Though megaships/cities at sea have been grabbing all the headlines recently, cruises come in all sizes and shapes. I have written about my passion for smaller ships but I need to elaborate further.
My passion is for “slow cruising”. On a slow cruise (not about speed, think slow food) the focus is on the ports and sites, not on shipboard life. Life on board is very comfortable but no glitz.
I just disembarked from a 12 day cruise on one of the ships that does “Slow” very well. I was invited to join a Voyages to Antiquity cruise this past month from Athens to Rome, via Sicily. The ship was the 350 passenger M/V Aegean Odyssey.
Would you like it? Here is what this cruise did not have:
- No floor shows
- No casino
- No art sales
- No gold sales
- No Ben and Jerry’s (but plenty of free gelato)
- No ties for men (my husband bought one to wear when invited to dine with the Captain and even that was unnecessary)
And here is what this cruise did have:
- Lectures on sites you will be seeing and the history behind them. I know lectures are a deadly word for vacations, so consider them more like Discovery Channel specials.
- One lecturer on Byzantine mosaics compared the ones we would be seeing to the most recent Dolce and Gabbana collection-my kind of visual. Another lecture on the Uffizi mentioned the The Tribuna of the Uffizi (1772–1778) by Johann Zoffany. An interesting painting, but more so when we learned many of those portrayed were “outed” by their positioning in this 18th century portrait. That’s another article.
- Itineraries with maximum time on shore and at sea days only when necessitated by distances
- Casual dinners on deck every night with full menus as served in the more formal restaurant
- Crew that know your name and are not obsequious
- No butlers (is anyone really comfortable with them? My American is showing.)
- Many options for independent explorations of ports since guests on this type of cruise have often been to most before and do not want to join the free included group excursions.
- Very comfortable and well-designed cabins. I would opt for one in the balcony class. Very spacious and one of the larger bathrooms I have seen at sea—with a large bathtub!
- No queues to disembark at ports.
- Group excursions that were meticulously planned with the best guides. I have done St. Peter’s many times before, but never in such depth and with such finesse of the crowds on a crowded Saturday in July. Kudos to this guide who I want to use any time I am in Rome.
- Very accessible staff. At meals on excursions and always around. Not just listed office hours.
During my past life, in non-profit travel, this is the type of cruising our clients loved and still do. There are many options and my alma mater Smithsonian Journeys does slow cruising so very well. (Unsolicited plug). Smithsonian Journeys will be onboard with Voyages to Antiquity four times this coming year. Other non-profit groups are also onboard and all blend with independent travelers into one compatible whole. There are other cruise lines that also do “slow cruising” well, but you have to search through the mass of cruise marketing to find them. I am sailing on several in the coming year so check back here.
Cruising is not one size fits all and if your travel passions lean more to content, sites and itinerary, look closely and you will find a perfect fit.
My tan is fading, and I am still wading through my pictures, but here is a taste below. Don’t pack your high heels or ties and climb onboard.
Disclosure: I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a free trip courtesy of Voyages to Antiquity for review purposes. The opinions, photos, and videos are completely my own based on my experience.