After recently going on a cruise in the Galapagos, we’ve began to change our attitudes towards cruising – it’s actually a lot more fun than we previously thought.
This guest blog gives you the low down on cruising the Mediterranean on the cheap.
At one time cruising anywhere was the realm of the affluent and wealthy. Not anymore: the cost of cruising these days is no more than the cost of a decent package holiday, and often provides a much more varied itinerary.
With such beautiful countries as Spain, France and Italy, Mediterranean cruises have become a popular way to explore the Med. This is especially the case if you’re new to cruising and are just testing the water, so to speak. Though generally split into East or West Mediterranean cruises, those on a longer cruise may well embrace both sides of the Med.
Peak season for cruising in the Mediterranean is between June and August when there’s the least rain and the most cruising itinerary options. The only downsides to this is that ports and popular sites can be packed with tourists and the weather can get uncomfortably warm. To avoid this, pick June as your cruising month over August.
For cheaper deals, pick your cruise dates outside of the popular times, like between mid-April to May or September to mid-October. The ports are substantially less busy and cruise and flight costs are substantially less expensive.
Should you wish to start your holiday as soon as possible, consider cruising straight from a UK port to the Mediterranean, avoiding the hassle of a day spent getting to an airport and then having to fly to your Mediterranean port of embarkation.
While sailing from the UK you have the time to spend exploring your floating accommodation and looking through the on-board itinerary many cruise agents include in the package. Of course, if you’ve decided your Mediterranean cruise is to be one of rest and relaxation, check out the facilities around the pool area as you sail toward the sun.
Having enjoyed your first night’s meal, as you relax with a brandy, look through your ports of call and how much time you have in each. Most operators organise trips to visit the main points of interest at the ports, but sometimes it’s nice to steal away from the crowds. Organise your own day trips online, external to the cruise, to save money.
Make sure you have a pair of hiking boots for the land visits (or comfortable sneakers) as well as flip flops for the on-board swimming pool sessions. Take one or two fancy outfits as many cruises often have formal evenings and some cruises have dress codes for dinner in the formal dining rooms.
For cruising in the Med, it’s important to have breathable clothes and sun protection, such as a good hat, as it’ll get very hot during the day. Women should also bring a shawl or something to cover up for church and cathedral visits.
Many Mediterranean cruise ports are relatively close to major towns or cities. Places such as Dubrovnik, Barcelona, Nice, Istanbul and Venice are all within easy reach of their ports. A cheap taxi ride or public transport can have you in the city centre in a short time where you can spend a pleasant few hours exploring on your own.
Don’t forget your camera, soak up the local culture, photograph the people as well as the sights. If time allows, try to take in a meal at a local taverna or restaurant. Enjoy the local cuisine and fine local wines or beers, become a part of the scene, breathe in the atmosphere, enjoy the ambience. Just remember you have a ship to catch, though. It’s easy to get swept away in the romance of it all.
Be aware of ‘ship prices’
If it is your first Mediterranean cruise, treat it as you would a package holiday. Remember most things purchased on board, just as with a hotel, can be bought cheaper ashore. Join in the ship’s activities and you can enjoy your first taste of a whole new way of holidaying.
The internet is also extremely expensive on board so try unplugging for a few weeks during your cruise and take the time to truely relax.