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taylortime05

40th Anniversary Trip to Spain, Italy & Greece - Cruise or Land Tours???

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I recently booked a special cruise for us to celebrate our 40th anniversary. It's a 12 night on Reflection next Sept 2019. It visits Barcelona and ports in Italy and Greece. The itinerary is below. Total price for A1 AQ cabin was 6400 with 520 cash card from big box TA. My kids and friends wonder why we want to do a cruise and they keep suggesting that we will be able to see more and do more if we fly to Barcelona and do the trip on our own versus a cruise.

 

Are there any of you that have visited Europe both on cruise versus land trips. Can you give pros and cons of either way.

 

Thank you so much for your help.

 

 

Date Port of Call Arrival Departure

09/30/2019 Barcelona -- 05:00 PM

10/01/2019 Palma de Mallorca 07:00 AM 05:00 PM

10/02/2019 Cruising -- --

10/03/2019 Messina 09:00 AM 08:00 PM

10/04/2019 Cruising -- --

10/05/2019 Mykonos 07:00 AM 06:00 PM

10/06/2019 Athens/Piraeus 06:00 AM 06:00 PM

10/07/2019 Thira/Santorini 07:00 AM 06:00 PM

10/08/2019 Rhodes 07:00 AM 05:00 PM

10/09/2019 Cruising -- --

10/10/2019 Valletta 08:00 AM 04:00 PM

10/11/2019 Cruising -- --

10/12/2019 Barcelona 06:00 AM

Edited by taylortime05

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I would not attemp such a trip on my own. We have done smaller (less countries, closer together) than what you are looking at. Yes, you could see much more, but boy the planning, logistics, hotels needed, transportation (car rental vs trains, planes, public tran) would be more than I would want to tackle. Not even thinking of having to find decents meals all day long on your own.

 

I would do cruise first. Then if you need more later you would know the lay of the land better. You could also do a few days before embarking or debarking. One place is much easier to figure out then all those you listed.

 

For what it’s worth we will be married 41 years this summer, so probably about the same age.

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We did a similar cruise about 18 months ago, cruise looks good, yours had a few more sea days which I like. Make sure to spend a couple of days in Barcelona before the cruise, really great city to visit.

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Coming from the U.K. over the years we have been able to spend extended time in many of your ports in addition to having cruised them....

 

I do understand where your kids and some friends are coming from in terms of many of your ports do deserve more than a day. However, a cruise is a great way to get a ‘taster’ of lots of ports and maybe choose a couple you would like to return to another time.

 

Next point...it is your 40th anniversary, your holiday should be about romantic evening meals, star gazing and relaxation not just about frantic sightseeing....Cruising is a great way to see lots of sights with minimal effort and some luxury...exactly what I will want for my 40th anniversary!

 

Congratulations on your forthcoming anniversary, whatever you choose to do have a great time!

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I have cruised in the Med many times including the Greek Isles. I have also taken land trips in Europe. IMO, the only way to see the Greek Isles is on a cruise. Sailing in and out of the harbor and visiting Santorini is worth the entire trip - spectacular!

 

It is far more relaxing to take a cruise than to island hop on planes and although you only spend a day in each port, you will have a lovely overview of the area on a cruise.

 

I agree with previous posts and suggest a few days in Barcelona which is a wonderful city with much to see and do.

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We are looking at a Spain, France and Italy cruise in September. Any recommendations on the best cruise line for this area?

 

 

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Unless you want to spend a month or more you won't see all these places on land.

 

Yes you see less depth on a cruise but you get to see more places.

 

You also have far less to worry about and you don't have to constantly pack and unpack and pack again.

 

I would add a few days in Barcelona to enjoy the cruise before the start of the cruise.

 

In the end it comes down to what you prefer.

 

Congratulations on your anniversary milestone cruise. We celebrated our 40th last year and we did it on a cruise.

 

Keith

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We've done multiple cruises and land trips to Europe and agree with most of the prior posters. You will generally cover more places on a cruise but only scratch the surface of the ports with only a few hours stops in them. Cruises are easier in the you only unpack once and most of your meals (especially breakfast and dinner) are included but ofter you don't get the flavor of the stop (figuratively and literally) on a cruise. While we prefer to be independent travelers, it's easier to form groups on cruise roll calls on cc if you want to take tours, with coordination of pick up and drop off at the ship, with a group at lower prices that independent travel. Clearly a cruise is much easier to see the Greek islands. either way you should enjoy your trip. Finally, in reviewing your itinerary, one day in most of the stops is sufficient to get a good overview of them, but I strongly suggest adding a few days before your cruise in Barcelona which has a lot to see.

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If I went to Europe I would do it for longer time, for me a B2B2B would be ideal if the third leg was the Westbound TA.

The advantages of going by boat than by land: the main one for me is that the Boat is a Floating Hotel, from the first day until the last you will not have to be carrying your luggage from city to city, sleeping badly on the train or a bus, etc. The food is included and the entertainment is first class. You can add several days as a pre-cruise at the city of embarkation.

 

The advantage of traveling by land is that you can know inland places.

 

Some have their +, and others their -, you take the decision

 

Congratulations and Bon Voyage

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Happy Anniversary! Enjoy your Barcelona to Barcelona cruise! if you can take more time bookend your trip. Arrive early somewhere with an easy connection to Barcelona for some R&R to get over jetlag [spa resort?] with some time to enjoy Barcelona at the end.

 

We have been doing Land AND Cruise trips, picking different start/end ports to enjoy some time to tour in depth or just experience the countryside at our leisure. That way we get the best travel experience. Obviously your friends haven’t done much cruising to think you could do such an ambitious itinerary on your own! Friends just did a bus tour of Spain, Portugal and Morocco which they loved but did spend a lot of time on the bus and had to move hotels constantly... not sure I would enjoy that! Having to make airline connections also in this day in age take up too much travel time. We did 15 days on a Swiss Rail Pass (after a Venice to Rome cruise with some time in Venice before!] but we did spend a couple of nights in a row in some places, but also did some 2nighters. We love any and all types of travel but were surprised at how we have incorporated cruising into our travel plans!

 

Your Med itinerary is best enjoyed sitting on deck with a libation in hand as you sail out of a port with no worries about where to sleep, what to eat and what to do! All the best for your Anniversary!

 

 

 

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Big job organizing ground transportation & flights.

 

It takes days before the trip to pull it together. Tried to get a TA to do it but we didn't like the flights they found for us.

We did the cruise on the Reflection transatlantic, Spain (4 stops),France (2 stops),and Italy (2 stops). In Nice it was big time rain, Florence was too short a stop to bother traveling to that city, couldn't spend enough time there, and Sundays most places are closed. Disembarkation was Rome we spent a couple of days there and travelled around the city, magnificent.

Flew to Nice, had to overnight there to fly to Corsica the next day, 10 days in Corsica, flew to South of France for 10 days.

Spent a couple of days in Barcelona before flying home. Each flight seem to be a reasonable price until you had to pay for check-in, seat selection and bags it would almost double, this would be small 1 - 2 hour flights.

We had extra luggage for the cruise part of the trip, paid for extra luggage with the booking but they still tried to charge extra.

Think I would learn to do cruise only.

It is a sad situation with travel and the extra charges!

 

 

 

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I get what your kids are saying. I’m a huge fan of land trips to Europe and, yes, you won’t see all of those places on a land trip, but the question is do you need to? Is a week in a villa on a Greek island exploring at your own leisure and hanging with the locals at night, eating local less or more than island hopping on a ship and returning to your generic main dining room menu each night? Sure, you get to check more places off your list on a cruise, but how much do you really see of it? Same goes for Spain and Italy.

 

Having said that I do like the itinerary on Reflection. Malta is amazing. Somewhere I’d definitely like to spend more time.

 

Can you add time at the beginning and end of your trip? Seeing Messina isn’t really seeing Italy.

 

Also, try to remember you’re asking on a cruise forum, you’ll get very different answers to asking on Tripadvisor where you’ll find many more independent travellers.

Edited by Cruise Junky

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Our experience mirrors the previous responses.

We have taken land tours all over Europe and while we have seen much more than what we could have on a Med cruise, the continuous routine of moving from hotel to bus to hotel gets a little tiresome. Our best tours found us spending 3-4 days in each city.

We will be taking a 12 day western Med cruise out of Barcelona and will spend extra time after the cruise in Barcelona and them Amsterdam before heading home.

 

Either trip will be a great experience for you, enjoy.

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Happy 40th!!

I vote cruise!! (However, we have never done an organized group land tour)

I have had a heck of a time organizing land trips in countries I am not familiar with! One land trip to Great Britain ended up including missed flights, a missed airbnb, booking and paying for a non existent hotel, and a totaled rental car (along with other smaller debacles)....well at least makes for a fun story

 

 

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We have done similar Med cruises and I echo the thoughts already expressed. We are in the UK so land trips to Europe are easy for us, but as someone has said, there is a lot of living out of suitcases. All in all, they are not such a relaxing holiday as a cruise.

In addition you do not get the splendour of the sail into Valletta, a sight not to be missed and worth being up early 😀. Have a fabulous anniversary cruise 🛳🍾.

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I'm pretty much in agreement with the others, especially since you're looking at the Greek islands. If you want to see more than one, then a cruise is the way to go.

 

HOWEVER...

 

Everyone's assuming "tour" with multiple stop, multiple hotels, etc. My wife and I spent close to two weeks in Germany last summer (vacation mixed in with a business trip). We spent 6 nights in the same hotel in Munich, two nights in Oberammergau, two nights in Dresden, and one night in Erding before flying home. That was by rental car. We actually would have been perfectly happy with multiple nights in the Alps had I not wanted to take her to Dresden after a previous trip there. I suspect you could easily spend a very nice week in Barcelona, for instance, without having to pack and unpack. No, you wouldn't see as much, but you'd experience more. We've spent a week in London and took day trips by train. (We've also cruised in Europe.)

 

It really depends on what you want to experience. But, for multiple Greek islands, I'd cruise...

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I'm pretty much in agreement with the others, especially since you're looking at the Greek islands. If you want to see more than one, then a cruise is the way to go.

 

HOWEVER...

 

Everyone's assuming "tour" with multiple stop, multiple hotels, etc. .

 

Not everyone ;)

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Thank you for all the great feedback. I would like to add a few days prior to cruise to explore Barcelona. We are both still working so limited vacation time. We've been on 5 cruises all in Caribbean which we've enjoyed. But I want to start venturing to out to other parts of the world. Also, when we retire we do plan to mix it up with cruises and land based vacations. I love vacations!

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Those extra days in Barcelona are well worth the investment. It is a great city, easy to get around on your own. We are a bit older than you but have been doing Europe cruises for about 7 years now and we really enjoy not having to pack and unpack all of the time. We did it in Australia a few years ago for a week before joining our cruise in Sydney and after 7 days of running, 3 flights within Australia and three hotels I was exhausted to the point we could not get out to see a show at the Opera House and settled for room service dinner. I get what your kids are saying but you will get to see more places on a cruise.

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Those extra days in Barcelona are well worth the investment. It is a great city, easy to get around on your own. We are a bit older than you but have been doing Europe cruises for about 7 years now and we really enjoy not having to pack and unpack all of the time. We did it in Australia a few years ago for a week before joining our cruise in Sydney and after 7 days of running, 3 flights within Australia and three hotels I was exhausted to the point we could not get out to see a show at the Opera House and settled for room service dinner. I get what your kids are saying but you will get to see more places on a cruise.

 

7 days for three stops and three flights is not reasonable nor should be attempted.

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Yes, cruising will meet your needs in Europe, especially since you have not been there before. It is your 40th, so take advantage of what others have said and spend a couple of nights in Barcelona(see Montserrat)and then cruise to all these lovely places.

 

We are returning on Reflection to do Greece, Italy and Malta. We did a similar cruise quite a few years ago. Your cruise, at the very least, will keep you extremely busy and full of adventure. Your first time in Europe will make so many memories that you will want to return again and again. We have always tried to do our cruise, after touring on land with our own itinerary. That way you can relax more at the end. This time, we are heading back to Cinque Terre by train for a week.

 

If you like the Caribbean, but are ready to venture out and see the history and culture of Europe, you will not be disappointed! Go for the cruise!!! Happy Anniversary and listen to those of us who share our love for Europe!

 

 

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Edited by Lastdance

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We've done both, enough so that at this point we've spent a little more than 4 months total in Europe... i realize many people have spent much more time, but here's my 2 cents. ;) it sounds like you're just starting out & plan to travel more in the future, a cruise is a great was to get a small taste of each location to figure out where you'd like to spend more time in the future. You stated that time is limited, so maybe attempt to have a full 3 days in Barcelona pre-cruise, not counting your arrival & cruise embark day. Be prepared to be hooked on Europe, we took our first trip in 2009, it was our "once in a lifetime"... which turned into a way of life instead lol ;)

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Take the cruise we did Barcelona to Venice two years ago with 2 days in Barcelona before the cruise. We loved Barcelona so much to see and do and great food. On the cruise it's so nice to go to another city and or country each day then come back to your same room and great food and entertainment on the ship. We did not go to Greece so this summer we are on a 10 day cruise with 4 stops in Greece. Have a great trip and Happy Anniversary.

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I love to do both although I worked in the travel industry for many years so planning out detailed itineraries is actually fun for me, but I know it can be a real pain for others. What we have done on our recent Europe cruises is add some land time before or after the cruise. For instance, on our Constellation cruise last year we flew into Rome two nights early and toured the city before boarding the ship. Then afterward debarking in Barcelona we rented a car and drove south to this wonderful hill village called Albarracin where we spent 2 nights and then on to Madrid for 3 nights before flying home. This spring we'll be doing Reflection in and out of Rome so after we debark we are going to rent a car and drive to Tuscany to spend 6 nights touring on our own. I really like to be able to spend evenings in European locations as it has such a different vibe and with a cruise you generally don't get to experience that. So doing a cruise with some land portion before or after gives the best of both worlds. Also, another note is around flights. One of my motivations last year in flying out of Madrid instead of Barcelona was so I could get a non-stop flight back to Boston. Flying in or out of a different airport where the cruise begins or ends could sometimes net you better routing or pricing for your flights. You should always check options like that.

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