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is a cruise a good idea??

HI!! Im planning my husband and I first trip to Europe. We were thinking at first just getting there and seeing Paris, France - Madrid, Toledo and Barcelona and then going to Rome... but a friend recomended us a cruise... So I was thinking to get to Madrid, stay there for 2-3 days so we can see Madrid and Toledo then go up to Barcelona and take a cruise ( the cruise takes us to some parts of Spain, then Pisa, Florence and Rome)... the cruise are cheap in a way...so I think we can save money...but I dont know if we are going to be able to enjoy it.. 1. Take a cruise from a place of spain so we can stay more days and see other parts of spain or take it from Rome, so we can stay in Rome for more days...?????
confuseeeeeeeee heeeeeeelp

Posted by
19216 posts

To each their opinion. Cruising is not popular on this site. We have been on 7 European cruises and find that cruises offer a good value and an opportunity to see a lot of Europe quickly and conveniently. We generally will go early by several days prior to the cruise and stay a week or so longer. It is a matter of attitude and how you take advantage of what the cruise offers. We simply view the ship as a floating hotel and an overnight train. We are able to do many of the things that Grier claims you cannot do. And he left out a few things such as time wasted checking in and out of hotels, finding the hotels, using trains between locations, etc. Ship excursions should be avoided because they are expensive with a lot of hurry up and wait. So you need to do your homework for each port call so that you can get max use of your time. Should try it -- you might like it.

Posted by
1237 posts

Shira - Only you can answer that question but a cruise has never appealed to me. When I go to Europe, I want to spend all my time in the cities and towns I am visiting. I want to sleep in a local hotel or guest house, not on a ship. I want to walk around the town early in the morning and in the evening, not walk around a ship. I want to eat the local food, not ship's food. I want as much contact with Europeans as I can get. I want the challenge of finding my way around. I just don't think you can get a good feel and taste for Europe from a cruise ship.

Posted by
683 posts

We have cruised to and from Europe on each of our trips there. It is a much nicer way than air for travel. It is far more time-consuming, tho.
That said, we would never take a cruise to experience Europe or any other place. You have little time (maybe 6 or 7 hrs max) to enjoy the port cities and almost no time for the places inland. Travel by train is excellent in virtually all of Western Europe. There are many good airlines as well,if time is an issue. Air travel is seldom a good idea due to lesser distances between most destinations and inconvenience of getting from airports to the cities. Your post is confusing. We don't know what you mean by taking a cruise so that you can stay more days.

Posted by
85 posts

I agree with Frank. I have been on four cruises and loved them all. This time my husband and I are scheduled to take a cruise mid April to Spain, Monoco, Florence, Rome, Greece and finally Venice. We are staying in Paris for 5 days first and then an extra 2 days after in Venice. Cruising is not for everyone but we love it. I enjoy seeing cities like Paris and staying in hotels but then I enjoy the luxury of not unpacking for several days as the scenery goes by me. My recommendation is to go for it but as you mentioned stay in a city or cities for a few days before and after. You get the best of both worlds.

Posted by
6585 posts

Count me as one of those who would rather spend all of my vacation time actually IN the hotels, restaurants, sites of the European Cities instead of on a boat cloistered from the actual residents and lifestyles of these beautiful cities and eating only gourmet Americanized food. Yikes! We took a young man with us to Rome who had been to Rome previously on cruise. He was amazed to see all of the things that he had missed because he only had a few hours in port to see the city.

Posted by
76 posts

we are thinking of getting to madrid. staying there for 3 days..then go to barcelona stay 2 days there and then go in the cruise... trying to find one that ends in italy so we can stay in rome for 3 more days.. i have always wanted to see spain (madrid, toledo, barcelona) and ROME...so i think getting a cruise will be a plus.

Posted by
8717 posts

"...eating only gourmet Americanized food..." That statement is way off-base. Most all the cruise ships operating in and around Europe, are owned by European companies, and mostly patronized by Europeans. If anything the food is catered around European expectations, not American.

Posted by
2669 posts

I had an opportunity to take a cruise around the Hawaiian Islands where I live most of the year. The cruise had not sold out so they offered cabins at ridiculously low prices - I got a cabin with a BIG window as a single for less than $100/day.
Well, I went on that cruise and certainly enjoyed all the good food without having to cook or wash dishes. However, I was appalled at the short amount of time the ship actually spent in the different island harbors. There was no way that a visitor had enough time to see much on each island. I felt sorry for the folks that had come to Hawaii just for the cruise to "see" Hawaii. My opinion, I am sure some folks thought it was a great sightseeing adventure. As others on this web site have posted, I would never consider taking a cruise thinking I was going to really "see and feel" the locations visited.

Posted by
19216 posts

Not sure a Hawaii cruise is same as an European cruise. And cruises vary a lot. Some port calls are 8 to 10 hours long, some are overnight, so there is lot of opportunity to see and do others things. There are many false assumptions made and promoted by people who have never taken a cruise. Not sure why the suggestion of cruising draws such quick negative comments especially from folks who have never been on a cruise. Cruising, like all forms of travel, has certain advantages and disadvantages and require some compromises just as traveling by budget airlines or trains. Just because it doesn't appeal to you, doesn't mean that it is not acceptable form of travel even on this site. PS There are some interesting posts on cruising on the Graffiti Wall under European Cruises.

Posted by
331 posts

After reading all the posts I find myself agreeing with arguments both for and against cruises, which is a first for me because I am not normally so magnanamus. My original feeling was how on earth could you spend 2 weeks stuck on a ship with the same folk from the same basic background with the same expectations, the same itinery and the same taste in food, the same need for in house evening entertainment (for me the killer) and short of throwing yourself overboard no means of escape? However, I can see that it could at times beat sitting in traffic jams or hanging around in non descript airport lounges /railway waiting rooms. At least you can go to bed when it all gets too much. No, still not doing it for me. What, a signed photo of me at dinner with the captain? Now you're talking.

Posted by
574 posts

Today's cruise ships are more like small cities where you have endless choices of what to do and what to eat. My husband and I tend to hang out with each other or with our own family, just like we do on land. We don't socialize much, although we did enjoy meeting some of the Greek people on one of our ships. In the case of the Greek cruise, we were on the islands until late at night. A cruise, like a land vacation, is whatever you make it. If I were forced to sit at a table every night with the same people, listening to them complain about everything and brag about how many cruises they've been on, I would be tempted to jump overboard myself (we usually choose a table for just our own family to avoid this). But for us, a cruise vacation is nothing like that. If I only got one chance to see Europe, I wouldn't choose a cruise. But we travel a lot and for us it's just another great way to experience Europe inexpensively and have a fantastic time enjoying each other without some of the stresses that are sometimes involved with land travel.

Posted by
1237 posts

"Just because it doesn't appeal to you, doesn't mean that it is not acceptable form of travel even on this site." You're absolutely right, Frank. If it appeals to you and others, go for it. I have also heard from friends about the "gourmetized American food" on Med cruises. Glad to know that's not always the case. A pet peeve of mine is when the huge cruise ships come to port is that they are such eye-sores! They really ruin the view in my opinion. We were staying in Villefranche sur Mer and had a great view from our hotel window, until the cruise ship came in for the day and ruined it.

Posted by
10997 posts

I like cruising but seriously doubt that I'll ever take a Mediterrainian cruise. Cruises are reasonable because they include your food, lodging and transportation. If you shop discounted fares (like I do), it's not unusual to find a price that is comparable to paying for only lodging on land - although Europe doesn't go on sale like the Carribean does. Cruises work well for itineraries that are good for a day trip. The ship typically pulls in about breakfast time and pulls out before dinner. We enjoyed a Baltic cruise this summer because the Capitals are the highlights, they are best reached by sea (the traditional link), and they can be seen reasonably well in a day (we stopped two days in St. Petersburg). A river cruise is also a good idea. They stop in the town center of generally smaller towns, giving you enough time to explore without feeling rushed before reboarding your ship for dinner. Even a trip through the Dalmatian coast would probably work well, though you miss the magic of the towns at sunset and at night. Most of the Mediterrainian stops can't be seen as a day trip. True, Pisa warrants less than half a day - but Florence and Rome as day trips? Florence deserves a minimum of two frenetic days of sightseeing (more if possible) and Rome could keep a tourist busy for a week or more (though most of us settle for 3-5 days). Rome is not a port, so you have to spend a portion of your day training into the city (or worse yet, taking the ship's expensive bus tour).

Posted by
574 posts

Cruises are just a different way to experience a vacation. On a cruise visiting the Greek islands, my husband and I didn't waste any time (or substantial expense)waiting on ferries since the ship traveled in the early morning hours. The ship arrived in each port around 10 AM and left about 3 in the morning, allowing us all the time we could possibly want to experience each island. The food served onboard was Greek and and most of the other passengers were European. Unpacking once made this a very relaxing, carefree, wonderful trip. I love visiting Europe in the traditional way, staying in hotels and taking trains, etc. But this is an alternative that is also extremely cost effecient and enjoyable. I can't imagine that if you like to do things one way, that you can't like other ways, too. I am very Type A traveler and cruising makes me take it a bit slower, which my husband greatly enjoys. We find that cruising is by far the most ROMANTIC way to travel! ;-) If your goal is to see everything there is in as short amount of time as possible,a cruise is not the best option.But if you want to slowly enjoy exotic scenes that change before your eyes,then a cruise is fantastic. Depends on what you really want.

Posted by
2297 posts

Cruising is just another way of enjoying a vacation, some like it, some don't. Just a personal preference in many instances. It does make more sense for itineraries that are best reached by boat, especially island hopping (think Greek Islands, Carribean) or coastal towns and cities (eg along the Baltic or Alaska coastlines). But looking at your desired destinations Paris, Madrid, Toledo, Florence are all land-locked. Rome is not that far from a port but travel time is still cutting away from a day trip and then as Brad mentioned it is not a city to be explored by one of the typical cruise daytrip excursions, you need much more time. From your list only Barcelona and Pisa are destinations that would be considered ideal for a cruise stop.

Posted by
332 posts

Put me in the pro-cruising crowd, it is just another nice way to travel. Do not think that the advertised price of $699 for a 7 night cruise is all you will pay. Many people more than double that with tips, service charge, specialty dining charges, shore excursions, drinks, gambling(!), spas, exercise classes, etc. Also, the cities you want to visit are a long way from port. Do your homework before booking a cruise.

Posted by
574 posts

I for one, am glad that many people burn money like crazy on cruise ships, wildly running up charges on casinos, alcohol, spas and shore excusrsions. They subsidize the business so people like my husband and I can use the ship like a floating hotel, enjoying the free perks without paying for all the extras. I doubt that a cruise ship will make any money off of us. Since we carefully watch our spending and travel independently on shore in a Rick Steves manner, cruising is a huge value.

Posted by
76 posts

And another thing....
This will be our first cruise too... I checked a 6 nights cruises that starts in rome (so we will get there at least 3-4 days before so we can see the city) then get in the ship and end up in Barcelona. We will stay in Barcelona 2 days then go to Madrid for 2-3 more days (one of those days I want to go to Toledo).... the cruise goes to Civitavecchia (Roma), Italia; Livorno (Florencia/Pisa), Italia; Provenza (Toulon), Francia; Gibraltar, Reino Unido; Barcelona, España I think like this we can enjoy our first trip to Europe and our first cruise in one trip.... thanks for all of your post...it is a great help

Posted by
331 posts

Terry you are right and I am humbled...of course any holiday is what you make it and I was pleased to hear that you would rather jump overboard than get into a competition about how many foreign holidays you have been on (or worse still how much they cost) I have a friend (perhaps not so much a friend as some one I know) who has a map of the world on her living room wall with every country she has 'invaded' coloured in in red felt tip pen just in case you were in any doubt as to how well travelled and knowledgable she is. This has nothing to do with cruises, so I will beat a hasty retreat.

Posted by
574 posts

Shira, you will have a great time.
And Shoni, the word my girls use is "frenemies"! Your description made me laugh. Bores can be found on land or on sea!

Posted by
361 posts

Eeww! Why waste your time on a cruise ship that is laden with MRSA, Legionnaire's disease and all other kinds of microbic vermin. Oh yeah, that's right between stops that srcub down the entire ship with bleach---NOT!

Posted by
1994 posts

Shira, while I normally wouldn't recommend a cruise for Europe, if you really ONLY want to focus on places where you'll be spending extra time (Spain before cruise, and Rome after cruise), it sounds like a nice way to travel provided you are OK with just a few hours in the "bonus" cities where the cruise will take you (like Florence). It certainly is a relaxing way to get between those two countries. A couple of other thoughts: 1. Make sure the cruise really is less expensive. If you want to take the shore excursions to those various cities, the cost of the cruise can increase markedly. And the ports are often some distance from the city (eg, Florence), making for expense and complicated logistics if you want to visit on your own.
2. Toledo is one of my favorite places in the world. (I love El Greco and spent a week in Toledo recently.) While many do it as a day trip from Madrid, I'd suggest staying overnight. It really is lovely in the evening, with the architectural details lit and the crowds gone back to Madrid.

Posted by
574 posts

Jerry, sadly, I don't know of anywhere in the world that is germ (or bedbug) free. Any suggestions???

Posted by
361 posts

No, but if you read the news you'll see that cruise ships are notorious for being harbingers of food borne illnesses and rampant with MRSA. MRSA is NOTHING to scoff at if you get it good luck shaking it. Cruises waste time, herd you to places you may not want to see and do NOT let you really spend time with the locals. Why waste the time on a ship when you can be rubbing elbows with the local denizens of an area?

Posted by
331 posts

Sounds like Jerry might be suffering from a bad case of hypochondria or at the very least just want to rain on your parade. Yes, it might kill you, but must have better odds than the Titanic

Posted by
574 posts

Germs are all over airplanes, hotels, museums, and hostels, perhaps not getting the media attention that large luxury cruise ships do, but yet,the germs are still there (you might not have noticed them because they're very small). And to make sure you don't waste time going where you don't want to go, actually read the itinerary. It tells you where the ship sails. If you think it's a waste of time, pick another itinerary. Just because you are sleeping on a ship rather than in a hotel doesn't mean that you are not experiencing local culture! Jerry, did you have a very bad experience when you actually cruised?

Posted by
893 posts

We leave in exactly a month for our first Mediterranean cruise. When we get back I can let you know how it went;-) But I can tell you that having traveled in Europe (the RS way) and having cruised to Mexico, I do believe a cruise can be a very economical way to see places you would not normally see. However, I don't think it's a good way to see places that you really, really want to see and explore in detail. When it is all said and done, we estimate that we will have spent less than $1500pp for 2 weeks including all meals, tours etc. For that price we get 2 nights in Barcelona including a group walking tour, a Ho/Ho bus + entrance to the Roman Colosseum and St. Peter's Basilica, Guided walking tour of Athens, a private guide for the day in Ephesus who will take us all over, an escorted overnight tour of Cairo including Great Pyramids, Egyptian Museum and Coptic Cairo (staying at a 5* hotel that night and not on the ship), and a self-explored day of Malta. Never would we have been able to build such an itinerary for such a cost other than a cruise. While it isn't for everyone, we are very much looking forward to it.

Posted by
893 posts

One other point for cruising that wasn't mentioned: Unpack and pack once! I have some weird OCD-like tendencies when it comes to packing and unpacking and I think DH encouraged this last cruise because of it LOL! Sure beats the heck out of the picture with the captain.