Just returned from the Star cruise to Aaska. A group of 11 made the trip with a few first time cruisers. All I can say is WOW. We had a great time. Even those on their first cruise who were not sure if they would like "being on a ship" for a week can't stop talking about it. Every port was fasinating and the Star and her crew were wonderful.
Now my question is, next we want to try a European cruise, that has stops in Italy and that region. Since I got so much info on Alaska from this site, thought I'd start to gather info for our next trip.
What time of year is best?
Has anyone sailed Princess in Europe?
Other cruise lines?
Which ports are a must?
Any other helpful info to get us started.....Any questions/answers can be sent to my email if you wish......firstname.lastname@example.org
We just did our first cruise to Europe in May and it was the most incredible trip we have ever taken. It was a twelve day Barcelona to Venice on Celebrity's Millennium. Visited Barcelona, Villefranche on the French Riviera, Livorno (Florence, Pisa, Tuscany), Civitavecchia (Rome), Naples (Pompeii and the Amalfi coast), Santorini, Athens, Dubrovnik and Venice. We are diehard Celebrity fans, but like Princess too. All depends on what countries sound most attractive to you but we were in heaven on this cruise. We went in early May because the weather is not so hot and the crowds not as great as in summer.
Actually have booked the Star Princess for October 2004 doing almost the same itinerary from Venice (minus Greece and Dubrovnik) and with a transatlantic tucked in at the end. The only thing we could complain about with the itinerary we did is that it was so packed with ports that it was very intense- not enough time for relaxation. So next years will be perfect... have the transatlantic at the end to kick back after all the running around in European ports.
Rates have just been released on Celebrities sailings and the May Millennium and Galaxy prices look nice. Just one thing...don't go to Europe without seeing Venice. Most magical place in the world.
Karen...In addition to the aforementioned cruise lines, you might also check out Oceana Cruises. They took over some of Renaissance's ships after the bankruptcy, and they sail the Med between Spain & Greece. The ships are luxurious and carry less than 800 pax. We've been getting brochures from Oceana, since we were Renaissance customers, and their prices look pretty good. Also, they're presently offering free or reduced roundtrip airfare from the U.S.
As for ports of call, we especially liked
Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Marseilles, Villefranche, Ajaccio (Corsica) and Naples. Alas, we never did get to Venice (but we will someday). Go for it, and happy Med cruisin'!
Just read your response about European cruises. We're booked on Celebrity Constellation - Dover England to Barcelona departing on Aug 30th - I'd love to hear your comments on European ports. Thanks for sharing! mary kl
I sailed the Golden Princess from Barcelona to Venice on the May 29 sailing. I had a fantastic time (my fourth and best cruise yet) and would highly recommend Princess. After a long day touring in port, it was nice to soak in a hot tub late in the evening and I found the ship had a nice range of ages and active people. I definitely recommend doing some online research and booking private tours. We felt we received a better tour for a much lower price doing it that way. I wrote a detailed 49 page review of my trip (including expenses, etc.). Let me know if you'd like to see it. Good luck in your selection!
Radisson Seven Seas is an awesome experience. Smaller ships and the absolute best in luxury, food and style. That said, there is hardly a ship that isn't nice. Been on many different lines and all were nice. Most importantly pick something that agrees with your budget and where you would like to travel. When I think of my favorite Med ports I can't not mention Kusadasi in Turkey, of course Rome, Dubrovnik, Venice and the Greek Isles.
We've been on several European cruises and returned from a Scandinavia cruise recently. I highly recommend Princess and suggest that you stay away from Norwegian (it can sometimes be cheaper, but it's a ship that needs refurbishing and there are many other problems). Celebrity and Royal Caribbean also have ships in that area, and they are both good cruise lines. We've been on Royal Caribbean in Europe but not Celebrity in Europe. But I don't think you would be disappointed in Celebrity, and they had great discounts in Europe in 2003. We've also been on Costa and really liked it.
I haven't met a European port that I didn't like, so it's hard for me to even name favorites, but please consider that Istanbul and Malta area also fabulous. Stay in Venice as long as you possibly can. (We've traveled extensively, and Venice is my favorite city anywhere). St. Tropez, France was a great port for us. If you get to the Italian Riviera, Portofino is one of the most charming places that I have ever visited. It's small and is called the "Pearl of the Mediterranean." Other favorites includes Monte Carlo/Nice. Rome is also great, but I would not recommend it for a port stop (pre- or post-cruise would be better, and check out the Hotel Britannia if you do). For the Greek islands, we liked Mykynos (sp??) the best. Athens is great to see the historical sites but is way too big and crowded to get an idyllic Greek island experience. Barcelona is great.
Many ships are sailing the Scandinavia/Russia (Sweden, Denmark, Finland, etc.) with really good prices, and the advantages to sailing to that area are that you can easily see the ports on foot on your own, which greatly increases the quality of your port experience since you're not herded around from place to place wasting time while the bus is being loaded everywhere on the shore excursions, and English is widely spoken. But I guess I would give a recommendation that, depending on your heritage and interests, the Mediterranean would be ideal for a first-time cruise to Europe. With the artchitecture, history, and scenery, you just can't go wrong. If you are of English or Irish heritage, we also really enjoyed our British Isles cruise, and if you go there, you must see the Ring of Kerry. I believe we visited that area from the port of Cork, Ireland (we had 3 ports in Ireland). Ireland is so beautiful, and the people are so friendly and charming. That cruise also went to the Normandy area in France (my husband did a beaches of Normandy excursion while I went with some friends on a day-long trip with a local taxi driver to the villages of Deauville, Treauville, and Honfleur, villages that inspired Monet's paintings) because we had a post-cruise stay in Paris.
If I can help you with more info after you select an itinerary, please feel free to write back. It's so wonderful to visit Europe and very convenient to visit by cruise ship, and I'm glad you'll have the opportunity to go. I hope you have a great time.