Updated: Aug 28
Last summer we were lucky enough to cruise the Mediterranean for 12 days with Royal Caribbean, Vision of the Seas. We went to Spain, France, Italy, Greece, and Malta and checked 4 countries off our bucket list. My biggest recommendation is to eat gelato every day.
One thing we read was that pickpocketing was bad in the touristy areas, so I went on Amazon and ordered an anti-theft purse by Travelon. There are so many to choose from but here is the link to mine. This purse has RFID so it protects your credit/debit card information from being stolen and used, is slash and cut resistant, and has a locking clasp/zipper to prevent anyone from opening the zipper. I felt really safe using this purse and it came just under my arm where I could hold it under my arm and in front of me as well to keep an eye on it at all times.
Below are my recommendations on what to see in each port if you take a similar cruise.
We landed in Barcelona the day before our cruise left, so we didn't have much time there. We were able to see La Boqueria which is their outside meat, cheese, and everything else market. We enjoyed a tasty cheese and meat cup and looked at all the goodies before getting pizza at a nearby restaurant. The streets are busy in Barcelona and the shops are all great to look at so we had fun walking around the city and enjoying the architecture. We enjoyed breakfast at a local shop in the morning before leaving for our cruise. I wish I had a picture of the bakery but their window displays are to die for and make you salivate.
Cannes is an adorable town. We decided to see the French Riviera via catamaran and enjoyed a day on the water to swim in the crystal clear Mediterranean sea. We cruised with Riveria Lines and did their full day Rivage Crosier Catamaran trip which was 7 hours and $139 euros. This included lunch and plenty of time to swim and enjoy the sunshine (we were there in July).
After our tour ended, we enjoyed walking the streets of Cannes and enjoyed getting lost in the shops. The streets felt like they went on forever and mazed back and forth.
La Spezia/Cinque Terre, Italy
We were so excited that our ship stopped in La Spezia. Many people took tours to Florence, but we enjoyed the UNESCO World Heritage site of Cinque Terre instead. We opted for a DIY tour and walked from the ship (about 10 minutes) to the train station. At first, we had no idea how to buy our train ticket as everything was in Italian but then found out that there is a visitor center right at the train station where you can purchase your Cinque Terre ticket for $16 euros and start your journey to the 5 towns. They provided us a map and told us to NOT get on a regional train. This is super important information to remember, as we hopped on the wrong train at one point that skipped all the towns and took us right back to La Spezia where we had to start our train adventure again!!
The weather was really bad the day we were there with lightning, thunder and a ton of rain, so, unfortunately, we only saw 3 of the 5 towns. I would recommend going to the farthest town of Monterosso and working your way back to Riomaggiore. Also, don't forget to stop for a delicious meal and purchase some pesto which is known to that region!
We were in Rome in the middle of July when it was 102 degrees Fahrenheit with humidity. Many cruise passengers referred to Rome as the "death march" because most of the tours involved walking around the city. Some cruise passengers vomited due to the heat and had to take a taxi back to the port early due to being sick. We opted for the cruise excursion via a bus that dropped us off at St. Peter's Square and allowed 4 hours on our own to see Rome. This was nowhere near enough time to see Rome but the cruise docks 1.5 hours away from Rome so your travel time is 3 hours (without traffic). If you can, I recommend a tour via train to get into Rome as quickly as possible. DO NOT take the train yourself as the train can run late and the cruise will not wait for you if you didn't book the train via the cruise ship. I recommend drinking Gatorade or Powerade for electrolytes if you go in the summer. We made it back at the end of the day hydrated and feeling great but others were not so lucky.
Once we were in Rome, we opted for the Hop on Hop off Bus that took us to the main sites. We saw the Colosseum from the outside and then got off the bus to see the Pantheon and The Trevi Fountain. We did not have enough time to tour any of the sites or go inside them, just see them, take a photo and run to the next place. We left enough time for an Italian lunch and then had to run back to St. Peter's Square to meet our bus again.
We had lunch at Er Faciolaro Ristorante by the Trevi Fountain. I had the Cacio e Pepe which is pasta, olive oil, Parmesan and pepper. It's simple and absolutely delicious. My husband had the Quarto Formaggio pizza. **Don't forget to find gelato. Any place is amazing**