I recently returned from taking my first cruise since the early 80’s and only the second cruise I’ve EVER taken! Now I know what everyone is talking about. Cruising has come a long way….
I sailed on one of the top Mediterranean cruise ships, Celebrity Cruises, for 12 nights, roundtrip from Barcelona visiting Rome, Naples, Athens, Mykonos, Kusadasi (Ephesus), Santorini and Malta. What a way to see a diverse mix of Europe. I had only visited Rome previously, so most of the ports of call were new to me.
As for the cruise line itself, Celebrity was fabulous! I had a semi-obstructed oceanview veranda stateroom on the Celebrity Solstice, which has to be one of the best cruise ships. The obstruction was minimal and it was wonderful looking out at the ocean from my huge bed. My room was very comfy and had a couch, flat screen TV and a nice size bathroom. The staff treated me like I was a “celebrity”. It felt like they knew me wherever I was, dining, spa etc… (I do tend to leave an impression!) My friends had made me a bit nervous about all the food and the possibility for weight gain on a cruise but that was not the case. The cuisine in the main dining room was delicious. Here the staff learned my preferences. They knew I love sangria and would make it for me nightly (or as requested). An extra cost but well worth it! I did opt to dine in three of the ship's specialty restaurants: Bistro on 5, Tuscan Grill and Murano – each was delicious. I think the place one could over-indulge would be at the buffets. The breakfast spread was massive but who has time to eat when you’re in a new port and places to go and people to meet.
At the Aqua Spa I had my first hot stone massage and now I know what everyone is talking about – OMG! I also enjoyed a seaweed wrap/massage and due to a sciatica problem and some leg pain I had an acupuncture treatment. The treatment was a bit pricey, but when you’re in pain and on the trip of a lifetime, who wants to stay in bed in agony. Luckily, I purchased travel insurance which covered this treatment plus the visit to the doctor. Apparently, the story goes the owner of Celebrity Cruises had sciatic pain while on a trip and had to stop to see an acupuncturist while in port. He got so much relief that now Celebrity has staff acupuncturists on their ships. Yay for me!
I enjoyed all the ports I visited and tried a variety of touring options, from on my own (with friends), train, car rental, private tour and a ship’s shore excursion. For me personally, I preferred the on own or private tour options. I like to explore in smaller groups. But I will say if one opts for a shore excursion, they are very easy to book while onboard and conveniently added to your tab at the end of the cruise.
Of all the ports, I must make special mention of Santorini. You must make your way to Oia. I have never felt such a warm inner peace as standing in this picture postcard perfect town and looking out onto the ocean as I did here. This is a gorgeous location for honeymooners or a destination wedding.