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How much does a Mediterranean cruise cost?

In:
28 Apr 2022

A Mediterranean cruise is a dream itinerary for many cruisers. From exploring the Colosseum to sunbathing on the French Riviera and walking the cobblestone streets of Dubrovnik, plenty of unique adventures await visitors in the Mediterranean.

With proper planning, a Mediterranean cruise can fit both low, modest, and high-end budgets. From interior staterooms on Royal Caribbean’s smaller ships to suites on the newest and largest ships, options are plentiful for planning a Mediterranean cruise no matter your budget.

Therefore, there is no “one price fits all” on a Mediterranean cruise, as the cost can vary drastically in cruise fares, shore excursions, onboard spending, and time of year you sail. If you’re planning a Mediterranean cruise, this guide should help you decide how to make cruising this fantastic region of the world fit into your budget and vacation style.

Mediterranean cruise prices by ship

Royal Caribbean sends both its oldest and newest cruise ships to the Mediterranean during the summer months, offering guests the choice between a traditional cruise experience or a ship filled with the cruise line’s most unique and updated activities and amenities.

Unsurprisingly, Royal Caribbean’s newest ships come at a higher price tag compared to its older ships in the Mediterranean. The cost difference of sailing on a larger ship compared to a smaller ship can be significantly more expensive or only slightly more expensive.

Let’s look at a few examples to see how the ship you choose for a European cruise can affect your cruise fare. 

First let’s compare an 8-night Greek Isles cruise on both Rhapsody of the Seas (Vision Class ship) and Odyssey of the Seas (Quantum Class ship). The price listed is the total fare for two adults in an ocean view cabin on a September cruise, including taxes and fees:

  • Rhapsody of the Seas: $1658.28 ($207 per night)
  • Odyssey of the Seas: $2998.14 ($374 per night)

Next let’s compare a 7-night Western Mediterranean on Brilliance of the Seas (Radiance Class ship) and Symphony of the Seas (Oasis Class ship). The price listed is the total fare for two adults in a balcony cabin on a June cruise, including taxes and fees:

  • Brilliance of the Seas: $2254.54 ($322 per night)
  • Symphony of the Seas: $3796.34 ($542 per night)

While a smaller ship will come at a lower price tag, it’s never a good idea to pick a cruise solely based on price. Looking into each ship’s amenities, dining options, cabin categories, and onboard activities can help you decide which size ship will suit you best.

Mediterranean cruise prices by month

Just like the ship you book, the month you cruise in the Mediterranean can have an impact on the overall cost of your cruise. In fact, a cruise in May can be several hundred dollars cheaper per person than a cruise in July or August.

Shoulder season in the Mediterranean is found in the months of April, May, September, and October, and this is when you tend to see the lowest cruise fares. As the school year is still in session, there is less demand for Mediterranean cruises, leading to lower prices.

Peak season, on the other hand, is found in the summer months: June, July, and August. While early June may see some lower prices due to the fact that summer travel to Europe is just getting started, expect the highest fares in July and August. At this time of year demand is highest and ships are likely to be near full capacity.

Let’s take a look at just how varied the price of a cruise can be based on the month you sail. First let’s compare the difference in a 7-night Western Mediterranean cruise on Symphony of the Seas in mid-April and mid-July.

The price listed is the total cost for two adults in an ocean view balcony cabin:

  • April 16 departure: $2999.48 ($428 per night)
  • July 16 departure: $4338.40 ($620 per night)

Such a huge price difference is not always the case, though. Next let’s compare the difference in an 8-night Western Mediterranean cruise on Vision of the Seas in mid-May and mid-July.

The price listed is the total cost for two adults in an interior cabin:

  • May 13 departure: $1634.90 ($233 per night)
  • July 8 departure: $1729.80 ($247 per night)

As you can see, the price difference between spring and summer can be either drastic or only slightly different. A more drastic price difference will be seen on the most in-demand ships, such as Oasis and Quantum Class ships, whereas a smaller price difference will be seen on older ships in Royal Caribbean’s fleet.

Does itinerary matter?

Mediterranean cruises generally fit into two categories: Western Mediterranean (Spain, France, and Italy) and Eastern Mediterranean (Greece, the Adriatic, and countries like Cyprus and Israel). You will not see a notable difference in cruise fare from one region of the Mediterranean to another.

That being said, countries in the eastern Mediterranean, such as Croatia, Montenegro, and Turkey, tend to be cheaper destinations to visit, which may influence shore excursion pricing as well as the cost of things like local guides, taxis, food, souvenirs, etc.

Shore excursion prices in the Mediterranean

Remembering to budget for shore excursions is important on a Mediterranean cruise. Those used to cruising in the Caribbean may not put too much thought into planning shore excursions, where choosing what to do can be as simple as picking one beach over another.

In the Mediterranean, though, it’s good to have an idea of what you would like to do in each port and book excursions accordingly. Many Mediterranean ports are easy to explore on your own, which will save you money in the long run, but plenty of cruisers prefer the security and ease of an organized shore excursion.

Here are a few Royal Caribbean excursion ideas along with their prices (these prices are subject to change based on sailing and time of year):

  • Essential Rome with the Vatican, Colosseum & St. Peter’s Basilica: $279.00/adult or child
  • Barcelona City Sights: $53.75/adult, $44.75/child
  • Monaco Hop On Hop Off Bus from Nice: $119.0/adult, $89.00/child
  • Best of Mykonos full day adventure: $148.99/adult, $103.99/child
  • Mykonos walking tour: $35.99/adult, $17.99/child
  • Kotor Bay Catamaran Sail and Beach Break: $121.99/adult or child
  • Plantaze Vineyards Wine Tasting (Kotor): $188.99/adult or child
  • Dalmatian Coastline & Village Life (Split): $117.99/adult, $92.99/child

Some excursions soley offer transportation to and from certain destinations that are far from where cruise ships dock. For example, cruise ships to Rome actually port in Civitavecchia, which is around 40 minutes from Rome on a high-speed train.

Therefore, Royal Caribbean offers tours that provide transport to and from cities while giving you several hours of free time upon arrival. The “Explore Rome” excursion, as an example, provides round trip transport to Rome from Civitavecchia for $69.95/adult or $54.75/child.

Of course, you do not have to book any excursions and can instead figure out activities and transportation on your own. Alternatively, you can find shore excursions with tour operators outside of Royal Caribbean, which may come at a lower cost and offer a wider selection of tours.

Personal preferences and onboard spending

Outside of picking a ship, itinerary, and booking shore excursions, the total cost of your cruise will ultimately depend on your preferences. From the type of cabin you book to extras like specialty dining and drink packages, the total cost of a cruise vacation can vary widely from person to person, even if they paid the same base cruise fare.

Here are some examples of what you may pay extra for on your Mediterranean cruise:

  • Drink packages (alcoholic or nonalcoholic packages) or paying for drinks individually
  • Specialty dining
  • Onboard activities
  • Gratuities
  • Spa treatments
  • Wifi

For a more in-depth look at what extra costs are not included on a Royal Caribbean cruise, check out our article on the top 30 extra cruise costs that are not included.

It’s possible to cruise the Mediterranean on a budget or splurge for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. No matter what cabin you book, ship you choose, or activities you do in port, though, you’re guaranteed to have a memorable vacation in one of the most beautiful and historic regions of the world.

Which size ship for a Mediterranean cruise?

In:
14 Apr 2022

The first step to planning a Mediterranean cruise is deciding which itinerary and ship to book. Royal Caribbean has both its smallest and largest cruise ships sailing in Europe during the summer months, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.

A Mediterranean cruise differs from a Caribbean cruise in that, while the ship itself is often seen as the destination in the Caribbean, the ports are what stand out most on a European cruise itinerary.

While cruising on Royal Caribbean’s newest and biggest cruise ships offer the most activities and options for guests, small ships can offer just enough to see, eat, and do onboard while sailing from port to port.

Ultimately, deciding which ship to book depends on your preference, budget, and ship’s itinerary, but there are a few things to consider before choosing the best ship for you.

Why choose a small ship for a Mediterranean cruise

While cruising the Mediterranean on an older, smaller ship may not seem as glamorous as on Royal Caribbean’s newest ships, it can provide an excellent experience for guests at a fraction of the cost. By “small ships,” we are referring to Vision or Radiance Class cruise ships.

One of the biggest benefits to booking a Mediterranean cruise on a smaller cruise ship is the range of itinerary options available. While larger ships tend to have more limited and repeated itineraries, smaller ships visit a diverse range of ports during the European cruise season.

Places like Kotor (Montenegro), Split (Croatia), Zakynthos (Greece), Koper (Slovenia), and Sardinia (Italy) tend to only be visited by smaller cruise ships. For those looking to try something new and visit destinations off the usual tourist trail, cruising on a small ship can be a great choice.

That’s not to say all itineraries on a smaller ship only visit lesser known destinations, though. It’s also common for small ships to visit cities like Barcelona, Florence, and Rome, which offer some of the most popular tourist sights in all of Europe.

Smaller ships may come with fewer dining and entertainment venues, but many cruisers find this is not as important on a Mediterranean cruise as it would be elsewhere.

For starters, Mediterranean cuisine is some of the best in the world. Having more dining venues available onboard is less important when you have authentic, fresh Mediterranean food right outside the ship. From falafel wraps to gyros, pastas, fresh seafood, pizza, and world-renowned steak, there is no shortage of excellent dining options on a Mediterranean cruise regardless of the ship you are sailing on.

In addition, port days are often long and busy in the Mediterranean, leaving many cruisers tired once back onboard. Getting dressed up for a formal dinner or seeing a new show each night can seem less appealing than on a Caribbean cruise, where most days are spent relaxing.

Smaller ships are more budget friendly, too. A weeklong itinerary on a Vision or Radiance Class ship can be less than half the cost of a similar itinerary on an Oasis or Quantum Class ship. Money saved on ship selection can be put toward other cruise add ons like a drink package or shore excursion. Additionally, you may be able to book an upgraded stateroom on a smaller ship that would otherwise be out of budget on a larger ship.

And while smaller ships may not come with as many activities and amenities as larger ships, they still offer the basics of a fantastic cruise experience. No matter the size, all Royal Caribbean ships include complimentary and specialty dining, lounges, pools, a Solarium, live music, Adventure Ocean kids programming, a spa, fitness center, signature shows, and a daily schedule of activities and events onboard.

It's also important to note that cruising on a "small" ship is still quite big. Royal Caribbean's smallest ships are the Vision Class, yet they still have a capacity of 2,000 passengers or more.

Why choose a big ship for a Mediterranean cruise

The advantages of booking a Mediterranean cruise on a big cruise ship are the same as elsewhere in the world: there are more onboard options and amenities available. By “big ships,” we are referring to Oasis or Quantum Class cruise ships.

If you are looking for the widest selection of things to do onboard while on a Mediterranean cruise, a big ship may be the best choice for you. Bigger ships come with more dining options, onboard activities, entertainment venues, bars, pools, cabin options, and more. 

Families with kids will especially enjoy cruising on a big ship. Adventure Ocean programming is often enhanced on bigger Royal Caribbean ships, with larger indoor and outdoor spaces available for kids to enjoy. Areas like an outdoor teen patio, science lab, craft zone, and kids-only theater are available on bigger cruise ships.

In addition, there are more signature activities offered on Royal Caribbean’s biggest cruise ships. Whether waterslides, bumper cars, indoor skydiving, laser tag, or ice skating, guests of all ages will find something fun to do while onboard.

There are more entertainment options on an Oasis or Quantum class ship as well. Compared to a small ship which may have one or two main shows in the theater, big ships have venues such as the AquaTheater, Studio B, and Two70. Here guests can enjoy Royal Caribbean’s newest entertainment offerings, from ice skating to virtual concerts and diving.

While small ships can offer a wider range of itineraries, big ships still visit many of Europe’s top destinations. From popular ports like Athens and Barcelona to lesser visited cruise destinations like Kusadasi, Turkey and Haifa, Israel, there is certain to be an itinerary to catch your eye.

The “downside” to choosing a big ship for a Mediterranean cruise is that you will unlikely have time to experience all that the ship has to offer. Unlike in the Caribbean where an Oasis or Quantum Class ship may have two or three sea days to spend onboard, bigger ships may only have one sea day on a weeklong itinerary.

Additionally, it’s not uncommon for port days to be up to twelve or thirteen hours long. And while you can stay on the ship while in port, you will be missing out on incredible European destinations in the process. With these two factors combined, you have much less time to explore a big ship on a Mediterranean itinerary.

Big ships tend to have the most expensive itineraries in the Mediterranean, too, due to the demand for new ships. Those with tight budgets should consider whether sailing on a big ship is worth the cost when the biggest draw to a Mediterranean cruise are the ports you’ll be visiting instead of the ship.

That being said, cruising on a big ship in the Mediterranean is still a good option for those new to cruising or those who want to experience as much as possible onboard. It’s hard to beat the amount of options an Oasis or Quantum Class ship offers, and you will always have something new to try whether at sea or in port.

What is the best time to cruise the Mediterranean?

In:
07 Apr 2022

Royal Caribbean’s European cruise season runs from April through October or early November each year, with the busiest times for a Mediterranean cruise found in July and August.

Choosing when to cruise the Mediterranean can be a difficult choice, as each season brings its own benefits and drawbacks. Shoulder seasons can offer a great price point, but can also come with colder water temperatures and occasional rain. The peak summer season offers sunny, long days, but also tends to be the most crowded time of year both onboard and in port.

Ultimately, whichever season you cruise to the Mediterranean you will encounter incredible history, delicious food, extraordinary scenery, and diverse cultures. While there isn’t necessarily a “perfect” time to take a Mediterranean cruise, this guide should help you decide which season works best for you.

Early shoulder season: late April and May

There are two shoulder seasons during the Mediterranean cruise season each year: spring and fall.

Many Royal Caribbean ships cross the Atlantic in April each year, traveling from the Caribbean to Europe in preparation for the cruise season. Ships arrive at the end of April or early May, the start of the spring’s shoulder season in the Mediterranean.

Weather

In the early season you can expect pleasant temperatures that are ideal for exploring the Mediterranean’s cities. In Barcelona, expect highs of around 70°F throughout most of May, with temperatures rising toward the end of the month. If you’re traveling further south to Athens, though, expect highs around 75-80°F.

Due to comfortable temperatures, the early shoulder season in the Mediterranean is a nice time to explore ports that can get uncomfortably hot in the peak summer months. Long days touring ancient sites like the Colosseum or walking through the cobblestone streets of Dubrovnik can be a lot nicer when temperatures are still comfortable.

Water temperatures during this time of year will not be as warm as they will be later in the summer, though. Water temperature in Mykonos, Greece, for example, tends to average around 66°F in May versus 78°F in August.

Crowds and pricing

The months of April and May will bring fewer crowds on a Mediterranean cruise compared to mid-summer. As the school year has not finished yet, there tend to be fewer families and children onboard as well.

Not only that, but there will be fewer tourists in your ports of call. While cities like Rome and Barcelona stay relatively busy each year, the peak tourist season is in the summer months, leading to the biggest crowds and lines at tourist attractions. Therefore, shoulder season should offer more pleasant sightseeing compared to the peak season.

Pricing during shoulder season tends to be slightly cheaper than mid-summer. An ocean view balcony stateroom for 2 adults on a 7-night Western Mediterranean cruise on Symphony of the Seas in early May is priced at $3056 total. The same sailing and stateroom category on a cruise in mid-July is priced at $4,216 total.

June

June in the Mediterranean offers beautiful weather and long, sunny days. The month of June can be looked at as a transition between the shoulder season of the spring and the peak months of July and August.

Weather

Temperatures rise throughout the month of June in the Mediterranean, leading to daily highs in the low to mid-80s in ports like Rome and Catania, whereas ports further north, like Nice and Genoa, will see highs in the mid-70s. Most days will be sunny, with little to no chance of precipitation.

For those who want a mix of pleasant temperatures in port with fairly comfortable water temperature for swimming, June may be the most ideal month to cruise the Mediterranean.

Crowds and pricing

As the school calendar comes to an end and families prepare for summer vacation, expect crowds and prices to rise.

Early June should come with fewer crowds than later in the month, as many families do not vacation as soon as the school year is over, preferring to wait until a bit later in the summer. However, the draw of ideal summer vacation weather in June will bring more crowds than you’ll see in the shoulder season.

Crowds will also increase in your ports of call, as many travelers begin summer vacations to Europe at this time. From college graduates backpacking through the Mediterranean to school travel groups, honeymoons, and family vacations, Europe’s most popular destinations will get more crowded throughout June.

June's pricing tends to be slightly higher than cruises in May, but typically several hundred dollars less per person than in July or August. An ocean view balcony stateroom for 2 adults on a 7-night Western Mediterranean cruise on Wonder of the Seas in mid-June is priced at $3501 total. The same sailing and stateroom category on a cruise in mid-July is priced at $4,360 total.

July and August

July and August is the peak season of Mediterranean cruises, bringing the highest temperatures, prices, and crowds. Prime vacation time for those traveling to Europe and for Europeans themselves, Mediterranean ports of call will be bustling with energy and the region’s beaches will be busier than normal.

Weather

Expect high temperatures no matter where you visit in the Mediterranean during July and August. Ports like Cannes, France can see daily highs in the upper 70s and low 80s, whereas cities like Valencia and Rome can see daily highs in the low to mid-90s.

Sightseeing with such high temperatures can be challenging and uncomfortable for cruise ship passengers, so it’s important to plan appropriately, wear lightweight clothing, drink plenty of water, and take rests in the shade throughout the day.

Luckily, peak summer brings the best swimming temperatures in the Mediterranean, allowing you to cool off at the beaches in port. A classic beach day on the Amalfi Coast or French Riviera will be best during these months, with water averaging around 75-80°F in places like Capri and Nice.

Little to no rain should be expected in July and August.

Crowds and pricing

Late June through mid-August are the busiest times to cruise to the Mediterranean. During the peak of summer, families with children are common onboard as well, as a mid-summer cruise fits well in the school summer vacation schedule.

During this time of year, you’re likely to see ships near full capacity, and not only will ships be busy, but the ports of call you visit are likely to be busier, too. Tourists from around the world flock to Europe’s world-class destinations in the summer months, which may lead to more lines and higher demand for popular activities in port.

Along with more demand comes higher prices, with July usually the most expensive month of the season and August slightly cheaper. A 7-night Greek Isles cruise on Odyssey of the Seas in mid-July, as an example, is priced at $3,163 total for 2 adults in an ocean view balcony room.

Of course, cruising in the peak summer months does not always have to come with a huge price tag. If you are looking for a more budget-friendly option, consider cruising on one of Royal Caribbean’s older ships or sailing in an interior or ocean view stateroom as opposed to a balcony. 

By switching to a smaller ship and room category, you’re guaranteed to find lower prices. A 7-night Greek Isles cruise on Brilliance of the Seas in mid-July is priced at $1,860 for 2 adults in an interior cabin, around $1300 cheaper than a cruise on Odyssey of the Seas.

Are businesses closed in August?

If you’re cruising the Mediterranean during the month of August, you should be aware that this is when many Europeans take vacation, heading to the Mediterranean’s beaches for maximum relaxation.

You may encounter some businesses and restaurants closed during August, but this is unlikely to significantly impact your cruise experience. Major tourist sites and the majority of businesses within cities will remain open in August.

September and October

The Mediterranean cruise shoulder season returns in September as a new school year begins, leading to fewer crowds and lower prices. In addition, the temperature in early September remains excellent, making the month one of the best times of the year for a Mediterranean cruise.

October sees slightly chillier weather than September, but is also considered one of the best months for a Mediterranean cruise, and a bit of a “hidden secret” among those cruising to Europe in the fall. Royal Caribbean’s Mediterranean season continues to late October or early November, at which point ships return to the Caribbean for the winter season.

Weather

Early to mid-September can be looked at as an extension of summer in most Mediterranean cruise ports, with hot, sunny temperatures. Temperatures begin to cool down in late September and early October, but still remain relatively pleasant.

Barcelona, for example, sees daily highs in the mid 70s and low 80s in September, whereas in October the daily highs tend to be in the low to mid 70s. Further south in Cyprus, expect daily highs in the mid 80s in September and low 80s in October.

Fall can also be a great time to visit the most southerly Mediterranean ports, such as Egypt and Israel, as the peak summer months are almost sure to be uncomfortably hot. 

Whereas rain in the Mediterranean is rare throughout the majority of summer, the chance of precipitation tends to increase in October, although unlikely to bring heavy rainfall. Rainfall is also dependent on the port, with cities like Kotor often receiving over 150mm of precipitation in October and Athens only around 37mm.

Crowds and pricing

Crowds will not be as prevalent on a fall cruise to the Mediterranean due to the start of the school year and end of summer vacation. European tourists flocking to Mediterranean beaches in August have returned home by mid-September, and the peak season for land-based tours and travel has ended.

That being said, as the temperatures are still favorable in early fall, don’t expect to have Mediterranean destinations to yourself. Most ports will still receive a fair amount of tourists during the fall, especially closer to the beginning of September.

Prices in September and October tend to be comparable to prices seen in May or early June, allowing for great savings compared to cruising in July or August. If your schedule allows for it, an early fall cruise to the Mediterranean can be an excellent option.

Western Mediterranean cruise guide

In:
24 Mar 2022

A Mediterranean cruise is one of Royal Caribbean’s most popular European cruise destinations, with the Western Mediterranean often a starting point for first time cruisers to Europe.

With some of the world’s most historic and breathtaking scenery, monuments, and cultures, going on a cruise to the Mediterranean allows you to experience multiple locations in a short amount of time.

Deciding which itinerary and ship to choose from as well as what to do in port, however, can be overwhelming for those who have never cruised to Europe.

In this guide we take a deeper look at the Western Mediterranean’s top destinations, itineraries, and things to do, as well as common concerns and questions faced by those planning a cruise to Europe.

Shortcuts:

Best itinerary for a Western Mediterranean cruise

Cruises to the Western Mediterranean generally visit Spain, France, and Italy. Some of the most common ports visited are Civitavecchia (Rome), Livorno (Pisa), Villefranche (Nice), Provence (Marseille), Naples/Capri, and Barcelona.

Royal Caribbean’s newest and biggest cruise ships tend to visit the most popular Mediterranean ports in Western Europe, whereas smaller ships visit both popular and lesser known destinations.

Other Western Mediterranean ports include Palermo, Catania, Portofino, Valencia, Cartagena (Spain), Ajaccio (Corsica), Palma de Mallorca, and Monte Carlo (Monaco).

Choosing which itinerary to book for a Western Mediterranean cruise comes down to your preference, budget, and ship choice.

All Mediterranean ports will offer the opportunity to explore European cultures, try new foods, visit historic monuments, discover unique architecture, visit the beach, and make memories to carry with you far after your cruise is over.

If you’ve never been to the Mediterranean before, picking an itinerary that includes the most popular cities in the region (Rome, Florence, Barcelona, etc.) can be a great choice. If you’ve visited those cities before, though, choosing an itinerary that visits smaller cities in the Mediterranean might be your best bet.

While picking a cruise based on the ship is not as important in Europe as it is in the Caribbean, you’ll still want to take the ship into consideration. If you know you want to sail on a large, new cruise ship, you will want to book a cruise on an Oasis or Quantum Class ship. This greatly lowers the itinerary choices to choose from.

If you are more interested in visiting unique ports even if it means sailing on a smaller ship, consider sailing on a Vision or Radiance Class ship to the Mediterranean.

Something unique about Mediterranean cruises is that you can opt to start the cruise from multiple ports.

For example, you can book a 7-night Western Mediterranean cruise leaving from Rome on May 12th or you can book the same cruise leaving from Barcelona on May 15th.

If you embark in Barcelona, you’re joining a cruise that many have already been on for several days. Likewise, when the cruise returns to Rome, you will get off at port to explore the city whereas passengers who started the cruise a week ago are now disembarking the ship.

How far away are cities from ports?

As you’re planning a Mediterranean cruise, you may notice that, while cities like Rome and Florence are listed on the itinerary, the cruise technically docks in Civitavecchia or Livorno, Italy.

Several major cities in the Mediterranean are not oceanfront, meaning a train, bus, or car ride is necessary to reach the city from the cruise port. In other ports, such Barcelona and Genoa, cruise ships dock nearby the city center, making access to the city a breeze.

While ports may be far away from some cities, Royal Caribbean allots a significant amount of time per day at these stops. When a cruise docks in Civitavecchia, as an example, the ship may be there from 7am - 8pm, allowing guests plenty of time to travel to Rome, spend the day exploring the city, and return back in the evening.

Self explore cities

Royal Caribbean will often have an excursion option that solely provides transport to and from the port to the center of the city. This is a great option for those who want the ease of Royal Caribbean transport to and from a destination but want to explore the city without a guided tour.

For example, in Pisa they offer the “Pisa on Your Own” tour, which takes guests from the port of Livorno to the heart of Pisa. They can then explore the city on their own for an allotted time before catching the shuttle bus back to port.

There is no need to worry about local train or bus delays causing you to miss the ship when booking transport through Royal Caribbean. You only need to be back at the designated shuttle bus or location at the allocated time in order to make it back to the ship.

These self-guided excursions with transport are often named “[Destination city] on Your Own” in the Cruise Planner.

Will I have enough time at each port stop?

A common concern of cruisers booking a Mediterranean cruise is whether they will have enough time at each port stop or not. While in the Caribbean many islands are small enough to see in one day, Mediterranean cities often require more time to explore thoroughly. 

A Mediterranean cruise should be looked at more as a “sampler” rather than an immersive dive into each destination. One could spend a year in Rome or Barcelona trying to see everything and that still wouldn’t be enough time. A day in each port is usually not enough time to fully explore the city, but does provide enough time to view the highlights.

My recommendation is to spend a few days before and after your cruise in your departure city to allow for extra sightseeing opportunities.

If your cruise departs from Barcelona or Rome, for example, try to arrive there at least 2-3 days before the cruise begins. Not only do you need extra time to recover from jetlag, but these cities are some of the world’s most spectacular and deserve a few days for sightseeing.

Likewise, if your cruise starts in one city and ends in another, try to plan a few days on land both before and after the cruise.

Land vs cruise vacation to the Mediterranean

Another common concern for those planning a cruise to the Mediterranean is they will “miss out” on European culture and lifestyle by spending evenings on a cruise ship instead of on land.

While it’s true that a Mediterranean cruise will not allow you to dive as deep into local culture compared to traveling more slowly on a land-based vacation, a cruise offers its own set of benefits.

One of the best parts of cruising in Europe compared to traveling on land is that all transportation is arranged for you. There’s no need to worry about booking a ton of train tickets, reserving multiple hotels, and lugging your suitcase from one city to another. On a cruise you will be able to visit multiple European countries while only unpacking once.

Another benefit of a cruise to the Mediterranean is that you’ll be able to see many destinations in a short amount of time. Trying to fit 3-4 destinations in multiple countries on a weeklong land vacation would be hectic and stressful. On a cruise, though, you are traveling from one port to another as you sleep, waking up in a new city each day stress-free.

That’s not to say there aren’t drawbacks to a cruise vs land vacation in Europe, however. A land vacation to Europe, assuming you are spending more than one day in each place, generally gives you more time to experience each destination. Being able to spend evenings wandering around European cities and experiencing nightlife is a highlight for some travelers to Europe, and this is not very common to have access to while on a cruise.

Planning a few days before and after your cruise in your departure city can give you the best of both worlds. Being on land for a few days prior to the cruise will allow you to see more of your departure city, experience European nightlife, and explore the Mediterranean without worrying about making it back to the ship on time.

Then, after a few days on land, you can board the cruise to experience multiple destinations and countries in one week without the hassle of traveling to and from different cities and countries on your own.

What to do in Mediterranean cruise ports

After you book a cruise to the Mediterranean, it’s time to plan your days in port. While it’s not necessary to plan everything in advance, it’s helpful to have an idea of what is offered at each port in your itinerary.

Many cruisers visiting Florence plan to visit the Duomo or Statue of David. Those visiting Nice may take a stroll along the waterfront Promenade des Anglais. Likewise, Vatican City and the Colosseum are extremely popular places to visit in Rome. 

Deciding what to do in port comes down to your interests. For some cruisers, a day in Barcelona visiting museums and historical monuments is ideal. Others may prefer to spend the day drinking sangria on the beach or walking around the city center.

Therefore, don’t feel pressured to book an excursion only because it is the “must do'' activity in a certain place. If you would rather explore a city on your own as opposed to standing in line for historical monuments or churches, you will still have an amazing cruise experience.

In fact, part of the fun on a Mediterranean cruise is simply wandering around the destinations you visit. It can be easy to plan an entire day from start to finish, but sometimes it is even better to arrive without a plan and see where the day takes you.

I would recommend knowing ahead of time whether or not you want to make the journey into cities far away from port (such as visiting Rome from Civitavecchia). As some destinations require 1-2 hours of traveling each way to reach the city from port, having a plan of how you will get to and from port is helpful.

Languages on a Mediterranean cruise

From French to Spanish, Catalan, and Italian, you can expect to hear a diverse range of languages on a Western Mediterranean cruise. And while English is widely spoken in Europe, you shouldn’t always expect everyone to speak it.

You likely won’t have trouble getting by with English in tourist areas and city centers of popular European destinations such as Florence and Marseille. If you’re traveling to the countryside or to lesser visited destinations in the Mediterranean, though, English may be less widely spoken.

Learning the basics of the language spoken in the countries you will visit on a Mediterranean cruise can make your experience smoother. Luckily, most languages spoken in the Western Mediterranean share many similarities with each other and are relatively easy to pick up as an English speaker.

Here are some key phrases I recommend learning in your destination’s language:

Mediterranean cuisine

One of the most attractive parts of booking a cruise vacation is the fact that food is included in your cruise fare. It’s possible to spend an entire week (or longer!) on a cruise ship and solely eat at complimentary restaurants, making your vacation food budget effectively $0.

However, eating exclusively on the cruise ship is one of the worst things you can do on a Mediterranean cruise!

Mediterranean cuisine is one of the most beloved in the world. Whether wood-fired pizzas in Naples, baguettes and croissants in Nice, paella in Barcelona, or gelato in Rome, trying new foods is a key aspect of traveling through the Mediterranean.

Allocate some of your budget toward trying food while in port. From a morning espresso and pastry at a local cafe to a sit-down lunch in the city center, trying local cuisine will definitely be a highlight of a Mediterranean cruise.

While some may feel taking the time to sit down for a long lunch while at port is wasting time, it’s actually one of the best ways to experience a destination’s culture. In addition, it forces you to relax in the middle of the day while at port which can be well appreciated during long, hot summer days.

Here are a few key food tips for a Mediterranean cruise:

  • Always walk several blocks in either direction away from the tourist areas before selecting a restaurant. Food in tourist areas is often lower quality, inauthentic, and overpriced
  • Restaurants with small menus are typically always better than those with many pages of menu items offering several different types of cuisines
  • Restaurants with menus solely in the local language are usually a good bet for authentic cuisine

What to bring on a Mediterranean cruise

Packing for a Mediterranean cruise shares some similarities with a Caribbean cruise, but has a few more considerations.

When I travel to Europe, I tend to pack clothes that are comfortable yet fashionable. While I may wear a wrinkly t-shirt and gym shorts off the ship at Perfect Day at CocoCay, I prefer dressing nicer while visiting European cities. Nice jeans, sundresses, jumpsuits, and blouses tend to fit in more with the style found in Europe compared to the casual outfits of a Caribbean cruise.

Packing comfortable walking shoes is a must while in Europe, as you’ll likely find yourself walking a lot more than on a Caribbean cruise. It’s not uncommon for guests to walk several miles a day while exploring a Mediterranean city, and the last thing you want to bring back to the ship are painful blisters.

Some churches in Europe will have their own dress codes, as well, so this is important to know for guests planning to visit places like the Sagrada Familia and Sistine Chapel. Generally, major churches in the Mediterranean require arms, shoulders, and legs to be covered. If you don’t want to be covered the entire day, pack a change of clothes in your day bag for after the church visit.

I also recommend avoiding certain clothing items that will make you stick out as a tourist, including apparel with American sports team logos, any type of patriotic or political attire, and camo patterns.

Make sure to pack euros with you or visit an ATM while in port. Unlike in the Caribbean or Mexican ports where you can usually get by with USD, this is not accepted in Europe.

When I travel to Europe I make sure to bring a debit or credit card with no international fees. That way I can take out money at ATMs without worrying about incurring high fees.

As always, be sure to alert your bank of your upcoming travels to avoid any pauses or alerts on your account due to withdrawals made in Europe.

Will my phone work on a Mediterranean cruise?

Unless you have a phone plan that includes international data, your phone’s data will not work in Europe. And while having phone service isn’t entirely necessary, I would recommend at least one person in your travel group has international data on their phone for the duration of the cruise.

International data offerings differ based on which phone provider you use. Some providers may have a daily fee for international service whereas others can charge by the amount of data used.

In addition, some phone plans may already come with international data in the Mediterranean, so be sure to check with your phone provider about whether or not you can access data abroad free of charge.

If you don’t have international data, you can access the internet via wifi while in port. Wifi should be relatively easy to encounter, especially closer to the city center. Many restaurants and cafes will have free wifi available to customers.

Like on all cruises, make sure to put your phone back on airplane mode once onboard the ship to avoid roaming charges.

Royal Caribbean releases new Europe summer 2023 cruises to book

In:
06 Jan 2022

Royal Caribbean's new 2023 European cruises are now available to book.

The new sailings are available to book via Royal Caribbean's website, offering a variety of ships and itineraries during the summer months when Royal Caribbean deploys its cruise ships to the region.

There are sailings between April and November 2023 to book across 9 different ships. That's a large proportion of Royal Caribbean's fleet.

Here is a breakdown of where the ships will be sailing from:

Anthem of the Seas will sail from Southampton, UK and offer cruises of various lengths to destinations in Spain, Portugal, Norway and the Canary Islands.

You'll be able to visit destinations new to Anthem, including Maloy and Haugesund, Norway, and Cork, Ireland. Longer, 11- and 12-night vacations will go further to places such as Lisbon, Portugal; Vigo, Spain; and the Canary Islands. 

Brilliance of the Seas will offer cruises from different ports in Europe, including Athens, Venice, and Rome (Civitavecchia) on sailings throughout the Eastern and Western Mediterranean, as well as the Adriatic.

Something new for Brilliance will be the opportunity to visit Praetorian Palace in Koper, Slovenia.

Explorer of the Seas will sail from Venice (Ravenna) to offer cruises in the Adriatic, as well as to the Greek isles.

Explorer will allow passengers to visit Olympia, Greece – the birthplace of the Olympic Games – for the first time.

Jewel of the Seas will be based in Amsterdam, and offer 8 and 12 night cruises to Iceland & Ireland, as well as Norway fjords cruises. She even has a 12-night Arctic Circle cruise.

Odyssey of the Seas will return to the Europe again to be based in Rome (Civitavecchia).  Odyssey will offer 7- to 12-night cruises around the Greek Isles.  Odyssey also has a 12-night Holy Land cruise in May 2023.

Vacationers have a choice of 7- to 9-night cruises from Rome to Naples, Italy; the idyllic Greek Isles and Turkey, as well as 12-night Holy Land sailings to the historic, bustling cities of Limassol, Cyprus; Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey; and Jerusalem, Israel. 

Photos: Odyssey of the Seas arrives in Israel | Royal Caribbean Blog

Rhapsody of the Seas will be the first Royal Caribbean ship to sail from Limassol and Haifa, Israel, all in one season. The new summer combination consists of 7-night sailings to ports of call in Turkey, Israel and Greece, including first-time destinations for the cruise line, like Skiathos and Thessaloniki, Greece.

Starting in September, the ship will take off on short 4- and 5-night getaways from Haifa and visit Cyprus and the Greek Isles.

Serenade of the Seas will homeport out of Barcelona, Spain and offer 5-, 8-, and 12-night cruises in the Western Mediterranean.

Symphony of the Seas will also sail from Barcelona, with 7-night Western Mediterranean cruises to enjoy. 

Travelers can set course on 7-night cruises, from Barcelona or Rome, to bucket list destinations like Naples, Palma de Mallorca, Spain, and Provence, France. 

European Union to allow fully vaccinated Americans during summer 2021 | Royal Caribbean Blog

Voyager of the Seas will be based in Copenhagen, and offer primarily Scandinavian and Russian cruises. Voyager will also offer two Best of Northern Europe cruises during the season.

Guests looking for a longer vacation can cruise from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Copenhagen on a 14-night sailing that features an overnight in Bermuda and visits to St. Thomas, France and Belgium. 

This is the third 2023 deployment released so far, as Royal Caribbean released Alaska 2023 cruises and longer Caribbean 2023 cruises last month.

More itineraries will be released later this spring, including Northeast cruises, Los Angeles, Short Caribbean and more. There is no dates yet for when these new itineraries will be released. 

Booking early can save you money

European Union to allow fully vaccinated Americans during summer 2021 | Royal Caribbean Blog

Thinking about booking a cruise a year and a half away may seem excessive, but it is one of the best ways to get the best price on a cruise.

Generally speaking, the lowest prices for cruises are available when new itineraries are released, such as these Europe 2023 sailings. Over time, prices will go up as more and more cabins are booked up.

If you are interested in a suite, the importance of booking early is even more apparent, as these cabins usually jump up in price quickly after release.

Friday Photos | Royal Caribbean Blog

No matter what the price is today, you can always take advantage of a lower price later with the Best Price Guarantee program, which allows for repricing of cruises in case of a price drop.

Besides cost savings, booking early also ensures you get the exact cabin you want. A lot of cruise fans gobble up the most desirable cabins when new sailings hit the market, such as suites, extra large balcony rooms and other unique staterooms.

Planning on booking a 2023 cruise? These stories will help:

Royal Caribbean Group CEO gives updates on Europe and Alaska 2021 cruise chances

In:
24 Mar 2021

Will that Royal Caribbean cruise to Europe or Alaska actually sail this year?

That question is among one of the most asked concerns out there, and Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard provided his outlook for these regions.

So far, Royal Caribbean has cancelled May cruises in Europe and Alaska, but the rest of the cruise season remains intact.

During a webinar with travel agents, Mr. Fain said there is still going to be a Europe season, but it won't be the same.

"A lot depends on some of the regulatory hurdles that we're dealing with today, " Fain explained. "there'll be a European season, I believe. I certainly hope that it will be a large one. And I hope that this momentum carries us forward and allows us to make the kinds of decisions that we need to make now."

"It takes months to activate a ship. We not only need permission to be doing things, we need their permission sufficiently in advance to enable us to prepare for it. So late permission is equivalent to a denial."

"I do think you're going to see a good European season this summer."

What about Alaska? Mr. Fain's proverbial crystal ball was less clear.

Canada banned cruise ships for an entire year, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) still has a ban of cruise ships in the United States.

Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean's Alaska cruises are not cancelled yet.

"We've been very pleased and appreciative of the support we've gotten from members of Congress, from others who have spoken on not on our behalf, but on behalf of the small businesses in Alaska that depend on tourism for their livelihood."

"I can tell you that we and others are working on it. I don't think I feel confident enough to make a prediction as to whether we and they will be successful."

Latest on working with the CDC

Alaska, and to a lesser degree Europe, are tied very much to what happens with the CDC and their Conditional Sail Order.

Echoing CLIA's statement earlier today, Mr. Fain took a different tone in discussing what is or is not happening with the CDC.

In reference to the Conditional Sail Order, he said, "it calls for four-phases, but four-and-a-half months into that, we are still in phase one and we still don’t know what will be required for phase two."

"That is pretty unworkable, for us and the CDC."

"We think that that the science has moved ahead of the Conditional Sail Order. It was a very good process way back when. Back in October of last year we thought it was a positive, and it's now out of date."

Royal Caribbean releases new Europe summer 2022 cruises to book

In:
03 Dec 2020

Royal Caribbean has released its Europe 2022 cruises, which are available to book now.

According to Royal Caribbean these new sailings are available for Crown & Anchor members on December 3, 2020, and the general public on December 4, 2020.

Guests can experience culture-rich adventures on board ships new to the Mediterranean and Northern Europe with Brilliance of the Seas sailing roundtrip from Venice, Italy and Voyager of the Seas launching her first season in the Baltic Sea – the first in the Voyager Class to do so. A game-changing lineup of guest favorites, Anthem, Allure and Odyssey of the Seas – Royal Caribbean’s second Quantum Ultra Class ship debuting in 2021 – will return to their respective homeports in Southampton, England; Barcelona and Rome to create a summer of memory-making in Europe’s most sought-after destinations.     

New Europe 2022 cruises are available to book between April and October 2022, and so far we have spotted cruises on seven different Royal Caribbean ships to book.

Here is a breakdown of where the ships will be sailing from:

Anthem of the Seas will sail from Southampton, UK and offer cruises of various lengths to destinations in Western Europe.

Allure of the Seas will sail from Rome to offer Mediterranean cruises.

Odyssey of the Seas will return to Europe to offer cruises from Rome.

Brilliance of the Seas will also sail from Rome to offer Italy and Adriatic cruises, as well as Greece and Croatia sailings.

Vision of the Seas will sail from Barcelona and offer cruises to France and Italy, as well as Western Mediterranean cruises.

Jewel of the Seas will offer open-jaw sailings between Athens, Greece and Tarragona, Spain and sail longer cruises to Italy, Turkey and Greece. She will also offer British Isle cruises from Amsterdam.  Another unique sailing will be 12-night Arctic Circle cruises from Amsterdam that sail up the coast of Norway.

Voyager of the Seas will sail from Copenhagen, Demark and offer Scandinavia & Russia cruises.

You can view the full list of sailings for each ship:

This is the third 2022 deployment released so far, as Royal Caribbean released Alaska 2022 cruises and longer Caribbean 2022 cruises in November.

The remainder of the 2022-2023 deployment is marked as "coming soon" with no date range of when to expect it.

Planning on booking a  2022 cruise? These stories will help:

European Union publishes recommendations for cruise ships once cruises resume

In:
03 Jul 2020

The European Union released 49 pages of general guidance for cruise ships that could be applied once cruise lines resume cruises following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The guidance covers a variety of measures that seek to reduce the risk for introduction of COVID-19 onto the ship, transmission during cruise ship voyage, embarkation and disembarkation, and further provides options for preparedness to respond to potential COVID-19 cases among crew and guests.

It is important to note these recommendations by the European Union have not been approved or accepted by Royal Caribbean. These measures are a look at what policies are being proposed by health organizations.

Interestingly, 22 different Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. employees provided input in the formation of this policy, including a number of Senior Vice Presidents.

While there is a lot in this document, here are the major highlights.

Short sailings to start

This end-to-end plan also notes that it recommends cruise lines take a "gradual approach" to resuming cruise ship sailings.

Specifically, it recommends sailings between 3 to 7 nights in duration, and perhaps limit the number of port visits in the itinerary.

In addition, each country that is visited on a cruise should be evaluated for their capacity to accept possible or confirmed COVID-19 cases from cruise ships.

Forced social distancing

In order to make social distancing rules effective, the EU recommends reducing the number of guests and crew onboard.

Limiting the amount of people onboard allows measures related to physical distancing on board ships can be maintained, and that temporary isolation and quarantine of passengers and crew can take place individually in cabins. 

Physical distancing of at least 1.5 metres (5 feet) should be maintained at waiting areas and during boarding at transport stations, by adopting special markings and controlled entry measures.

A number of hygiene measures are recommended to be employed onboard: hand washing with soap and water or hand hygiene with alcohol based hand rub solution (containing at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol), respiratory (coughing and sneezing) etiquette, disposal of used tissues, physical distancing (including the elimination of handshaking), use of face masks, avoiding touching the nose, eyes and mouth without previously washing hands (38) etc.;

Masks

The word "mask" appears 100 times in the document, and it encompasses using masks while onboard.

When physical distancing cannot be maintained, the use of face masks should be required.

Crew members are recommended to practice physical distancing and wear face masks.

If a passenger does not arrive with their own face mask, face masks could be made available for passengers at the terminal.

The document also recommends wearing masks in the following areas:

  • Interacting with other guests when closer than 5 feet apart
  • Embarkation
  • On buses
  • Walking/passing in narrow corridors on board
  • Casinos
  • Elevators
  • Excursions (countries that have rules about requiring them)
  • Visiting the medical facility on board

No indoor swimming pools

Indoor swimming pools are not recommended, but indoor pools that can be converted as outdoor pools (by lifting/removing roofs or walls) could be allowed.

Bathers should be strongly advised to shower before entering the pools. The cruise ship should provide all necessary items for showering (e.g. soap, shower gel, etc.).

Sunbeds, chairs and lounge chairs should be positioned so that they are at least 5 feet apart from each other.

In addition, the maximum number of guests in a pool should be limited, including in hot tubs.

Outbreak plan

Each cruise ship operating in Europe must have a ship contingency plan/outbreak management plan.

The EU document outlines 11 parts to this plan, including:

  • Monitoring of epidemiological situation, rules and restrictions worldwide
  • Written contingency plan/outbreak management plan for COVID-19 
  • Arrangements for medical treatment and ambulance services
  • Arrangements for repatriation
  • Arrangements for quarantine of close contacts
  • Arrangements for isolation of asymptomatic/ pre-symptomatic travelers 
  • Adequate testing capacity
  • Crew training
  • Immediate reporting to the next port of call of any possible case
  • Estimation of maximum number of passengers and crew on board cruise ships
  • Focused inspection on COVID-19 prevention and control for resuming cruise ship voyages by EU HEALTHY GATEWAYS

Prohibiting higher risk guests

Not surprisingly, there are recommendations to prevent anyone who may be at a higher risk of having contracted COVID-19 from going on a cruise ship in the first place.

These measures mirror some of the policies that went into effect before Royal Caribbean shut down operations in March.

Any person experiencing symptoms compatible with COVID-19, or if identified, anyone who has been in contact during the last 14 days with a confirmed case of COVID-19, or anyone who is tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 by RT-PCR would not be accepted on board cruise ships.

Passengers in high risk groups including people over 65 years of age or people of any age with underlying medical conditions (chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory diseases and immunocompromised individuals) should be advised to visit a doctor for pre-travel medical consultation to assess if they are fit to travel.

Activities and services on board cruise ships could be organized according to age group, so that older individuals are separated from other age groups. 

No self-service buffet

In addition to a number of protocols recommended for keeping the ship clean, the recommendation is for only designated crew members be allowed to serve food.

Crew serving food should wear face masks & disposable gloves.

Under no circumstances should crew or passengers who will be served food use any commonly shared utensils or other items. These should be removed from the service so that only a designated crew can distribute them.

Self-service of dispensed items, plates, cutlery, utensils by passengers or crew should not be allowed. Food handlers should serve any dispensed items (for example water, coffee, juice etc.). 

Room service is recommended in order to avoid overcrowding in restaurants and other food service areas.

Royal Caribbean pushes back China sailings return & cancels Denmark cruises

In:
11 Jun 2020

Royal Caribbean announced more cruise cancellations caused by the current state of world health, as well as new regulations imposed by Denmark.

Instead of resuming China sailings in the beginning of July, Royal Caribbean has extended its cancellations through July 12, 2020 for Quantum of the Seas and Spectrum of the Seas, as well as Voyager of the Seas sailings through September 2020.

The cruise line had cancelled all of its China sailings through the end of June during the last round of cancellations, but now the resumption of sailings in China may not begin until at least July 12.

Additionally, Copenhagen, Denmark has restricted all non-essential travel through August 31, 2020. As a result, the following sailings have been cancelled:

  • Brilliance of the Seas departing on August 21, 2020
  • Jewel of the Seas departing August 8 - 22, 2020

We continue to monitor the progress and evolution of the current environment as we begin to balance continued safety with a gradual return to normalcy. At the forefront, the health and well-being of our guests and crew, as well as the communities we visit, fuel the decisions we make as a corporation. As we work to prepare our ships for their operational return, extensive planning and research have proven essential.

Guests booked on any of the affected sailings have the following choices for compensation.

125% Future Cruise Credit to re-book a new cruise by December 31, 2021 for sailings departing on or before April 30th, 2022. This will automatically be issued by July 24th, 2020 via email if no action is taken.

Taxes and fees, as well as any pre-purchased amenities or onboard packages will be automatically refunded to the original form of payment within 45 days from the cancellation date.

Lift and Shift: If you prefer to move your cancelled booking to a 2021 sailing, you can take advantage of Royal Caribbean's new policy where the cruise line will price protect the original pricing and/or promotion on the same itinerary, length, product, and stateroom category as your original sailing within 4 weeks (before or after) of the original sail date in 2021.

You will need to contact your travel agent by June 25th to take advantage of this option.

100% Refund: if you prefer a full refund, you have until December 31, 2020 to request a refund and deactivate your certificate. You can expect to receive your refund 45 days after you submit your refund request.

Will there be cruises to Europe in 2020?

In:
26 Mar 2020

Each year, Royal Caribbean sends a number of ships to Europe for the summer, but this year's cruise season is in question given the growing coronavirus pandemic.

Royal Caribbean has cancelled all of its global sailings through mid-May, and this is the time of year when traditionally cruise ships make the transatlantic crossing to begin the European cruise season.

Warnings against travel

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has classified Europe as an area with “widespread ongoing transmission” of COVID-19 and has given it a Level 3 Warning, asking citizens to avoid nonessential travel. That is the same warning level applied to China, South Korea and Iran.

On top of that, the State Department has restricted all but United States citizens and legal permanent residents from returning from Europe. And countries have instituted lockdowns to prevent the spread of the virus.

European lockdown

Over in Europe, Spain and Italy are two countries where Royal Caribbean offers a great many sailings, and Spain has over 40,000 and Italy almost 70,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Moreover, the European Union has banned nonessential travel from elsewhere in the world for 30 days. In addition, there are select European countries that have added new rules to prohibit cruise ship arrivals for at least 30 days.

  • Spain has closed all its borders for entry from March 23 for 30 days.
  • Italy is under a countrywide lockdown and cruise ships are prohibited from visiting.
  • The Netherlands has closed its cruise ports to cruise passengers by river or ocean, which applies to the busy port of Amsterdam.
  • All of Denmark's cruise ports are closed to non-resident foreigners at least April 13, 2020.
  • Sweden has a temporary ban on travel to the country from March 19 for up to 30 days.
  • The United Kingdom appears to have no restrictions related to cruise ships at this time.

The waiting game

Royal Caribbean has not commented on the prospects of the 2020 cruise season, so both the cruise line and guests are relegated to waiting things out and seeing what conditions are like closer to the resumption of sailings in May.

Allure of the Seas is already in Europe, as she managed to conduct her transatlantic crossing prior to the initial shutdown. Jewel of the Seas is in the Middle East.

The rest of the fleet is either somewhere off the coast of the United States, Caribbean or Australia.

It appears even a partial cruise season in Europe is better than no cruise season in Europe, so no official word on plans has been made yet.

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