Alright, so this post is coming a couple of months late, but I really thought it was worth blogging about as I wanted to preserve the memory of my first ever experience on a cruise. It’s safe to say that I’ve never particularly felt a yearning to go on a cruise ship holiday. It just didn’t seem to operate in a way that’s conducive to how I like to go about my travels – on my own agenda, at my own pace and staying in locations for longer than a few hours.
Having now experienced my first cruise, one that took us around southern Europe, I’m still not the biggest fan of cruise holidays, but can see the appeal for certain types of travellers. Reasons for you to consider going on a cruise holiday might include:
- Lack of time coupled with the need to see multiple countries efficiently;
- Ability to bypass airplanes and airports;
- Not having to travel around countries whilst dragging a backpack / suitcase;
- Having to travel with companions that span multiple generations (say grandparents and kids); and
- Pre-viewing the highlights reel before going in and making a commitment to a particular destination.
As I wasn’t travelling solo on this trip, and wasn’t the main instigator, I just went along with the crowd. Whilst it isn’t something I’d likely do again given the choice, it was a good experience to do once and I did come back with some good memories.
Our 7 day itinerary went as follows…
- Piraeus to Santorini
- Santorini to Kotor
- Kotor to Messina
- Messina to Naples
- Naples to Barcelona
…except that extremely bad weather conditions meant we couldn’t dock at Messina (Sicily) and instead went straight to Naples from Kotor. This was a huge shame for me as I have always wanted to go to Sicily and this would’ve been a great opportunity to scope Messina out.
This was definitely my favourite stopover. Another destination I’ve always wanted to visit, I’m glad I’ve now had the chance to do so. The 5 hours we had here was nowhere near enough and I’ll definitely be back.
We were really unlucky with Kotor. There was a lot of road works along our bus route as we were touring Kotor, which led to unpredicted traffic jams and not having the time to actually check out the Kotor port and old town. Thankfully, I had already visited Kotor a number of years back, but it was a huge shame as I’d have been pleased to see how much has changed and developed.
More bad luck meant skipping Sicily and heading straight for Naples. I’ve never been to Naples, so again, this was another destination that I was eager to see. We landed earlier than planned, so we had an extra night to check out the night life…though there really wasn’t much to see near the harbour!
We had signed up for a tour along the Amalfi Coast the following day which I was super excited about. The drive was long (about 4 hours one-way I think!) but it was well worth it. We stopped by the coastal town of Sorrento along the way for lunch and lemon-flavoured goodies. The Amalfi Coast was another place I made a mental note of to return to, as again, a couple of stolen hours here and there really doesn’t give it the time it deserves! If you’re planning to visit with your own car, I’d highly recommend against it as the roads are treacherously narrow, windy and filled with tour buses!
Check-out at Barcelona
Our final destination was Barcelona. I didn’t have the time to explore the city though, due to the time at which we finally disembarked and when I had to catch my flight back to London.
All in all, even though it wasn’t my idea of a “great” holiday, it was really the companionship and time spent with my fellow merry-makers that I was there for, so it was a priceless trip in that respect! Would I go again, on my own? Definitely not, but it’s at least given me some good ideas of places to add to my bucket list!
Have you ever been on a cruise? Who did you go with and did you enjoy it?