Onboard Regent Seven Seas’ Voyager’s repositioning cruise, from Istanbul to Egypt’s Safaga, our 14-day itinerary factors in just one day at sea (a transit of the Suez Canal). I’m definitely thinking we are going to have to pace ourselves.
Every passenger gets a precruise stay in Istanbul. Istanbul’s a bucket list place, let’s be clear, so frantic sightseeing ensued. After that, we headed off to Turkey’s Kusadasi and Antalya, Greece’s Rhodes, and Cyprus’ Limassol. Up next? Calls at Israel’s Haifa and two days in Ashdod (for Jerusalem and the Dead Sea), visits to Egypt’s Alexandria, Cairo and Sharm el Sheikh, and a call at Jordan’s Aqaba (for Petra).
This cruise is definitely about serious sightseeing.
But how much is too much? On Regent Seven Seas’ Voyager shore excursions are included in cruise fares, so the temptation to take a tour every day is both psychological (if it’s free you should take advantage of it) and touristic (how many times do you get to visit the excavated city of Turkey’s Ephesus or slip a prayerful note into Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall?). Fellow passengers, before we even got to Israel, were already talking about fatigue of dusty ruins and dry history lecturers.
But regardless of whether your tours are part of the package or priced a’la carte, the same challenge applies to other destination-heavy regions, where ports are close together and days at sea are relatively limited. I’m thinking of the Baltic, with its string of urban ports and many variations of the Mediterranean, with its temptations of art, history and culture. Even in the Caribbean, a steady stream of beach-of-the-day stops can get tiring.
On this trip I made the relatively easy decision to go full steam in Istanbul, and take it easy until the Israel/Egypt/Jordan part of the itinerary. Well-traveled fellow passenger (and Cruise Critic member) Bill SF offered me some advice. “Pick a day or two with ports that aren’t as important to see — and explore independently or even stay on board. And vary your tour times. We tend to choose shorter tours or those that leave later in the morning so you’re not constantly rushing.”
Great tips, and I’m following them. And I’m wondering: On any intense itinerary, what’s your strategy? Do you treat your ports of call as a once in a lifetime itinerary? Do you ever stay onboard, even while in port? Leave your comments below.
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