How to make good choices while cruising the Mediterranean

On a tender from our ship to Saint-Tropez on a humid August Saturday, the Australian lady next to me seemed nice. We chatted and laughed and when the tender reached the French Riviera shore, we cheerily parted ways.

Later, in the steamy, crowded confines of the glamorous town's famous flea market, she and her husband passed by me.

"I bloody hate markets," I overheard the woman hiss angrily, attempting speed in an aisle full of dawdling looky-loos, her husband trailing miserably behind.

The Dalai Lama once said that personal happiness comes from our own actions. But you don't need to be a sage to know that if you don't like markets, going to one is going to make you miserable.

Herein lies the key to enjoying a Mediterranean cruise. This goes for any holiday, really, but on a Mediterranean cruise it's crucial: make good choices.

Simple, right? Well, maybe not so.

With a plethora of iconic ports along the way, the temptation is to attack with list-ticking proficiency: Ibiza, tick, Portofino, tick, Saint-Tropez and its bloody market, tick, giving no thought as to interest in or suitability of ports and experiences.

On this cruise aboard Oceania's Riviera, there was also an extensive excursion menu, which may have proved confusing for those operating from an emotional base of FOMO (fear of missing out) and with a targeted outcome of simply being able to go home and say, "Been there, done that".

Blessedly, most of my fellow passengers had worked out a perfect approach that worked for them.


There were those who enthusiastically did all the "iconic" experiences in every port, and there's nothing wrong with that – unlike my Australian friend, it seemed to make them happy. There were those who, like me, chose off-the-beaten track excursions. I also chose to not go ashore twice: one port I don't like and another, I had read, wasn't currently fond of cruise passengers. I stayed on the ship and enjoyed its marvellous hospitality.

And then there was the English couple I met over coffee one morning around half-way through the cruise, who had not been ashore and didn't intend to. At all. And that made them blissfully content.

For the record, I loved Saint-Tropez's bloody market – it made me very happy indeed.

Julietta Jameson travelled as a guest of Oceania Cruises. See