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excitedofharpenden

Port overcrowding

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There are certain ports that Azamara use where the experience can vary greatly depending upon the number of ships in port. Immediately I think of Dubrovnik, Kotor and Santorini.  I was in Santorini last month on Pursuit when there were due to be 7 ships in port at varying times during the day. Fortunately our itinerary allowed us to swap Mykonos and Santorini round so there was only one ship. 

 

Pursuit's latest cruise had an itinerary that didn't allow a swap and there were 6 ships in Santorini and around 10,000 guests. I had a friend on the cruise who went to Oia and said there were virtually fist fights to get on the bus to go back to catch the cable car.  Destination Immersion of a different kind. 

 

Having experienced Dubrovnik in the heat and crowds brought there by ships it's not something I'd want to do again. If you are lucky enough to have an overnight in Dubrovnik then go and have dinner off the ship and savour the wonderful atmosphere in the evening. 

 

If going to these sometimes overcrowded ports (which is nothing but greed by the countries involved) I'd recommend checking the port load beforehand and if it is busy then plan your day accordingly.
 
Phil 

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Completely agree Phil and one of the first things I do when I book a cruise is to check the number and size of ships in the various ports. Santorini is definitely unbearable when the queue in the heat for the cable car or bus is huge. For me, that would be an extra day spent onboard. 

 

Some of the smaller Caribbean Islands are completely swamped by the Royal Caribbean giant ships. 

 

On my July Pursuit cruise we are luckily mainly the only ship in port, except for Malta and Palma which will be busy. 

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Our first call to Dubrovnik was on a 50 passengr ship and we arrived in the evening in February, docking a short bus ride from the old city.  The cruise line arranged a bus to take us to the city.  With the city lighted at night and no one there except some subset of the 50 of us, it was just wonderful, or "magic," as Captain Jose would say.

 

The overcrowding issue is everywhere, and not just caused by cruise ships.  Fortunately, we reserved a slot at the Churchill War Rooms and Museum last week, as the line was a block long and it was raining.  We just walked in at our appointed time.  All tourist sights in major cities are overcrowded.  It's making travel more and more a chore and less and less attractive.  London was mobbed.  Walking near Buckingham Palace or through St. James Park was difficult.  There was no sense of locals actually living or working in the London tourist areas, just tourists by the zillions.

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As of 2019, Dubrovnik has changed its rules and is now limiting the number of ships in port to two per day.  We were lucky enough to do an overnight there on the Millennium a couple of years ago.  They'll probably do away with overnights there.  

 

I agree on the Caribbean.  Some of these smaller ports depend on the dollars so much that they won't limit cruise dockings, but it only means overcrowded beaches and sites.  I purposely looked for an itinerary with as many sea days as port days for our next Caribbean cruise (Equinox) next year.  

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Just now, hubofhockey said:

As of 2019, Dubrovnik has changed its rules and is now limiting the number of ships in port to two per day.  We were lucky enough to do an overnight there on the Millennium a couple of years ago.  They'll probably do away with overnights there.  

If you look at the port schedule for Dubrovnik this year, most definitely not being enforced. 

 

Phil 

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4 minutes ago, excitedofharpenden said:

If you look at the port schedule for Dubrovnik this year, most definitely not being enforced. 

 

Phil 

 

It looks as though it is being enforced.  It doesn't apply to Saturdays and on Sundays through Fridays, there aren't more than two good sized ships.  It's possible it's somewhat of a phase out as well.  

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My August Pursuit cruise will share Mykonos with Celebrity Edge, which is a skimpy group compared to 10 days later when it looks like there’ll be close to 10,000 passengers from six ships in Santorini. Sigh....

I may pretend that’s a Sea Day.

Melissa

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We avoid Venice because of overcrowding. I can’t deal with it. It’s lively to walk around at night but not in the day time. We specifically look for cruises that do not visit. It’s a shame, it’s so beautiful but overrun. 

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1 hour ago, Cruise Junky said:

We avoid Venice because of overcrowding. I can’t deal with it. It’s lively to walk around at night but not in the day time. We specifically look for cruises that do not visit. It’s a shame, it’s so beautiful but overrun. 

 

We took the train to Padua on our day in Venice a couple of weeks ago.  It was easy and a lovely place.  You could also go to Verona.  We were overnighting in Venice so on our return in the late afternoon  I walked around Venice itself for several hours, visiting a free Art Exhibition and re visiting the lovely Frari Basilica.  Venice was the least crowded I have seen for many years.  Still lots of people in St Marks and the Rialto of course but hardly anyone on the little streets of the San Polo district I walked through.  

 

I do agree that the Med is now is full of tourists in many of the main ports even in the supposedly 'low season'.  Azamara does at least visit some of the smaller ports and does vary its itineraries to include new places.

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Just back from Pursuit, Santorini was a madhouse, took the tender to shore and returned on the next one, luckily we had been before so we had a sea day.

Only two ships in Dubrovnik but still very busy during the day, the Asamazing evening was brilliant. 

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2 hours ago, Cruise Junky said:

We avoid Venice because of overcrowding. I can’t deal with it. It’s lively to walk around at night but not in the day time. We specifically look for cruises that do not visit. It’s a shame, it’s so beautiful but overrun. 

I so agree and have said here a few times before that I really am over Venice.  Overnights there are a great opportunity.  I like Mrs Miggins’ idea.  Thanks Pam.

 

Phil

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My plan now on visiting places we have seen several times before is always to avoid the "top 10 must sees".

In Rome we have visited the Palazzo Brachi - Museo di Roma at the top of the Piazza Navona, very few people, lovely coffee shop, plus an additional exhibition of wonderful black and white photos of movie stars associated with Rome in the past.  We also loved the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, which was a bit difficult to find, even the policeman standing outside it wasn't sure where the entrance was.  Beautiful inside and much less crowded than the Borghese.

In Venice we have been to the Mocenigo Palace Museo, fabric, costumes, perfume, lovely rooms, very few people.

On our recent visit to Taormina we went to the Casa Cuseni.  Absolutely fascinating.  Even the locals seemed not to know where it actually was.  

 

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Love the advice! 

 

Venice? Well, we do go for a long weekend in December ---and it's almost tourist free! Great!

If a cruise takes us there, we usually try to explore some of the islands (Lido is interesting and does not have many tourists) or we wander around the back streets. If it is an overnighter, I'm off the ship before dawn, camera in hand!

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Mrs Miggins said:

 

We took the train to Padua on our day in Venice a couple of weeks ago.  It was easy and a lovely place.  You could also go to Verona.  We were overnighting in Venice so on our return in the late afternoon  I walked around Venice itself for several hours, visiting a free Art Exhibition and re visiting the lovely Frari Basilica.  Venice was the least crowded I have seen for many years.  Still lots of people in St Marks and the Rialto of course but hardly anyone on the little streets of the San Polo district I walked through.  

 

I do agree that the Med is now is full of tourists in many of the main ports even in the supposedly 'low season'.  Azamara does at least visit some of the smaller ports and does vary its itineraries to include new places.

 

Solid plan.

 

In the same vein, if Dubrovnik's crowded, get out of town and go to Ston, Peljesac...

Edited by Shawnino
typo

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In 2017, in Santorini, we did the expensive ship excursion (different line) and visited Akrotiri - very good and back to Thira. We avoided  Oia Purely because research shows it’s a bun fight getting a bus back to Thira and taxis are scarce. The excursion was very interesting, the bus trip up the cliff was great, we did some sightseeing on the way back,  quick wander around the pedestrian lanes and the cable car down with little queue. Back on board for a leisurely lunch with a great view and pleasant pool afternoon. Fortunately, we had seen other parts of Santorini on a 2008 cruise. There’s no doubt - Santorini is now a mess to try to do independently from a cruise ship. There were 5-7 ships in on our day in 2017.

 

Similarly, Dubrovnik is now a very unpleasant destination - just too many people for the size of the place (again, we had visited a few years ago and we learned then what a tourist crowd is like - the lines right across the old wall we’re like the recent photos of the Mt Everest queue). So, in 2017 We did an excursion to Cavtat, which was a small very pleasant environment to wander around, with great panoramic views on the way, followed by a nice boat trip back to Dubrovnik. We then foolishly headed inside the walled city but headed straight out, because of the immense crowds, and on to the tender for another pleasant afternoon on ship. It’s just the way things are now. Too many (including us) tourists during peak months.

 

if you can find a cruise itinerary which goes to some less popular islands in the Aegean/Adriatic, it’s well worthwhile. Also, while Mykonos and Rhodes can be very crowded, if you just wander around, you can find plenty of quiet lanes/streets; have a coffee, relax and enjoy yourself.

 

the ports of call board on cruise Critic can be very helpful. Take notice of the overrun places and look for other activities/tours - guaranteed a better time.

 

happy cruising

 

Tony

 

 

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The best time we had in Santorini was walking the caldera from Thira to Oia. Took a few hours , but only a handful of other people. All the views, none of the crowds. 

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4 hours ago, Shawnino said:

 

Solid plan.

 

In the same vein, if Dubrovnik's crowded, get out of town and go to Ston, Peljesac...

Or Cavtat by boat

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2 hours ago, Cruise Junky said:

The best time we had in Santorini was walking the caldera from Thira to Oia. Took a few hours , but only a handful of other people. All the views, none of the crowds. 

 

We did that, then took a taxi down the hill to Oia port and had a boat reserved that took us around the caldera and ultimately back to the tender dock.  Tons of crowds, but we avoided them!

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6 hours ago, Shawnino said:

 

Solid plan.

 

In the same vein, if Dubrovnik's crowded, get out of town and go to Ston, Peljesac...

We took a great excursion to Ston for an oyster/ mussel tasting off a little boat, followed by a wonderful lunch.

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The same thing is happening in Alaska. We will be in Ketchikan in July with 6 other ships. I have been there many times and I will stay onboard and enjoy a quiet lunch with a glass of Rose.

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We will be in Alaska too. I checked the port schedules.  The big mass market cruise lines are flooding the Alaskan ports. There are 2 ports on my cruise that will be crowded. The worst will be Skagway that will have 8000 cruisers on my port day. Booked ship tours in most ports. Azamara excursions are mostly in a small group. There are some ports where Quest is the only ship.  Since I have sailed to Alaska previously, if the crowds are too crazy, I may also stay on the ship. 

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On 6/19/2019 at 1:29 PM, marinaro44 said:

Our first call to Dubrovnik was on a 50 passengr ship and we arrived in the evening in February, docking a short bus ride from the old city.  The cruise line arranged a bus to take us to the city.  With the city lighted at night and no one there except some subset of the 50 of us, it was just wonderful, or "magic," as Captain Jose would say.

 

The overcrowding issue is everywhere, and not just caused by cruise ships.  Fortunately, we reserved a slot at the Churchill War Rooms and Museum last week, as the line was a block long and it was raining.  We just walked in at our appointed time.  All tourist sights in major cities are overcrowded.  It's making travel more and more a chore and less and less attractive.  London was mobbed.  Walking near Buckingham Palace or through St. James Park was difficult.  There was no sense of locals actually living or working in the London tourist areas, just tourists by the zillions.

London is such a cosmopolitan city that many 'locals' are from other parts of the world who live here now so you will often hear any other language except English spoken. I live beside the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, worked opposite Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament for 10 years and opposite Madame Tussauds for 11 years so can safely say that I am a local working and living in the middle of the major London tourist areas. I love seeing tourists enjoying themselves in this city but sorry if the major spots are too crowded at times. Time to do the Azamara thing and explore some of the lesser known parts of London - a day in Greenwich for a start, Hampton Court Palace, the Museum of London, Docklands Museum, Hampstead Heath and Keats House, Kew Gardens etc etc.

Lynne 😀

 

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