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“Quiet season” (winter) Mediterranean cruises


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We are looking to book a Viking December cruise from Athens to Rome.  Has anyone had experience with cruising the Med in winter on Viking ships?  I’m wondering if we should expect rough waters and possible seasickness for the family members with weaker stomachs?

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We did 2 med cruises in the “quiet season”. The first was in December 2018 and it was the best weather we ever had for a vacation - sunny with high temps in the low 70s. The second was November  2019 and while there were no rough weather issues, we did have a lot of rain with mild temperatures. I wouldn’t hesitate to book then - less crowds, moderate weather - and cheaper!

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My wife and I did a last cruise of the season in the eastern Mediterranean back in 2013.  Late October. Cool weather, few tourists at Kusadasi,  delightful on Santorini, efc. Breezy in Istanbul.

 

while rain and wind are possible, I suspect the dice are in your  favor.

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Although it wasn't on Viking ships, I completed an entire winter season in the Central & Eastern Meddy. Experienced everything from warm, sunny days to a severe Meddy storm at the bottom of the Adriatic. I also did the UK/Haifa citrus shuttle for 3 months in the winter and through these waters we had mostly nice weather.

 

Therefore, as with all weather related questions, unfortunately past experience isn't always a great bellwether of what you will experience.

 

If you are susceptible to ship movement, probably best to bring appropriate remedies/medications and hope that you never have to use them, experiencing only fine, sunny days.

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We’re on the Rome to Athens cruise (by way of Israel) next January. Watching this thread with interest. 
 

We’re planning to go to northern Greece (Meteora) after the cruise. We’ve heard it can snow there! That should make packing interesting.

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We have done two Viking New Year cruises in the Med.  Both wonderful, weather very acceptable.  Brilliant sunshine in Rome for example, and no storms or heavy weather.

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4 hours ago, Mrs Miggins said:

We have done two Viking New Year cruises in the Med.  Both wonderful, weather very acceptable.  Brilliant sunshine in Rome for example, and no storms or heavy weather.

 

It is our favorite time to travel in Europe. We have done 4 "quiet season"  sailings now ( just by luck, 2 were the same sailings as Mrs.M.). Three of our four were one variation or another of Rome to Barcelona and the fourth was Barcelona to London. 

 

While we lucked out with weather on most of our cruises, once, the cruise after us had a really bad time of it and missed at least one port. Seas were very rough. But then again, whenever you get on a ship there is a possibility of rough seas or other adverse weather that may cause you to miss ports.

 

Also, don't expect sunbathing weather. It is winter and it is cold -- in the 40s, maybe into the 60s if you are lucky. Bring your Uggs; they keep your feet nice and warm.

 

But the upside is that Christmas break has just ended; families are not traveling and you don't get the crowds that you get when the kids are out of school. Lots of people don't want to travel simply because is is cold.

 

 

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I agree with the previous post.  By cruising after Christmas you may actually see the islands and not just the tourist there.  We lived outside of Athens for 14 months. The strongest winds were in October and November.  The water around the islands is always cool. Just wear layers and make sure you have a good rain/wind jacket and sturdy shoes

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I think you'd have to adjust your expectations of the islands.  My understanding is that most of the tourist stuff is shut down tight in the winter.  Of course, if you're concentrating on historic sights and ruins, and just plain beauty, it might be great.

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Thanks all for your replies.  I know what to expect in terms of weather on shore but wanted to confirm we aren’t necessarily doomed for rough seas, although of course it can always happen.

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4 hours ago, Wendy The Wanderer said:

I think you'd have to adjust your expectations of the islands.  My understanding is that most of the tourist stuff is shut down tight in the winter.  Of course, if you're concentrating on historic sights and ruins, and just plain beauty, it might be great.


Thanks, I confirmed in advance of booking that the sites we’re interested in (Acropolis, Ephesus, Pompeii, Vatican, Colosseum) will be open the days we visit.

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4 hours ago, LisaDee said:


Thanks, I confirmed in advance of booking that the sites we’re interested in (Acropolis, Ephesus, Pompeii, Vatican, Colosseum) will be open the days we visit.

 

In Crete, we toured the Palace of the Minotaur (Knossos). WOW!  That was over 20 years ago and I still remember it.

 

Knossos Palace : Home of The Labyrinth & The Minotaur | The Swiss Watch Blog

 

In Naples, if you are interested in archeology and  if you aren't sure you can manage Pompeii or Herculaneum for whatever reason, check out the National Museum of Archeology. It is a short cab ride from the dock to the museum and cabs are easy to find on the way back. The museum is warm, covered and flat.

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12 hours ago, Wendy The Wanderer said:

I think you'd have to adjust your expectations of the islands.  My understanding is that most of the tourist stuff is shut down tight in the winter.  Of course, if you're concentrating on historic sights and ruins, and just plain beauty, it might be great.

The only "island" on this itinerary is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sicily.  If you mean that beach bars etc will be closed - then many will  - but I guess sitting on a beach would not be top priority in December.  Local markets, shops, restaurants etc are available to the local population and potential visitors.  The winter is often the best time to see wonderful places - and many Rome, Athens and Naples will still be busy of course - but a good time to see Ephesus without the hordes.

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7 hours ago, Mrs Miggins said:

The only "island" on this itinerary is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sicily.  If you mean that beach bars etc will be closed - then many will  - but I guess sitting on a beach would not be top priority in December.  Local markets, shops, restaurants etc are available to the local population and potential visitors.  The winter is often the best time to see wonderful places - and many Rome, Athens and Naples will still be busy of course - but a good time to see Ephesus without the hordes.

Well okay, I was speaking generally not just about this one cruise.  But point taken.  I've also heard that the Amalfi coast pretty well shuts down in winter, if that's relevant--obviously Naples does not.

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11 minutes ago, Wendy The Wanderer said:

Well okay, I was speaking generally not just about this one cruise.  But point taken.  I've also heard that the Amalfi coast pretty well shuts down in winter, if that's relevant--obviously Naples does not.


Hm. We have a stop in Naples, and we were hoping to see a bit of the Amalfi coast. What does “shut down” mean in this context?

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20 minutes ago, Twitchly said:


Hm. We have a stop in Naples, and we were hoping to see a bit of the Amalfi coast. What does “shut down” mean in this context?

I'm not sure of the details, just something I've been told.  I was there only once in  October and it was quiet, but tourist things like restaurants and shops were still open.

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If you haven’t been to Herculaneum, I strongly recommend taking Viking’s optional excursion. It’s fairly inexpensive and can probably be done the same day as the Naples included excursion. The guide was incredible as is Herculaneum.

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Looks like the optional excursions on this itinerary includes the Scenic Drive along the Amalfi coast. If the weather co-operates that is spectacular and will not suffer from the very heavy traffic in peak tourist time.   I recall sitting next to a guy, who had a loft apartment in New York, on a private excursion, admittedly in May,  who was very quiet but when he eventually spoke he said "I have never seen anything so beautiful in my life".  Also listed both Herculaneum and Pompeii , both open most days.  Naples was very busy when we were there but it was New Years Day with loads of locals about.  

We have done loads of spring, summer and autumn cruises in the Med and I was rather hesitant about the Med in Winter - but we have now done two New Year cruises.  Great Christmas markets still in full swing.  It is a very different experience but still great.   

The other advantage of Viking is of course that they can close the roof over the main swimming pool so their great "deck parties" are not weather dependant.  The Spa is great so swimming daily is still available.  Of course Covid restrictions may change that.  We will find out if our Norway cruise in September goes ahead.

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1 hour ago, Mrs Miggins said:

Just found Viking Dailies from my last cruise 2018/2019 and they list weather as between 54 - 64 - mostly sunny. Valencia was glorious.

 

Wasn't it just! If I remember correctly, it was January 5. Folks were getting ready for their Epiphany Day celebrations the next day. The schools were still on vacation and the streets in the old city area were bustling in anticipation -- last minute food shopping, a stop at the bakery for the tradition crown shaped cake.  It was bright and sunny and after wandering around for most of the morning, we found an outdoor seating in a cafe on some square and just and watched the world go by. It was, as you said, glorious.

 

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8 hours ago, Mrs Miggins said:

Just found Viking Dailies from my last cruise 2018/2019 and they list weather as between 54 - 64 - mostly sunny. Valencia was glorious.


Very heartening! I imagine Israel will be similarly temperate. 

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Following the cancellation of our September Norway Venus cruise we have now booked the New Year - Barcelona to Rome - again on Venus from December 29th. This will be our third New Year cruise and we hope that this one will go ahead !

The dates mean that we can have Christmas with the family and New Year in the lovely Atrium of a Viking Ship.

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