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Planning a Mediterranean Cruise

  • August 2, 2016
  • By 50 Shades
  • 22 Comments
Cruise Ship in Kotor in Montenegro

Cruise Ship in Kotor, Montenegro

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.

Rome in Italy

Rome in Italy

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.

A Typical Village in Sicily, Italy

A Typical Village in Sicily, Italy

Selecting a Cruiseline

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.

Valetta in Malta

Valetta in Malta

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.

Booking a Cruise

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!

Cruise Ship at St Maarten, Caribbean

Cruise Ships at St Maarten, Caribbean

Selecting an Itinerary

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.

Corfu - a Greek island

Corfu – a Greek island

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.

Selecting Dates

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.

Dubrovnik in Croatia

Dubrovnik in Croatia

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?

My Intended Itinerary

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.

Split in Croatia

Split in Croatia

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

Koper in Slovenia

Koper in Slovenia

Day 7. Kotor – Montenegro

Day 8. Korcula – Croatia

Day 9. Split – Croatia

Day 10. Koper – Slovenia

Day 11. Venice – Italy

Day 12. Venice – Italy

Venice in Italy

Venice in 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?

By 50 Shades, August 2, 2016 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.
  • 22

50 Shades

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.

22 Comments
  • Johanna A Castro (@JohannaACastro)
    August 2, 2016

    Wow, what a fabulous itinerary Kathy! And some great tips too :) I bet you’re excited. It sounds fabulous and I for one can’t wait for your stories!

    • Kathy
      August 2, 2016

      Yes it will be a great cruise itinerary. I particularly wanted to visit Croatia, Greek Islands and Montenegro so I have certainly achieved this. Now I have to plan an itinerary for Italy – don’t know where to start! :)

  • Jan
    August 2, 2016

    We haven’t cruised but I am sure we will at some stage, the options seem to be improving all the time. Like you prefer to travel outside the peak season, we tend to head to Europe in their autumn and start up north and head south as the weather cools.
    I agree that planning is all part of the fun and excitement!

    • Kathy
      August 2, 2016

      We are new to cruising but like the idea of always having your cabin to go back to after a day’s sightseeing. No lugging your suitcase from one place to another and the food is pretty amazing. However the downside is that you only get a small preview of the destinations you stop at. We have often said that we would like to return to certain places to spend more time exploring. :)

  • Julie
    August 2, 2016

    Cruises aren’t really my thing but Italy, Greece and Croatia definitely are!! You lucky thing you to have that all ahead you ?

    • Kathy
      August 2, 2016

      Julie I said exactly the same until I gave cruising a try. There were components that I didn’t like but overall I think it is a great way of seeing some of the world. Bring on 2017!!

  • Michelle Weaver (@pinkypoinker)
    August 2, 2016

    Definitely a river cruise for me. The Riviera sounds as if it would be right up my alley.

    • Kathy
      August 2, 2016

      Yes those river cruises up the Danube or Rhine do look very appealing. Friends of ours are doing one of these in September so I will look forward to hearing about it. It’s a shame our cruise doesn’t take in the French Riviera, but I couldn’t do both the Adriatic and this area on one cruise. Maybe I’ll have to return to do this another time! :)

  • budgettraveltalk
    August 2, 2016

    I’ve not dipped my toes into cruising yet although I’m sure I will! Your itinerary sounds delicious. :) I liked your tips especially the cruise critics and comparison sites.

    • Kathy
      August 3, 2016

      Jan I think cruising is fantastic, however I think we will still do other forms of travel like doing our own tours of overseas countries and of course caravanning within Australia. The good thing is that we are doing the Mediterranean Cruise and then spending time travelling around Italy with our own itinerary.

  • Janet Camilleri (@middleagedmama1)
    August 3, 2016

    You will LOVE it. And I don’t have to imagine the steps around Old Dubrovnik – I’ve been there done that ;-) . We went in May and it was plenty hot enough then, I wouldn’t want to go in their mid Summer! I’m dreaming of doing another cruise myself next year – America/Canada perhaps?!

    • Kathy
      August 3, 2016

      Next April can’t come around quick enough Janet! There are so many cruises to select from. I think the next one (after the Mediterranean) we might do Hawaii and French Polynesia. :)

  • Fairlie
    August 3, 2016

    That sounds like a great itinerary! I was astounded last time i was in Venice how many big cruise ships were in port at any one time. Cruising is becoming a very popular way to see the world – the benefits of only unpacking once, and then having something different to see everyday are great. Plus, I understand the facilities on some of the ships are incredible. You’ll have such a great time.

    • Kathy
      August 3, 2016

      I think we have chosen very well with the itinerary. It will be wonderful to get a glimpse of Croatia, Montenegro, Corfu and Slovenia. Venice does appear to be one of the most popular ports for cruise ships – is it any wonder? They say it is an experience in itself sailing into Venice. It is very exciting! :)

  • vicki law
    August 17, 2016

    I’ve never thought about doing a cruise before but you have made it sound awesome.

    • Kathy
      August 17, 2016

      It is awesome Vicki! It is such a relaxing and easy way to enjoy a holiday and see the gorgeous sights of the Mediterranean. :)

  • Soraya @ Hello Raya
    August 17, 2016

    I loved cruising! I’ve been on two and it was so much fun. I haven’t gone beyond Australia though, and I think a Mediterranean one would be so much fun. I have found that the ‘shorter’ itineraries usually have a better balance of age groups. The longer the trip, the more older people there are. Great share! Can’t wait to hear about your next cruise adventure!

    • Kathy
      August 17, 2016

      Thanks Soraya. I never thought I would enjoy cruising so much actually. I tended to think it was just for oldies! However I’m now a cruise convert. I’m looking forward to seeing the magnificent Mediterranean! :)

  • mohanpuja
    August 18, 2016

    I’ve never really tried cruising but you make is sound fun.Enjoy!!

    • Kathy
      August 18, 2016

      It is a lot of fun and nowadays suitable for all ages. It is a great way of seeing the world. :)

  • Sydney Fashion Hunter
    August 24, 2016

    I love cruising!!!! I have done two cruises now both leaving from Florida as it’s much more cost effective than leaving from Australia. I would love to cruise around the Greek Islands and the last time I was there it was on a very in-glamorous ferry! Hope you have an amazing voyage!

    • Kathy
      August 24, 2016

      Thank you so much. I agree that cruising is so much more affordable from the US. We did a Caribbean one from New Orleans and it was so cheap. The Greek Islands would be fabulous. Although we’re only visiting Corfu on our scheduled cruise it would be nice to return to do a Greek Island specific cruise. :)

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