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Dalmatian Coast Cruise Tips
Named for an ancient tribe that lived along the eastern coastline of the Adriatic Sea in the first millennium BCE, the Dalmatian Coast is best known as the place the white and black spotted dog came from. But with a history that dates back to a time before the Greeks and includes long sweeps of time under the rule of various empires (Roman, Byzantine, Venetian, Yugoslavian), there's so much to learn about and see in any of the cities and towns that dot the area's islands and coastline. The Dalmatian Coast stretches southeast from Italy's Venice (rulers from here used to oversee this part of the world), encompassing Croatia and parts of Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro. The ports are often visited as part of Eastern Mediterranean itineraries (although it's technically on the Adriatic Sea), as well as by small ship cruise lines that stop at smaller cities and towns exclusively along the coastline. Whether you sail an itinerary that sticks exclusively to the Dalmatian Coast or a Mediterranean journey that stops at select ports on the way to elsewhere, you'll visit towns with quaint old city centers, narrow stone streets, medieval fortified walls, cathedrals that span hundreds of years and subtle signs of the war that raged through this area in the mid-1990s. With excursions on offer that range from classic city tours and culinary tastings to hikes or kayak trips through pristine natural environments, a cruise along the Dalmatian Coast offers a rich experience to history buffs, foodies, active travelers and anyone who simply wants to explored a less-traveled path.
Best Western Mediterranean Shore Excursions
Incorporating Spain, Italy and France, the Western Med has been influenced by cultures from all over the globe -- and each one has left its mark on the region's architecture, food and traditions. Vibrant cities and iconic landmarks are located close to many of the ports, so you'll have scenic surrounds, mouth-watering cuisine and fantastic shopping opportunities a stone's throw away. Wherever you visit, you're guaranteed to discover something new about your European neighbors. But deciding where to focus your day in port could become an overwhelming task. To help you pick from the many options available, here are some of our favorite shore excursions in the Western Mediterranean.
Eastern Mediterranean vs. Western Mediterranean
The crystal blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea sparkle year-round, making cruises in the region a hot ticket for passengers around the globe. (Even Australians make the long trek during their winter.) But with so many ports spanning the Med, how do you pick which itinerary is right for you? Generally, Mediterranean cruises are divided into Western Mediterranean – Monaco, Spain and France -- and the Eastern Mediterranean, which includes but is not limited to Croatia, the Balkan countries, Greece and Turkey. Italy does double duty, serving as an embarkation/debarkation homeport for both (usually Rome for Western Med cruises and Venice for eastern routes); Italian ports of call feature in both itineraries, as well. It's hard to go wrong with either. Both itineraries include UNESCO-approved cultural and historic sites that will help you complete your bucket list. Both also offer fabulous ports of call with outstanding cuisine and local wines, beaches for all sorts of travelers and opportunities for shopping. Keep in mind that either itinerary will be port-intensive; this is not a cruise where you spend lots of time lolling near the ship's pool. Read on to find out how to choose between an Eastern Mediterranean vs. a Western Mediterranean cruise.
Best Budget Cruises
Budgets can get tight at times, but that doesn't mean you have to ditch your vacation plans all together. If taking a cruise this year involves penny pinching, why not consider a cruise on a line known more for value than for the latest splashy features? Unlike the airline industry with its low-cost carriers (think Spirit Airlines, Ryanair or even Southwest), not many cruise lines would be considered budget (though some older ships on well-established, contemporary cruise lines, like Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line, could fall into this category). So, to help in your search for cruise deals, we've come up with three categories for penny pinchers -- budget cruise lines, budget itineraries and budget seasons. You don't necessarily need to sail with a dedicated budget cruise line to find rock-bottom rates, but you need to know which itineraries and cruising seasons traditionally have the lowest prices. With savvy strategies, you can even find extremely affordable sailings on more upscale cruise lines, as well as the mainstream ships. So stop moping and start shopping -- there are plenty of affordable cruise vacations if you know where to look.
Cruise Pricing by Destination
You've decided it's time to take that cruise to Alaska (or the Caribbean or the Mediterranean) you keep hearing about. But you're not sure how much it's going to cost you. The Mediterranean sounds awfully expensive, but what about Alaska? Perhaps a New England and Canada cruise would be more affordable? Cruise pricing is never static; no matter which region you choose to sail, prices ebb and flow. Cruise line (and even the specific ship within the line, since newer vessels tend to command more), time of year, length of trip and, of course, cabin type are all factors that affect the price of a cruise. Plus, what's included -- or not included -- determines the overall affordability of any given sailing. But some destinations are generally more affordable than others.