Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
KKB

Cruising Med compared to cruising Caribbean

Recommended Posts

We want to reiterate that one must do a lot of pre-cruise homework if they have any interest in maintaining a reasonable budget.  Here is a very basic example.  Assume you get a port day at Civitavecchia and simply want to go to Rome.  Your cruise line will have various excursions, but even the most basic excursion (Rome on Your Own) which involves a simple bus transfer (about a 1:15 min drive) will cost over $100 per person.  But one could simply take the train for less than $15.  In fact, there is even a special express train (we are not big fans because of the schedule).  

 

I would also advise the OP that there is a tremendous resource of port information right here on CC in the various Ports of Call forums.  You can learn about private tours, cruise line excursions, and how to DIY.  The info is here, there is also lots of expertise to answer specific questions, and all you need to do is look at the options and decide what works best for you :).

 

Hank

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, evandbob said:

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.


Or cruise on a small ship (under 35,000 Tonnes) with no lines that can pull right into the downtown area in most places rather than some industrial port 30 minutes away.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, Hlitner said:

We want to reiterate that one must do a lot of pre-cruise homework if they have any interest in maintaining a reasonable budget.  Here is a very basic example.  Assume you get a port day at Civitavecchia and simply want to go to Rome.  Your cruise line will have various excursions, but even the most basic excursion (Rome on Your Own) which involves a simple bus transfer (about a 1:15 min drive) will cost over $100 per person.  But one could simply take the train for less than $15.  In fact, there is even a special express train (we are not big fans because of the schedule).  

 

I would also advise the OP that there is a tremendous resource of port information right here on CC in the various Ports of Call forums.  You can learn about private tours, cruise line excursions, and how to DIY.  The info is here, there is also lots of expertise to answer specific questions, and all you need to do is look at the options and decide what works best for you :).

 

Hank


Good advice, Hank.  My next cruise has eight days in port and I'm not taking a single ship sponsored excursion--in fact my entire time on shore will be independent.  It will save us thousands of dollars.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Thanks for everyone's thoughts! I am a librarian so research is my thing. It has just begun for me...

 

I am aware of the typical clothing choice of Europeans vs.Americans--I'm not a baseball hat/white tennies kinda gal. I invested in some Jambu Mary Jane style walking shoes in anticipation of needing comfortable shoes.

 

Aware of the pickpockets--when I was in France YEARS ago, 2 men jumped on the Metro behind our high school group & then jumped off before the doors closed. One of the guys wallet was gone; luckily it was near the end of the trip & he didn't have much cash in there--and travelers checks were in his wallet belt. (YEP travelers checks--that dates me!)

 

DD took a Discover to Spain against my advice--and "discovered" that was a bad plan. She had taken $500 cash, but her pals paid for things on their cards & she just Venmos them the cash (an app to transfer $ from person to person if you aren't familiar; it is THE way for young adults)

 

We are flying out of Chicago on Weds. night (overnight) for a Saturday embarkation. Would have liked a few more days but the flight was so much cheaper on Weds it was a no brainer. We fly all night (planning for that...), have a 14 hour layover in Lisbon (DD visited in March), so want to explore a bit), fly to Barcelona late that evening so have Friday in Barcelona to explore a bit. Glad our first day is at sea to refuel. DM was in Europe a few years ago & is an RN--she has a few tricks up her sleeve for jet lag! 

 

I have been scouring these boards since our first cruise & they are INVALUABLE. I have already seen posts on our Roll Call for local tour operators & I have a file I'm tossing all that (digital) info into. In the Caribbean we never take ship tours--or local tours for that matter. We usually know what we want to do (BEACH). We may determine that local tours are a better fit in some ports here...still in that research phase!

 

Well, 3 weeks until school starts so I intend to immerse myself in research the next few weeks! (and the next many months...)

 

Thanks all!

 

 

Edited by KKB

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, ducklite said:


Good advice, Hank.  My next cruise has eight days in port and I'm not taking a single ship sponsored excursion--in fact my entire time on shore will be independent.  It will save us thousands of dollars.

We have not taken a single European cruise line excursion in dozens of cruises to, from, and around the continent with the exception of a cruise line excursion in Murmansk (the only way to get off the ship).  I would guess (and its a wild guess) that about 90% of our ports (we are talking a few hundred) over the years have been DIY using public transit, our feet, rental cars, etc.  The other 10% have been primarily small group private tours....mostly arranged via the Roll Call boards here on CC :).  

 

Like you, we have saved lots of money (given the number of cruises it must be 10s of thousands of dollars) but that is not the primary reason we prefer DIY.  For us, our priority is the ability to do what we want, when we want, with who we want (which is usually just the two of us).  While excursions do have their advantages we generally view them as akin to being herded around like a herd of cattle.  We used to think that as we got older we would likely gravitate to the excursions.  But now we are older and we still strongly dislike large group excursions whether it be in easy places to navigate like Europe or more challenging places like parts of Asia.   Fortunately, being in our 70s has not stopped us from being able to rent cars in Europe (although it is a problem in Iceland).

 

Hank

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
35 minutes ago, evandbob said:

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.

 

 

We have never done Carnival. But the price was unbeatable & the ship will be in dry dock in January, so exciting to see an essentially new ship! (It is currently $1100 each for 3 of us in OV for a 12 night cruise!)

Edited by KKB

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I strongly suggest you get a copy of Rick Steves' Mediterranean Cruise Ports.  He tells you what there is to see/do in the ports, and how to DIY it.  On his website there are free audio tours to download to ipod/mp3 and you can print out basic maps to go along.  The few ports he doesn't cover in that book her recommends Lonely Planet.  I gather you will be on Radiance.  EM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

KBB - doing private or ship's excursions is not a requirement.  As you can read, there are some of us who strike out alone and have lived to tell the tales.   I've never taken a excursion in Europe, cruise or otherwise,  and I do it solo.  I'm the one who researches and finds one or two things that I truly want to visit or do and they are my focus.  Then, I enjoy the wandering around, taking in the sights and sounds of the area.  Some of my best memories are from something spontaneous - the woman on Murano who I "talked" to for probably 30 minutes on history of Murano glass and jewelry ("talked" because she didn't speak English and I didn't speak Italian, but looking at books and walking through and her showing me pieces got the messages across), spending time with the dogs at the Dog Park across from La Sagrada Familia, walking into a random church next to my hotel and having it become my must-visit place every time I am in Rome.   

 

Oh - enjoy those Jambu shoes!  I've used a pair of Jambus as my traveling shoes since probably 2008.  I've been able to wear them for hours right out of the box - over all the terrain Europe has to offer.  Those and my trail runners are the only shoes I ever take anymore - yes, I wear them to dinner.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, ducklite said:


Or cruise on a small ship (under 35,000 Tonnes) with no lines that can pull right into the downtown area in most places rather than some industrial port 30 minutes away.  

 

Does a small boat (can't call under 35K tons a ship) get close to downtown Rome, Grenada, Seville, Florence, Ephesus or Athens?

IDK.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We have cruised the Mediterranean many times... seen most ports over the years.  First went in l989 I believe... we learned quickly not to try to do it all, see it all, to select a couple of things we really wanted to see and do that and take it easy in other ports.  We usually try to do only 1/2 day tours as well.  Another factor is the time difference.    We always fly in a few days early and stay a day or two afterwards to rest up and enjoy the ports more.    We try to fly now days on premium coach since flights are tiring too.   Assume you will go back, we did many times... probably a 12 cruises over the years... we have taken cruises in and out of Barcelona, Rome, Athens, Venice  and Istanbul.  All wonderful ports to spend more time in.   Lots to see and do, try to pace yourself.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, evandbob said:

 

Does a small boat (can't call under 35K tons a ship) get close to downtown Rome, Grenada, Seville, Florence, Ephesus or Athens?

IDK.

No.  Small ships (boats are what you put on a ship) can get into many ports not even accessible to larger ships, but not the places you mentioned.  When we take smaller vessels we look for itineraries that take us to these smaller unique ports.  For example, some smaller cruise ships can dock in downtown Bordeaux.  We once took a 20 person yacht cruise (very old yacht) in the Ionian islands.  Our embarkation port (Corfu) was the only port accessible to any cruise ship.  Another advantage to smaller vessels is that they can sometimes get superior docking positions in popular ports.  A good example is St Petersburg where there are some smaller piers adjacent to downtown while all the larger cruise ships much go to less convenient port located just outside of town.  Even the Caribbean has some nice ports that are popular with smaller vessels but rarely used by a large ship.  One good example is the jet setter island of St Barts.

 

Hank

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would say probably 80% of our cruise history is Europe/Med.  Maybe 2% is Caribbean.  That is just our preference.    We enjoy the port intensive itineraries and don't find them especially tiring.  There is still plenty of time for good old R&R and you will enjoy the few sea days even more.  

 

Others have already given the excellent advice to not try and see everything at many of these ports.  It just isn't possible in one day.  Choose what you would like in each port and go for it.  Then you will have an excuse for future trips.  As others have correctly said, many  popular places are far away from the port.  There are also many ports where you can walk off and do the town on your own.  Depending on your itinerary you may have opportunities to stroll around old town centers and kind of just taking things in, without any excursion.  It really depends on what you enjoy.    

 

Have a terrific cruise!  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 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!  

 

  

 

Thanks for the info. No intent  to start a brouhaha here, but this info about caps is a little perplexing to me.  I want (need) to keep the sun off my head.  I frequently wear a billed cap when I'm walking down the street.  I guess most billed caps would be thought of as "baseball caps".  Mine would probably be called a "Dad Cap" in the popular vernacular of young folk. 

 

So, sadly, I suppose I look silly to folks in Europe, but shucks, they will recognize that I'm a tourist.  Because I am a tourist, I am OK with that.   

 

Anyway, I agree with your last paragraph.  Anyone visiting my neck of the woods can pretty much wear what they want and still will be treated kindly.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, evandbob said:

 

Does a small boat (can't call under 35K tons a ship) get close to downtown Rome, Grenada, Seville, Florence, Ephesus or Athens?

IDK.

 

While I get what you're saying, your examples have some flaws. Rome and Florence, yes, a small ship can't get any closer than a large one, and they are both a substantial distance from the port.

 

But...

 

A small ship can sail up the river and dock in Seville where a large one cannot. Similarly with Rouen in France and Porto in Portugal. Also true with Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City in Asia. Large ships have to dock an ungodly distance away.

 

With Grenada, a smaller ship can dock at Motril, which is only 45 minutes away, whereas larger ships dock in Malaga, which is more than a 1.5 hour drive.

 

Athens, well....Piraeus is really a suburb of Athens and is only 20 minutes from Athens historic center. Even in ancient times it was regarded as the port of the city.

 

Small ships also make a difference for ports like Dubrovnik, Portofino, Monemvasa, Taormina (able to dock at Giardini Naxos rather than Messina), Bonifacio (Corsica) and more. Also don't forget that large ships are not even allowed to dock in Venice any longer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We were on a 4,000 ton 98 pax ship that docked right in the city centers in St Petersburg, Helsinki (just walked to things), Copenhagen (again walking distance), Barcalona (by the aerial cable car and Colombus statue), Seville, Lisbon, Porto, and Bourdeaux. That was one heck of a cruise . . . well really three.

 

Its a very different way of cruising than the large, not to mention mega ship experience. One that we have enjoyed on port intensive European trips. We also enjoy the mega ships on a more relaxed Caribbean trip. I don't think I'd like to travel the other way around - small I'm the Caribbean and large in Europe.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, ldubs said:

 

Thanks for the info. No intent  to start a brouhaha here, but this info about caps is a little perplexing to me.  I want (need) to keep the sun off my head.  I frequently wear a billed cap when I'm walking down the street.  I guess most billed caps would be thought of as "baseball caps".  Mine would probably be called a "Dad Cap" in the popular vernacular of young folk. 

 

So, sadly, I suppose I look silly to folks in Europe, but shucks, they will recognize that I'm a tourist.  Because I am a tourist, I am OK with that.   

 

Anyway, I agree with your last paragraph.  Anyone visiting my neck of the woods can pretty much wear what they want and still will be treated kindly.  

 

Baseball caps for sunprotection is more "accepted". There are lots of other kinds of hats which can be used for sunprotection if someone prefer not to look silly.

 

A baseball cap doesn't protect the neck from the sun  and that is bad.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, sverigecruiser said:

 

Baseball caps for sunprotection is more "accepted". There are lots of other kinds of hats which can be used for sunprotection if someone prefer not to look silly.

 

A baseball cap doesn't protect the neck from the sun  and that is bad.

 

OK, I guess this is where I say I'm happy with my hat, but thanks.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/11/2019 at 2:54 PM, DarrenM said:

Do a couple of half day excursions.

Then have the afternoons lazing by the pool drinking copious amounts of alcohol.

 

Half-day outings are The Bomb! lol

 

I've always maintained that this Going Ashore thing can be hot sweaty work!


Half-days work well for those past the age of 55 or so
unless you're a fitness freak..........

 

Leave the ship promptly by 9:30 or so

and be back on board for a late-ish lunch at 1:00 p.m.
And you can always enjoy the pier-runners later

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/12/2019 at 12:45 PM, evandbob said:

 

Does a small boat (can't call under 35K tons a ship) get close to downtown Rome, Grenada, Seville, Florence, Ephesus or Athens?

IDK.


I was referring to cruise ports that most large ships simply can't get into as opposed to ports that NO cruise ship can get to.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, Aplmac said:

 

Half-day outings are The Bomb! lol

 

I've always maintained that this Going Ashore thing can be hot sweaty work!


Half-days work well for those past the age of 55 or so
unless you're a fitness freak..........

 

Leave the ship promptly by 9:30 or so

and be back on board for a late-ish lunch at 1:00 p.m.
And you can always enjoy the pier-runners later


I'm older than 55 and not a "fitness freak" and have no problem being on shore for 12 hours at a time.  I prefer to have my lunch in a local cafe--enjoy the local food and contribute to their economy.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, ducklite said:


I'm older than 55 and not a "fitness freak" and have no problem being on shore for 12 hours at a time.  I prefer to have my lunch in a local cafe--enjoy the local food and contribute to their economy.  

Totally agree . Why travel half way round the world to spend 3 hours in a coach with other cruisers,  before scurrying back to a bland buffet in an air conditioned enclave? We wander around the back streets, have a coffee/beer/wine, plus a meal, and soak up the atmosphere.  I know we are nowhere near truly exploring the country we are in, but at least we feel that we have got away from the herd like mentality of so many cruisers.

Edited by wowzz

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, wowzz said:

Totally agree . Why travel half way round the world to spend 3 hours in a coach with other cruisers,  before scurrying back to a bland buffet in an air conditioned enclave? We wander around the back streets, have a coffee/beer/wine, plus a meal, and soak up the atmosphere.  I know we are nowhere near truly exploring the country we are in, but at least we feel that we have got away from the herd like mentality of so many cruisers.


Who spends three hours in a coach?  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, wowzz said:

Totally agree . Why travel half way round the world to spend 3 hours in a coach with other cruisers,  before scurrying back to a bland buffet in an air conditioned enclave? We wander around the back streets, have a coffee/beer/wine, plus a meal, and soak up the atmosphere.  I know we are nowhere near truly exploring the country we are in, but at least we feel that we have got away from the herd like mentality of so many cruisers.

A lot of people happen to feel that, since they paid for lunch on the ship, they are going to make sure they get it.  Sort of the same approach as that of people who want to take food off the ship so they do not have to buy it ashore. Especially in the Med, where you often spend close to an hour getting from the port to see anything worth seeing, the notion of a half day ashore pretty well defeats the whole point of going.  Better to go to Disney World and experience “Europe” at Epcot.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, ducklite said:


Who spends three hours in a coach?  

A whole lot of people who want to “do” Rome or Florence from where their ship moors.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
24 minutes ago, navybankerteacher said:

A whole lot of people who want to “do” Rome or Florence from where their ship moors.


One day in either of those cities is  waste of time and money.  If that is the intent, skip the cruise and do a land based trip that encompasses both--probably for less money if you plan well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Q&A with the Coral Expeditions Team
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...