Mediterranean Travel: Cruise vs.Tour Throwdown Part 1

First time visitor to the Mediterranean?  Past Cruiser?  Well, then cruising wins…maybe!  Read on to understand why.

Sagrada Família church, Gaudi's masterpiece

Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia Image via Wikipedia

If you’ve always wanted to visit the Mediterranean Sea (actually means “Inner Sea”), experience the comfort
and familiar surroundings and conveniences of a cruise ship:

  • familiar accommodations and creature comforts
  • familiar cuisine
  • same staff each day
  • no language barriers
  • convenience of unpacking only once

A great first time itinerary is a round trip from Barcelona for a “Western” Mediterranean itinerary (focus on Spain and Italy).  Port calls can include:  Villefranche for Nice or Monte Carlo, Monaco,  Civitavecchia for Italy, Livorno for Pisa and Florence, and perhaps Naples.  Some considerations for a cruise:

  • your time ashore to explore these great destinations is limited (OK for your first time in the Med.)
  • you may not get a chance to experience life in the evenings like the locals (also OK for your first visit)
  • pace and duration of the excursions may be long as Rome and Florence are far from ports
  • limited exposure to culture and local dining

Note: there are many round trip itineraries from different lines, and many voyages begin and end in different cities to provide the opportunity to visit even more ports.  Also note that some lines include either evening or overnight port stays to take in the cities like the locals do as the sun sets.

Plan to maximize your time ashore.  There are some longer port calls!  Civitavecchia, port call for Rome is normally 12 hours.  What will you do in those twelve hours?  The city is about 1’15” from port.  If you take the tours offered by the cruise line, you may be crowded on a long caravan of buses.   You will “see” many sights for sure…breeze by photo ops.  Will you have time to leisurely tour the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, and Colosseum?

English: Trevi Fountain Panoramic

Trevi Fountain Image via Wikipedia

More considerations for your shore excursions:

  • Is there a better way to spend your twelve hours in port (maybe 8 hours for touring)?
  • There are other tour operators that offer a more in-depth tour with far fewer people featuring less time waiting.
  • May even be less costly to to get the most out of your limited time

Another question, why are you in Europe?  Consider staying a night or two either before or after to experience a wonderful city that offers so much – Barcelona in this example voyage!

Some experiences to take in during a pre/post stay in Barcelona include:


Have questions?  We’ve got answers!

Next time, we’ll explore Mediterranean touring.


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