Romance, Adventure & Wheelchairs
Europe - Western Mediterranean
There were 6 of us in total. My boyfriend 23, his mum and dad both 49, grandma 81, grandad 83 and me 21. We were all very excited to be going on the Grand Princess as we'd heard such good things about it. Plus my boyfriend's grandma & grandad kept telling us how this would be their last holiday ever (they say this every year!)
Our first impression of the ship was "wow". It looks stunning and very classy. Checking in was a breeze and everyone was so lovely to my boyfriend's grandma who isn't very good on her legs and was in a wheelchair. She was wheeled around by some lovely young men and seemed to be in her element. Once on board the ship we were greated warmly and made our way to our rooms, which took a while as most cruises are mazes. Luckily a nice member of staff showed us the way.
My boyfriend and I stayed in a very cosy and clean inside cabin, as did his mum and dad. There was everything we needed here. Mini fridge, large dressing table and chair, tv, More
compact bathroom. Although we did notice that my boyfriend's mum and dad had a nice comfy chair and we didn't! We tired not to get too jealous ;) The only downside was the hairdryer really which was like someone blowing on your hair. Then again I do have long thick hair so it's a challenge for any hairdryer!
Secretly and meticulously, my boyfriend's mum had spent a long time organising a surprise balcony room for grandma and grandad to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. As expected there were lots of tears and bubbly floating around. Their room was stunning. It was the first time i'd been in a balcony cabin on a cruise. It was very large and spacious with lots of light. Beautifully decorated and with tea and coffee making facilities which they found very handy as they struggle walking too much. The table and chairs on the balcony were used all the time by them.
First impressions of the ship we very good. The staff were falling over themselves to get us anything we needed. Everything from the theatre to the restaurants to the pool area were immaculate and could not be faulted.
There was alot to do on board for me and my boyfriend. We loved the swimming pools, mini golf and cinema. We all really enjoyed doing quizzes and watching the evening shows (watch out for the comedians and don't sit in the front seats. Bad combination)
The food, as on most ships was wonderful. Although my boyfriend and I did feel it wasn't quite as good as Royal Caribbean and we found ourselves struggling to choose some nights. What did arrive though was faultless. Horizon Court was how we expected it to be, simple and nice. They always had a really good selection and lots of staff were about to top up drinks.
The highlight of our holiday was definitely on the fifth night. That was the night I'd gone for a stroll with my boyfriend he he'd proposed to me on deck 16! I was absolutely over the moon and we had a fantastic meal at Sabatini's. The steak there is fantastic and we had a lovely talk with the waitress, she was very friendly.
The only downside I can think of is that my card was charged for a Stella and an energy drink which I had never ordered. If I needed anything I put it on my boyfriends card to make life easier. After much dispute I did get a refund but it's very hard to prove that you didn't buy something! Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
I've also been here before but I had more of an adventure this time around! Las Rambles is a must. There is so much going on here that it will keep everyone entertained. Half way up Las Rambles on the left hand side is a massive indoor market which is filled with lots of wonderful things (and some quite frightening things, such as the skinned rabbits). You have to sample the ice cream from the stall near the entrance. The coconut one is divine. We headed up Las Rambles and stopped off in a cafe or two for grandma and grandad to rest and made it (eventually) to La Sagrada Familia. It was the first time I've seen it up close and it blew me away. The detailing that has gone into it is out of this world.
This was probably my least favourite port. This was probably our own fault. We did not book to go anywhere or really do much research so we weren't sure what to do. The beach was wonderful and we had a coffee in a cafe on the front. We had a very long walk around and went in all the shops but eventually we ended up back on the ship having a sunbathe.
On a previous cruise with my family we stopped off and Gibraltar but my dad didn't want to get off because he'd heard bad things about it. This time around I went with my boyfriend's family and I had the most amazing time in Gibraltar! It's a girly shopping paradise and there is so much to see and do. We got a taxi into town and then had a long stroll around. It is very British but also very warm (which we loved!)You have to go to the top of the rock and see the fantastic views and meet the apes. It's a truly wonderful experience.
Monaco. Wow. If only I could afford to live here! It just oozes luxury and opulence everywhere you go. Going up to see the castle and walk around the little streets was absolutely beautiful but be warned even coffee is very expensive! So check prices before you get seated. There are free buses everywhere and the locals are very friendly and helpful so they will make sure that you get on the right one. Heading back down and more central we did alot of window shopping! If I was a millionaire this would be my favourite place to shop. There are endless rows of places to spend your money and the architecture is fantastic. I have never been anywhere like this before ( I felt abit out of places being from Leeds) but you get a real buzz. I want to go back.
This was probably the greatest experience of my life. We didn't book an excursion, instead we booked a private tour guide to show us around the Amalfi coast. You HAVE to do this. He spoke perfect English and spoke to us the whole way, telling us the history, culture and interesting facts about everywhere that we went. He took us to the best viewing points and let us stop off anywhere that we found interesting and to take pictures. My boyfriend's dad is a keen photographer so loved this. The town of Positano is so gorgeous I didn't want to leave. I think I want to get married here! Although it is very steep it is easy to get around and has some lovely little shops. The beach is also very nice. We saw so many places I can't remember their names but every single town had fantastic views, beautiful scenery and breath taking heights. Words just cannot describe how unspoilt and wonderful this drive was. Our tour guide took us up into the hills and a fantastic restaurant that had a huge terrace and balcony looking down into a huge forested gorge that lead down to the sea. It was outstanding. On the way back we went high up into the mountains and approached Naples from behind and again the views are fantastic! I would definitely recommend a private tour guide as it's much more personal and you get to see and learn alot more.
We got the free shuttle bus into Rome lead by a very friendly, chatty guide who was filling us in on all the information we might need. She gave us lots of maps and history details on many of the sites. I think it took us about an hour/one hour fifteen to get to Vatican City. From here we walked to the Trevi Fountain which is abit of a trek but it really doesn't matter because everything is so beautiful, the streets are so quaint...you can get lost and it really doesn't matter how long you've been walking! The Trevi Fountain wasn't quite how I expected it. I'd always pictured it in a massive square but it was quite a small area when we got there. Maybe because it was packed with tourists. It is such a fantastic site! The detailing in the fountain leaves you speechless. You have to spend a long to admiring and taking pictures of it. Next we moved on to the Pantheon which was wonderful to walk around. Very imposing and quite hidden away. I loved how we would walk into a little square off a side street and you would see something amazing. We sat and had an authentic Italian pizza in the square here and it was the best I've ever had. You have to eat pizza in Italy! We also went to see the Spanish Steps but I wasn't honestly that excited by them! Still very nice to see! The last place we went before getting a taxi back to Vatican City was the Colosseum. If you only go to one place in Rome this is it. It's cram packed full of history and intrigue and walking around it is a surreal experience knowing how old it is and what used to happen here. Overall, Rome was fantastic and we plan to come back and explore more soon.