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rocklinmom

Epic or Spirit for Mediterranean

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Looking at a summer 2014 Mediterranean cruise for a family of 5.

Debating between the 7 day Epic cruise roundtrip Barcelona, or the 12 day Spirit cruise between Venice and Barcelona.

Obvious pro's of Epic: bigger and newer ship, could do a Haven suite, waterslides

Obvious pro's of Spirit: could see Venice as well, and also Greece and Turkey (but older ship, no Haven, and no waterslides for the kiddos)

And I could do a Haven suite on the Epic for pretty much the same price as two connecting balcony rooms on the Spirit.

So, is there anyone out there who has done both the Epic and Spirit who could give me some advice? Or someone who has done either cruise in the Mediterranean recently with advice?

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I have done both cruises.

 

Both are very port intensive and, if you don't pace yourself, exhausting. Depending on when you go it can be even more exhausting with the weather and the crowds. The Barcelona-Venice itinerary on the Spirit is amazing.

 

You don't say how old the kiddos are but there is an area on the back of the ship which is just for them. My husband and I watched the kids playing on the pirate ship and in the water and they seemed to be having a great time. I would say they were less than 10 years old. At 52 I wanted to play at pretending to be a pirate and wished they had things like that 45 years ago...

 

On our Epic cruise we found we were hardly onboard to enjoy the ship and were so tired each night we didn't do much more than eat and sleep. At least the Spirit spends a couple of days at sea and a couple of half day stops to allow some rest.

 

The crew on Epic are good but the crew on the Spirit are fantastic. The Spirit has about half the passengers of the Epic when full although I never found the Epic crowded except the pool deck on a sea day. The Spirit never felt crowded anywhere on any day.

 

The Spirit is a 12 day cruise against a 7 day cruise which accounts for a lot of the difference in price. It really depends just how much you will use the additional facilities offered by the Haven and being in a suite when taking into account what you plan to do on each day. We always travel in a balcony cabin so I have no knowledge of the Haven area.

 

Ask away if you want more.

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agree that the spirit itinery is fantastic and although an older ship we really enjoyed the onboard experience[although only in balcony cabin]

we sailed on the Epic for a caribbean cruise-although we enjoyed it we preferred the atmosphere on the smaller ships

 

perhaps was to do with the sheer size of the ship-although loads to do there just wasnt that sociable aspect-you didnt bump into acquintances as often as with a smaller ship

 

the fact the Epic only does 7 day itineries makes the cruise experience too short

perhaps the real issue with Epic in the Med is because it does not call at a non european port Spanish VAT is payable throughout the cruise

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Thank you so much for your feedback! I hadn't even thought about the VAT on Epic. So Spirit doesn't charge VAT?

My kids are teenagers and a (will be) 10 year old, so doubt they would use the kid pool area on Spirit. A regular pool would be fine though.

It might be too hot to stay out in the sun for too long anyway in July.

I have read that Turkey has lots of cats everywhere. Is that true?

They would love that.

I am leaning toward the Spirit at this point, since it is a traditional ship size and passenger count.

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rocklinmom - We are looking at the Spirit 12 day for 2014 as well. It will be a graduation (HS) present to my oldest. I'll also have an 11 yo and possibly my niece who will be almost 10.

 

We are very interested in all of the ports and are just awaiting pricing and then we want to compare to Carnival if they do something similar. The only con I have so far is that there are only Inside and a few porthole cabins for 4 and they are much smaller than the Carnival cabins.

 

Turkey does have a large population of stray cats. There is also a cat sanctuary in Rome.

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I agree with everyone that the ports for the Med are so exhausting there isn't much energy left to enjoy the ship!

We did the Med on the Epic in Sept, ship was 100% full and we never felt crowded.

We also never really felt like we were on a ship twice the size as our preivous trips, the Pearl and the POA.

I do feel we had more one on one attention on the Pearl and the POA but we had a much more involved and friendly room steward on the Epic! And the pool bar waiter was amazing! He remembered our names the second day and our drinks!

We did things each night even thou we were exhausted but we didn't get to do it all!

The pool on sea day was very crowded but the others days were just fine, my husband got to do the slide one night as they were getting ready to close for the night. He enjoyed it but otherwise we didn't have alot of kids on our cruise so not alot of lines for the slides.

We really enjoyed the extra options the Epic provided because of her size, we enjoyed exploring her and like I said I really didn't feel like she was a huge ship until you are off and see her next to others ships in port!

We couldn't take the time off for the 12 day cruise, but when we can we will do the Spirt and the 12 days!

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Thank you so much for your feedback! I hadn't even thought about the VAT on Epic. So Spirit doesn't charge VAT?

My kids are teenagers and a (will be) 10 year old, so doubt they would use the kid pool area on Spirit. A regular pool would be fine though.

It might be too hot to stay out in the sun for too long anyway in July.

I have read that Turkey has lots of cats everywhere. Is that true?

They would love that.

I am leaning toward the Spirit at this point, since it is a traditional ship size and passenger count.

 

 

the VAT situation arises because the EPIC doesnt call at a non european port and therefore Spanish VAT is payable all during the cruise

 

this came as an unpleasant surprise to cruisers this year

 

most ships sailing the Med call at a non european port such as Gibraltar or Turkey so avoid the VAT

 

presumably with a 7 day itinery they couldnt work 1 of those ports so nothing to do with the ship

 

if you're aware of it and budget it in fair enough but as I said lots of cruisers were unaware and posted on cruise critic afterwards

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Thanks everyone! Keep the advice coming.

Still debating between the two cruises. We will only go to Europe once and I want to make the right choice.

Greece and Turkey look so exotic, and so many warnings about pickpockets and street hagglers and that huge bazaar looks fun yet a bit scary. And trying to sell you Turkish carpets, etc. My teenagers would either love it or say, "get me the heck back to America."

Wondering if we should stick to Italy on the Epic? Or go for the exotic for once?

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Thanks everyone! Keep the advice coming.

Still debating between the two cruises. We will only go to Europe once and I want to make the right choice.

Greece and Turkey look so exotic, and so many warnings about pickpockets and street hagglers and that huge bazaar looks fun yet a bit scary. And trying to sell you Turkish carpets, etc. My teenagers would either love it or say, "get me the heck back to America."

Wondering if we should stick to Italy on the Epic? Or go for the exotic for once?

 

My thinking is that since you state you will only go to Europe once, then go for the expanded itinerary of the Spirit. You can always enjoy the Epic on a Caribbean cruise later. European cruises are all about the destinations and the ship is almost secondary, to me.

Edited by MeHeartCruising

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My thinking is that since you state you will only go to Europe once, then go for the expanded itinerary of the Spirit. You can always enjoy the Epic on a Caribbean cruise later. European cruises are all about the destinations and the ship is almost secondary, to me.

 

I agree to this! Why limit your horizons if you aren't planning on going back again. That would be my determining factor and the 12-day cruise is the perfect way to get some 'down time' worked into your schedule. Many people don't factor in how exhausted they will be with 7 days crammed with sightseeing and it becomes a trip of garbled memories. I travel internationally frequently and always choose longer stays in order to decompress during the trip.

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Don't let what appears exotic and different scare you away! Yes, there are cultural differences but with a lot of reading, asking questions and planning you can have a wonderful experience. I have taken children to Europe 4 times (all land based) and they have come home with wonderful memories and new perspectives on the world.

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if your kids have never been on a cruise, or only on older ships, then the Spirit will be great. We went on a smaller, older RCCL ship in the Baltics and my kids thought it was great. Now that they have been on a few larger/fancier ships, they wanted the Epic for all the "cool" things.

For older kids/teens, I would do the 12 day, esp. if it is likely your 1 big European trip. DH and I did a 12 day last year and the ports were great. Seeing the Acropolis is amazing and a piece of history that they will always remember. Ephesus is supposed to be amazing, as well. Pompeii is also tops for amazing history (both cruises go there).

However, the Epic also does a nice "buffet" of countries. I would recommend leaving from Italy for the EPic (I just prefer Rome as a base to explore vs Barcelona) and going a few days early for either, but definitely if you take the Epic. It's VERY easy to get around in Italy by train, and not too expensive. Italy is my kids' favorite country--and mine. You could spend 2 days in Rome and at least 2 days doing day trips (Orvieto, bike tour to Catacombs, etc.). I like to look on viator.com to get an idea of what there is to do. I have also booked thru them for several tours. The Barcelona bike tour (FatTire) is excellent--I highly advise taking it for either cruise--fabulous way to see the city and VERY fun.

Also, if you are at all budget conscious, you can get a balcony for 4 and a studio for 1 on the Epic. We are doing this in July. DH is going to bunk in the studio at night. We are taking 5 of us for $5500. We are then going to stay another week on a DIY land trip.

Bottom line, either is a great choice--but plan to stay at 5 days extra if you do the Epic--and for a family of 5--with food and lodging, count on at least $500 per day extra for that--so it starts to make the Spirit look like a bargain (which it is).

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Elaine 5, I love your idea of the DH sleeping alone in a studio suite on Epic! No snoring!!

I'm thinking that what people are saying is true, we should seize the day and see some exotic countries while we are over there. You only live once, right? :)

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I would also recommend the Spirit. We sailed on her last summer with my 2 teens (14 and 16) and my sister. We had a blast. I don't know if you are able to take a little more time before and after but I would recommend it. We went to Rome 4 days before the cruise and took a train to get to Venice. We loved Rome and we were very pleased to have made that choice. We also stayed longer at Barcelona at the end. For economical reason, we rent apartment in both Rome and Barcelona.

 

If you want to see my pictures of the trip, you can go on my website. The name of the towns are in French but I think it's pretty easy to figuring out. You can look here: http://isabellecyr.zenfolio.com/

 

If you need help or further questions, don't hesitated to contact me. Planning for this trip can be overwhelming.

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After having just sailed the Epic, which was amazing, though exhausting, I would vote Spirit. The longer cruise, no VAT, great ship. IMO the way to go.

 

The Epic was great, but @ only 7 days w/ one sea day, we opted to stay on the ship the last day just to relax a little. (Sorry Marseilles!)

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I gave a lot of thought to this dilemma, myself, before booking the Spirit. The advantage of the Spirit is five additional days of cruising and two additional countries that come well recommended: Turkey and Greece.

 

I read on the Europe boards that some folks opt to do two 7-day cruises back to back on the Epic. This allows folks to skip every other port and still see everything at a more civilized pace. Of course, you have to pay double for the luxury of going at such a pace, and you still don't go to Turkey or Greece.

 

Venice, Athens and Instanbul ultimately made the choice an easy one. Three classic cities that I want to see. As it's extremely expensive to fly to Europe, I'm not likely to return to the Mediteranean in many years. So, might as well see as much as possible.

 

Good luck making your final decision. ;)

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Turkey and Greece you must not miss...the history is amazing... and if you are Christian, the biblical history in Ephesus with Mary's house etc...is something you need to see...maximize this experience and go with the 12 day itinerary.

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We liked the Epic, but prefer the smaller ships like Gem and Jade. I am glad we did Epic, but probably won't do it again.

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If you are torn about your kids' interest (they prolly will prefer Epic) why don't you have 2 non-Haven connecting cabins (or one balcony and one inside) for two B2B cruises = 14 days?

 

This way you can have 1 or 2 different tours at each port and have some off-days as desired.

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Hmmm, tough choice. I wish I were in your predicament though as I would LOVE to go Europe again!

 

So, if you like the idea of the Sun's longer itinerary but you're not super excited about the old ship and Turkey and Greece (yeah, Turkey is definitely not on my list of top places to visit either) then maybe add days before or after (or both!) to your Epic cruise. I can't imagine spending all that $$$ on the airfare going to Europe and not adding at least a week on land to any cruise. Maybe save a bit on the Haven and book a balcony instead so that you can afford those extra land-based days?

 

That would probably be my plan. I would rather spend the extra land-based days in a city like Rome or Barcelona then a few hours in Greece or Turkey :)

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Been on the spirit several times. Much smaller ship and tiny rooms as it was built years ago for the Asian market. I would think that the larger ship would be much more fun for you children. I liked the Spirit when it was out of NOLA, but have to say, that I will not miss that ship. Glad they have a larger and more modern ship there now.

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