An American Family in Europe (Part 5) or Mediterranean Cruise
I said earlier I prefer land tours for touring in Europe, so why would we go on a cruise?
We have several reasons. First, a cruise gives you a good idea to see some places to give you an idea if you want to go back or not. There are some places we have spent only one or two days in and that was more than enough. There are others we could go back, stay for a month, and still not see and do everything we want. Second, our kids are not at an age where they can go touring for a week (or more) non-stop. They need a break and (if I’m being honest) we need one too. A cruise typically has “at sea” days where we can just hang out on the ship and have a break from all the touring and craziness. Like I mentioned before, the kids can go to the kids club and play games and be kids and not mini-adults, and we get some time to recharge. If you have older kids something like this may not be necessary, but we could have not done a trip for this long without having these breaks in between touring.
Another good thing about the cruise (regardless of age) is your food, hotel, and some of your transportation (at least from port to port) is already included in the cost. You also can go to multiple cities without having to constantly pack and unpack in each city. That sounds like a small thing, but when there are four of us it was a relief being able to actually unpack our bags and not worry about it for 10 days.
This cruise left out of Civitavecchia, so first we had to get there from Rome. We caught a train and it cost us 11.50 Euros ($15) for 2 adults and one child ticket (our youngest was free). It was raining when we arrived so we paid 10 Euros ($13) for a cab from the train station to the port.
We had four ports on this cruise, Katakolo (Olympia) Greece, Athens, Greece and two more unusual ports, Izmir, Turkey and Alexandria, Egypt. In Greece we were able to go out on our own and not have to pay for the excursions through the ship (which are notoriously expensive). For Olympia we were able to get a round-trip bus fare from Katakolo to Olympia for 25 Euros ($32.50). Our tickets to go to the site of the original Olympics (The Sanctuary of Olympia) and the Archaeological Museum was 18 Euros ($23.50) for two adults (kids were free). We also bought a Gyro to eat while we were there (3 Euros or $4). When we got back we went to the ship to eat lunch, then we were able to leave the kids at the kids club and go in the port city of Katakolo to take advantage of the wi-fi at a local café (cost 15 Euros, $19.50). Total cost for the day 61 Euros ($80). To put this in perspective, the cost of taking one of the cruise tours to do this would have been $270 for the four of us.
In Athens we were able to use their public transportation to get from the cruise port to the main area of the city. It cost us 8 Euros ($10.50) for our bus/metro/train tickets for the day. Then we did our own walking tour, ending at the Acropolis. Our Acropolis tickets cost us 24 Euros ($31), we also ate lunch in Athens since we had a much longer day; lunch came to 30 Euros ($39). Total cost for the day 62 Euros ($80.50). The cost of one of the cruise tours (without lunch) would have been $340 for the four of us; so again, we were perfectly happy going off the ship and exploring on our own.
If the itinerary had included more places like Venice, Barcelona, or even Istanbul, we could have made it more economical for us. In this case, we had two ports where we had to take the cruise ship excursion to see what we wanted to see. For Izmir it was the ruins of Ephesus for Egypt it was the pyramids in Cairo. The excursion to Izmir cost $360 and the one to Egypt cost $460 (total $820). Worth it to us since we knew these were places we wanted to go to and part of the whole reason we were here, but it wasn’t something I had counted on in figuring out our initial costs when I was estimating the full cost of the trip. I had counted on doing this for possibly one port, but definitely not two.
One last cost of a cruise that you can’t avoid is the service charge per person per day (also known as tipping). For NCL this was $12 per person per day which came to $480 for 4 people for 10 days. This is a cost we were aware of and counting when we were going through the cost of our trip, and you pay it at the end of your cruise.
Including an extra $211.50 for souvenirs and incidentals, the total cost for 10 days comes to $1700.
This is a continuation of a series:
Heels First is the travels and tribulations of two twenty-something frequent fliers jumping into the world of travel. Join Keri and Jeanne as they tackle mileage runs, elite status, and of course–the perfect travel accessories.