Lost Girl’s Guide to Cruising the MediterraneanBudget Travel, Extras — By Mary on November 3, 2011 at 5:50 pm
Sounds nice, right?
Now add into that fantasy that you’re the youngest person on that cruise by about four decades. Oh – and you’ve only been to one port in the past three day. Starting to lose its appeal a bit?
There are ways to avoid the latter scenario. When going on a Mediterranean cruise, picking the right cruise line and itinerary is key to ensuring you get the utmost enjoyment out of your cruise.
For most Lost Girls, the idea of being on a ship instead of exploring a destination probably does not sound like the best way to spend precious vacation time. However, a cruise can be a great way to explore Europe when you’re on a budget and short on vacation time. Here are some tips for picking the perfect cruise.
Days at Sea
Several of the most popular cruise lines sail Mediterranean itineraries, however not all itineraries are created equal. If you have more of a backpacker mentality than a resort mentality, pick an itinerary that has a small percentage of days at sea. Some itineraries even have overnight stays in port, which is great for being able to experience a city at night. Italian-based cruise lines Costa Cruises and MSC Cruises offer several 7-night Mediterranean itineraries that stop in a new port every day. Those craving as much European culture as possible will also like that the two cruise lines focus on keeping an Italian atmosphere on board – right down to the meals. For overnight stays in port, check out Azamara Club Cruises – which puts a focus on more time in a destination. Azamara Club Cruises typically attract an older demographic though so it may be trade-off between time in port and bonding with people your age on board.
Cruise lines offer amazing amenities nowadays. While it’s easy to think of a cruise more as a means to an end (or a port) if you’re used to the open road, you may be surprised to learn just how much of a great time you can have while on the ship. For those who like the social atmosphere of hostels, cruises are easy to meet lots of other travelers and experiencing the ship together can be a great way to develop new friendships. After all, if you’re going to be on the ship, you might as well enjoy it in between ports! Therefore, it’s good to know what type of onboard experience you want. Popular cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian Cruise Line have a multitude of activities onboard such as rock climbing, surf simulators, swimming pools, dance clubs, bowling, ice-skating, and more. Different ships offer different activities so be sure to read up on each ship prior to finalizing your choice of cruise if what’s onboard matters to you. For a more learning-based onboard experience, check out the contemporary cruise lines Celebrity Cruises and Princess Cruises. Celebrity offers unique experiences on some of their ships such as wine tasting classes and hot glass shows. Princess provides many opportunities to learn new skills during your time sailing on the ship with classes for cooking, ceramics, and more.
The People Onboard
The more action activities onboard, the more the cruise line probably caters to families. Most cruise ships offer adult-only areas, but if kid-free zones are important to you, stay away from these cruise lines – particularly during summer and holidays. Higher end cruise lines will attract an older demographic so it may be harder to find new friends onboard and may also mean the nightlife onboard the ship is a little less lively. Contemporary mid-range cruise lines attract many couples in their late twenties and thirties as well as older couples. To get less of the couples vibe onboard, pick one of the more mainstream cruise lines such as Carnival, which attracts everybody from families to college students to honeymooners.
Picking the Ports
Chances are, it’s going to be tricky to find an itinerary on the cruise line and ship that’s right for you and that will have every single port you want to visit as part of its itinerary. Therefore, focus on a country you want to visit the most and choose an itinerary that has several stops there. Or, if you have to see Venice no matter what, choose an itinerary that goes there and be prepared to be pleasantly surprised with the other ports as part of the itinerary. Maybe you never gave Malta much thought before, but it might turn out to be one of your favorite ports during your cruise! Also, don’t necessarily cut out an itinerary as an option simply because it has some ports-of-call you’ve been to before. You may find that there’s more of the city waiting to be discovered or that it’s a trip down memory lane to visit your favorite café or sight without worrying about having to hurry to see the next one – because you’ve already been there and done that!
Follow these steps and be prepared to be amazed at how convenient and fun a cruise can be – while choosing an itinerary that helps you stay true to your travel roots!
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