Luxury Cruises: Have you ever cruised into a prime port, spent a hurried day in frantic exploration, and only hours later stood on the ship's deck as it pulled from the dock — already longing to return to really see the destination?
If your answer is "yes," as mine invariably is, have you revisited? Perhaps.
But more than likely, not.
Well, no more. I recently discovered Royal Caribbean's Cruisetours — billed as an addendum "designed to make a vacation for clients a complete vacation." Offered in conjunction with cruises in Alaska, South America, Asia, Australia/New Zealand and Europe, it's a pre- or post- multi-day escorted land segment that will immerse you into the land and its lore.
It's simply the best way to minimize the hassles and maximize being there.
I speak from experience. Prior to a Mediterranean sailing from Rome, I opted for the Cruisetour — it commenced in Venice (2 nights), continued to Florence (1 night) and concluded in Rome (2 nights).
Highlights: A professor of art's lecture on the work of Michelangelo at the base of sculptor's famous statue of David in Florence's Accademia Gallery; an insider's visit to the Vatican and Sistine Chapel, again guided by an historian insider (additional perk: we were ushered to the front of the admission line that wrapped around the perimeter of Vatican City) and a private dinner in the cellar of a Tuscan winery after a personal vineyard tour.
The best part: I didn't deal with luggage (my eternal Achilles travel heel); I made no hotel arrangements (they were pre-made, prepaid, upscale and centrally located); local transportation, transfers, city tours, some meals and tickets to famous sites were handled (as were VIP admissions); tips were included; free time was ample and an escort (and acting concierge when requested) was ever-present.
Tempted? For information on Cruisetours, go to www.royalcaribbean.com (also available on Royal Caribbean's sister lines, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises). See all hotels in the Mediterranean.