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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 travellers 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 Baltic Cruise Shore Excursions
Whether you're touring tsarist-era palaces in St. Petersburg, Estonia's cobblestone alleyways or the islands of Stockholm, the Baltic's attractions and astounding beauty will wow you whatever you do. To give you a unique and immersive experience in each of these countries, we've highlighted a few of our favorite Baltic cruise excursions. Please note: Although these are popular tours, check with your cruise line before you book to ensure your preferred excursion is offered.
Best Non-Caribbean Cruise Destinations for Snorkeling and Diving
Once you get hooked on snorkeling and scuba diving on cruises, you begin to study itineraries with a view to finding the best spots to indulge your underwater passion. While the Caribbean is filled with opportunity, and an obvious first choice for enthusiasts of all levels of expertise, the rest of world truly can be your oyster if you pick the right ports. In areas where snorkeling and diving are popular pastimes, ships' excursions are usually offered, making your adventures easy to arrange. At other destinations, you might be on your own when it comes to booking a dive trip or finding a suitable snorkeling spot. This is especially true in areas with so many things to do that watersports rank low on the priority list of most passengers, as is often the case in European and Asian ports of call. There are a few cruise destinations with snorkeling and diving that may surprise you. Read on for a guide to finding the best spots around the world to get under the waves.
Best Time to Cruise
It's one of the most common cruising questions: When is the best time to cruise Alaska, Australia, the Caribbean, Canada/New England, Hawaii, Europe or the South Pacific? The answer depends on many variables. Autumn -- or "Fall" in North America" -- foliage enthusiasts, for instance, will find September and October the best time to take that Canada/New England cruise, whereas water sports-lovers (and families) much prefer to sail the region in the summer when school is out and temperatures are warmer for swimming. The best time to cruise to Alaska will vary depending on your preferences for viewing wildlife, fishing, bargain-shopping, sunshine, warm weather and catching the northern lights. For most cruise regions, there are periods of peak demand (high season), moderate demand (shoulder season) and low demand (low season), which is usually the cheapest time to cruise. High season is typically a mix of when the weather is best and popular travel periods (such as summer and school holidays). However, the best time to cruise weather-wise is usually not the cheapest time to cruise. The cheapest time to cruise is when most travellers don't want to go because of chillier temperatures or inopportune timing (too close to holidays, the start of school, etc.). But the lure of cheap fares and uncrowded ports might make you change your mind about what you consider the best time to cruise. As you plan your next cruise, you'll want to take into consideration the best and cheapest times to cruise and see what jibes with your holiday schedule. Here's a when-to-cruise guide for popular destinations.
First Cruise to the Baltic and Northern Europe: Lessons Learned
The Baltic -- with its marquee ports of St. Petersburg, Stockholm and Copenhagen -- is a popular bucket-list cruise destination, but that means your first once-in-a-lifetime cruise there is possibly also your last. You definitely want to get everything right on the first go if there's not going to be a repeat visit to learn from your mistakes. To help you out with some Baltic Sea cruise tips, here's a recap of what we learned on our first cruise to the Baltic and Northern Europe.
10 Best Cruise Destinations for Active Travellers
You can get a workout on pretty much any cruise, but to maximize your adrenaline-pumping options, it's best to find the right combination of cruise ship and destination. Active cruise travelers will usually turn up at least a handful of shore experiences to whet their appetites for adventure, but if you're cruising with a sedentary lot, that city bike tour or rainforest hike might get canceled due to lack of interest. Likewise, certain ports simply don't lend themselves to athletic adventures, while others have so many active choices, it's hard to make up your mind. Below, we have listed our picks for the 11 best adventure cruise destinations for those who are active travelers, as well as our suggestions for the cruise lines that make the best matches. Just don't forget to pack your running shoes and snorkel gear.
7 Things to Do Besides Shopping on a Christmas Markets Cruise
If the idea of endless hours of shopping and browsing is causing your spouse or family members to balk at booking that European Christmas markets cruise, never fear. We're here to tell you that cruising Europe during the holidays is a charming proposition, whether you hit up the markets or not. Consider the list below your counter argument for any would-be Scrooges. Here are seven things you can do on a Christmas markets cruise that won't involve carting home a single souvenir.