Laying back on my sun bed with a view of the ocean and a Pina Colada in hand. Recovering from hiking the Rock of Gibraltar the day previously and looking forward to the next few days touring the vineyards of Provence and exploring the colourful Cinque Terre. I knew that travelling would never be the same for me again.
The mixture of luxury and relaxation combined with the adventure of waking up in a new and exciting destination each day is what makes cruising the ultimate travel experience. The preconceptions many people have that cruises are boring or just for the older generation couldn’t be further from the truth with so much to see and do both on board the ship and at each port of call.
Last month I boarded the Crown Princess for a 7 day Mediterranean Cruise with Princess Cruises. Here’s what I got up to…
Mediterranean cruise Day 1 – Barcelona
Day one of the trip involved an early flight from London Gatwick to Barcelona, then a transfer to the Port where. I first boarded the Crown Princess along with 7 other enthusiastic content creators. I had been on cruise ships before as a child, however as I approached the ship i was still totally blown away by it’s enormous size!
Boarding the ship was a lot like boarding a plane (except much quicker). With a check in desk where you present your passport and boarding pass. Security and even a luggage drop where helpful staff will take your suitcase to your room for you.
Travel Hack Tip:
Make sure you pack enough in your carry-on bag to be able to freshen up when you first board the ship as you’re likely to arrive in your room a little while before your suitcase does. If you’re heading straight back out into the city maybe pack some extra clothes and toiletries. Or if you’re spending time on the ship remember to pack your swimwear.
After quickly getting to see our staterooms and grabbing a bite from the buffet. We got back off the ship and headed out for an afternoon exploring Barcelona.
Starting at the Columbus Monument. We gradually made our way up La Rambla. The iconic pedestrianised boulevard full of busy market stalls, street performers and beautiful architecture. To reach the charming medieval streets of the Gothic Quarter. We ended our explorations in the Plaça Reial (Royal Square). Where we saw one of famous Catalan architect Gaudi’s first works in Barcelona, the Royal Square lanterns.
Full to bursting point from our delicious homemade catalan dinner. We headed back to the Crown Princess for our first sail-away. Which was appropriately accompanied by Ed Sheeran’s. Barcelona being played over the speakers on the upper decks.
Mediterranean cruise Day 2 – At Sea
After a much needed sleep to recoup from the busy day of travelling and exploring Barcelona. We started our first day at sea with a tour of the ship. Including the many public areas as well as a behind the scenes tour of the Bridge (control room). And the Galley (ship kitchen).
In the Bridge we were able to see the controls and navigation systems of the ship. While meeting some of the friendly crew members. It was fascinating to see the extremely high tech systems and learn how much training. And knowledge goes into being able to work in the Bridge of a ship. We also learnt that, contrary to popular belief. A cruise ship is not steered by a large steering wheel, but rather by two tiny little controls.
In the Galley, we met head chef Salvatore who took us on a tour of one of the ships two large kitchens. And introduced us to a few members of his impressive staff. Made up of 230 chefs and cooks. I’m not sure whether I’d personally want his job but it was certainly interesting to see both the organisation and passion which goes into producing so much quality food on a daily basis.
Having walked around most of the ship (which is quite a lot of walking considering the enormous size). It was time to spend the afternoon making the most of the sunny weather relaxing by the pool, before getting ready for the first formal night of the trip.
Formal evenings on a Mediterranean cruise
For me, the ship’s formal evenings were one of things I was looking forward to the most on the cruise as I rarely get the opportunity to get glammed up back at home or on my usual travels. It was lovely seeing the guys in their suits and the girls in their dresses and heels, sipping champagne in the grand central atrium.
There is a tradition on all of Princess Cruises’ ships. That the first formal night is welcomed in with a giant Champagne Waterfall in the atrium with the ships Director, a truly impressive sight! We then continued the night with a 3 course dinner in the Da Vinci main dining room. Followed by a performance of Encore in the 800 seat Princess Theatre. Encore was a sophisticated combination of pop, opera and musical theater. Accompanied by an impressive onstage orchestra, which really added an extra layer of elegance to the evening.
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