What a wonderful way to europe and the ship was fantastic. My wife and I are cruise veterans.....My dad once told me I should have joined the Navy. Sailing on the new Gem through the around the inside of the Italian Boot was our best cruise ever.
Barcelona is a wonderful city from which to start and end your cruise. The city has lots to see and do..Try to come in or stay a least a couple of days. Love the city tour and architecture was simply amazing.....even stunning was the growth and friendly people.
The port is modern and the embarkation are well planned. The on-line registration makes the boarding process a breeze.
We booked a balcony on the very back of the ship. I love the balcony cabins, but what a surprise to find a penthouse suite waiting for us. Never seen anything like it on a ship. A cabin facing the aft was delightful change from the side of the ship.
We enjoyed Freestyle Cruising and the dining choices. It was the first cruise in which we never even made it to the buffet. I also like the ability eat when and where we wanted with little or no planning. I also like getting the time back to do other things, as opposed to spending a hour and half dining. Also like the romance of dining together each night where it was our choice. We really enjoyed the Steak House and found the service to rival any ship or steak house in the world.
The seven day cruise was jammed packed with most do shore excursions. We have one day a sea as we sailed from Barcelona. Great weather and everyone was at the pool. It was crowded, but little trouble finding a spot to enjoy the sea and sun. It was a restful day thankfully, because we were on the move everyday after that.
The island of Malta was the first stop, we booked the Taste of Malta tour and got a great overview of the island its history. We stopped at the Medina Glass works where they make the most colorful blown glass. Also visited a winery.
Sailing from Malta north to Naples was amazing. The ship hugged the coast of Sicily and we had a wonderful view of the active volcano of Endo. With the sun setting behind the plume, it made for a wonderful view from the Italian Restaurant. Its worth staying on the balcony for the passage through the Strait separating Sicily from Italy. It is one of busiest sea lanes in the world and the land converges to almost nothing.
Naples was next, I would say seeing the area around Naples is the key, the city itself was...well in need of a good cleaning. We toured Pompeii in the morning and visited the beach for the afternoon. The coast south of Naples is absolutely stunning with cliffs and water so blue.
Next was Rome, which can not be seen in a day, but can be enjoyed in a day. Its a long day as you leave the ship at around seven am and return just before seven pm. Plan for heat and taking lots of pictures. The City is amazing and having guide showing the sights and giving insight into so much history was fantastic. We did a walking tour from the Tevalia Fountain through streets to the Tiber River.....You end up taking in so much, you may strain your camera shutter finger.
The next stop was Livorno which serves as access to Tuscany, Pisa and Florence. We choose the Pisa and Beach tour....but Florence may have been the better choice. Pisa is fantastic, small city of 30,000 surrounded by the beautiful farm lands and villas. The tower rises above everything and is really something you have to see to believe.
The final stop was Cannes, with bus tour through Nice to Monte Carlo. Wow do you see how the billionaires scare the millionaires on this trip. So many wonderful sights, boats and beaches. It is easy to see why this is a exceptional place in world.
No problems getting off the boat, we did use a luggage shipping service to send most of your belongs home as we were headed to Dublin for a couple of days. The service worked great, except I used my TSA luggage locks and UPS need to contact me so that Customs could open the bags....They were nice enough to call and not just cut them off.
I think the cruise was a great way to see Europe. With a floating resort taking you to a different port each day, I thought we got GREAT value. With the US dollar being weak it was far more cost effective and allot let hassle, and we saw so much in seven days.
My first Aft Cabin. Wonderful. I liked the larger cabin, lots of room and view from the balcony was great.