Mediterranean cruises are becoming more popular as incomes have increased over the past few decades. People in the 30ís and 40Ďs are much more adventuresome than their parents and grandparents at that age.
Think of Italy as a midway point, and the cruises are generally divided into Eastern Mediterranean and Western Mediterranean Some go as far west (usually over seven days) as Spain and Portugal from Italy, or as far east as Istanbul.
Various islands such as Sicily, Malta, Crete, the Greek Isles, Corsica and Elba may or may not be included.
These cruises are becoming so popular that over half of the space for this year is already booked. It is difficult to get the most popular balcony cabins and suites for many sailings. Early planning achieves the best results. This would still be a good time to book for late August through November after which most of the ships return to the Caribbean. The best prices for next May through summer í07 are available now.
The amount of history, culture, and unique experiences are amazing. Each cruise offers excursions in each port. On some ships they may be included or optional. A day or two before and after the cruise maximizes the experience in the first and last port. Youíll feel like the whole adventure has changed you for the better.
Barcelona is a city that you could spend a week in, easily. Many of the cruises begin here. When they picked us up to go to our ship they took us on a mini tour. We saw the cathedral designed by Gaudi, the famous Spanish architect. If you spend a night or two in Barcelona, there is a hop on, hop off bus that stops at various sites all day. You can buy a one or two day ticket and see the Picasso and Miro museums and a couple of dozen other attractions all day.
Monaco is a port for some ships and an excursion from Nice on other ships. Thereís a Princess Grace Kelly Ranier tour and the Grand Casino, among other sites in this tiny country. You can see the beautiful lavender fields and vineyards in Provence on some excursions and the Palace of the Popes who lived for 100 years in France. You can visit the winery at the Palace of the Popes for samples and to purchase a bottle.
In Tuscany there are marble and alabaster factories as well as medieval towns from the 1100ís. Florence and Pisa can be visited from there. In Florence you might want see Michelangeloís Statue of David.
Of course Rome has amazing ruins of the ancient Forum, the Parthenon, and the Trevi Fountain among its sites. The Vatican and St. Peterís is mind-boggling with the art that is found there, created for the eyes of only one man.
Naples and Sorrento yield the beautiful coast, the ruins of Pompeii (you can still walk its streets) or a cruise over to the island of Capri.
Next month Iíll tell you more of the sites on the Mediterranean cruise itineraries.
Many Happy Returns,