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October 22, 2009

Planning the Perfect Mediterranean Cruise

ts_windstar_cruise_Greece_091022.jpg
Windstar's Wind Spirit at anchor in Greece
Photo courtesy of Windstar Cruises


A reader named Terratiger is wondering which cruise line, ship, itinerary, and cabin she should choose for a Mediterranean cruise. Since a lot of savvy cruisegoers read this blog, I'd love to hear your suggestions for her. Here's her question: 
"Wendy, I'm an avid reader, both the magazine and online. We've never been on a cruise but are dying to go (or at least I am).  Our friends who have cruised many times on Celebrity say "the only way to go" is to get a room that overlooks the back of the ship.  First of all, we're not sure we like the idea of the 2,000-plus-passenger ship. Second, it appears that many of the larger rooms and balconies are in the middle of the ship. My husband says he trusts any choices I make (lucky me), so I want to get this right. We're not interested in the "dress-up" scene and not particularly interested in the dining room thing; much more our style to have dinner on our balcony almost every night, complete with great view and privacy.
We'd much rather spend what it takes to have a five-star, relaxed experience. At the same time, we would like a good value for our money. My research seems to keep bringing me back to Regent Seven Seas, Crystal and Oceania. My husband says he'll go wherever I want (again, lucky me) and I'd love to go to the Mediterranean (Greek Islands, Sicily, Dalmatian Coast). Smaller ports sound more fun to me than the big cattle-call ones. Any help you can give on cruise lines, particular ships, rooms/suites, destinations/itineraries, best times of year, etc. I really want this to be a first-class experience for us so that he'll go again...Thanks."

Aaaah, cabins on the ship's stern. I had one--with a balcony--on a Regent Seven Seas cruise through the Chilean fjords, and it afforded nearly 300-degree views, since we could see the landscape off both sides of the ship simultaneously.  And I too love those hidden-gem Mediterranean ports: My favorite cruise in the Med so far was a 14-nighter on Windstar from Athens to Monte Carlo because the ship stopped at charming, out-of-the-way islands that we might not otherwise ever get to: Kefallonia, Elba, and the like.

Terratiger, you're clearly in need of the right travel agent who specializes in cruises--somebody who knows all the different ships and ports inside and out and can recommend the perfect fit for your specific needs and then get it at the best price. 

If you read my article "Follow These Steps For a Foolproof Cruise," you'll find I recommend Richard Turen of Churchill & Turen for Mediterranean cruises.  He's on my annual list of the best cruise consultants, which is where you'll find his contact info. 

And you'll find plenty more cruise guidance from Condé Nast Traveler here

Anyone else have advice for Terratiger? Please click on "Comments" below to share your cruise   wisdom. I'm all ears.

Comments

It rather sounds like this new cruiser would prefer a smaller ship that is more casual. Until the recent announcement by Regent that formal nights are optional, I wouldn't have recommended Regent for them. However, with that announcement and the size of their ships, it might just be perfect. That is, of course, if it is in their budget. If they are interested in a smaller ship with an even more casual atmosphere - 4 dining venues at any time you choose - they might really love Oceania. Given the report by the new cruiser, they might want to consider the penthouse suites at 322 s.f. It will give them a large enough balcony to enjoy dining. She should know that Med cruises, because of the relatively short distances between ports, are very destination intensive and there isn't as much time onboard as in other parts of the world. Breakfast on the balcony is wonderful if the weather obliges. The rear facing veranda cabins on the 3 existing Oceania ships are quite small so may not be to their liking. They would have to bump up to the owner's suite on those ships for a rear facing cabin of any size. As for Celebrity, they are a wonderful line even with the passenger numbers. Service is above the norm and public space abounds. We rarely ran into many people except around the pool on a hot day. Their larger cabins are great. A really good travel agent will know all the quirks of Celebrity's cabins. There are many within a category that are larger than the others at the same price. You will love your Med cruise! We are about to leave for our 4th one.

Pam
www.zippyreviews.com
www.zippyreviews.com/travel_blog/

The first cruise I ever took was on the medium-sized R-One, on the now-defunct Renaissance Cruise line. It was a wonderful experience from Istanbul to Athens, with stops in Kusadasi, Rhodes, Santorini, and Athens.

The good news is that now several of the identical R-class ships have been reflagged and refurbished by Oceania Cruises. The ships are beautiful, and it looks like Oceania has upgraded them.

I would recommend Windstar...I took the cruise from Istanbul to Athens by way of the Turkish coast and the Greek Isles. No private balcony dining, but the ship is small enough (about 150 passengers, if I recall) that the atmosphere is more that of a large yacht than a cruise ship. Great food, and a very relaxed atmosphere.

Terratiger it looks like you are asking the right questions! You are right to look to an expert as there are so many choices out there, all for different tastes and preferences. Here at Betty Maclean Travel we like to learn as much as we can about you so that we can point you to the right ship, time of year and cabin type. So far from what I am hearing I would recommend the new Seabourn Odyssey. I think this would be the right ship for you because it is a smaller ship carrying only 450 guests with a crew of 330. This gives you more personal attention and service. This being there newest ship they have more balconies some of which are set-up for dinning, relaxing, and even reading a book in the tub with a view that tops all views! Seabourn does have a more formal dress code in the dining room, but if you are dining on your balcony you can avoid that completely while your server brings your dinner course by course! If you feel like dining out but staying casual you can eat poolside at the Patio Grill. Not all nights are formal dress and on those nights you can dine at any of their other three restaurant choices. As this ship is only 32,000 tons it can get into smaller more exotic ports of call that the larger ships can't. I would love to talk with you further so that I might be able to get more of your preferences to make sure this is a proper match so that you and your husband will have a cruise of your life and want to do it again! When we talk I can tell you about some great cabins options, pre and post hotel ideas, and answer any questions you have. You may call me at 800-865-8111 or email me at Jen@BettyMacleanTravel.com

Terratiger it looks like you are asking the right questions! You are right to look to an expert as there are so many choices out there, all for different tastes and preferences. Here at Betty Maclean Travel we like to learn as much as we can about you so that we can point you to the right ship, time of year and cabin type. So far from what I am hearing I would recommend the new Seabourn Odyssey. I think this would be the right ship for you because it is a smaller ship carrying only 450 guests with a crew of 330. This gives you more personal attention and service. This being there newest ship they have more balconies some of which are set-up for dinning, relaxing, and even reading a book in the tub with a view that tops all views! Seabourn does have a more formal dress code in the dining room, but if you are dining on your balcony you can avoid that completely while your server brings your dinner course by course! If you feel like dining out but staying casual you can eat poolside at the Patio Grill. Not all nights are formal dress and on those nights you can dine at any of their other three restaurant choices. As this ship is only 32,000 tons it can get into smaller more exotic ports of call that the larger ships can't. I would love to talk with you further so that I might be able to get more of your preferences to make sure this is a proper match so that you and your husband will have a cruise of your life and want to do it again! When we talk I can tell you about some great cabins options, pre and post hotel ideas, and answer any questions you have. You may call me at 800-865-8111 or email me at Jen@BettyMacleanTravel.com

Terratiger it looks like you are asking the right questions! You are right to look to an expert as there are so many choices out there, all for different tastes and preferences. Here at Betty Maclean Travel we like to learn as much as we can about you so that we can point you to the right ship, time of year and cabin type. So far from what I am hearing I would recommend the new Seabourn Odyssey. I think this would be the right ship for you because it is a smaller ship carrying only 450 guests with a crew of 330. This gives you more personal attention and service. This being there newest ship they have more balconies some of which are set-up for dinning, relaxing, and even reading a book in the tub with a view that tops all views! Seabourn does have a more formal dress code in the dining room, but if you are dining on your balcony you can avoid that completely while your server brings your dinner course by course! If you feel like dining out but staying casual you can eat poolside at the Patio Grill. Not all nights are formal dress and on those nights you can dine at any of their other three restaurant choices. As this ship is only 32,000 tons it can get into smaller more exotic ports of call that the larger ships can't. I would love to talk with you further so that I might be able to get more of your preferences to make sure this is a proper match so that you and your husband will have a cruise of your life and want to do it again! When we talk I can tell you about some great cabins options, pre and post hotel ideas, and answer any questions you have. You may call me at 800-865-8111 or email me at Jen@BettyMacleanTravel.com

Terratiger it looks like you are asking the right questions! You are right to look to an expert as there are so many choices out there, all for different tastes and preferences. Here at Betty Maclean Travel we like to learn as much as we can about you so that we can point you to the right ship, time of year and cabin type. So far from what I am hearing I would recommend the new Seabourn Odyssey. I think this would be the right ship for you because it is a smaller ship carrying only 450 guests with a crew of 330. This gives you more personal attention and service. This being there newest ship they have more balconies some of which are set-up for dinning, relaxing, and even reading a book in the tub with a view that tops all views! Seabourn does have a more formal dress code in the dining room, but if you are dining on your balcony you can avoid that completely while your server brings your dinner course by course! If you feel like dining out but staying casual you can eat poolside at the Patio Grill. Not all nights are formal dress and on those nights you can dine at any of their other three restaurant choices. As this ship is only 32,000 tons it can get into smaller more exotic ports of call that the larger ships can't. I would love to talk with you further so that I might be able to get more of your preferences to make sure this is a proper match so that you and your husband will have a cruise of your life and want to do it again! When we talk I can tell you about some great cabins options, pre and post hotel ideas, and answer any questions you have. You may call me at 800-865-8111 or email me at Jen@BettyMacleanTravel.com

Terratiger it looks like you are asking the right questions! You are right to look to an expert as there are so many choices out there, all for different tastes and preferences. Here at Betty Maclean Travel we like to learn as much as we can about you so that we can point you to the right ship, time of year and cabin type. So far from what I am hearing I would recommend the new Seabourn Odyssey. I think this would be the right ship for you because it is a smaller ship carrying only 450 guests with a crew of 330. This gives you more personal attention and service. This being there newest ship they have more balconies some of which are set-up for dinning, relaxing, and even reading a book in the tub with a view that tops all views! Seabourn does have a more formal dress code in the dining room, but if you are dining on your balcony you can avoid that completely while your server brings your dinner course by course! If you feel like dining out but staying casual you can eat poolside at the Patio Grill. Not all nights are formal dress and on those nights you can dine at any of their other three restaurant choices. As this ship is only 32,000 tons it can get into smaller more exotic ports of call that the larger ships can't. I would love to talk with you further so that I might be able to get more of your preferences to make sure this is a proper match so that you and your husband will have a cruise of your life and want to do it again! When we talk I can tell you about some great cabins options, pre and post hotel ideas, and answer any questions you have. You may call me at 800-865-8111 or email me at Jen@BettyMacleanTravel.com

Terratiger it looks like you are asking the right questions! You are right to look to an expert as there are so many choices out there, all for different tastes and preferences. Here at Betty Maclean Travel we like to learn as much as we can about you so that we can point you to the right ship, time of year and cabin type. I would recommend the new Seabourn Odyssey. I think this would be the right ship for you because it is a smaller ship carrying only 450 guests with a crew of 330. This gives you more personal attention and service. This is their newest ship that has some of the most fantastic balconies. You can find balconies which are set-up for dinning, relaxing, and even reading a book in the tub with a view that tops all views! Seabourn does have a more formal dress code in the dining room, but if you are dining on your balcony you can avoid that completely while your server brings your dinner course by course! If you feel like dining out but staying casual you can eat poolside at the Patio Grill. Not all nights are formal and on those nights you can dine at any of their other three restaurant choices. As this ship is only 32,000 tons it can get into smaller more exotic ports of call that the larger ships can't. I would love to talk with you further so that I might be able to get more of your preferences to make sure this is a proper match so that you and your husband will have a cruise of your life and want to do it again! When we talk I can tell you about some great cabins options, pre and post hotel ideas, and answer any questions you have. You may call me at 800-865-8111 or email me at Jen@BettyMacleanTravel.com

You are right to look to an expert as there are so many choices out there, all for different tastes and preferences. Here at Betty Maclean Travel we like to learn as much as we can about you so that we can make the best recommendations. I would recommend the new Seabourn Odyssey. I believe this to be the right ship for you because it is a smaller ship carrying only 450 guests to 330 crew. This gives you more personal attention and service. This being there newest ship they have more balconies some of which are set-up for dinning, relaxing, and even reading a book in the tub with a view that tops all views! Seabourn does have a more formal dress code in the dining room, but if you are dining on your balcony you can avoid that completely while your server brings your dinner course by course! There are still casual nights to dine in the dinning room if you prefer or dine at the Patio Grill any night. She is only 32,000 tons so she can get into smaller more exotic ports of call that the larger ships can't. I would love to talk with you further so that I might be able to get more of your preferences to make sure this is a proper match so that you and your husband will have a cruise of your life and want to do it again! When we talk I can tell you about some great cabins options, pre and post hotel ideas, and answer any questions you have. You may call me at 800-865-8111 or email me at Jen@BettyMacleanTravel.com.

You are right to look to an expert as there are so many choices out there, all for different tastes and preferences. Here at Betty Maclean Travel we like to learn as much as we can about you so that we can make the best recommendations. I would recommend the new Seabourn Odyssey. I believe this to be the right ship for you because it is a smaller ship carrying only 450 guests to 330 crew. This gives you more personal attention and service. This being there newest ship they have more balconies some of which are set-up for dinning, relaxing, and even reading a book in the tub with a view that tops all views! Seabourn does have a more formal dress code in the dining room, but if you are dining on your balcony you can avoid that completely while your server brings your dinner course by course! There are still casual nights to dine in the dinning room if you prefer or dine at the Patio Grill any night. She is only 32,000 tons so she can get into smaller more exotic ports of call that the larger ships can't. I would love to talk with you further so that I might be able to get more of your preferences to make sure this is a proper match so that you and your husband will have a cruise of your life and want to do it again! When we talk I can tell you about some great cabins options, pre and post hotel ideas, and answer any questions you have. You may call me at 800-865-8111 or email me at Jen@BettyMacleanTravel.com.

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