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Why Cruising Is Best For a First Time Visitor To Europe

Written by: Kuki

As we in North America are just coming into the winter season, one might not be thinking of a trip to Europe. However, if Europe is on your wish list, now is the time to begin planning.

While a cruise might not be the initial mode of transport one envisions when thinking about a first time visit to Europe, in today’s market, I think it could be the best way to go.

Europe can be an expensive place to travel to. Firstly, the currency, the Euro, is still fairly high. The difference in currencies alone can add 1/3 to the cost of your trip. One of the most expensive things about a trip to Europe is hotel accommodation. The ratings system for hotels in Europe are totally different than the North American rating system. If you’re used to “3 star” hotels being decent, and acceptable accommodations, in Europe you’ll have to step up to a “4 star” or “5 star” rating in European standards to find the same level of amenities. Even the size of the beds in Europe are referred to with different terminology than what travelers in North Ameriica are used to.

In Europe, to find something comparable to a “3 star hotel” in North America it can easily cost in excess of $200 per night. That’s $100 per person per day for rooms, whereas on a cruise for not much more than that, you get your relatively luxurious accommodation, food, a lot of entertainment, and much of your transportation, included.

In many European cities, even a simple lunch of a hamburger and a coke can run close to $25 per person. While it’s common in Europe for many hotels to include some type of breakfast in the cost of the hotel room, searching for acceptable restaurants for all of your other meals can really add to the both the real and perceived costs of your travel.

And, if your trip planning includes visits to several different cities or countries, suddenly your transportation costs also become an issue of planning and expense. Not to mention the packing and unpacking, or living out of your suitcase, that such trips require. On a cruise, your room and your belongings automatically move with you. Even on guided land tours, much of your time is spent moving from city to city by bus, with your bags loading an unloading as you check in and out of hotels in each new city you visit.

Surely, if you only want to concentrate in seeing one city or area; like if you’re desire is to see Paris or Venice, and all that city has to offer, or you’re only interested in areas like Tuscany, then you’re likely going to be best served by a land vacation. However, with a cruise you’re able to visit multiple localities. And while time in each locale is certainly more limited, there are many more cruise lines now offering over night stays in different ports of call, which even address some of those worries.

For a first time visitor to Europe, a cruise offers a bite size appetizer of a variety of ports of call, in a variety of countries. At a later day, if you’ve fallen in love with an area, and you want a “full meal” you can do so, with a much better understanding of the area, having got a glimpse of it already.

The one variance I recommend for first time European cruisers is to pass on the organized excursions and tours offered by the cruise lines. These days it is so simple to organize, plan and book private driver/guides in all European ports, and pre-book visits the major sites which allow you to bypass waits in long lines of tourists. This is the one option that may cost slightly more than what the cruise lines charge for their group tours, but the ability to customize the tour to what is important to you, and the ability to move much faster (or slower, if that’s what you want) than the larger organized tours is well worth any additional costs. And a private guide offers you much the same security as being a part of a larger ship’s supplied tour. It also relieves you of the extra responsibility of trying to explore some areas of your port of call on you own, arranging to travel by public transportations like trains, taxis, etc.

- A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising -

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Comments

Comment from Kenneth Eden
Time November 30, 2011 at 6:00 am

I do agree that the cruise for first time tourist in Europe is certainly the viable option. Relatively luxurious accommodations run the gammit among cruise lines, and even ships within a cruise line. To be a first time cruiser in Europe does not mean the tourist is looking for relative luxe on board, nor to “settle”.

I recall two non cruise visits to Europe, one to the Benelux countries, where it rained every day, not pleasant, and another, Scandinavian, when it was late autumn, and HOT. On a cruise, wherever it sails, the weather escape by sailing away can be a bonus.

Not all of Europe subscribes to the EURO, two examples, the UK and Scandinavian countries, whrereupon their own currency is used, the EURO and US dollar are not, at least not commonly.

Some areas that are truly cruise worthy are VENICE, and even for a first timer, a structured excursion may not be needed, just a good map and a knowledge of what there is to see. Another wonderful area for any cruise passenger is the Greek Isles, small, and worthy of just roaming. I however, suggest that some excursions be taken, and I still book “some” excursions with the cruise line, and it depends on which line I am sailing.

Caution should be taken in some areas, such as Barcelona, on your own especially, with pick pockets, boning up on religious practices with regard to what to wear, and other rules they impose, and settling any price with any would be tour guide booked on ones own, and NEVER book one at the dock in Europe, as it leads to – or -can lead to – many headaches.

Comment from homeatlast
Time December 1, 2011 at 2:29 pm

You can also combine a short land vacation with a longer cruise one. My husband and I went to Europe for the first time this last May and spent 5 days in Paris and then took the train to Barcelona for a 12 day cruise. We ended by spending an extra two days in Venice. It was the right combination of “being on our own” and being taken care of on the cruise ship.

Comment from Kenneth Eden
Time December 2, 2011 at 7:08 am

homeatlast has a wonderful suggestion, one that I have done, with various cities pre and post cruise, and indeed it is a superb way to spend a vacation.

This also holds true for other parts of the world, pre-post plus cruise – these cruise tour combos are available in many forms for booking, with the cruise line, a tour operator, and of couirse, the best best for pricing (hopefully) – the good old travel agent.

Comment from Kenneth Eden
Time December 2, 2011 at 7:09 am

homeatlast has a wonderful suggestion, one that I have done, with various cities pre and post cruise, and indeed it is a superb way to spend a vacation.

This also holds true for other parts of the world, pre-post plus cruise – these cruise tour combos are available in many forms for booking, with the cruise line, a tour operator, and of course, the best best for pricing (hopefully) – the good old travel agent.

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