CruiseMates newsletter

Adventurous Cruise Destinations
by Paul Motter

A recent poll on our message boards asked readers to identify their favorite cruise port.
I noticed how many selected Caribbean islands. While I love sailing in the Caribbean, I can't resist mentioning that there are hundreds of magnificent world destinations to be seen by cruise ship beyond our corner of the world.

Some of the people who posted mentioned they had been to Cozumel or other Caribbean islands five or more times times, but made no mention at all of Santorini or Barcelona. Why go to the same islands over and again, when there are so many beautiful places in the world? For 2008, I strongly suggest that you consider a cruise to someplace new to you.

This summer is scheduled to be the biggest European cruising season yet, as every summer has been for five years now. If European cruising continues to gain in popularity year after year, there must be a very good reason why. In fact, there are several.

  • Your dollar goes farther for a European vacation because you have prepaid for your lodging and meals on the ship.

  • It is ultimately convenient. You unpack once and wake up in a new destination every morning.

  • It is like two vacations in one, you get to see Europe and enjoy all the ship has to offer at night. You conveniently travel from one site to the next as you enjoy gourmet dining, live entertainment and big screen movies under the stars.

Yes, it is more expensive to cruise in Europe than in the Caribbean, so make the most of your European sojourn. Plan to stay two weeks instead of one and figure the total cost to be equal to two typical Caribbean cruises. Yes the airfare is more expensive, but it is about the same as two roundtrip flights to the Caribbean.

Remember, the main advantage of a European cruise is that you are pre-paying in U.S. Dollars. The exchange rate is tougher than ever; 1.46 Dollars to one Euro, but you won't get the sticker shock unless you actually buy something off of the ship.

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Take a look at the itinerary above. It is for NCL's Norwegian Jade, a beautiful ship with all the NCL Free-style attractions. You can book this 12-day cruise for as little as $1189 per person. Another 12-day Mediterranean itinerary on this ship is just $1599 for a balcony cabin; visiting Barcelona, Rome, Naples, Venice (overnight), Dubrovnik, Athens, Izmir (Turkey) and Istanbul.

How is cruising in Europe different from the Caribbean? Mainly, you spend far more time in port; nearly every day of the cruise, with an average of just two days at sea on a 12-day cruise. Your stays in port are longer, giving you plenty of time to see the sites. The cruise mentioned above lands in Venice at 10:00 am and stays until 2:00 pm the next day.

There are actually world sites where being onboard a ship is the best way to experience that destination. Sailing down the Hudson River alongside Manhattan, for example, or idling in Glacier Bay, Alaska. I have to rate sailing into the city of Venice as the most memorable experience of all. It is a magnificent way to see the most beautiful and romantic city in the world.

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As you sail into the main channel from the south, you pass small islands teeming with traditional Northern Italian life. As you get closer to Venice itself, you realize your ship is the tallest vantage point in the city and you can see everything; St. Marks Square, the Cathedral, the belltower, gondolas, the Guggenheim, the university. Your entrance to Venice by cruise ship takes you virtually along the entire city. An hour-long experience that will give you a lifetime of memories.

Other unforgettable sites of the Mediterranean include Santorini, the Greek Isle some people believe may have been Atantis before its volcano left the giant caldera, where your ship anchors, right in the middle of the island. European cruises offer the ancient wonders of the world, the Colisseum, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Acropolis, the ancient Greek city of Ephesus (actually in Turkey) which inspired Paul to write his Letter to the Ephesians.

Cruisers, break away from the ordinary and take a voyage in Europe - you won't be sorry.

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