After pouring over countless itineraries, maps, and sights, this summer’s plans have finally been nailed down – and booked. At first hesitant to make any extended travel plans because of summer classes, I was soon reassured by a professor who insisted that I seize any opportunity for overseas travel.
It all came down to the HOW of traveling. We wanted to go and see and do, but didn’t want the hassle of checking in and out of hotels every few days – not to mention the added expense of trains and Easy Jet flights for two straight weeks. I loved every minute of our last jaunt across the pond, but lugging a carry-on everywhere did manage to get tiring after a few weeks. Visions of laundromats and crowded terminal platforms filled my head. I certainly wanted to pack a little more than three shirts this time around, and definitely didn’t relish the notion of 10 hour train rides. A cruise was sounding better and better.
At first we were settled on a Northern European itinerary. But after the recent Costa cruise fiasco – not to mention the reviews that MSC and Costa cruise lines received on Cruisecritic.com – the low cost, big name European carriers slowly started slipping through our fingers. I didn’t want to gamble on the quality of the cruise simply because it offered a low price, and that seemed to be the overwhelming lament of those reviews, as well.
It was at this point that we decided to broaden our options. The Mediterannean is filled to the gills with cruises during the summer months, but for good reason. With amazing weather and exotic ports-of-call, some cruise lines even offer floating 5 star resorts that can be your home-base as you embark on a different city each day – leaving the driving to someone else.
Again we had to choose what our non-negotiables were. For me, it was food – hand’s down. One of the joys of going to Europe is experiencing a new culture through its food, and I wanted to make sure I could do this when traveling on a large boat to each country. Jeremy wanted to make sure that the price was right, also a balcony in our room and lots of small amenities. While we won’t be spending too much of our time in the cabin itself, I’m pretty sure there isn’t much that will beat the experience of sitting on a private verandah while viewing the Amalfi coast!
We finally settled on the Grand Mediterranean itinerary that Princess Cruise Line offers. The Ruby Princess is their newest ship, and received very high marks for ambiance, itinerary, and – you guessed it – food. We’ll start in Barcelona and wind our way throughout the Mediterranean for 12 days, traveling to ports like Rome, Mykonos, Istanbul, and Ephesus. The debarkation point just happens to be in Venice, where we’ll spend a day simply strolling the waterways!
5 full months from today – I have quite a bit of planning and dreaming to do until then!