Happy Thursday Hidden Gem Travel community! If you’ve read my previous three newsletters, you know that I was recently on an ocean cruise across the Mediterranean coast starting in Rome, Italy and ending in Barcelona, Spain. I was an invited guest on the ship (read on for the name of the line) and the experience exceeded my expectations from the ports of call to the food quality.
The ship isn’t the main focus of Mediterranean itineraries because the magical cities that dot the coastline are relatively close together. The ship serves as your floating hotel and mode of scenic transportation. The convenience can’t be beat.
There are many options for Mediterranean cruises and finding the right itinerary and cruise line requires research and knowledge. Working with a travel advisor helps you narrow the search quickly and easily as well as knowing the insider tips and tricks on many decision points.
Read on for the scoop on my recent Mediterranean cruise so you can decide if this type of trip is appealing to you…
Ship Size and Considerations
I recommend smaller ships for a Mediterranean ocean cruise because the ports are so rich, and smaller ships often stay in port longer than the big ships. The cruise line I was on is called Azamara. It’s not well known and just underwent a change in ownership. The ships are medium in size with under 700 guests, not thousands as you might envision when you hear the term “cruise ship.” It’s a premium line, not luxury, but has excellent food which to me is a huge plus. Our docking locations were also very convenient, which often isn’t the case with huge ships.
One downside was the size of the bathroom. While there was plenty of space in the stateroom, the bathroom was small. For clients who prefer more space, I recommend a spa suite which is stunning!
Note that there are some very special options for ships with only a couple hundred fellow guests. A few of them were docked near me in some of our ports.
💎Hidden Gem Tip: If you know generally when you can travel next year, think ahead and begin the planning process this fall for next spring and summer. You’ll get the best pricing and availability by booking earlier than everyone else. Yes, travel in 2024 is expected to be at high levels once again. While your family is together this summer, discuss where everyone wants to travel and what schedules look like. You’ll be glad you did.
Balcony Rooms and Location
On any cruise, it can be tricky to pick the right stateroom aka cabin. You will want a cabin with an unobstructed balcony so you can wake up to see the gorgeous scenery. Sailing out of (or into) ports is a memorable sight – for example with the early morning sunlight cast across the shoreline. You can also have breakfast delivered to your room, and enjoy it on your balcony table as I did most mornings.
For clients, I check that they are not above, below, or next to anywhere noisy. For example, on level 4 towards the bottom of the ship, you may hear the crew getting ready to pull into port earlier in the morning than you want to be woken up.
💎Hidden Gem Tip: If a cruise – ocean or river – or a land trip to Europe is on your travel bucket list, let’s talk about the best destinations and itineraries for you.
It’s all about the ports (and special experiences)
Another aspect of Azamara that I loved was the longer times in port and port overnight. We stayed overnight in Livorno which is in the region of Tuscany, Italy. Some passengers stayed off ship in Florence that night, and others like me went to places in Tuscany on day trips (Cinque Terre, Lucca, Pisa, Siena, etc.).
Azamara’s signature ‘white night’ evening dinner party on deck was so much fun with fantastic food and live music! They offer this party on every sailing. I also loved the ‘Azamazing Evening’ event at the gorgeous theater in Livorno, Italy which was a private performance for the ship.
Azamara’s ‘country intensive’ itineraries are global; instead of country hopping, you can focus your trip on somewhere you’ve never been.
The Bottom Line
If you’re considering a Mediterranean cruise, there’s much to consider in making the best decision for you. I specialize in premium and luxury cruise lines, so if you’d like to access my expertise, reach out anytime. Note – there are times of the year when you will find the best promotions and cabin availability. Let me know if you’d like to learn more.
If you don’t think a cruise is right for you, then a custom land itinerary or escorted tour may be a better fit. Either way, I can help you.
Wishing you and your family happy travels,
Make your own Wanderlist for 2023! As a reminder, Wanderlist is an online portal where you can research, explore, and create shareable lists of destinations and experiences. Share your list with me so I can make it happen for you.