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Western Mediterranean Cruise info please


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I am looking at the 7 night Western Mediterranean Cruise on Allure leaving from Rome...stopping in Naples...Barcelona...Palma de Mallorca...Provence...Florence...back to Rome.  Here is my question to all of you well travelled message boarders:  Do you feel there is enough time at each port to really see what that area has to offer?  For instance, when in Florence is there enough time to visit the Duomo, Statue of David, and other attractions (maybe even stop in Pisa)?  Are the ports really far from the actual 'cities' (I believe the Florence port is about 90 minutes from the town)?  I scanned excursion offerings on the cruise planner website but I think firsthand experience, commentary and knowledge will help me with my questions.  I don't want to go away from this type of vacation having not been able to feel that I actually experienced what I should see in each area.   

Perhaps a land tour vacation is more apt to benefit the in-depth exploring and sight-seeing of Italy and this kind of cruise may be a more relaxing version?  Your insights will serve as valuable information...I am sure!

I would love to hear from those who have taken this cruise or maybe the cruise offered on the Brilliance?  I am currently considering October 2022 for this trip.

Thank you very much!!

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Many Med ports are not near the centers of attractions so a long bus or train ride is common.  Barcelona is one exception.  It's enough time in port to either pick one attraction and cover it well or skim a number of attractions and (along with several tens of thousands) get a glimpse at several attractions to check them off a list.

In truth each port stop could be several days by land on their own merits.  A river cruise is a better way to experience Europe to sample several cities.  A month on land will yield enough time to feel like you have covered several cities well.  

A Med cruise on an ocean liner will give you an overview of Europe so as to better plan a land vacation but you could easily spend a week at each city by land so you need to make a choice to do Paris for example by land one week, plan another trip and fly to Rome, then plan another week to do another city and so on.  There is just so much to see, so much history, so many attractions that a week on a Med cruise would never be enough time to do any port city well.  

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We did a 12 night on Brilliance many years ago (in 2005).  It left from Barcelona, overnight in Venice (at the time ships were still allowed to sail into Venice), and went to all the ports that you listed and a few more.  It was busy, we woke up early, stayed out all day to maximize our time, we were dead tired, but it was by far one of our most favourite trips ever, if not the most.  We have zero regrets about taking that trip, and zero regrets about how we did it.

Basically, our strategy was to stick with ship excursions because as you noted, many of the ports are a bit far from where you dock (mainly Pisa and Rome).  For Rome, because we had so many things on our list that we wanted to see and only one day to see it, we booked a transport only through ship excursions that would guarantee our return back to the ship in time, and we did it on our own.  I researched Rome like crazy (even easier now as there are many "How to See Rome in a Day" type things online), and mapped out the fastest and most efficient way to see everything before we went and we got it all done and lots of videos and pictures to remember it by.  We even had time to spare for a gelato lol.

For the other ports, we picked the excursions very carefully and chose the ones that allowed us to stay out the longest and see the most.  We spent more on excursions for that cruise than the cruise fare but it was well worth it.

In retrospect, do we wish that we would have done a land vacation through Europe instead?  For Western Med, definitely not.  I still believe that the cruise is the best way to see it.  We don't like to worry about finding new places to sleep and have dinner and I hate packing up every few days to go somewhere new.  There are some places in Europe, Paris for example, which probably deserves a land vacation, but for the Western Med, the cruise is going to get you to the most place for the best value.  I truly believe that. 

We haven't gone Western Med in many years now, but it's on our list in about two to three years.  We plan to take the girls the summer that my oldest graduates high school.  The only thing I would probably do different is I would spend more time in Barcelona (pre-cruise), assuming the ship leaves from there.

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36 minutes ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

We did a 12 night on Brilliance many years ago (in 2005).  It left from Barcelona, overnight in Venice (at the time ships were still allowed to sail into Venice), and went to all the ports that you listed and a few more.  It was busy, we woke up early, stayed out all day to maximize our time, we were dead tired, but it was by far one of our most favourite trips ever, if not the most.  We have zero regrets about taking that trip, and zero regrets about how we did it.

Basically, our strategy was to stick with ship excursions because as you noted, many of the ports are a bit far from where you dock (mainly Pisa and Rome).  For Rome, because we had so many things on our list that we wanted to see and only one day to see it, we booked a transport only through ship excursions that would guarantee our return back to the ship in time, and we did it on our own.  I researched Rome like crazy (even easier now as there are many "How to See Rome in a Day" type things online), and mapped out the fastest and most efficient way to see everything before we went and we got it all done and lots of videos and pictures to remember it by.  We even had time to spare for a gelato lol.

For the other ports, we picked the excursions very carefully and chose the ones that allowed us to stay out the longest and see the most.  We spent more on excursions for that cruise than the cruise fare but it was well worth it.

In retrospect, do we wish that we would have done a land vacation through Europe instead?  For Western Med, definitely not.  I still believe that the cruise is the best way to see it.  We don't like to worry about finding new places to sleep and have dinner and I hate packing up every few days to go somewhere new.  There are some places in Europe, Paris for example, which probably deserves a land vacation, but for the Western Med, the cruise is going to get you to the most place for the best value.  I truly believe that. 

We haven't gone Western Med in many years now, but it's on our list in about two to three years.  We plan to take the girls the summer that my oldest graduates high school.  The only thing I would probably do different is I would spend more time in Barcelona (pre-cruise), assuming the ship leaves from there.

Thanks for all the info and tips.  Your 2005 cruise sounds like it was perfect!!  Actually the cruise I am looking at begins and ends in Rome so I thought flying in a couple days ahead to really explore Rome would be good and then once off the ship on last day take the train from Rome to Venice and spend a few days there...then fly home from there.   I was also considering the Italy/Adriatic cruise from Venice to Rome on Brilliance and then taking train from Rome to Florence before heading home.  But I want Venice and not Ravenna so the Western Med cruise makes more sense, I think. 

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37 minutes ago, PPPJJ-GCVAB said:

Thanks for all the info and tips.  Your 2005 cruise sounds like it was perfect!!  Actually the cruise I am looking at begins and ends in Rome so I thought flying in a couple days ahead to really explore Rome would be good and then once off the ship on last day take the train from Rome to Venice and spend a few days there...then fly home from there.   I was also considering the Italy/Adriatic cruise from Venice to Rome on Brilliance and then taking train from Rome to Florence before heading home.  But I want Venice and not Ravenna so the Western Med cruise makes more sense, I think. 

The fact that Royal sails from Ravenna now is a huge deterrent for me to take one of those sailings. Pre-cruise in Rome already solves some of your dilemma then of worrying about not enough time. Florence/Pisa can be done in a day (it’s busy) but you can see the major things. Other ports like Naples, Provence, etc. just choose the excursions carefully and try to not let price deter you. We went with the mindset that we would likely not be able to do this again for a long time, and now, even almost 16 years later, we are glad we did.

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It's my option that you will not have time to do what you are thinking.  Pick one location to go to, see what you wanted to see there and go back another day.  If you are a newbie to travel in Europe, take a tour from the ship ether a ship excursion or someone who meets you on the dock.  Trying to learn how to use the trains buses etc takes a little time.  

Even Barcelona, where the port is on the main drag, just to see a little will take hours.      

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9 hours ago, PPPJJ-GCVAB said:

I am looking at the 7 night Western Mediterranean Cruise on Allure leaving from Rome...stopping in Naples...Barcelona...Palma de Mallorca...Provence...Florence...back to Rome.  Here is my question to all of you well travelled message boarders:  Do you feel there is enough time at each port to really see what that area has to offer?  For instance, when in Florence is there enough time to visit the Duomo, Statue of David, and other attractions (maybe even stop in Pisa)?  Are the ports really far from the actual 'cities' (I believe the Florence port is about 90 minutes from the town)?  I scanned excursion offerings on the cruise planner website but I think firsthand experience, commentary and knowledge will help me with my questions.  I don't want to go away from this type of vacation having not been able to feel that I actually experienced what I should see in each area.   

Perhaps a land tour vacation is more apt to benefit the in-depth exploring and sight-seeing of Italy and this kind of cruise may be a more relaxing version?  Your insights will serve as valuable information...I am sure!

I would love to hear from those who have taken this cruise or maybe the cruise offered on the Brilliance?  I am currently considering October 2022 for this trip.

Thank you very much!!

My husband and I did this same cruise in 2019 on Oasis of the Seas, like someone else stated many of the cruise ports are outside of the major city centers, but what my husband and I did was we booked a private tour in Naples that picked us up at the cruise port and drove us down to Amalfi Coast it was a simi-private tour with 2 other people and we didn't feel rushed the tour guide was very much familiar with cruise ship passengers and our tour was around 7 hours not including the drive. At both Rome and Florence since we had already been to these cities via a land vacation a few years earlier we simply jumped on the train. At La Spezia we took the shuttle bus from the cruise port to the train station and boarded the train for Florence because we both wanted to go back to Ponte de Vecchio and we both love Florence, we did the same thing at Civitavecchia the port city for Rome.  Since we had already been to Rome before we felt comfortable getting around Rome on our own.  But these options do take time so factor it in if you decided to explore on your own or with an outside tour company.  At Palma de Mallorca we again hire a private tour company which picked us up at the pier and dropped us off back at the pier.  The only time I really felt rushed was in Florence because Florence is a bit further from the port than Pisa on the train, so we were rushing just a little bit but we still had a great time and we made it back to the ship with 2 hours prior to our set sail time.  My husband and I live in the big city we are use to trains, buses, subways, when we take land vacations it is our main mode of transportation.  However if you are not comfortable on public transportation or if you are a person who get lost easily then I would not suggest you take any of my advise.  Instead just book your excursions through the cruise because doing Europe on your own you need to know what you are doing and where you are going.

 

At the end of the day I loved the Western Mediterranean cruise we took we got off the ship feeling gratified.    Next year we are booked on a Greek Isle cruise on Odyssey of the Seas, it will be our first time taking a Greek Isle cruise.

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22 hours ago, PPPJJ-GCVAB said:

Thanks for all the info and tips.  Your 2005 cruise sounds like it was perfect!!  Actually the cruise I am looking at begins and ends in Rome so I thought flying in a couple days ahead to really explore Rome would be good and then once off the ship on last day take the train from Rome to Venice and spend a few days there...then fly home from there.   I was also considering the Italy/Adriatic cruise from Venice to Rome on Brilliance and then taking train from Rome to Florence before heading home.  But I want Venice and not Ravenna so the Western Med cruise makes more sense, I think. 

I like your plan.  When, we took a Western Med cruise, we spent 3 nights in Rome pre-cruise and we're very happy we did that.  There is too much to do in Rome in 1 port day.  We immediately flew home after our cruise but if I could do it again, I would do what you are doing and spend a couple nights post cruise in Venice and then fly home from there.  So 3 days post cruise and a couple nights post cruise would be a great combo plan of land and sea.  If you wanted to add in more time, Croatia is 2 hours from Venice.  I have a friend from Rijeka and she often flies Delta to Venice when she wants to visit home.

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We did the Western Med cruise in 2017 on Freedom.  We did nearly the identical port-heavy itinerary that you are looking at.  Some of the days it was a "race" to get to the port and see everything we wanted to, but we did it.   Florence and Pisa in one day, Vatican and Rome one day, Pompeii and Naples one day, plus stops in Marseille and Nice.

We did private tours for all of the Italy ports and our guides and drivers were very cognizant of getting us back to the ship on time.   

We decided we may never get back to the Western Med and tried to see everything we could.  It was fun but understand the pace may not be for everyone.

 

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