After years and years of contemplating taking a cruise holiday or not, last month I finally did it. My first cruise was a fact and I sailed from Barcelona to Rome on the Mediterranean Sea with Princess Cruises. In this blog I will give you an inside in all the activities I did on my trip and give you the best Mediterranean cruise excursions tips.
Cruise around the Med
The trip came kind of unexpected because if you asked me before where I would love to take a cruise then I would answer: Caribbean or South Pacific. Nonetheless I was extremely happy to finally board one of those ships I’d always been dreaming of. When I heard I was doing a luxury Mediterranean cruise on the Crown Princess (one of the biggest cruise ships in the world) I was even happier.
The Gibraltar Rock shot from Crown Princess when leaving just before sunset.
Enjoying the view over the laid-back riverside in Pisa, Italy.
Check-in to Crown Princess in Barcelona
If you have read my first time cruise tips blog you know I came very unprepared and only arrived very early in the morning on the day of embarkation. There was hardly any time to check out the tourist spots in Barcelona. I flew into Barcelona airport and of course had to buy a sim card for traveling in Europe first as I just came from a Vietnam trip. Then I also realized I forgot all of my chargers, batteries and powerbanks in Holland, essential things to bring on a cruise! So before I could check into the Crown Princess I had to go shopping.
A couple hours later I finally stood in front this big ship. I had no clue what to expect. Zero expectations is the best because people with expectations are those that get disappointed! So when I arrived at check-in to my surprise the whole process went extremely smooth and I would say within less than 10 minutes I was on board the ship. I expected it to be like taking a flight, waiting, waiting and waiting. But just a quick passport control, baggage drop and a security check and it was a done deal!
On your Mediterranean cruise Im sure you want to visit some pristine Italian coastal villages.
I got my cruise card and learned that this was all I needed for the rest of the week. No wallet, no cash money, no passport just a cruise card aka room key. But what if I lose this thing? Because you know I tend to forget or lose everything…
Anyway I can tell you for one week long I did not lose my cruise card a single time! :)
When I got to my balcony room I plunged on the bed and was ready for the adventure! Let the cruise begin…
For more tips about taking a western Mediterranean cruise have a look at this link.
Itinerary western Mediterranean cruise
The Crown Princess was taking us from Barcelona down south to Gibraltar and then via Marseille along the Italian coast towards Rome. A total of 3,050 kilometers or 1917 miles.
Tips for Mediterranean cruise excursions
Every port of call on this cruise had something different to offer and that is one of the reasons I really loved doing a Mediterranean cruise. There were many excursions to choose from, but I picked out the best ones for you. Here are my tips.
1. Cooking Class Barcelona
Haha who would ever think I would choose a cooking class. No one! Adventure travel is my thing so I would most probably go rock climbing, but wait. Since I was traveling in a group I confirmed to what most people wanted and I ended up learning how to make Paella. Coincidentally it was my birthday and looking back at this excursion I could not have wished for a better birthday present. This cooking class excursion in Barcelona was all about teamwork and with 10 people we prepared a massive paella. Honestly I was never a big fan of paella, but after this cooking class on my Mediterranean cruise I am! Wow that thing tasted delicious and although I only chopped the veggies and did some steering I was proud of my creation. It was not only about learning how to make Paella, we also made Sangria and Crema Catalana.
It was the best way to get to know everyone in the group and the warm hearted lovely ladies running The Foodie Experience Barcelona made this is a wonderful excursion.
See here the full video of my excursion in Barcelona.
2. Hiking in Gibraltar
When on a cruise in the Mediterranean hiking would probably not be the first thing that comes up in your mind. But why not? The port of Gibraltar is the perfect stop to be active and it is just a short walk. This British Overseas Territory is famous for its Gibraltar Rock and from a distance you will understand why. The flat landscape stands in huge contrast with the rock formation around which Gibraltar is built. The hike to the top from the city center is a pretty though one, but I will give you an insider tip to skip the boring part. Get a taxi up to the Mediterranean Steps and start your hike from there. From this point there are definitely some steep sections and a bunch of stairs, but it is doable. The views all around are unbelievable even in cloudy weather. We were a bit unlucky, but on a clear day the views reach all the way to the African north shore.
Up on top of the hill you will get up close and personal with some of the most cheeky monkeys I have ever encountered. Be careful they have no mercy. Once on the top you can walk to other peaks on an easy path. There are some lookouts and there is a cable car also. It is about $15 one-way!
Hiking in Gibraltar was a great excursion and the day after this trip we had a cruise day out on the Mediterranean Sea so we could recover in the Sanctuary on board the Crown Princess.
See here the full video of my excursion in Gibraltar.
3. Wine tasting tour in Provence
Active excursion tips for your med cruise have to be combined with some laid back tours, so what about a wine tasting in the Provence? When Marseille is part of your 7-day Mediterranean cruise then you are going to love this excursion tip. The Provence wine region is just 30 minutes drive from the port and many charming French villages can be visited. On our wine tour we visited 3 different wineries in the region. We got a little tour at each winery, but best of all we got to taste all their signature wines and roses. After two wineries we strolled through the very lovely little village of La Cadiere d’Azur and had lunch at the Michelin starred gourmet restaurant Hotel Berard. A little tipsy but after a great day out in a quiet environment we returned back to the ship to continue our cruise around the Med.
See here the full video of my excursion in the Provence.
4. Visit Cinque Terre
As an avid Instagrammer Cinque Terre was on my list for many years. A couple unreal Italian coastal towns tucked away in the steep Mediterranean coastline of Italy. From Genoa it is about 1,5 hours drive, but totally worth it. The colorful houses of these fisherman villages are extremely photogenic and attract big crowds nowadays.
Be prepared that this is a super touristy place in summer, but even then it is stunning. Cinque means 5 in Italian and in and between 20 kilometers there are 5 cute villages. You can hike in and between the villages, which is the best way to escape the crowds. You can also take a boat or the train. Train tickets are €16 per day and you can travel in and between the villages as much as you like. Boat trips start from €20. There are many restaurants with great Italian food in Cinque Terre.
Going for a little hike uphill gets you the best views and you will get the place for yourself!
5. Segway Tour Pisa
A completely different way of seeing a city is on a segway. I am sure a lot of you are not keen on standing on one of those moving things, but wait. A Segway is the easiest thing ever! I thought it would be much harder myself, but if you can walk, you can segway. Trust me! Yes you will hardly burn any calories but you get to see way more of the city.
Pisa was an amazing city to try this for the first time. Your Med cruise will probably stop in Livorno which is only 30 minutes away from the city of the Leaning Tower. Of course you will also pass by this incredible tourist spot in Italy and I was blown away how stunning it was, but Pisa is more than just the Leaning Tower. A Pisa Segway tour is not a standard Mediterranean excursion tip, but honestly I would recommend it on your Med cruise.
By the way you can easily park your Segway everywhere you want to take photos.
6. Cruise ship tour
For this Mediterranean cruise excursion you don’t even need to leave the ship. One of the things I really enjoyed on my first cruise was a tour of the ship. We got to speak to the Captains team up on the bridge. Here we were explained in detail how the ship is being navigated across the ocean.
Apart from that we got a tour through the kitchen, met de captain personally and heard more insider stories about the life behind the scenes on a cruise. Especially because it was my first cruise I adored this cruise ship tour.
All these fabulous activities on my cruise around the western Mediterranean were arranged through Princess Cruises. They made this a wonderful trip. Have a look at the Princess Cruises website for great deals for cruising in the Med.
Thanks for keeping up with the adventures of Traveltomtom.