December Cruise Options in Mediterranean

Hi, We will be in Southern France in the first half of December and are considering taking a cruise to see more of the areas and use the ship as our hotel. We've never done a cruise before and would love some suggestions. Here are some questions that I have at this point: 1. What is the best way to find good cruises in the area? Which travel search engines are good? 2. What is the best way to get an affordable booking on the cruises?
3. While I'm told that some ships relocate from the Mediterranean in the winter, can you recommend any good cruises/companies? Thank you so much for your help!

Posted by Michael
City, Utah, United States
8 posts

I haven't seriously considered river cruises but that is something that I will look into. Thank you for your reply!

Posted by Michael
City, Utah, United States
8 posts

Frank, I've seen several other posts from you while I was researching this. You seem to help a lot of people! I will look into your suggestions.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7188 posts

There are at least a few dozen Mediterranean choices in December. Two things I like to do to choose a cruise. First, visit cruisecritic.com to read reviews of lines, ships and ports. Although the posters there don't always share my viewpoints (e.g. many use cruise ship sponsored excursions), they will give you a remarkably good idea of what to expect from each ship and possible activities at different ports. I've never been disappointed with a line I've booked, but I knew exactly what to expect before I boarded. Some ports lend themselves well to a one day visit, while others (Berlin and Rome come to mind) don't. I try to book an itinerary that works for cruising. After that, or referring back and forth, I really like vacationstogo.com for their search engine. So far it's the best I've seen. They are a travel agent that specializes in cruises. I've compared their prices to the other online travel agencies out there, and they are identical. I've booked three cruises through them and never had a problem - so I'll continue to use them until I have a reason not to.

Posted by Iain
Edmonton, AB, Canada
668 posts

We have been on several cruises. "Good Cruise Lines" is subjective. We like Holland America and Celebrity. Royal Caribbean was great when we took our kids and grandkids, but as seniors we probably would not use them on our own. Cruise Critic is where you should go for details on just about everything - http://boards.cruisecritic.com. Our Mediterranean cruising experience was in summer and fall, not December, I am not sure what is available then, as you rightly point out, most ships cross the Atlantic to winter in the Caribbean. P&O is a British line which may have winter cruises. Rick has a book on Mediterranean cruising which is also helpful. Have you considered river cruises? They operate Christmas market cruises in November/December.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10858 posts

I think it safe to say you will not find Med cruises in December. It is too cold further north and the Atlantic can be pretty rough at time of year. Cruisecritic.com is a good starting point. We have used Holland American as a good value line. Check their web site.

Posted by stan
Kansas City, Missouri
215 posts

Michael, since you've never done a cruise before, I suggest when you are looking at them and comparing, look closely at how much time you actually have in each port.

Posted by Chip
Tipton, Iowa
329 posts

There are lots of Mediterranean cruises in December. 1. vacationstogo.com has the best search engine I have seen. 2. They frequently have the best prices, too.
3 P&O and Fred Olson cater to British tastes. Costa and MSC cater to Italian/European tastes with announcements in many languages. Norwegian and Holland America are the most North American of the lines with December cruises in the Mediterranean, but at that time of year there will be many Europeans.

Posted by Michael
City, Utah, United States
8 posts

Thanks for your help everyone! We ended up selecting the Holland America Iberian cruise as it met the needs of our schedule.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10858 posts

You will like H America. We are doing our fourth cruise with them in Europe this October.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7820 posts

I think you made a good choice,, HAL is a good choice for North Americans,, Costa is a popular line but may NAs do not like it for various reasons.. Ps Cruising Europe is a great way to get a taste of ports you may wish to return to and spend more time on a land holiday.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7820 posts

I think you made a good choice,, HAL is a good choice for North Americans,, Costa is a popular line but may NAs do not like it for various reasons.. Ps Cruising Europe is a great way to get a taste of ports you may wish to return to and spend more time on a land holiday.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7188 posts

As an example of what you can learn from cruisecritic.com I thought Costa sounded ideal, "Cruising Italian Style". I love visiting Italy, so what could be better? Cruise critic helped me recall that Italian style means people in the lobby who completely ignore your problems, billing errors, complaints (the purser on a cruise) and fat, middle-aged men in speedos ogling your wife at the pool. Once I realized that, yes, that's also part of "Italian Style", I decided Costa probably wasn't the line for me.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10858 posts

I don't anyone has suggested that Costa is a quality cruise line or desirable. It is rare for the approval rating of Costa to exceed 50%.

Posted by Kathy
Germany, Germany
800 posts

There's plenty of choices for cruises in December. Costa and MSC are the majority. Southern France is a popular departure port, but Barcelona and Venice are popular also. Many of the cruises you can chose which port you want to get on/off at (making the cruise 4, 5, or 7 days as you like). I know dozens of families who have gone on both and MSC wins because of how they package it, like kids go free with an adult, drinks packages, etc. See if you can get one before winter break for Department of Defense and European schools, those get full fast.