo is offline  
Old Jan 17th, 2004, 07:00 AM
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If you want to see Italy then go to Italy. If you want to take a cruise then do that. You cannot do both on the same trip.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Old Jan 17th, 2004, 07:15 AM
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I go with Bob. They are two totally different things.
ira is offline  
Old Jan 17th, 2004, 07:26 AM
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That's not true, Bob. There's not only one way of seeing Italy. The fact that you like to stay longer, and have a deeper experience of, say, Tuscany, or the lakes area doesn't mean that a alnd tour, or even a cruise, with samples of the different regions, towns, villages is not a valid way of "seeing Italy".

smacknmo, if you want the best cruise line to do an italian itinerary, I would advise you to look into Seabourn.com and Windstar.com. Costa Cruises is originally Italian, although presently Carnival Cruise lines owns it. However, the itineraries and ports schedule won't allow you as much time in each location as would Seabourn, Windstar and even Silversea. These are all inclusive, luxury lines, with smaller ships and as such, their cruises are quite expensive. There's another line that might suit you, SeaDream. The ships are in fact yatch like, they carry only 100 cruisers, but the itineraries are lovely, and service is superb.

They offer interesting itineraries covering the Italian coast and the islands, like Sardegna, Elba and Sicily.

On the other hand, if you mean to visit Rome or Florence, or other inland destinations, a cruise would be very restrictive, since the ports ( Civitavecchia to Rome, and Livorno, for Florence) are too far from both destinations, and the ships seldom stay overnight to allow you more time to see them.

However, if your target is visiting places like Venice, Sorrento, Naples, Pompeii, Portovenere, Portofino, Taormina, Alghero, and the like, then a cruise will be just perfect for you.
Surlok is offline  
Old Jan 17th, 2004, 07:29 AM
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I'll admit to not being a fan of cruises. I never understood the idea of taking a cruise to a place because you want to "see" or "experience" than place. The bulk of your trip will be seeing and exploring the ship. Your meals will be on the ship with few exceptions, and who wants to go to Italy and not really experience the great restaurants, instead of getting back on the ship and "experiencing" their steam table version of Italian food?

I still laugh when I think about the two cruise ship women I overheard standing on top of the campanile in Venice. One was raving about seeing Rome -- they had 5 hours there! But she was really excited because at the end of the cruise they were going to have a 4 hour stopover in Paris and she had always wanted to go to Paris -- at last she'd get to "see" it.
Patrick is offline  
Old Jan 17th, 2004, 07:39 AM
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"Whizing through the place" means you will salivate at your brief experience of Italy and will be planning your "real" trip to Italy while on your cruise
lvitaly is offline  
Old Jan 17th, 2004, 07:40 AM
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To Patrick and Surlock,

May I suggest that you are taking up extreme positions? I have done both types of travel. They are different experiences. Neither is necessarily superior.
ira is offline  
Old Jan 17th, 2004, 08:44 AM
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We're pretty experienced land tourists in Europe, but we're far from "seasoned" cruisers, having been on just a couple, plus a long freighter cruise that was a pretty different experience. But we're doing a cruise around the Italian coast this spring, and I'll tell you why.

First, it's hassle-free. Unpack once, zilch on the transport logistics/headaches front, no time consumed looking for laundries or safe parking lots, your room is always first-class, with clean plumbing and a good bed. Air-conditioned, too, which in Italy in summer is no bad thing.

Second, you have the option of not being herded around in so-called "excursions" staged by the cruise line. If you don't want to ride the bus to Pompeii, fine, rent a car for the day and go on your own, or go someplace else. Nowadays, most cruises are so port-intensive that all the sailing is done at night, so you wake up with the ship already docked, ready for you to walk off at 7:30 or 8 AM if you want, not to return to 6 or 8 that night. No, you can't close the bars in the village. No, you can't throw open the windows of San Salvatore on an Enchanted April morning.

You can, however, do that before or after your cruise. That will be our case - the cruise will follow some pretty intensive land touring will we'll be doing before sailing, so we see it as a luxurious hotel (with chef de cuisine Jaques Pepin) that moves while we decompress.

Third, a factor relevant to anyone who's now booking space for Euro travel this year, is price. Cruising, for the moment, is cheaper than land touring, when you count everything. Obviously, if you pick Seabourne or Crystal or Radisson, the per-diem costs will be pretty high, but given the cost of comparable land arrangements (5 star everything) still cheaper than the George V brand of land touring.

And last, a cruise gives you a preview of places you probably wouldn't be able to get to on your own conveniently. In our case, we'll be visiting Sardinia. Never been there, really hadn't thought much about it, but who knows? Maybe the Costa Smeralda is the place we've always wanted to see. Now we'll know. Not enough time to get to know it in depth, but hopefully there will be future trips.

No, you can't see Florence or the Tuscan hills from a cruise ship, except in rushed day trips. One shoe does not fit all feet. Yes, Smacknmo, you can whiz through places. Like Pisa. Worth whizzing through.

And yes, it's true that many people love cruising for the cruising rather than the destinations. Lots of people only go to Paris for the food or London for the theatre. So what?

We'll report on our experience. I'm curious myself to see how Italy will play from the wet side of the Amalfi coast.
Gardyloo is offline  
Old Jan 17th, 2004, 09:00 AM
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Having taken a number of cruises in the past and also traveled independently in Europe and elsewhere, I will relate an experience I had on a cruise several years ago to the Mexican Riviera. We had visited the Mexican cities on the cruise itinerary independently before the cruise, and on our first port of call we went to a beautiful hotel overlooking the ocean, had a drink and enjoyed a spectacular sunset. It was nearing dinner time and wonderful aromas were drifting in our direction as people started eating at outside tables. I flat out did not want to return to the ship. I wanted to stay there, have dinner and just enjoy the place as long as I wished.

Years ago I thought a Mediterranean cruise would be fabulous. I have long since changed my mind. I personally can't imagine cruising to Italy (our favorite country) and having to leave on a time schedule. We have been in Sorrento when a ship docked and I was so happy we weren't passengers.

Surlock gave you good advice on cruise lines. One reason I've lost my taste for cruising is the huge size of the ships now and therefore amount of passengers involved.

Sorry your husband has taken this stance. If you can change his mind do so. I think for first timers you should go on your own and forget a cruise, but that's just my opinion.
Giovanna is offline  
Old Jan 17th, 2004, 09:14 AM
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Ira, I was NOT taking an extreme position. I was only trying to explain that there's not only one way of traveling, or seeing Italy, or Greece, or whichever destination.

To each, his/her own. That's my policy. I've done extensive land trips, as I've done cruises. The good thing about cruises is that they allow you to sample a lot of places. This way, we're able to find out what interests us the most, and come back at our own pace.
Surlok is offline  
Old Jan 17th, 2004, 09:19 AM
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Ira, please don't misinterpret my post. There is nothing in the world wrong with cruises for many people. I have friends who wouldn't travel any other way -- they love it. But it is hard not to acknowledge that the main or certainly one of the main ingredients of cruising is the time and facilities on the ship.

I think it is pretty clear that since smacknmo is already concerned about having to "whiz" through places and already hates the itineraries, that a cruise is not going to make her happy. It may be a wonderful vacation, or a good way to get a general feel for a country, or a great way to relax, but it is NOT going to be a great way for her to experience Italy as a leisure pace. Surely you can't argue with that point.
Patrick is offline  
Old Jan 17th, 2004, 09:54 AM
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Patrick, I don't think Ira disagreed with you. Like I do, he just thinks there's more than a way of doing things, or seeing places.

There's a number of places where I was, and liked going, but wouldn't stay more than a couple of hours. As does a land tripper who bases him/herself somewhere, and does day trips. There are, of course, vantages and disadvantages in basing yourself on a ship, or a village. A ship doesn't give you the real feel of a place, a choice of restaurants with the local color and flavor. However, you're limited to a given perimeter. Or, if you want to see more, you'd have to relocate to another area.

Comparing a cruise to a land tour like Globus, for example, I very much prefer the former. Just the bless of not having to check into a hotel nightly, or packing/unpacking daily means a big bonus to me. Plus, the ship moves while we're sleeping,so no long bus' rides, just short ones, from the harbor to a given village. And, talking about Italy, I could start a cruise in Venice, and end it in Genoa, seeing this way, some ports of of the Adriatic to the ones of Thirrenean Sea.

Also, most think of cruise ships as gigantic, massive cruise vessels, with thousands of passengers, who know nothing about Europe, and are happy with a 4 hour stop over in Paris. Not quite: there're cruise ships and cruise ship, as there are cruisers and cruisers. Thinking them all as the same stereotyped cruiser is a prejudiced vision and a misconception. Also, nothing stops you from having your meals ashore.. When I cruise, I always eat lunch in a local restaurant, although dinner is a little more complicated, very much depending on the ship's schedule.
Surlok is offline  
Old Jan 17th, 2004, 10:04 AM
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OK people-- Can I interject?

I have "done" Italy BOTH ways..cruise and separate land pkgs...BOTH are great..but two entirely different experiences...

I treat a cruise as an "appetizer"-- giving you a little taste of the city in order to make you want to go back...

I treat a "land pkg" as a full course- very labor intensive..but still fun..

Best option of the cruise--ONE room-ONE unpacking- DIFFERENT cities daily and I don't have to drive,or train it...and I can do whatever I want in each port from renting my own car, to walking anywhere I want, OR to take the excursion that the ship offers..ALL are good...

I do not know smaknmo's age or physical capabilites, but if you are elderly or infirmed, a cruise will be way better as far as mobility..

If you are younger, than you can do either option...land or cruise...

Yes, you do whiz thru places...but you also have the option of coming into the FIRST port days early ( and sightseeing there) and also EXTENDING your LAST port by a couple of days , in order to sightsee at that end...both of which can be accomplished by car or walking or train....

I highly recommend a SMALLER cruise ship, like Windsurf, as it hits smaller more intimate ports--ie the entire italian riviera/french riviera ---whereas IF you drove or trained those distances, it would take you way more time in TRAVEL TIME to even get to these ports, much less, allowing you time to sightsee in them..

Other good option of cruise--All your meals ( with the exception of what you want to eat OFF the ship) are included in one price..but you still have the option of having lunch on "foreign soil" or even dinner there depending on which ship you are on....

How much time to do have for your trip and how many cities did you want to hit?

In addition to Windsurf, depending on budget, look at Seabourn or Radisson for their Med Cruises....

Stay away from Costa- their food is horrendous.....

Hope this helps somewhat....
andy is offline  
Old Jan 17th, 2004, 10:53 AM
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"if you are elderly or infirmed, a cruise will be way better"

Andy, boy is that a generality and I certainly beg to differ! There are many of us who are "elderly" and cruising is certainly not the end all in travel, or way better as you put it!!!
Giovanna is offline  
Old Jan 17th, 2004, 11:08 AM
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Hmmm ! Look at what I started. I hope we have a consensus. Both can be great experiences--just much different.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Old Jan 17th, 2004, 07:39 PM
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I guess my problem with a cruise is that you'd only see coastal towns/cities which are more resort oriented.
Jean is offline  
Old Jan 17th, 2004, 08:00 PM
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Giovanna--I did NOT mean it to be that ONLY the elderly cruise and are UNABLE to do a land pkg..

I meant that the MED cruises are filled with lots more elderly people and IF you are infirmed or have a hard time walking, that a cruise might be right up someone's alley...

WHY is everyone taking this so negatively...All I was trying to do was give my OWN opinion on what I saw when we have done BOTH methods of travel..

Lighten up , people....
andy is offline  
Old Jan 17th, 2004, 08:05 PM
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Jean--you can also see interior cities, even on a cruise..

When a ship docks in Livorno, you can go into FLORENCE....Yes, for the most part , you have coastal cities,but if you arrive a few days early or stay a few days later..you can see Rome ( not a coastal city)...

None of these vacations give you EVERYTHING you want..so that is why you need to weigh all the odds and make your own decision...

Either way, you cannot go wrong...
andy is offline  
Old Feb 12th, 2004, 07:17 AM
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Have you looked at the Oceania Cruise Line? We are considering their 14 day Med. cruise. I like the ports & the number of ports. Also, they spend 2 days in Sorrento & Venice which is unusual for a cruise. We are also thinking of taking the train over to Rome for a few days after the cruise. We are in our mid 50's & in good health, my husband says he just doesn't want or need the stress of driving in a foreign country or lugging suitcases thru terminals. He wants to enjoy his vacation time. Otherwise, he said he would like the Grand Circle Tours. This group seems to do only a few hotels & do day trips from each place, so it's not on & off buses every day or so. But, again, they take care of the travel arrangements, he likes that.
marsig is offline  
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