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Cruising Med compared to cruising Caribbean

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OK this is our first Europe cruise (Med) & our first Carnival cruise! Also our longest at 12 nights (did 9 nights last New Years)

We are seasoned cruisers but have really only done the Caribbean (MX Riv once)

 

This cruise port intensive (3 sea days--1st day, last day, one in the middle), and days are long in port (9-13 hours) and we plan to take full advantage of each port, seeing as much as possible. 

Therefore, we imagine that we will return for dinner & likely have little energy for the usual evening activities we usually partake of on a cruise (show, casino, dancing).

And we expect Sea Days to be more lazy than our usual active days to refuel for more days of exploring.

 

Could anyone with personal experience of Caribbean cruises & longer Europe cruises give me some personal experiences?

Thanks!

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We have done many of each, we find the Caribbean relaxing and restful with sun which is what we go for, we have toured a lot of the islands so don't always leave the ship at some islands. The Med tends to be more tiring as there is a lot to take in depending on your interests plus it can get hot. We find that after a Med/Europe cruise we sometimes need a holiday. It may be prudent to not try and see everything in one go and save something for your next med cruise.

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We also do a lot of Caribbean and have done some Asia, Alaska, British Isles, Europe/Baltic and Western Med. cruises.

We just returned from a 12 night Med/Greece a total of 7 port stops...we came home exhausted this time but loved this itinerary.

 

You're lucky to have a 1st sea day...we didn't have a sea day until day 5.

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1 hour ago, KKB said:

OK this is our first Europe cruise (Med) & our first Carnival cruise! Also our longest at 12 nights (did 9 nights last New Years)

We are seasoned cruisers but have really only done the Caribbean (MX Riv once)

 

This cruise port intensive (3 sea days--1st day, last day, one in the middle), and days are long in port (9-13 hours) and we plan to take full advantage of each port, seeing as much as possible. 

Therefore, we imagine that we will return for dinner & likely have little energy for the usual evening activities we usually partake of on a cruise (show, casino, dancing).

And we expect Sea Days to be more lazy than our usual active days to refuel for more days of exploring.

 

Could anyone with personal experience of Caribbean cruises & longer Europe cruises give me some personal experiences?

Thanks!

You have hit on most of the key issues. European cruises tend to be port intensive, and there is usually MANY key sites to see in each port, so touring days can be long. 

 

We have sailed the Caribbean and Europe many times. In fact, we are cruising the Med for 24 days next May/June, and today we are starting to plan our desires for tours and DIY ports.

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We will definitely play it by ear--prioritize what we want to see & try to schedule a light day before/after a day that might be more intense.

DM will be 75 but she is an active 75. But we both plan to do a lot of walking in the months leading up to the cruise.

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I see your from the corn husker state, flying to departure port in the med will be a small hurdle in time lag.  Suggest a few days early for the body to adjust. Lot's to see in med ports, a lot of history and culture. Wear comfortable shoes (not white) Your correct about returning to the ship with little energy but that depends on your activities  ashore.  We love the med, the people ,  food and art. It's not hard to communicate or get around. It's can be more expensive than the Caribbean, most ports except American currency. We always check with customer service prior to find out if we needed to exchange for Euro's.  

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Do a couple of half day excursions. Then have the afternoons lazing by the pool drinking copious amounts of alcohol.

 

Oh I wish I was there already.

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Caribbean vs Med cruises are like comparing Apples to walnuts!   Completely different in multiple ways.  The Med is primarily about the ports and itinerary.  When DW and I cruise in the Caribbean (we still do this once or twice a year) we often don't even bother to get off the ship at most ports.  In the Med we not only get off, but we might travel over 100 miles from the port (often on our own).  If you are on a cruise with many long port days you will find that many cruisers will go back to their cabins by 10pm...because they are exhausted :).   The passenger demographics can also be substantially different in the Med with many cruises having a very diversified International crowd.  

 

Also give some consideration to your budget.  Traveling in Europe is going to be a lot more expensive then in the Caribbean...especially if you decide to book cruise line excursions.  There are also lots of private tour options in Europe (become active on your CC Roll Call board) and many of us are comfortable doing our own thing (we might average 1 tour for every 100 ports).  European ports mean one should do a lot of pre-cruise "homework" evaluating all the options and getting some ideas about what choices push your own personal buttons.  As an example, we can easily think of at least a dozen different itineraries in Naples, Italy ranging from a visit to Pompeii to perhaps taking a fast ferry out to Capri, Ischia or even Procidia.   The port decisions are much more complex then simply deciding on which beach :).

 

Hank

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One big difference that you will notice is that there are nothing like the quantity of tours offered at the port gates.

You should make sure to pre book your tours (join your cc Roll Call) or do a lot of reading and planning.

 

Also the distances to reach the focal point of a tour is a lot further than in the Caribbean.  Rome is over an hours drive from Civitavecchia!   Spend time researching each of your ports and decide which sights you really want to see.  You won't see them all in one cruise!  Then prioritize!

 

Also, although you will be told that the US dollar is accepted in ports, do not believe it.  The currency in a lot of Europe is the euro and dollars are not accepted.  Some shops may take them, but the exchange rate will be somewhere between rip off and bare faced robbery.  Credit cards are widely accepted (except Amex ).  Do not accept the offer to charge your credit card in dollars, tell them to charge you in euros (or local currency) and your bank will give you a much better exchange rate.

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One big difference is how people dress.  T-shirts, shorts, trainers, and baseball caps are not worn there--except by "Americans."

 

Learn a few phrases in the language of the countries you'll be visiting.  Plan on paying in the local currency--not all of the Med is no the Euro as an FYI.

 

 

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Of you plan to visit a church go covered up, long trousers for men, covered shoulders for ladies. I usually take a large cotton scarf to cover up with. Trousers with zip on/off lower legs are useful. Some churches offer wraps at the door but who knows how many have worn them. 

as others have said, take euros. 

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Utterly different : the Caribbean is a good escape from winter, the islands can usually be well experienced on port calls.

 

The Med has marvelous cities - few of which can be given justice in a few hours’ port call - many of which are close to an hour’s ride from the pier.  Yes - you want to

keep on the go and just use the ship in the evening to rest up for the next day.

 

But you are really missing an opportunity if you fly across the Atlantic just for a cruise.  Give yourself a few days before, after, or both , your cruise to get a feel taste of what is there.

 

Nobody can “do” Rome, Florence, Athens, Barcelona, Venice or anyplace worthwhile in the few hours a cruise port call allows.

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Just some random thoughts:

 

Caribbean...beaches, shopping,........shopping, beaches.

Mediterranean....lots of walking, planning, churches, museums, food,......so much history.  Different languages...really helps to know a few words and smile.   Lastly, be wary of pickpockets.

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More planning is needed for a Med cruise vs a Caribbean cruise.  If you are an excursion person, there aren't the vendors lined up at the Med ports like there are in the Caribbean - you have to decide and pick before you leave or DIY.  

Do you want to be able to impress your friend with checklist of all the sites you visited for a couple of minutes each or do you want to pick one or two places you really want to visit?  Do you want to be cocooned in a private van or do you want to be out and among the people, example, walking from The Pantheon to Trevi Fountain?  Do you want to be taken to a restaurant or walk and find something that just calls to you?  Shopping?  I've done better quality shopping in the Med than I've done in the Caribbean!!  

I'm wary of pickpockets everywhere, not just the Med...

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We do almost all Caribbean cruises , about 60 total. Did a couple of European including a 12 day cruise a couple of years ago , also with just three cruise days. Big difference is European cruises are not that relaxing , I am not a carnival fan but with Europe it does not matter,  big suggestion is get on your roll call and research your cruise ports, in most cases we did almost all cruise excursions with roll call members mush nicer and cheaper than overpriced and overcrowded ships tours. Most of our tours were with about 8 people so we were not crammed in a bus like ship tours. There are some places that are easy to do on your own , we loved just walking around Kotor. If you are visiting a church shorts shorts and tank tops are not allowed also Vatican. 

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I am with the "take euros" crew on this one. There seems to be a perception that the US $ is the universal currency of the world - it isn't.  

 

If l walked into a bar in, say, New Orleans, and bought a beer and proffered a €10 bill as payment, how do you think the barman would react?

 

.......just the same in Rome, or Barcelona, or Nice.

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I didnt find the Med cruise particularly tiring. But there again, I stuck to one church per city. Once you have seen ONE you have seen them all etc.

 

I prefered to relax and just people watch and sample the basics of the places. Like how does their beer compare to UK beer.

 

And I can confirm that none of the places beer was anywhere near the quality of UK beer, but all were considerably better than the beer on the ship.

 

Florence was a great example of this. Lovely place but way too many churches. And squares. No place needs more than one square. But we found a lovely little drinking hole that allowed us to watch millions of folk wandering in and out of the billions of churches.

 

Great fun was had by all......................well the two of us. The millions we watched looked stressed and a little tired.

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to balance this out a little, the food in all of the places we visited is far better than the UK, which frankly has appalling food.

 

Hence why we all drink.

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Oh yes, and the Euro, you definitely need the euro, unless you dont ming racking up a huge credit card bill.

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11 hours ago, ducklite said:

One big difference is how people dress.  T-shirts, shorts, trainers, and baseball caps are not worn there--except by "Americans."

 

 

I don't agree about t-shirts and trainers because they are defenitely worn everywhere in Europe. Shorts are worn by tourists but most locals in southern Europe don't wear shorts. 

 

Baseball caps is a big NO, I think. Grown ups with baseball caps looks supersilly!

 

But if you want to wear baseball caps, do it. Don't care too much what other people think. Wear what YOU want!  

 

  

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5 hours ago, DarrenM said:

to balance this out a little, the food in all of the places we visited is far better than the UK, which frankly has appalling food.

 

Hence why we all drink.


You're eating at the wrong places.  I've had some incredibly good meals in the UK.

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4 hours ago, sverigecruiser said:

 

I don't agree about t-shirts and trainers because they are defenitely worn everywhere in Europe. Shorts are worn by tourists but most locals in southern Europe don't wear shorts. 

 

Baseball caps is a big NO, I think. Grown ups with baseball caps looks supersilly!

 

But if you want to wear baseball caps, do it. Don't care too much what other people think. Wear what YOU want!  

 

  

I wonder if it ever occurs to men who do not have chiseled facial features (which means about 95% of them) that wearing a baseball cap backwards makes them look sort of like a penis.

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Totally agree on taking euros we took a thousand, one of our favorite stops Croatia has another currency but most there will take euros. 

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17 hours ago, VMax1700 said:

One big difference that you will notice is that there are nothing like the quantity of tours offered at the port gates.

You should make sure to pre book your tours (join your cc Roll Call) or do a lot of reading and planning.

 

Also the distances to reach the focal point of a tour is a lot further than in the Caribbean.  Rome is over an hours drive from Civitavecchia!   Spend time researching each of your ports and decide which sights you really want to see.  You won't see them all in one cruise!  Then prioritize!

 

Also, although you will be told that the US dollar is accepted in ports, do not believe it.  The currency in a lot of Europe is the euro and dollars are not accepted.  Some shops may take them, but the exchange rate will be somewhere between rip off and bare faced robbery.  Credit cards are widely accepted (except Amex ).  Do not accept the offer to charge your credit card in dollars, tell them to charge you in euros (or local currency) and your bank will give you a much better exchange rate.

 

Great advice! I would just add that it's rare to find places that accept Discover. Stick with Visa and Master card.  

 

Be sure to have a supply of coins in local currency, 50 euro cent, 5 kuna. It's not easy to find a free toilet 😳. Coins and small bills do come in handy for tipping guides and drivers.

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We did Princess for a Rome, Greek Isles to Venice cruise and NCL for a TA to Barcelona.  I never thought of doing a Carnival cruise in the Med (I'm Diamond on Carnival), though we have a 9 day Norway booked on the Legend.

 

Some say Med cruises are more port intensive, I would say they equate to a Southern Caribbean itinerary.  However for us, the big difference was, as many have already posted, a long shuttle from the port to the city attractions, as well as the crowding we encountered once we got there.

 

If excursions have "bypass the lines" option, it saves time and we thought it was well worth the extra cost.

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