This was to be a very special trip for us. A 25th celebration, 25 years in the making to travel to Europe and experience a great ship, which was our first cruise and I had hoped a start to several cruises in the future. I had heard from several on Cruise Critic that it was a great ship; we were starting at the top.
I don't come away with that 100% certainty to book future cruises I had hoped.
Cruising the Western Mediterranean was a great way to experience a little of various places in Europe. The ports and our experiences in the ports were AMAZING! Definitely the highlight to our trip and the main reason we booked the cruise.
We got on the ship in Barcelona so our experiences were outside of cruising as we flew in a day early. Barcelona was a nice city to get around (with the general pickpocketing precautions taken). We stayed at a great hotel (Hotel Arc Las Rambas) that had great service from the front desk, good rooms and was very convenient to the Gothic Quarter, beaches-port and Metro. Would definitely stay at this hotel next time we come.
Great area to walk around. Unfortunately, it was a Spanish Holiday so a couple of the historic places I wanted to visit were closed. But it was still a neat area to just walk around and sight see. The Port Shuttle Bus @ 5 Euros round trip was a great & easy way to do this.
We did a private tour with Tour Designer out to the hilltop towns of Gordes & Roussillon in Provence. This company was wonderful. Well worth the money and very pleasant to be with. I highly recommend them.
We did Cirque Terre on our own. Great day that was a good preparation for the next day in Rome.
We did Rome on our own simply because we didn't want to pay the high prices of the ship's excursions and were not able to get on a private tour with others. We were able to see everything we had hope to see (knowing we could only see a small amount), and were back on the trains early. BUT this was not for an unexperienced traveler, a fit traveler nor one that wants to take risks. Although we were OK, we had an issue with the train ride back that potentially made several others miss their ship. Our ship was in port a long time 7am - 8pm.
We did a private tour with Joe Bananas to Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast. Not as wonderful as the Tour Designer in France but still definitely the way to go to have a more private, relaxed sightseeing day. Would do this again as it was a good value for the money.