How much did each ship tailor activities to its ports of call? This can be an area with wide differences among the cruise lines — whether or not shipboard activities reflect the variety of cultures, history and cuisine of the itinerary’s stops. It’s all a matter of company philosophy about how much it wants to bring the local life onboard. Carnival executives say they want to provide a seamless experience so that guests have a virtually identical experience wherever the ship is sailing. Both Celebrity and Oceania feel differently, striving to bring the shoreside and onboard experiences together to a greater degree.
All three presented talks that gave some info about upcoming ports:
Carnival Breeze: Carnival’s was mostly a shore excursion/shopping talk.
Celebrity Solstice: Celebrity offered lectures about varying aspects of the places to be visited, such as a talk on the architecture of Barcelona, highlighting Gaudi’s work; or about less-visited spots that one could get to in Rome.
Oceania Riviera: On cruises that stop in Venice, for example, the ship has a hands-on art session where guests can make their own Venetian masks. The outstanding Bon Appetit Culinary Center features classes focused on the cuisine of the region being visited. The Grand Dining Room and Terrace Café feature the culinary highlights and local signature dishes for that country.
THE FINAL WORD
So, three ships and similar itineraries. Different size ships and different on-board lifestyles. It’s your choice. Price is a big factor, and so is the question of what you want to pay for. How important is the size of your stateroom? Do you want gourmet cuisine or are you happy with chain-restaurant fare? What kind of pool and sports facilities do you expect?
All three lines — as well as most of the other lines — have multiple ships in the Med next year, offering itinerary lengths and port calls to satisfy, hopefully, everyone.
A previous version of this article should have said that the $5,499 per person cost of a cruise on Oceania’s Riviera includes airfare. The article also listed the wrong capacity for the ship and misstated the name of The Grand Dining Room.