Just stay home because it’s easier and less confusing…
Some people consider a Mediterranean cruise the dream trip of a lifetime. They’re hungry for the much-touted cultural, educational, visual, architectural and historical rewards. But even though the Mediterranean is the second only to the Caribbean when it comes to popularity worldwide, we don’t think you should cruise your way through the Mediterranean.
If you’re curious why we stand firm on our belief that you should avoid the Mediterranean at all costs, please read on. Don’t say we didn’t warn you though.
1. Shabby accommodations
What kind of hotel services your room (or in this case, cruise ship cabin) twice a day? What’s more, they wind your towels into the shape funny animals and leave chocolates on your pillow in the evening. But if you enjoy your coffee as soon as you’re vertical in the morning, you won’t find a coffee maker in the room. Nope, you have to order room service, which is free and delivered with extreme punctuality. It’s almost too much to bear.
2. You never wake up in the same place you went to bed
Have you ever stayed in a hotel that moves its location while guests are sleeping? On our cruise, we tucked ourselves into bed in exotic locations like Rome, Venice or Istanbul and then woke up in colorful, ready-to-be-explored places like Mykonos, Athens or Barcelona.
Regardless of cruise line, many cruises feature a variety of European cities, stopping at more than 3 countries. Some cruises bundle two diverse regions, such as the Western Europe and the Baltic or the Eastern and Western Mediterranean and include the top hits from cities with historical significance (such as Rome, Venice, Stockholm, Barcelona and Athens) – while including introductions into lesser-known ports, such as Tunisia's Tunis, Malta's Valletta and Estonia's Tallinn.
Can you believe they don’t charge extra for any of this?
3. Limited food choices
Food is an essential element of why I travel but cruising the Mediterranean with Princess Cruises shook me to my very core. To begin with, whether you’re a buffet-goer, pizza connoisseur or enjoy ice cream at random times during the day, there are too many options. And if you enjoy fine dining in the evening, it gets even more confusing. Each night the restaurants featured foods from the next day’s port of call – to whet our appetites for the culture we would experience in the morning. We never knew what to expect on the menu, which lead to longer dinners while we sampled our way through the offerings. Because (you know this, of course) when you cruise, you can order 5 appetizers and 3 entrees and it doesn’t cost a cent more. Crazy!
4. Too many ostentatious sunsets
Every night it’s the same thing over and over again. You find yourself standing on the deck of your ship or on shore at a port that dates back to the beginning of time and you can’t do anything but stare at the sky. And you know that all the other sunsets you’ve ever seen pale in comparison – will always pale in comparison. You might as well stay here forever.
5. Not enough fast food
Oh those Europeans, they wouldn’t understand a burger joint if it jumped up and clogged their arteries and pre-booked their triple bypass 20 years in advance. They’re all about fresh foods picked locally with recipes rooted in centuries of tradition. Delicious, healthy…sigh…such a burden.
6. Boring history that stretches across centuries
Where else in the world can you walk on cobblestone roads that have felt the footfalls of travelers for more than 26 centuries? Don’t even get me started on the ruins that literally greet you at every corner – and it’s all out in the open for anyone to touch. Some ruins even serve as modern day shops or restaurants. It baffles me that they don’t label everything and put it behind glass in temperature-controlled, sterile museums. It would be so much more enjoyable.
7. Too many flashy beaches – especially naked flashy beaches
Stretching out on the beach for a day in Sorrento on the Amalfi Coast is slightly different than setting up your beach umbrella at the dock on the bay. To begin with, most beaches are folded in between towering cliffs and aquamarine seas, which means you’ll have to contend with the distractions of sweeping, breathtaking vistas. And if you want a day free from food and drink, you can forget about that too. These beaches are fully serviced with all the local, savory stuff we talked about already. It really is burdensome sometimes…
And don’t forget that Europeans view nude beaches differently than Americans. Unlike American beaches, it’s common to see topless and nude bathers. As they say, when it Rome, do like the Romans.
8. Too many happy people
I suppose when you’re raised in a place where people practice the same professions their families have been practicing for centuries, life is a little sweeter, a little simpler. Take our gondola driver, for example. He began his gondola career in the womb and has spent his whole life perfecting his craft with visitors from around the world. The man has traveled the globe through the stories of his fares – all while following in the footsteps of generations. And it’s clear he’s just plain happy. Seriously, you’d be hard pressed to find many North Americans as happy as this man. It was very difficult to understand.
If you haven’t guessed yet, I adore just about everything about the Mediterranean and believe a sampler cruise is the best way to explore the area – especially if it’s you’re first visit to the Mediterranean. The sweet, tempting taste of each port was just enough to help us decide which ports we want to explore further and which ones that once was enough.
Have you ever taken a Mediterranean cruise? I’d love to hear which cruise line you sailed with and which countries/ports you visited – and which ones you’re already planning a return visit. Drop a comment below or connect with the GoGirlfriend community on Facebook or Twitter!