Cruises are becoming more and more popular as an option for seeing some of our big beautiful world. Once there was a stigma attached to cruising the high seas, with the perception that they were only for old people or that you spent the entire time puking over the side railing of the ship!
Last year, and earlier on this year, I was able to debunk these two myths about cruising. You see I spent 19 days cruising the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea in 2015, and in January this year, I spent 15 days cruising the South China Sea on a South East Asian cruise. On both cruises I experienced little or no seasickness and also discovered that a lot of younger people (under 50s), love to cruise.
We enjoyed cruising so much that we have decided to plan another one for 2017 around the Mediterranean in Europe, followed by some time travelling through Italy. We started planning this cruise a while ago and discovered that it wasn’t just as simple as searching for Mediterranean Cruises on the internet, because there are hundreds of them with differing itineraries, and probably at least twenty different cruiselines operating.
There are so many to select from that this can make the decision very difficult. As we have experienced two different cruiselines, Princess and Norwegian, we knew that both of these were excellent, with fabulous amenities, well appointed cabins, great activities and a wide array of delicious food.
But if you really want to get an idea of what people’s opinions are of the different cruiselines check out Cruise Critic. I found this website invaluable when trying to select a cruiseline for our impending Mediterranean cruise. It gives you all the information you need about the different ships, cruises and then honest down-to-earth passenger reviews.
Otherwise ask around. Plenty of your friends have possibly been on a cruise and they are normally only too happy to impart an honest overview of their holiday. I always ask around before booking anything, and that includes hotels, airlines and tours.
There are various ways you can book your cruise. You can get a reputable Travel Agent to take care of the booking; book with a cruise comparison website like Cruiseaway or Cruiseabout; or pop into one of the cruise specific travel booking agencies located in your local shopping centre; or book direct with the cruiseline. You can also barter with them for some little extras like onboard credits, free dinners or drinks, free WiFi and cabin upgrades. It doesn’t hurt to ask!
Maybe just as important as the cruiseline is the itinerary of the ports that the ship is going to visit. You need to have a basic idea of which country or countries you would like to visit in the Mediterranean and then see which cruiselines visit these countries. Most of the Mediterranean cruises either depart from Barcelona in Spain, Rome in Italy or Venice in Italy.
In my instance I wanted to visit mainly the countries in the Adriatic Sea; like Greek Islands, Croatia, Montenegro and Slovenia. The reasoning behind this is because I am going to spend some time in Italy both prior to and after the cruise, so visiting a lot of ports in Italy wasn’t as important.
Otherwise you can choose to depart from Barcelona in Spain and cruise along the Riviera in France, the coastline of Italy, Turkey, Greece and Croatia. Or there are cruises that specifically circumnavigate the coastline of Italy or cruise the Greek Islands. The choices are endless really.
The other very important consideration are the dates of the proposed cruise. Europe gets extremely busy over the peak period during summer from June to August and can have temperatures into the high 30s and low 40s. People choose summer because they want to experience endless sunshine, get a deep suntan and swim in the turquoise seas. However, I am more inclined to either go in late spring or early autumn when the temperatures are milder, it is less crowded and it is more comfortable to hike around seeing the wonderful sites.
For my particular cruise in 2017 I have selected late April, which although won’t be very warm, it will be perfect for all the sightseeing I intend to do. I’m imagining hiking up those 750 steps of the walls surrounding the Old Town of Dubrovnik, for example! Can you imagine doing this in the stinking heat?
After much deliberation we selected the “12 Day Adriatic Dream” cruise aboard the Holland American Westerdam ship. The reviews read very well on this ship and in the end the itinerary really won us over.
Day 0. Civitavecchia, Rome – Italy
Day 1. Messina, Sicily – Italy
Day 2. Valetta – Malta
Day 3. Mgarr, Gozo – Malta
Day 4. At Sea
Day 5. Kerkira, Nisos – Corfu
Day 6. Dubrovnik – Croatia
Day 7. Kotor – Montenegro
Day 8. Korcula – Croatia
Day 9. Split – Croatia
Day 10. Koper – Slovenia
Day 11. Venice – Italy
Day 12. Venice – Italy
The fact that the cruise starts in Rome and ends in Venice will give us the opportunity to see the sights in these two wonderful cities, then we can continue our Italian adventure from there. Next item on the agenda is to plan our Italian holiday!
I often feel that the planning stage of an impending trip is just as exciting as actually taking the trip! Anyway next April I will be saying Ciao or Arrivederci to you all and maybe I will be returning many kilos heavier after eating all that pasta and pizza!
What do you think of cruising as a way to travel? Where have you been on a cruise and where would you recommend?
Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 4 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now 60. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Gold Coast in Queensland. She enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, movies, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
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merry christmas 2017