Who to cruise with: Princess Cruises
Prices: Start from £849
Best time for Mediterranean Cruises: Between April and October (I went in September!)
Is there childcare onboard? Yes! / Avoiding kids? Avoid school holidays and you’ll be grand
Ahoy matey! Get your sea legs ready because you are about to embark with me on my Princess Mediterranean Cruises 7-day 4 port adventure from Barcelona to Rome. The Princess Cruises cruise ship will take you on a whirlwind journey through the most beautiful, romantic, jaw-dropping destinations, on a ship which is simply out of this world. It’s like visiting a whole new country that floats!
Do you need a little persuasion to step onboard?
Within one week, I made paella in a tiny apartment in Barcelona with two Spanish sisters. I made it to the top of Gibraltar rock hiking through an army of monkeys! I sipped exquisite wine in the vineyards of Provence, soaked up the fresh sea air in the villages of Cinque Terre and finally saw the Leaning Tower of Pisa with my own eyes (it’s even better than you think it is!).
With such a jam-packed schedule, you might worry you’re going to flake out, but on this vessel, you’ll be one pampered princess. I woke up feeling restored and recharged every morning. How? I made the most of all the amazing Princess Cruises food, facilities and guest services.
I didn’t have to suffer through any crazy flights or bus rides to get from one country to the next. I also only had to unpack and pack once in a week. Now that’s glorious!
Here’s my ultimate 7-day Mediterranean cruises trip – with suggested shore excursions to try each day according to your mood and travel style. Want to chill out, experience adventure, soak up the culture or indulge in some shopping? Everything is covered below!
Who to cruise with: Princess Cruises
Prices: Start from £849
Best time for Mediterranean Cruises: Between April and October (I went in September!)
Is there childcare onboard? Yes! / Avoiding kids? Avoid school holidays and you’ll be grand
Smart Casual dress onboard / All aboard at 9pm / Departure at 10pm
Before the Princess ship sets sail in the late evening, why not experience Barcelona Spain? I recommend flying in a couple of days before, so you can make the most of what this beautiful capital has to offer.
The big question is, what are you going to do?
Princess Cruises offer plenty of tours and activities in each city you visit which can be booked in advance.
You are however completely free to book your own experiences too, and this is what me and my buddies decided to do!
I arrived in Barcelona the same day as the ship was departing and had 4 hours that I absolutely wanted to make the most of. I wanted to be a part of something truly local, authentic, memorable and unique. We checked in onboard, skipped the siesta, grabbed our cameras and headed straight for Plaça Reial in the Gothic Quarter of old Barcelona.
You’ll find yourself standing in front of an ornate fountain, surrounded by glowing yellow architecture, swaying palm trees and the energising hubbub of locals grazing on tapas and sipping coffee.
And then…. down an unassuming cobbled narrow street connected to the square, through a small wooden door, up a winding staircase and into a bright and adorable apartment… await two very lovely Spanish sisters ready to show you how to really cook Spanish food.
I love cooking! Nothing brings people together like cutting veg, grinding spices, bubbling concoctions and drinking fine local sangria. Angels and Carmen are the two beautiful ladies behind the wonderful Foodie Experience Cooking Class. With their true passion and glowing energy, they’ll teach you the local secrets that go into each delicious bite of the Spanish and Catalan dishes you dream of.
You’ll be walking out of their apartment with a belly full of hearty Spanish omelette, tongue-tingling tomato bread, warming Spanish seafood paella and traditional Catalan cream desert.
Their jugs of fresh fruity Sangria are out of this world too! Slow down, enjoy the moment, make the most of your authentic connection with these women and awaken your taste buds.
Are cooking classes not your thing?
If you want to chill out I recommend exploring Gaudí and taking a walk around Park Güell. For an adventure, see the city by bicycle and if you want to shop, find something trendy and independent by heading to the upcoming spontaneous El Raval neighbourhood.
Stepping onto a Princess Cruises ship is like stepping into a new country where everyone is extremely happy to see you. This is a floating community where people are warm, supportive, patient and ensure that you are very much taken care of.
The service is impeccable. The delivery is perfectly personable.
When I arrived in my room, I was warmly welcomed by my stateroom stewardess. She explained that she would be taking care of me for the week, asked if I needed anything and persuaded me that chocolates on my pillow every night was a good idea. I resisted at first, but she was right. Those chocolates were goddamn good.
Top Tip: Make sure you book a room with a balcony! The views make this trip. Don’t miss out.
For every 2 guests that are on the ship, there is 1 member of staff. That’s a whole lot of staff and dedicated care and attention. If I was lost, needed a beef and mustard sandwich and a pot of tea at 2am or a luxurious glass of whisky on the rocks in the evening, Princess Cruises staff were there for me. It’s the best service I have received anywhere on my travels. These guys know how to make luxury Mediterranean cruises perfect. Pure excellence.
The Crown Princess holds 3000 guests, and has 15 floors, so at first, if this if your first ever cruise, you might be feeling overwhelmed! Don’t be.
Staff will help you find your way. Tomorrow is a day that we are at sea all day, which is the perfect time to find your feet and truly start to understand what is on offer!
I recommend you grab some dinner at the top-of-the-ship buffet, enjoy the sail away party on the top deck, and start to mingle with the other guests on board.
Formal wear onboard in the evening for formal night
You are going to wake up feeling like a champion. Your Princess cruise to Mediterranean destinations has the best bed I have ever slept in. The sun will be gently shining and if you pre-ordered your breakfast last night, you will be having that delivered straight to your room too.
Running a fascinating world on waves understandably takes stunning amounts of manpower, organisation, expertise and enthusiasm. You can guess what is going on – but seeing it for yourself behind the scenes is a real treat!
I opted to take the Princess Cruises Ship Tour and gained a fascinating insight into how everyone flawlessly keeps everything together. The two highlights of the tour for me were the Bridge and Kitchen.
There are many exciting gadgets, gizmos, flashing lights and important-looking buttons in here that look like something out of Austin Powers’ Headquarters. For any nautical and tech geek, it’s a dream come true to step into the Bridge and meet the captain and Princess Cruises crew.
You’ll be able to see right out to sea, analyse the coordinates you’re following, try on a crew hat for size and most of all, lay your eyes on the ship’s steering wheel! ‘I really wanted a cool pirate-looking Facebook profile picture with a big wooden steering wheel’ admits Officer James. ‘But in reality, this is it…’
Yep. James is right. Can you find the steering wheel in the photo below?
Psst…it’s the one on the bottom right.
Meanwhile, cooking up a storm a couple of decks down, is the Italian Executive Sous Chef Salvatore Pittella. ‘I have 230 chefs in my team’ he says as he walks us through the endless twists and turns of his kitchen.
‘We use 6000 eggs a day, 700kg of flour, serve 160kg of ice cream and take 20 seconds to plate one dish’.
The grand scale of such a streamlined process is mesmerising. If you go to meet Pittella yourself, tell him to show you the magic bread machine. It’s gonna blow your mind.
It’s a common misconception that you are going to feel claustrophobic and overwhelmed with other guests when you’re on a cruise ship. That is simply not the case. With the Crown Princess being so large, you could swing many cats around here and not bother anyone. The variety of events and activities are very varied – so you are bound to find your tribe if you go looking for it in the afternoon.
So many! You can listen to the piano player in the main piazza whilst sipping on a cocktail, watch a movie Under the Stars, play in the casino, read in the library or work out in the Lotus Spa Fitness Centre. You can take part in Treasure Hunts, learn how to dance, sing karaoke, play bingo or buy some fine art at the auctions. There’s LGBT meetups, jewellery shopping with raffles and free champagne, a basketball court, ping pong tournaments, mini golf and an entire theatre to see shows.
Many of you asked me on my Instagram Stories about facilities for your children! Princess Cruises is one of the best Mediterranean cruises for families. They have youth centres and teen lounges to keep the younger ones happy, entertained and stimulated all day.
Princess Cruises encourage you to experience some extra glitz and glamour in your life by enjoying their formal nights. It is a chance for you to dress up, enjoy a nice dinner and attend some great evening activities. There are two formal nights on Princess’ Mediterranean cruises from Barcelona.
First and foremost, do not panic! I’m usually hiking in the mountains and riding on motorbikes, so sequin dresses aren’t exactly always in my bag.
For the men, I recommend a tuxedo, dinner jacket or dark suit. If this is still too much for you, try and get a smart shirt and tie / bowtie with dark trousers.
For the ladies, go for an evening gown, cocktail dress or elegant pantsuit. Make yourself feel extra fancy with some cute accessories and you’re good to go!
The champagne waterfall is held in the main piazza and it is a chance for you to contribute to the champagne waterfall by pouring a bottle of bubbly into the carefully placed pyramid glasses. It’s glam darling. Glam.
There are many different dining options onboard Princess Cruises. The Da Vinci Main Dining Room is part of the ‘Anytime Dining’ option here. Opt for a flexible restaurant experience by eating delicious food from 5.15pm to 9pm in the Michelangelo or 7.15pm to 9.30pm in the Da Vinci Dining Room. You can make a reservation before if you wish!
Princess Cruises put on different shows in the evening in their theatre which holds 800 guests. I recommend getting there at least 15 minutes before to bag a seat! I had visions of these shows being kitsch and a little dated, but I have to eat my hat and say that these productions are top notch with amazing performers, musicians and stage setups. They are getting close to West End level. Highly recommended!
If you still have bags of energy, head to Princess Cruises nightclub! Skywalkers Nightclub is popping until the early morning with panoramic views on Deck 15. The DJ is really good and open to playing your requests. Me and my friends threw some random tracks and him and I think we almost got every one!
Going on a cruise is a lovely chance to indulge in the finer things!
Ship arrives at 7am / All aboard at 4.30pm / Departure at 5pm / Smart Casual dress onboard
Welcome to the passage between the Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea! Five countries for 13 centuries battled here to claim Gibraltar as their own. And battle they certainly did. During the Great Siege from 1779-1783, the English and Spanish were shooting up to 40,000 canon rounds at each other each day. The British eventually came out on top, with the 3 square miles of Gibraltar now standing as a British colony.
Leaping out of bed and sweeping open your stateroom curtains on Day 3 *boom* you will find Gibraltar’s infamous rock staring right back at you! The English buried and tunneled their way into this spectacular work of nature and today, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to explore around the rock, venture through it and or get on top!
Gibraltar’s Barbary apes are quite frankly, something else. They’re the only free-roaming monkeys in Europe, who also do not have any tails. Cool facts aside, let me tell you this…
I had my first ‘monkey’ experience in Thailand when innocent me decided to walk into monkey beach territory with (wait for it), a bunch of bananas that me and my mate had just bought for our breakfast (What was I thinking?). We were attacked, and I left the land of smiles with a slight grimace on my face and a well-learnt lesson that not all monkeys are cuddly, cute and well-behaved.
Fast forward to Gibraltar, and before I was even off the ship, tales of camera-snatching, banana-stealing backpack monkeys were rife. Some are chilled out (funnily enough the ones with babies), and being with my travel-blogging mates, I tried to keep my cool. ‘Don’t show fear and don’t look those apes in the eye’ was my continuous mantra, yet slowly but surely, we all lost our calm and collected exteriors and found ourselves racing for the cable car going down to escape.
Make sure your backpack is sealed and you have no food with you. If not, you’re monkey meat!
If you’re adventurous you must take on the 3900m Thrill Seeker Trail in Gibraltar Nature Reserve! It’s a wonderful opportunity to experience breath-taking views of Gibraltar island and the mighty sea surrounding you. You’ll be climbing some very steep Mediterranean Steps, have the chance to stand on a glass-floored Skywalk and snap that final picture of yourself looking out to the very top of Upper Rock. It rises to over 1300 feet!
What has taken you many steps to get up, can be reversed by taking a stunning 6-minute cable car ride down! On a good day, you’ll be able to see views of Europe, Africa and the Mediterranean in one go.
There are lots of other shore excursions that you can try with Princess.
With its own sculpted cathedral deep within its depths, the rock’s underground chambers are full of stalagmites, intricate passageways and plenty of dramatic formations. It sounds like a total dream.
Tick standing at Europe’s most southerly point off your bucket list by visiting this picturesque stripy lighthouse.
Follow the footsteps of British soldiers by discovering the Great Siege Tunnels, carved out of solid limestone so that cannons could be brought through to the northern side! Gibraltar Museum, the World War II Tunnels and Kings Bastion are also well worth a look.
The common, striped and bottlenose dolphin can be seen from the bay, in pods ranging from 20 all the way up to 100! Grab a set of binoculars and fingers crossed you’ll see them for yourself.
Do you want to take an independent tour?
I recommend Calentita: a local bread dish made of chickpea flour, olive oil, water, salt, pepper and sometimes lemon. Aso make sure to try Japonesa: a sweet doughnut filled with cream.
Head for Main Street in Gibraltar Town and make the most of it: everything is duty free wahey! The best bargains are in pottery, leather goods such as bags, shoes and purses, wood carvings and of course, alcohol. Cheers!
Once you are back on board, I recommend hopping into the hot tub on the back of the ship to enjoy the Sail away Party with some cocktails in hand. The central point of the ship out on deck by the pool is the perfect spot to enjoy the live DJ and bands. I munched on some fresh fruit and vegetables from the buffet and sipped on a Pina Colada whilst I was at it!
Princess Cruises offers awesome speciality dining options in various delicious cuisines. Me and my friends decided to eat at Sabatini’s restaurant tonight, which serves authentic Italian food in a setting which feels like you’re in a Tuscan villa! Make sure to reserve beforehand!
I recommend Stargazing with Discovery at Sea where you can learn to identify the major constellations and hear the folklore behind them. There is also a rock and roll night going on, amongst many other amazing events and activities!
Smart casual dress onboard
Today is a day that I highly recommend you just chill out. You’re on holiday and this is your last full Sea Day. For the rest of the trip, you’ll be visiting locations in France and Italy, so make the most of your time on the waves now. Today is rightfully spent being horizontal.
Oh yes! Today is another sea day and oh my, was I ready for some extreme relaxation. I decided to turn off my Princess Cruises WiFi and just peace out – because in today’s world – we can sometimes forget how to just be still and in the moment and meditate!
Down at the Lotus Spa, you can enter your world of tranquility. Take a quick shower, throw on your fluffy robe and slippers, and receive the TLC that you so deserve. The Lotus Spa offers many divine treatments, including facials, massages, detoxifying ocean wraps and revitalising body scrubs. I opted for a 50-minute Exotic Lime-Ginger Salt Glow Scrub with massage and came out feeling like a buttery-smooth goddess.
For a little extra, you can pay to go downstairs too to steam, sauna and gently heat up your inner soul. You’ll be walking out of there like a new woman. Watch out guys – there’s gonna be a hottie on deck (yeah, that’s you)!
Just when you think it cannot get any better, there’s another oasis onboard: The Sanctuary. This is a luxurious adult-only retreat on top deck, featuring divine loungers, the highest attentive service, calming music and a speciality drinks and food menu! For only $20 for a half-day, it must be done.
I was able to lie down, gaze out to sea, and eat delicious food like a pampered cat. The Sanctuary also serves Afternoon Tea, which is perfect for a British lady like me! Bring a book or a podcast, daydream or opt for a massage up here too. Full on bliss!
Personally, for me, out of all the speciality dining restaurants onboard, the Crown Grill wins hands down for the best restaurant onboard. The mixture of the service, the atmosphere and my word those steaks (!) was just brilliant. I’m still dreaming of those steaks. The best I’ve ever had.
Formal wear in the evening / Ship arrives at 8am / All aboard at 4.30pm / Departure at 5pm
Welcome to Marseille – one of France’s oldest cities and your gateway to the romantic and dreamy Provence! Designated as the ‘European Capital of Culture’ in 2013 and nicknamed ‘France’s New Orleans’ it has its own groovy Renaissance vibe going on and a wealth of activities to choose from.
Top sights to see here are Aix-en-Provence – the former Medieval capital of Provence, the Palace of the Popes in Avignon, the Notre-Dame de la Garde, the world-famous Pont Du Gard bridge and the picturesque town of Arles where Vincent Van Gogh hung out! There are also the dramatic cliffs of Cassis, Lourmarin – listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France, and Roussillon – with cliffs made of yellow, red and white sands.
It really is hard to choose what you are going to do with you day! What I learnt is that you pick one or two activities and make the most of every minute of them. This trip is about quality, not quantity.
You’re in Provence which means only one thing: I had to choose wine tasting on a vineyard tour!
Entering the world of the Bandol vineyards in the La Cadière-d’Azur region is just as romantic and glorious as you’re imagining it to be. The wine is exquisite and the countryside pure bliss.
The best thing about the wine here is there are no hangovers (!) as everything is organic and no insecticides are used on the grapes. So naturally me and my mates drank as much as we could. The Bandol wine region is across 7 villages and I visited 3 of the domaines (a vineyard that makes and bottles wine from its own grapes) in my full day tour.
We stopped at Domaine Lou Capelan, Domaine de La Garenne and the biggest of them all, Domaines Bunan. You will be able to experience a true behind-the-scenes tour of how each domaines produce their wines and touch many glasses to your lips with the good stuff!
Just to throw in an extra alcoholic beverage, I dare you to try the brandy at Domaines Bunan. It’s strong to say the least! If that isn’t for you, their rosé wine made it into the top 100 wines in the world. Try that!
For an exquisite gastronomic lunch over panoramic views of the Bandol vineyards, you must head to this one Michelin star restaurant. The chef goes down to the fishermen every morning to see what they have caught and then makes his menu there and then for the day. The lunch is included in your tour and is a real treat. The village, La Cadiere d’Azur, is adorable too.
Other shore excursions you might like to try (among many) are:
Spend a whole day experiencing the wild and wonderful region of Camargue through wetlands spotting wild bird species, wild horses and special saltwater flora.
Spend a half day exploring the narrow streets and the coastal roadway of Marseille whilst visiting the Cathedrale de la Major and Basilica Notre-Dame de la Garde.
Travel to the village of Fontvielle and learn about the thousands of olive trees grown here on the farm. Enjoy a magnificent lunch then travel to the medieval village of Lex Baux de Provence to explore.
Ratatouille: Savour this delightful dish of simmered tomatoes, onion, aubergine, courgette and green peppers. Aioli: The ultimate Mediterranean sauce with olive oil, garlic and egg. Bouillabaisse: A famous local fish soup! Don’t forget to drink the Pastis and Provencal Rose wine!
To take something special back with you from Marseille, it must be their soap! Get your Savon de Marseille from La Grande Savonnerie at the MuSaMa.
In the main piazza, there will be a live band and plenty of balloons that will be released! Don’t miss the big event.
Smart casual dress onboard / Ship arrives at 7am / All aboard at 8pm / Departure at 9pm
Welcome to Italy! Picturesque Genoa, the birthplace of Christopher Columbus, used to be a crucial maritime centre for the Roman Empire and is now the perfect place to explore Italy from. Famous writers cannot get enough of it – Genoa appears in the first sentence of Tolstoy’s War and Peace!
There are plenty of ornate and historical architectural goodies to see in town. The Romanesque San Lorenzo Cathedral has splendid artwork inside of it and is the earliest example of Renaissance architecture in Genoa. You can visit the Ducal Palace with a splendid art collection through narrow Via Garibaldi as well as Chiesa del Gesu.
if you want to venture further today, you can reach Portofino, Cinque Terre, Pisa and Milan from here!
I could not resist choosing to visit the place that I have been hearing about for a couple of years now: Cinque Terre!
This UNESCO World Heritage Site has exploded in popularity recently. The national park, with a name translating to the ‘Five Lands’ is a coastal village paradise, perfect for wandering through dreamy pastel and vibrant houses and along dashing coastlines.
These fishing villages are where you should get lost. Follow you nose and see what you find…and most of all, just have fun. Wander down narrow steps, climb up winding slopes, count the colours you find and stare out to sea at the boats floating by.
Along with my friends, we grabbed a private tour guide who accompanied us through the twists and turns of the mountains and through two of the quaint charming Italian villages clinging to the Ligurian Cliffs.
Our first stop was Manarola – the oldest town in the Cinque Terre. Do your best to experience this village from below wandering through all the nooks and crannies, but also from above by hiking up the steps and walking along the cliffs’ edge. This way, you can appreciate its beauty from all angles.
This is the most famous of the five villages with its beautiful Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista Church.
Make sure to grab some lunch and munch on the dishes at Enoteca Internazionale. The bruschetta is to die for! The sardines are delicious too.
Just like you did in Manarola, explore the streets below but ensure you hike up high too to fully appreciate where you are. Keep following Via Buranco upwards and you will find yourself on a trail which finally emerges on the most marvellous viewpoint. The coast will be on your left and the olive trees all on your right. Meravigliosa!
Make this day the perfect day for you.
Pesto: Genoa is the birthplace of pesto and they love basil! Buridda: a hearty fish stew. Cima alla Genovese: a veal breast stuffed with animal organs, herbs, veggies and pine nuts served cold. Tastes better than it sounds!
Before you get back on the boat, make sure you grab a jar of pesto, parma ham, cheese wheels and lots of lovely spices at the local market Mercato Orientale. There are also second-hand books, records and art at Piazza Bacchi and Piazza Colombo.
It’s cheesy. No doubt about that. But this top deck party in the evening, back on the ship, is soooo much fun. The Love Boat Disco Deck Party is a chance to dress up, enjoy some 70s disco, and socialise with everyone else on deck. There’s DJs, dancers, live bands and a lot of lovely cocktails to be had. Go get it!
Smart casual dress onboard / Ship arrives at 7am / All aboard at 6.30pm / Departure at 7pm
Welcome to Livorno; the gateway to glorious Tuscany in Italy! For all cultural and architectural enthusiasts, it is going to be a fantastic day for you if you want to go and see the Duomo, the Uffizi and the Ponte Vecchio. Or, you can make friends with Florence’s rival political power and take a shore excursion to Pisa instead! Also very much battling for art and architecture star status, Pisa has that leaning tower that you might just want to go and see.
After seeing so many pictures of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, I just had to go and see it with my own eyes, so I opted for a day tour to go and see the town…on a very interesting mode of transport.
When I was a child, I never could have imagined that when I finally made it to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, it would be on two electronic wheels and a stick – but hey ho, I like to go with the flow! I initially was terrified – segways kinda have a mind of their own in the beginning . Yet with anything in life, we must embrace cool new technology. Once I got the hang of steering it – I was taking on Vespas no problem!
I had no idea! I thought the tower was on its own (seriously why do they never show its buddies in photos online?). The Leaning Tower of Pisa is the freestanding bell tower for the Cathedral of Pizza next door. And next to the Cathedral is Pisa Baptistery. These buildings are just as fascinating as the tower itself. Make sure to soak it all up and stick around for a bit.
Seeing Pisa on a segway will give you a chance to fully appreciate this city in the time that you have. I had to catch a flight back to the UK in the afternoon from here – but still made the absolute most of the time I had. Don’t just turn up, see the tower and leave. Explore the nooks and crannies. This is a hip and happening student town with lots going on.
Spadellata di cozze e vongole: clam and mussels simmered in white wine and then served with crusty bread. Torta di ceci: the most well known cake here! Thank you Italy.
Wine. Pecorino Cheese. Olive oil. Cured meats. Truffles. A really tacky tchotchke of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I dare you.
Smart casual dress onboard / Ship arrives at Civitavecchia port at 5am
This is where your cruise ends! Alas, I was not able to venture this far due to travel time restraints (boohoo!). I disembarked and flew home from Pisa the day before, but I want you to fully understand what this cruise includes: Rome is included!
and if you want to go and seek out your own adventures from here…
My complimentary Mediterranean cruise experience was made possible by Princess Cruises. As always, no matter how much a brand pays me, opinions are mine = honest, blunt and to the point.
Book before October 31st to get a free balcony upgrade on your room!
Princess Cruises sail to many destinations around the world. Why stop at just the Mediterranean? You can find yourself waking up in the Caribbean, Alaska, Mexico, Asia and all around the world!
Are you planning a Mediterranean cruise? Do you have a question for me? Comment below and I’ll answer!
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