Cruising the Mediterranean? 10 Tips to Make Your Cruise More Enjoyable

by Janis on September 27, 2011

Every Tuesday is Travel Tip Day

Today: 10 Tips to Make Your Mediterranean Cruise More Enjoyable

We love exploring the Mediterranean — and all of Europe — by cruise ship.  Cruising is a comfortable and affordable way to visit the Mediterranean. You can wake up every morning in a new port –often in a new country — and have a full day to explore, before returning  to a comfortable bed on the ship to be whisked to the next destination while you sleep.  All without unpacking and repacking.

To enjoy your adventure, here’s some tips to make the most of your cruise vacation.  

1. Plan to arrive at least one day before your ship departs.

Nothing is worse than flying many hours to Europe, only to miss your ship because of a flight delay or cancellation.  Make your flight arrive at least one to two days before your cruise, and enjoy Rome, Barcelona or Venice, and recover from jet-lag before your cruise.

2. Pack Light as Possible.

While it’s possible to be transferred from the airport to your ship with minimal struggles, you will always be happier with fewer bags.  Taxis tend to be small.  Train stations often have steps, rather than elevators to the platforms.  Hotels may require several flights of stairs.  Keeping luggage to one checked bag and one carry on, and you will be happier.

3. Take packets of sunscreen and bug spray.

While bottles of liquid are heavy, foil packets are light.  The Mediterranean sun is intense, don’t get burned.  Plus, mosquitos can be rampant. See this post for our recommendations.

4. Research your itinerary before you go.

Some Mediterranean ports, such as Barcelona, are easy to access from your cruise ship. Others, like Rome, are 90 minutes from the port. Venice is easy to get around, but also easy to get lost.  Make a list of your “must see” priorities for each port, and plan according.  It makes sense to pre-book shore excursions or tours when you really want to see something – like the Vatican – that’s in a city 90 minutes from your port and is known for long lines.

5. Call your credit card companies before you depart.

Advise them that you will be traveling internationally.  Otherwise, you could find your credit card blocked for fraud potential, and have to use up vacation time and expensive phone calls to get resolved.

6. Set your mobile device to “airplane mode”.

Travelers to Europe can get hit with high data charges even when they aren’t using their mobile devices if they have not disabled their data fetch.  A better option is to leave your smartphone in “airplane mode” and then use local Wi-Fi access to get your email messages.  Another option is to purchase a limited international data plan before you leave.

7. Pack and wear comfortable shoes.

What NOT to wear on a Mediterranean cruise

Long flights = swollen feet.  You want to be wearing a comfortable pair of shoes. When you get to Europe, many of the attractions involve walking on cobblestones or other rough surfaces – not the place for those cool spike heel boots.  In general, a pair of daytime shoes, a pair of evening dress shoes, and an alternate pair of comfortable shoes is the ideal.

8. Take a back-pack or day pack.

A lightweight backpack like this Eddie Bauer Stowaway Daypack folds up into a small square when you aren’t using it. These work much better and allow for more comfortable transport of camera and personal items during your time in port than a purse or briefcase. Keep any bags or personal items close to your body.

9. Buy insurance before you leave.

Many health insurance plans don’t cover overseas travel. Plus, you don’t want to lose the value of your vacation due to a last minute family emergency.  Get travel insurance that covers trip cancelation, interruption and emergency medical cost.

10. Pace Yourself

 Your cruise will likely have port calls multiple days in a row. Since the Mediterranean ports are relatively close by sea, your cruise itinerary won’t likely have many sea days.  Plus, you won’t want to miss any port.  Rest up on sea days when you have them, and alternate full day tours with half day ones to allow time for soaking up the local ambiance.

Enjoy your cruise.  The Mediterranean is one of the world’s best destinations to explore by cruise ship.

Some of our favorite reference books about cruise ports in the Mediterranean include:


Mediterranean by Cruise Ship: The Complete Guide to Mediterranean Cruising


DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Cruise Guide to Europe and the Mediterranean


Rick Steves Mediterranean Cruise Ports

Your may also enjoy these posts on Mediterranean cruising and cruise ports:

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