In our latest Destination Focus blog, we look at the Mediterranean vs Caribbean cruise debate, to see what's right for you on your next cruise.
The Med and Caribbean offer two very different cruises — apart from the stunning coastlines and amazing weather — and remain the two most popular cruise destinations on offer. But what makes them such great places to visit on holiday and which destination is right for you?
Med cruises are incredibly popular for a great variety of reasons, but the proximity to the UK is a major player in that. With great weather throughout the summer and a range of excursions, cosmopolitan cities and ancient ruins, Med cruises offer a little of something for everyone.
With the peak season running through the British summer, Mediterranean cruises offer a great option for summer sun holidays and are great for families during the school holidays. With short flights Med cruises offer an a easier way to join a ship with the kids in toe — and even more simple if you cruise from the UK!
Cruise from the UK
The fact you can board a cruise to the Med from a UK port — meaning no luggage restrictions and less hassle. There's also no jet lag to content with, as the time difference only changes by a an hour or two in most ports. With minimal effort you can bask in stunning sunshine and visit great destinations.
History & Culture
The Med is filled with ancient history and historic cities. Shore excursions take you to temples, ruins and gorgeous cities. The Greek Isles and Balearic Islands boast gorgeous beaches, even comparable to the Caribbean if you know where to head. There are also overnight stays in port with an increasing number of ships offering the opportunity to enjoy the nightlife and evening culture of Barcelona, Rome and Istanbul.
Food is also a big attraction. For every person out there who loves to widen their palette there is someone who prefers recognisable foods and home comforts. The themed evenings are usually relative to the ports of call, offering a variety of Italian, French, Spanish and Greek food. So, from popular pizza and pasta through to gastronomic feasts, there will be great food to suit every palate onboard.
The Caribbean is known for its year-round sunshine, sandy white beaches, turquoise sea, friendly locals and vibrant culture — just think of the smells, sounds and great atmosphere of Notting Hill Carnival but in a more stunning and much warmer environment!
Caribbean cruises offer an altogether different experience. Though the summer offers great weather, winter sun is a huge draw for the Caribbean with peak season falling from January through to April. Average temperatures from January to April are 25-26°C, offering a hot, but bearable holiday. The summer is hotter with average temperatures around 30°C — which can sometimes hit closer to 40°C — but summer also brings more rain, making winter the ideal time to cruise in the Caribbean.
Beaches & Activities
Though there is great culture to explore in the Caribbean, the shore excursions are often based around activities as opposed to historic sites. Snorkelling, sailing, diving and banana boat in the warm seas are among the most popular activities, with squad biking, jet skiing and parasailing also on offer.
Cruise & Stay
The vast majority of Caribbean cruises are based on fly cruises that will include an overnight stay in a hotel in the departure port. Giving you the chance to travel into vibrant cities like Bridgetown, Orlando and Miami before joining your cruise. Caribbean cruises are also great for cruise and stay holidays, giving you the chance to visit places like Universal Orlando® Resort or Walt Disney World — ideal for a family holiday.
So, the Med and the Caribbean offer very different, but very popular cruise experiences. Are you looking for an action-packed holidays filled with vibrant culture or are you looking for ancient history and cosmopolitan cities? Either way, great weather, fantastic beaches and beautiful coastlines will be on offer.
BA have enlisted the help of style-passport to put together a quick video on the essential items to pack within your 23kgs luggage allowance. Great help if you are heading on a European fly-cruise!
Iglucruise's Robin Jones recently spent a week onboard Splendour of the Seas enjoying the delights of the Eastern Med.
Day 1 — Venice & Embarkation
We arrived in Venice to met by what can only be described as a stream of Royal Caribbean reps, who direct you to your coach, wave you off, and then to the port you go! Once onboard we explored the ship, which was vast and included checking out the Atrium and guest services, as well as the exciting bit — the shore excursion desk! Here we booked our Athens trip and a behind the scenes cruise trip, which occurs during seas days and offers a look behind the crew door.
Day 2 — Bari
After breakfast Royal Caribbean gave a port breakdown, which was really interesting — especially if you like shopping! After the port introduction, we got ready to go into Bari with the intention to go to Arabello, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Due to the lack of trains we decided to get the bus into Bari instead and enjoyed the excellent sights of the castle, Bastillo and main cathedral.
It was an awesome day, taking the morning and afternoon to potter around Bari and soak up the relaxed atmosphere.
Day 3 — Corfu
We visited Corfu by ourselves, which was great. I can see why in certain ports people book excursions, but occasionally it's more fun to discover a new place by yourselves. We visited the old fort with its beautiful mosaics — dating back to the 3rd and 4th Century; the Church of Spyridon — a typically Greek Orthodox cathedral, and the Museum of Currency and Economics. Corfu also boasts one of the oldest cricket pitches in Greece, built while under British rule — so that was a must see. Another plus point was seeing one of the Star Clipper fleet docked next to us, which was spectacular to see.
It was formal night onboard, so suited and booted we enjoyed a pre-dinner Martini at the Centrum and had our pictures taken with the Captain, before enjoying an outstanding meal — where the filet of beef simply melted in your mouth. Delicious.
Day 4 — Mykonos
As Mykonos port isn't big enough to host Splendour of the Seas, the ship tendered, and luckily the seas were as calm as a lake. One of the most interesting sights in Mykonos was Delos, where the ancient ruins of Greek temples can be found. Make sure you book your shore excursions early onboard, as tours like this do sell out quickly. Mykonos was designed so that pirates would get lost in its maze of streets, putting them off from attacking the island — having walked the streets it would have worked on me, that's for sure!
Mykonos is a charming port and Little Venice — with its collection of shops and restaurants — was a real highlight.
Day 5 — Athens
We decided to go on one of Royal Caribbean's organised shore excursions in Athens — visiting the Acropolis and Athens itself. The ruins were stunning and you could see where they had started to restore the structure adding new white marble. The one main thing which I took away from the trip was the history of Athens, the country was under Turkish rule for 400 years and didn't go through the industrial revolution — which has left tourism as the main industry.
Day 6 — Sea Day
Our day at sea gave us the chance to really enjoy the ship and take the behind the scenes tour. The tour took us down the I95 — the ships main street of activity — to the crew galley, the crew bar — where regular events and evenings are put on to keep the crew in high spirits — the galley and the main kitchens. We learned that 12,000 fresh bread rolls are baked each day and that over 1,000 servings of ribs and 1,000 serving of roast chicken are served each day, along with 80 gallons of soup! The crew do an incredible job on a daily basis, believe me.
We also visited the engine room, the laundry and the bridge. The most interesting part of the tour for me was the Environmental Officer explaining the way they recycle everything onboard, it's a really tricky and complicated process. I came away with a great amount of respect for everyone onboard.
Day 7 — Dubrovnik
We walked around the walls of Dubrovnik and saw how the city had grown and how they had built new houses, yet had left some of the ruins of the original city for people to explore and remember the history. There was evidence that the city looked new with a hint of Venetian-style interlinked into the architecture.
Sadly, this was our last day, it's never nice to have to head back after such an amazing cruise! Counting the days to my next one already...
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