Spending a couple of days in Rome pre-cruise adds value and a great experience to your Mediterranean vacation.
Spending a few days in a port city prior to your cruise is a great way to add value to your vacation experience, especially if you must travel a great distance to board your ship.
I recommend arriving in Lisbon, Barcelona, Rome or Athens at least two or three days before your Mediterranean cruise is scheduled to begin. It will give you an opportunity to recover from jetlag but, more importantly, you will have an opportunity to experience one of the world’s great cities. It’s also an excellent way to leverage the cost of your airfare.
The same is true for vacationers planning a Baltic cruise departing from London, Amsterdam, Copenhagen or Stockholm. Unless the ship docks near the heart of the city and has a scheduled overnight stay there, you may not see much of the city. This situation is particularly true for cruisers who fly into the embarkation city the day the cruise begins and then fly home the day they disembark the ship at the end of the cruise.
Most cruise lines, including river cruise lines, offer pre- and post-land extensions to European cruise itineraries. Yet, creating a custom land package focused on what you want to see and do may represent a better value.
A few years ago, for example, I escorted a small cruise group to Australia for a Sydney-to-Auckland cruise that took us nowhere near the Great Barrier Reef. So, we flew into Cairns four days early to explore the wonders of Northeast Australia before beginning our 12-night cruise. Our experience on the Great Barrier Reef was a highlight of the trip.
You can do the same thing in South America with pre- or post-cruise (or both) land stays in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Buenos Aires, Argentina or Santiago, Chile.
Arriving in your cruise departure city a day early also is not a bad idea for domestic cruise departures, especially in the winter. You won’t have to worry about flight or weather delays that might cause you to miss your cruise. Furthermore, it might give you time to experience the sights and flavors of Boston, New York, Fort Lauderdale, New Orleans, San Francisco or Seattle before your cruise.