We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Mediterranean cruise

Burnaby, Canada
Level Contributor
101 posts
1 review
Save Topic
Mediterranean cruise

We, a family of 4 with kids age 10 and 11, are planning to go on a Mediterranean cruise Aug 2012. We are debating which cruiseliner: Norwegian Spirit or Ruby Princess ($2000 more for the 4 of us). The route is very similar but my husband wants to save & I want to book where the cruiseship has good food and atmosphere. Please advise.

Chicago, IL
Destination Expert
for Cape Cod
Level Contributor
14,864 posts
34 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Mediterranean cruise

In fact you have already made the correct selections that suit each of your individual needs. Flip a coin or go together to visit a good travel agent in order to get the best result.

Chatham, Ontario
Destination Expert
for Cruises
Level Contributor
5,739 posts
47 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Mediterranean cruise

Itinerary note: Ruby Princess visits Naples, which allows you to see Pompeii. NCL Spirit does not. Since practically all the rest of the stops are identical, that would decide me (for Ruby) right there. If you're not keen on Pompeii, what about gorgeous Capri, or the beautiful Amalfi coast, or Naples itself, or Herculaneum, or ....This port has more possibilities than almost any other.

With the $2,000 price difference, I assume you're looking at 2 cabins, rather than 1 cabin for 4?

Comparing price of NCL to Princess can be tricky. No mainstream cruise lines is all inclusive. However, NCL is more "a la carte" (extra charges) than most lines. This is excellent for many people who like to choose what they pay for. Others complain bitterly about "nickel and dime-ing".

Example: On all other cruise lines, ship's "newspaper" (digest, some headlines) is free. Pay on NCL.

Price of that is insignificant, but costs mount up fast when you get to dining. There are some people who insist that the (included in cruise price) main dining room food is adequate. However, some (my perception is "many") report they book specialty "extra charge" restaurants every night. Spirit extra pay restaurants cost $15, $20, and $25 per person depending on which you choose. No difficulty in spending an extra $1000 on dining alone over 12 days.

I regret I'm not an NCL fan, so my bias here probably shows.

On one of my favourite websites, Spirit rates 4 stars, Ruby rates 5 stars.

vacationstogo.com/cruise_ship/Ruby_Princess.…

vacationstogo.com/cruise_ship/Norwegian_Spir…

I recommend www.vacationsToGo.com for all cruisers doing research.

Cabin size can be found here, at www.CruiseCheap.com:

cruisecheap.com/ships/princess-cruises-ruby-…

cruisecheap.com/ships/norwegian-cruise-line-…

NCL has some of the smallest cabins in the industry. However, many of the Ruby Princess cabins are small too. I personally will not cruise in a cabin under 180 square feet. Many people disagree with me.

(PS - Charlie said much in much fewer words, while I was typing my long answer. Thanks, Charlie.)

Edited: 3:53 pm, January 11, 2012
Chicago, IL
Destination Expert
for Cape Cod
Level Contributor
14,864 posts
34 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Mediterranean cruise

And Fannish, if she goes to a travel expert with her husband, then from all the agent's experience and comments from returning guests, the agent may indeed be able to sway her husband since your bias is held by many and rightfully so.

ON, Canada
Level Contributor
14,162 posts
45 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Mediterranean cruise

Ruby would be my choice for a few reasons.

The time in port is longer, note the earlier arrival time in most ports ... in places such as Rome, Florence, Naples, Istanbul and Athens that extra hour or two will give you a head start, and more time for sightseeing.

The only difference I see in ports is Toulon (Spirit) vs. Monte Carlo (Ruby). (Note to Fannish ... I'm seeing Naples on both Spirit and Ruby itineraries in August.) I'm not familiar with Toulon (although it does sound nice); have been to Monte Carlo and feel that that is a plus with Ruby.

Ruby gets much better reviews from those who have cruised on it, and the reviews from Med cruises last season are almost all 4 and 5*.

$2000 isn't a small amount, but if it's affordable, I think it's worth it to go on Ruby. However, if you do choose Spirit, I wouldn't feel too bad about it ... cruising the Med is a great experience and you'll have a good time!

Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Sydney, New South Wales, Cruises
Level Contributor
11,633 posts
160 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Mediterranean cruise

I have yet to cruise on the Ruby but have cruised on a few of the Princess ships and I really like them.

Mind you, I 'should get out more" and cruise with other lines every now and then but I keep thinking "if it ain't broke, why try to fix it?"....but I digress.

I think Fannish is absolutely correct about the port of Naples... there are many shore excursions to choose from for that port, and if you do decide on the Ruby, then make sure you join your Roll Call on the Cruise Critic site as there may be people on the Roll Call who have already organised private shore excursions which can save a few $$.

On that cruise we did do some private shore excursions but because the shore excursion we wanted to do was quite long, we felt more comfortable going with the ship's shore excursion.

When we dockedat Naples, we went to Pompeii, had lunch in Sorrento, drove around the Amalfi Coast and stopped for half an hour in a little town before heading back to Naples. It was a long day (around 10 hours) and we paid $$ for the excursion, but boy was it worth it !!

I have no idea when or if we'll get back to that part of Italy again, but at least I'll die happy with the memory of the gorgeous Amalfi Coast, lovely Sorrento with that old movie (Sunbirders??) and the music ringing in my ears, and Pompeii - unbelievable !

If you do decide on the Ruby and you do decide to take an excursion that goes to the Amalfi Coast, sit on the right hand side of the bus for the best views.

ON, Canada
Level Contributor
14,162 posts
45 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Mediterranean cruise

Great info on Naples / Amalfi Coast Doug ... just a note though (as mentioned in my post above) ... Spirit also stops in Naples.

wirral
Level Contributor
18,926 posts
108 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Mediterranean cruise

Not a lot for me to add other than Princess for me and worth paying the extra.Toulon-not a nice port of call.It is a French Navy base with a small civilian ship facility.Nothing at the port and for security reasons you may not roam around it.Transport into town is required (charged for by Royal Caribbean for us in Nov 2010) and considering this is Provence not much worth seeing but excellent for shopping (a large mall near the Rugby stadium).The market is interesting too but it is cleared away by lunchtime.

The first cruise we took was a Med Cruise on P&O Oceana and it still had the best itinerary of any cruise we have been on since.(Toulon was not in the original itinerary).Generally speaking you wake up in a different port every day.Beware stays in port that are for 6 hours or less especially if tender ports.

Shropshire
Level Contributor
4 posts
57 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Mediterranean cruise

I am really confused. I am looking at my first cruise. I am 30 and my partner is 28, no kids. We want to explore the Eastern Med and the key cities on our Itinerary are, Rome, Istanbul and Venice. We have found a NCL cruise in Aug 2012 which visits all 3 (plus more) on a 12 day cruise. Being new to cruises we are trying to work out what is and isn't included. My other half is very British in the sense that tipping is dependant on the service (something that was quite funny and frustrating whilst visiting NYC at xmas!) Point being is thta she has now found that we 'auto tip' 12% and goes on top of the already increasing bill. I have a budget and want to stick to it as best I can. Can anyone help with advising on both NCL and cruises in general?

Thanks

Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Sydney, New South Wales, Cruises
Level Contributor
11,633 posts
160 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Mediterranean cruise

Hi Brad

I do agree that as a first timer it is confusing - for something that is touted as an all inclusive holiday it does seem like there are a whole lot of extras ... and there are ... it's up to you how much you spend on those extras.

On the right hand side of the screen, if you haven't already done so I would suggest reading a few of those FAQs as I'm sure you'll find a lot of useful info in them

In a nutshell - all the food in the dining room and buffet areas are included and you might find other stations set up on deck around the pool area with say a BBQ lunch / sandwiches etc - generally they are included as is afternoon tea in one of the dining rooms - usually on a sea day.

The food that may not be included is dining in a specialty restaurant which incurs a cover charge per person and on some cruise lines, cakes and coffee in say a cafe type area.

Drinks - ship's water, ie straight from the tap should be available in the dining room and dispensers in the buffet area - that's free. Tea and coffee in the buffet area is free and usually filtered coffee and non specialty teas are free in the dining room in my experience.

Some cruise lines now charge for in-room dining or room service and the bottled water you find in your room is not included either.

Shore excursions, photos, bingo etc are not included ... basically all the shops on board are designed to encourage you to part with your money and aiding and abetting that is the fact that cruises are cashless so everything you buy is put on your cruise card and your last night on board you'll get a statement under your door which may or may not have you asking your bank manager for a second mortgage !!

Shore excursions are extra - many ports including those you mentioned are quite easily DYI with research on your part PRIOR to the cruise ... tho' with Rome, bear in mind it is an hour's train ride away so make sure you watch your time and allow plenty of time to get back to the ship as it may sail without you and you'll have to make your own way to the next port of call.

Alcohol ... bartenders mix delicious cocktails designed to make you feel really happy and want to drink more ... and BTW, there's usually a gratuity added to every beverage you buy on board and that's in addition to the auto-tipping...a sore point amongst many who don't live in a "tipping" culture.

And speaking of tipping, when you realise that the cabin stewards, dining staff and a lot of crew who work behind the scenes do work for long hours each day for a lot less money than the average person would, and usually far away from family and loved ones 7 days a week for months at a time, the gratuity is your way of saying thank you and showing your appreciation of everything they do for you- which is a lot when it's all said and done.

All of the above does add to the expense of a cruise holiday .. but you do get to see a range of ports and places and are fed, entertained and have someone clean your room everyday and only have to unpack once.

Ultimately it's up to you how much or how little you spend on a cruise.

Think about this - do the sums of the price of a cruise compared to a land based holiday going to the same ports and include the cost of a 3-4 star hotel, ALL meals, afternoon tea, entertainment, movies etc.

Shropshire
Level Contributor
4 posts
57 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Mediterranean cruise

Thank you DougoOz, very helpful advice. Just a minefield for new cruisers with a limited budget.

I agree with the figures, going to all of the places on the itinerary staying in moderate to decent hotels would amount to a lot more money! My war of words with myself is that the total budget could get me a decent 2 week stay in all-inclusive luxury without all of the extras. The last thing I would want to do is be there and not be able to see and do what I wanted for fear and bleeding money here there and everywhere.

I am torn. Love the idea that a cruise would be a great new experience for us but with so many other places to visit in the world I am not sure that my money would be better spend elsewhere.