I’ve never been to Europe and my wife is interested in taking a cruise that departs Venice and ends in Barcelona. We’ve taken several Caribbean cruises, and one thing I dislike is the short amount of time on shore. Having never been to Europe, would I feel robbed having only 10 hours in Rome and other cities (Kotor, Naples) or would it be better to pick a country and explore it?
Everybody is different. For me it would be better to pick a country and explore it.
It varies by port, but some of the Mediterranean and Adriatic cruise stops are quite some distance from the big-name places that many cruisers (and other travelers) most want to see. Getting to and from those places independently (to avoid the $$$ ship excursions) can chew up a lot of your limited shore time, not leaving a lot of time for actual sightseeing. I believe that would be less of an issue on a Caribbean cruise, where distances are shorter.
It's very difficult to cram a city like Florence into a one-day stop--less than one day after you consider the travel time involved. One of the major joys of European travel is just being there--wandering medieval streets, sitting in a sidewalk cafe, etc. Cruise stops tend to be over-packed with "sights" with little to no time to absorb some of the local atmosphere.
At the very least, I would urge you to arrive several days in advance so you can really see Venice (and perhaps some of the nearby, quite different, destinations such as Padua, Vicenza and Verona). Be sure to stay well past the end of your cruise to enjoy Barcelona and some other spots in Catalunya.
Really, my reaction is the same as yours. I have traveled in Europe a great deal, and the thought of a cruise along the Mediterranean coast isn't inspiring to me. I understand the attraction of not having to pack up and move on to a new hotel every day or two, but that can be accomplished without taking a cruise. I usually spend at least 4 nights at every destination; I had 10 nights i Barcelona in 2016. To make those long stays work in cities that don't have as many great attractions as Barcelona, I plan a lot of short side-trips by train and bus . This approach works very well in Europe, where there are usually exciting places to visit every 10 or 15 miles (if not closer than that).
If you list the ports for the cruise you are considering, we may be able to give you an idea of the logistics involved on land.
blaquejimmy--I hear you loud and clear, but I also get your wife completely. Acraven's suggestion to add days before and after the cruise is a good compromise. If blitzing the Caribbean frustrated you, you'll feel the same in the Adriatic. But, it's your first trip, so I agree about the compromise.
We've done a lot of European travel where we drag the little suitcase on and off the train and stay in one place for a week to explore in more depth, but we've also blitzed cruise ports, always on private tours--never with the ship, in the Caribbean, Spain, and Madeira. I love both cruising and independent travel! But I agree with you about the frustration of going to Europe and blitzing the Adriatic. I think acraven's compromise of adding independent travel before and after hits the right note. Your wife sleeps in the same bed, unpacks once, knows where she's getting breakfast and dinner every day during the cruise, while you get to research the independent travel days and explore in more depth before and after the cruise.
By the way, we are in the process of making the same decision in our home right now, between an 11-night cruise that includes two Portuguese ports or traveling independently in Portugal for 2-3 weeks. The independent trip, though a TON of work to organize, is winning right now. It's beginning to look like we'll save the ship for somewhere warm in January or February.