Shermans Travel » Blog » Archive
Tag Results: Mediterranean Cruises
Don’t tell my scale. A little over two weeks ago, I was enthusiastically taste testing my way through the 10 restaurants onboard Oceania Riviera (one of our Top 10 Cruises in 2012), the brand new 1,250-passenger upper premium ship that was christened in Barcelona, a foodie-friendly city if ever there was one! Also a perfect match: the ship’s fit and elegant godmother, Iron Chef Cat Cora (shown at left), who took time from promoting her new Bravo series Around the World in 80 Plates to help break a bottle of bubbly against Riviera’s sparkling white hull just before we set sail for molto magnifico Venice. As I sipped and savored my way around the ship, sampling everything from foie gras with artichoke puree to lobster pad Thai – not to mention whipping up my own flaky scones and fluffy zucchini-and-mint frittata in the Bon Appétit Culinary Center – I began to question whether I love cruising more for the alluring and ever changing ports of call or for the indulgent, food-centric focus of many new ships. Read on to find out whether culture or cuisine won out.
As cruise lines release their 2013 itineraries, it’s clear that European cruises are receiving more and more attention. From transatlantic crossings to the Norwegian fjords to the Mediterranean, options will be wide and varied. We’ve already covered Disney Cruise Line’s 2013 return to Europe, and Carnival Cruise Lines is offering more European programs than ever before for their 2013 season. Princess Cruises is even sending its newest (and biggest) ship, the Royal Princess, to Europe for its maiden voyage in June of 2013.
The Carnival Cruise Line European additions include longer itineraries in familiar destinations as well as brand new programs. New Western Europe and British Isles cruises include the 12-day “Norway & Western Europe” cruise, the 12-day “British Isles, Norway & France” voyage, and several “Baltic Wonders & St. Petersburg” cruises. You can also spend 12 days exploring the Mediterranean or 15 days traveling across the Atlantic, from Tampa to Barcelona or from Barcelona to Tampa (see our Repositioning Cruises 101 piece for more transatlantic cruise advice).
Some cruise ships are designed with couples in mind – and Celebrity’s newest addition, the Celebrity Silhouette, is one of the great ones. The fourth installment in Celebrity’s two-year-old Solstice class of ships, Silhouette combines size (at 122,000 tons and 2,886 passengers, there’s room to roam) with the style-savvy design and extra amenities of a sleek boutique hotel (that’s the popular Martini Bar, shown at left). While some ships’ decor is garish and others’ mundane, Silhouette’s is chic, sophisticated, and, at times, even cozy. Sailing from Cape Liberty in Bayonne, New Jersey, on 12-night alternating itineraries to the Southern and Eastern Caribbean through early April, Silhouette then heads to Europe for the summer of 2012 for 12- and 13-night cruises through the Mediterranean and Adriatic. I recently had a chance to sail aboard Silhouette for a few nights, and am happy to report back on some of my favorite aspects for couples seeking a decidedly grown-up cruise vacation: Read more
Several eastern Mediterranean cruises use the exotic wonders of Egypt and Libya as major selling points on voyages. Unfortunately, recent violence and political turmoil in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya have caused many cruise lines to change ports of call or to cancel voyages entirely.
Cruise lines had recently jumped on the opportunity to add Libya as an exotic port of call on Mediterranean itineraries after the country began issuing visas to American tourists in 2010. Now, with the political uprising and subsequent US State Department travel warning, the same cruise lines are scrambling to reroute these trips. Small cruise company Voyages to Antiquity announced this month that it has canceled its first cruise of 2011, which was to sail via Libya from Athens to Rome. It was a stroke of bad luck for the company, as this voyage had originally been scheduled to stop in Egypt and Tunisia, but was rerouted to Libya due to Egypt’s political instability.
With travel warnings to Egypt remaining in effect, many cruise lines are scrambling to change routes rather than wait and see how the situation plays out. The majority of cruise lines have canceled stops in the region through the end of March, for fear of ending up like Viking River Cruises, who had to charter a plane to airlift 91 passengers out of Egypt when the unrest began. Costa, however, is staying the course by restoring cruising to Egypt after some tourist site warnings were lifted.
Considering the cost of last-minute changes and cancellations to itineraries, it will be interesting to see if the impact that these events have on the cruise industry are reflected in “safer” picks for the next season.
Sign up for the Top 25 Newsletter
to get exclusive weekly deals