Ah, the Meddy-Go-Round. Those pretty, popular little seven night slices of heaven that pirouette sweetly around the summer time ‘greatest hits’ ports of those balmy. southern European hot spots; Barcelona, Monaco, Rome, Florence, Naples, et al. What’s not to love?
Most people board their ships in Barcelona or Venice, but how many knew that there are other options available to them? For, truth be told, many of these ships can actually be embarked at any of the secondary ports on the circuit. And that, my friends, allows you to tailor make some pretty peachy stay and cruise options if you have the time and inclination.
Such as? Well, why not board the state of the art, ground breaking Norwegian Epic in Civitavecchia, the port for Rome, rather than the main hub of Barcelona? That gives you the option of a few pre and/or post cruise days in Italy’s stunning capital of history, art and culture. And, as you’ll then be visiting Barcelona itself in what amounts to technically mid cruise, you’ll also have a full day in the fabulous Catalan capital of cool. While thousands are getting off and on the ship, you can be chilling on the beach with some nicely chilled cava. Sweet.
Costa, MSC, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian all cruise out of swaggering, magnificent Venice during the summer. But anyone who has done this knows how chaotic it can be getting through the city and airport on a busy embarkation or disembarkation day. So why not board the day after instead? Some lines allow you to embark in beautiful, hugely under-the-radar Bari, a sweet little gem located on the southern heel of Italy.
Take a couple of days to see this glorious place, then board your ship- with far, far smaller lines at embarkation, and then enjoy a full, unhurried day in Venice as everyone else indulges in the pre and post cruise debarkation madness. Quick tip; why not make for the glorious Venice Lido, and enjoy some authentic Italian gelato right on the beach? A wonderful way to while away a few indolent hours.
You could board a ship in pithy, cosmopolitan Marseille, and enjoy a little quality time on the French Riviera before or after your cruise. And Pullmantur, the all inclusive Spanish operator, also allows embarkation in stately, dignified Genoa, a city that everyone should see once in a lifetime.
Most cruise lines will be happy to tailor make a package for you that will cover flights, hotels, transfers and, of course, your cruise. But if you like to do this stuff on your own, then you might find budget flights on the likes of Easyjet, Jet2 and even Ryanair that might save you a packet. It comes down to your confidence in your own abilities to arrange this sort of thing.
Again, if you have standing Avios miles to use with an airline such as British Airways, you might be able to bag a real bargain cruise at a fantastic price. This is especially true for the winter Mediterranean cruise market; a week in the mild January sun might just be the post Christmas pick up that you need.
Whatever, wherever and whenever- just get out there, and have fun. Bon voyage!