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Surviving a Summer Cruise in the Mediterranean

Updated 06.01.2019: If you’re traveling on a summer cruise in the Mediterranean, our tips will make your trip a lot more enjoyable. Read on!

The view of Livorno from the deck of Silver Spirit

In Livorno, should you book the long excursion to Florence, Italy, or enjoy a slow day on the ship?

On a summer cruise in the Mediterranean, you visit Rome when the cruise ship docks in Civitavecchia, Italy. Sweat drips down the back of your shirt as you stand in the long line to enter the Vatican. Crowds swarm the hot, sunny Coliseum. You make a mental reminder to bring water on the next excursion. And, yet again, there’s another line to walk into the jam-packed Parthenon.

Arriving back at the ship, you’re dehydrated, tired and grouchy. So much for enjoying the ship’s fine cuisine and nightlife. All you want to do is grab a quick bite to eat and go to bed.

How does a boomer traveler avoid the heat and crowds on summer cruises? If you’d asked me first, I would have advised you to choose another time of the year to cruise the Med. But, sometimes, that’s not possible. Perhaps you’re a boomer who’s still working or you’re traveling with school-aged children, or you’re on a multigenerational trip that includes the grandchildren.

Now that we’ve established that you’re going on that summer cruise in the Mediterranean, no matter what, let’s fill your travel toolbox with coping skills to deal with the heat and crowds.

Exploring Cartagena, Spain

You don’t have to see everything. In Cartagena, Spain, Alan and I enjoyed a slow, stroll through town, exploring on our own.

Surviving the heat on a summer cruise in the Mediterranean

Take it slow: At Cruise Critic, Erica Silverstein recommends slowing down your pace and I agree. This is not the cruise vacation for seeing it all. Pick the most important sites that you’d like to see from the itinerary and enjoy them. At other ports, stroll through town, taking time to sit at a café to people watch while enjoying a gelato or cool, refreshing drink. You might learn a few sightseeing or shopping tips from the locals.

Schedule excursions for early in the day: Yes, it’s hard to get up early day after day on a port intensive cruise, but to avoid the oppressive heat, choose the earliest excursions available. When I visited Ephesus on a Princess Cruises excursion, I was happy for the early wakeup call. Not only did I avoid the hottest time of the day, but arriving before most of the crowds began to swarm over this lovely, ancient site was a bonus.

Stay hydrated: If your cruise line doesn’t offer water as you exit the ship—luxury lines like Silversea and Seabourn do—bring a water bottle. If it’s really hot, I add Drip Drop, a hydration powder to the water, which helps me stay hydrated. And, of course, wear a hat, sunscreen and light colored clothing.

Choose excursions on the water: From personal experience, I haven’t found many Mediterranean cruise excursions on the water—think watching for birds and sea life, or a relaxing barefoot sail. But they are good choices for staying cool, especially when traveling with grandchildren

By lunchtime, the crowds are thick in Ephesus. Go early to miss this.

By lunchtime, the crowds are thick in Ephesus. Go early to miss this.

Surviving the crowds on a summer cruise in the Mediterranean

Don’t try to see everything: Pick and choose the sites that are most important to you. Who wants an entire vacation spent standing in long lines? Booking tours that include private access to popular tourist sites is another option.

Avoid long bus excursions: I’ve been there and done that and will never do it again. Eight-hour tours in hot weather are no fun. And the temperature on the bus will either be too cold or too warm, not to mention grouchy fellow cruisers by the end of the excursion. So when your cruise ship stops in Malaga, Spain, skip the long trip to the Alhambra. Save it for another time in your life. Go for a walk and a glass of sangria, instead. That’s what Alan and I did.

Stay on the ship: When you find yourself wilting after a couple of busy port days, stay on the ship! Declare a sea day when you’re in port and enjoy a practically empty ship. Grandkids will enjoy a less-crowded pool while you take advantage of in-port spa specials.

Choose small cruises that travel to smaller, off-the-beaten-path ports: One way to escape the crowds is to go where the big ships can’t go. Accomplish this by choosing small ship cruises. Bonus points if your cruise ship has a watersports platform for cooling off in the Mediterranean.

Booking a hotel before or after your Mediterranean cruise? Start your hotel search with us.

I hope these tips will help you survive a summer cruise in the Mediterranean. Don’t let the heat and crowds keep you from having fun.

How do you stay cool and avoid the crowds? Join the conversation at the My Itchy Travel Feet page on Facebook or send us an email to ask a question or share your experience.

Disclosure: I’ve included Amazon links to Drip Drop and my favorite sunscreen for your convenience. However My Itchy Travel Feet does make a small percentage of the sale at no cost to you. Thanks for keeping us in business!

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