We were in Venice, Rovinj, and Dubrovnik recently. While there we encountered cruise ship passengers who were like small mobs of people following along behind a guide holding up a sign reading something like Carnival King of the Seas. These historical cities are really small towns and most of the streets are narrow built long before the invention of the automobile. When the cruise ships were in port it felt like being in a crowded elevator much of the time. When the passengers went back aboard ship in the evening those cities once again became delightful.
Those ships are like big floating hotels with all the food coming from the same kitchen. It seems to me a terrible way to see Europe. They're popular though so I must be missing something. Please tell me where I'm wrong.
We took a Mediterranean cruise recently and we absolutely loved it (the best cruise we've ever done) - the reason we loved it was that we got to see a ton of amazing destinations in a short amount of time. It was also convenient to not have to pack/unpack etc. in each place. And while cruising we also got to see parts of these destinations that you don't get to see if you just fly in. And we personally enjoy not doing the excursions but exploring the destinations on our own. I think what's important is that the cruise ship docks close to the destinations and gives enough time at each destination (Princess did for us).
I do understand your point though - it is probably tougher for the folks spending a few days during these destinations when all the people from the ships come and overrun a place during the day.
I felt a pang of guilt when I read your question and points on Mediterranean cruises.
I haven't done any cruises in Europe but will be taking the Norwegian Star from Venice to the Greek Isles, Kotor (Montenegro) and Dubrovnik (Croatia) next year. I've already visited Venice and Dubrovnik (although not on a cruise), however the Greek islands will be new for me.
Here are some of the reasons why I choose to cruise:
Rosalie Ann did point out other advantages of cruising and it is especially great for folks who dislike unpacking to get from hotel to hotel, and not knowing where to eat when at a new destination.
Check out the cruise itinerary: https://www.ncl.com/in/en/cruises/7-day-greek-isles-from-venice?itineraryCode=STAR7VCEKOTCFUJTRJMKDBVVCE
Royal Caribbean has all the "of the Seas" ships. So it might have been Carnival Breeze which I think is based in Venice or Royal Caribbean Rhapsody of the Seas or Vision of the Seas.
The big cruise ships are like floating A/I hotels with all the disadvantages of an A/I. If you don't like A/I (I do not, but lots of people do), then you may not like that type of cruise ship. They take their entertainment with them-some of them have skating rinks and climbing walls etc. and they usually have shows and other activities. You do not have to get off in port if you don't want to and in the very popular ports like St. Thomas, many people do not get off at all. And it is not required that you eat all your meals on the ship. (We usually eat at least lunch ashore)
The advantage of a cruise ship is that you can see a bunch of places without having to get on and off planes or trains (or buses) and without having to pack and unpack. Your transportation is handled during the night and you don't have to take a day out of the trip for it. It is also in many cases cheaper than flying to the location and staying in a hotel. I can go on a cruise to Bermuda for a week from Baltimore (I can drive to the terminal in a couple hours) and have 2.6 days in Bermuda for less than $1700 for two people. Flying to Bermuda would be $770 for two and a room for three days would be $700 to $1800 and that would probably not include meals.
But if you only look at the BIG cruise ships, you are missing the 'big picture'. Not all cruise ships are huge. There are river cruises which may have less than 200 passengers and there are smaller regular cruise ships and these ships go to destinations that the big cruise ships can't get to (Antarctica, the Amazon river, Trinidad, Reedville VA). We prefer the smaller ships.
So I cruise quite a bit and it suits me very well. The places where I have been before, I do not take the ship tours. Having been there before, I arrange what I want to do. Since I am not able to walk far, I can't do a regular walking tour from a cruise ship anyway so I will often hire a taxi for the day.
Specifically for Venice - I took a Med cruise which started in Barcelona, and went to Rome, Naples and Venice. I got to Barcelona a couple of days in advance and explored the city - I had things I wanted to see there. I had only been there in transition from the airport to the train station. I had only been through Rome on the train, so I hired a car and driver - we went to the Vatican and then explored the city. In Naples (where I had been), I hired a car and driver and we went first to Pompeii (before the rest of the people got there and while it was still cool) and then we drove down to Amalfi and back. When I got to Venice, I took a vaporetto in to St. Mark's Square in the morning, and I did take a ship tour to Burano and Murano. Then I got off the ship and went to a hotel where we stayed for a couple of days before we flew home. This is the write-up of that cruise although I do not have all the photos for Barcelona or Venice https://grandmarmed.travellerspoint.com/5/
I really feel it is all about how you travel. Some people enjoy the Carnival or NCL experience. Then some cruise with Azamara who is smaller and focuses on overnight stays. Some want luxury and less people like Seabourn. Or Wind Star to sail and the small ship experience. It is all about finding how you want to travel. I have to tell you though that when my clients book land trips like you did in major port cities, I try and let them know when the hoards will descend!
We took a Disney Med cruise a few years ago and it was perfect as we stayed in Italy afterwards. When everyone made their dash to the Vatican, we rented a car and went into the Hill Towns. Things like that saved our sanity. Talking to families on board they were exhausted trying to see everything by the end. Our trip was just beginning. Bonus we found places we want to go back to and spend more time at because of the cruise.
It is all how it is planned in the end.
Finding Paradise with Sue
Helping you travel to YOUR paradise!
Hi Dave, I live in one of these medieval italian towns built for people who are on the way with carriages and on horseback (Taormina, Sicily). And from April to October our cute little town is flooded by hordes of "crusaders", who are cruising the Med. But: A cruise is a wonderful way to see as much as possible in a short time without having to unpack and pack every day (round trip by pullman). Ok, you don't have much possibilities to taste the local cuisine and get in contact with locals. I used to work for a big touroperator for about 25 years and in my holidays I went on many round trips and once on a cruise in Caribbean. I just loved the cruise and it was the best way to see 6 islands in one week. I think it is a question of personal taste and also money. If you are the type of invidual tourist (which I am) sure it is nothing for you.
When I was younger, I did as you do. I stayed several days or a week in places. But now, because I use a mobility scooter to get around a cruise ship has the specific advantage for me that I know it is accessible. I can get from my room to the dining room. There are elevators. If I fly to a location and stay for some days, I have to figure out whether the hotel or house or whatever is accessible. I have asked for a room with no steps and the room didn't have stepS. But there was one step at the threshold which fortunately my husband who was traveling with me could lift the scooter over. I booked a hotel in London after carefully ascertaining that there was an elevator. And when I got there, it was broken. They put me in a ground floor room, but there were two steps up from the street to the door. And this past June, I booked a hotel in Amsterdam and also rented a scooter. The scooter was almost too big to fit in the elevator and I couldn't easily get it into the room because the hall was too narrow. On a ship, I don't have to worry about that.
Med cruises are great for getting to see a little of many places without having to take buses or pack and unpack countless times
You don't have to do the ships tours u can set out on your own or arrange private tour
And the days at sea u get to relax
You get on your ship at night and the next day u r someplace else thereby avoiding the traveling part of traveling
We have done several and then went back to places we really loved
Also most are a great deal compared to land tours or doing on your own especially if you don't know where u r going
Dave, cruise ship holidays may not be enjoyable for you. If you see a group of ship passengers with a guide, and they look like a “mob” you may not be happy in that group.... or near that group. If you feel like you’re in a ”crowded elevator” when you’re among ship’s passengers that have come ashore, you may not be happy in or near those groups. Those same mobs will also be aboard for sea days and evenings. If you find “all the food coming from the same kitchen” unappealing, you wouldn’t like the food.
If you think it’s a “terrible way to see Europe” you’re probably absolutely right -- for you. The cruise ship experience just might make you unhappy, and fellow passengers can be negatively impacted by people who choose a cruise but know ahead of time that they’re determined not to enjoy it. Your best bet may be individual travel where large groups of tourists are not to be found.
I love cruising. I love people, communal activities, gatherings large and small of people from a variety of places and backgrounds. I love cruising!