I went on my first Mediterranean cruise and made one mistake I still regret a year later

    Business Insider’s travel reporter took her first European cruise through the Mediterranean Sea.

    Joey Hadden/Business Insider

    I embarked on my first European cruise through the Mediterranean Sea in July 2023.Looking back, I wish I had booked more time on the continent before or after my voyage.An extended trip would have given me more time to explore, making the long flights worth it.

    “What are you doing tomorrow?” A fellow passenger asked me on the last night of my first European cruise.

    I was on a seven-day Mediterranean cruise on the luxury, adults-only Virgin Voyages cruise line. Starting and ending in Barcelona, I sailed to ports in Italy, France, and Spain last summer.

    “Flying home,” I replied.

    My fellow cruisers told me they’d be in Barcelona for a few more days to explore. Immediately, I realized what a mistake I made, especially as it was my first time visiting Spain.

    While it never seemed like a must to extend my Caribbean cruise to spend more time sunbathing on additional beaches, I recognized that flying to Europe from the US and not leaving time on either end of the cruise to see more of it was a missed opportunity.

    I wish I had more time in Europe, and if I ever find myself on a Mediterranean cruise again, here’s why I’ll be sure to plan things differently.

    The author on a Virgin Voyages cruise.

    Joey Hadden/Business Insider

    I didn’t have enough time to explore destinations

    Although I’d never departed from an international port, the Mediterranean cruise wasn’t my first journey at sea.

    In the past, I cruised on one other sailing in the Caribbean, which left out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

    One thing I realized I love — and hate — about cruises from that experience is that port stops give me just a short preview of each destination. At every stop, I was allotted only a few short hours to explore, sometimes just a half day, and was left longing for more time.

    This was especially true in Barcelona, where I boarded and disembarked my Mediterranean cruise.

    I flew in the night before my voyage and went straight to the cruise terminal the next day. When we returned, I headed to the airport as soon as I got off the ship. I had no extra time to sightsee in the city I had never visited before or anywhere else in the surrounding area, like Madrid or Montserrat Mountain, where I’ve always wanted to go.

    Once I was on the cruise ship overlooking the city from my balcony, I saw a wide view of the landscape and was mesmerized by the architecture. I longed to see the historic buildings up close.

    “Next time,” I thought.

    The author’s view of Barcelona from her balcony.

    Joey Hadden/Business Insider

    An extended stay would make flying a long distance feel more worthwhile — and it’s better for the planet

    I took a seven-hour red-eye flight to Barcelona from New York. The return trip was even longer, with a layover.

    Long-haul flights are taxing for me. I struggle with motion sickness and sitting still for long periods. Additionally, flying can cause dehydration, a flight attendant previously told Business Insider.

    To me, more time in Europe would have made the long, difficult flight more worthwhile.

    The author, exhausted, after a red-eye flight to Barcelona.

    Joey Hadden/Business Insider

    A longer stay also may have made my trip more sustainable. Flights made up 8% of transportation carbon emissions in 2021, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.

    And because of transportation carbon emissions, sustainable travel experts previously told BI that taking fewer, longer trips is better for the environment than shorter, more frequent trips.

    In 2023, I went to Europe twice. Combining those trips would have been more sustainable since I would have taken fewer flights.

    If I could do it all again, I’d book a few extra vacation days in Barcelona to explore the European city on the front or back end of the cruise — or better yet, both.

    Read the original article on Business Insider


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