This was our 2nd cruise having adored the NCL Getaway earlier in the year. We were determined to try one of the Royal Caribbean mega-ships and being its last voyage before dry dock, there was a great deal on the Oasis. The cruise did not include a drinks package and we felt that, as we wanted to maximise time in all the destinations, we wouldn’t have time to make best use of it. However, the drinks were so disgracefully overpriced it wouldn’t have take much to make a drinks package worthwhile!
Much of our opinion expressed here is a direct comparison to the fabulous experience we had with NCL in February.
Huge comfortable bed and decent sized balcony. Attendant was always thorough.
Hated the toilet paper and wish there was a coffee machine.
No european plugs so bring US adapters.
We stayed in Barcelona after our cruise at Leonardo Boutique Hotel, Sagrada Familia. The hotel was excellent, spotlessly clean, very modern and friendly service. It was slightly out of the centre so very reasonably priced. It was 2 mins from a metro stop (Clot) and 15 mins walk from Sagrada Familia.
There is a €3 shuttle bus to/from the port that stops near the World Trade Center (not far from Drassanes metro station at the bottom of Las Ramblas)
We enjoyed the castle and view at Montjuic. Less busy than Parc Guell and better views. You can get the metro to Paral-lol, funicular and cable car. All easy to follow.
The poble sec area is cool with lots of bars serving tapas along the Carrer de Blai in the evening.
The metro system is cheap, efficient and easy to understand. A 10 trip pass is only about €10. You have to buy a separate ticket for the airport unless you have a pass that includes it (the ticket machines are clear)
The Oasis being huge stopped very far from the town. Other reviews mention 45 minutes walk along the marina to the cathedral which is true and pleasant, but the bigger ships dock much further away (another hour’s walk before you even get to the marina!).
The ship provided a shuttle for €10 which is well worth it and similar price to the less reliable local busses.
The area around the cathedral is lovely to explore.
We didn’t choose an excursion.
This was our favourite destination but the ship docks a long way from Marseille. The ship’s shuttle is €20 but there is a free local shuttle bus if you follow the green path from the ship. Leave plenty of time to get back, as the free shuttle wasn’t running as frequently as it should.
You can rent electric scooters cheaply. These are very cleverly designed. You download an App and use it to activate whichever scooter you come across. You can then leave it anywhere when you’ve finished with it. It only cost €1+€0.15 per minute. See here: https://www.marseilletourisme.fr/en/blog/our-news/electric-scooters-are-coming-to-marseille/
It was a 15 minute walk from the shuttle stop past the impressive cathedral to the petit train stop. The petit train takes you all the way up to the Notre Dame de la Garde, which has fantastic views and a cafe! Your petit train ticket allows you to get back on for the journey back down but we decided to walk down, which was very do-able if you don’t mind hills.
We also loved walking up the Palais du Pharo which had more wonderful views.
We didn’t choose an excursion but visited Cinque Terre independently.
Be prepared for crowds!
It is a fabulous place but very very busy with tourists.
You have to take the free shuttle from the ship which is also the case for those on excursions not booked through the cruise line. This was total mayhem first thing in the morning and I’d strongly recommend disembarking later on!
We walked through La Spezia for 25 mins to the train station. It is a pleasant mainly pedestrianised walk from the harbour. We could have happily spent more time exploring.
The Cinque Terre train (get the one to Levanto) is easy but so very busy and was total carnage at 9-10am. You need to get the Train Card (https://www.cinqueterre.eu.com/en/cinque-terre-card) which gives unlimited journeys between all the villages and access to the hiking paths. You CANT buy this from the ticket machines and the queue at the booths were huge in the morning so get it online!
We hiked from Monterosso to Vernazza which was challenging but well worth it. There are some steep slopes and precarious paths but wonderful views and interesting going through the cliff side vineyards. It took 1hr 40mins.
Cinque Terre is an amazing place but exhausting. We managed to see all 5 villages. If you need to miss one out, note that Corniglia has many steps to climb from the train station.
My main advice is to start your day later to avoid the main crowds and try not to see too much!
There is a free shuttle from the ship. You can then walk to the train station (20 mins or so) or get a €2 bus which leaves from the shuttle stop. We chose this option having hiked through Cinque Terre the previous day!
The train from Civitavecchia is straight forward and the ticket machines easy to understand.
We got the train to the termini and then returned from the Roma S. Pietro station which is near the Vatican. Returning from this stop shaves at least 15 mins off the journey time, which is about an hour.
It is very hard to experience the whole of Rome in a day so prioritise!
The area of Naples around the port is dirty and not pleasant.
We went to Pompeii on our own. This was really easy and far cheaper than an excursion.
It is a 5 min walk from the port to Universita metro station. This is a good place to get your ticket is it was quite with no queue. A €3.50 ticket here gives you 140 mins of travel so easy covers your onward journey to Pompeii, Vesuvius or Heraklion.
We took the metro to Garibaldi. You exit through a shopping centre and the Circumvesuvia station is just across the street.
The Sorrento train stops at Heraklion and Pompeii. The length of journey varies depending on the number of regional stops. It took an hour to get to Pompeii but only 20 mins to get back!!
Pompeii main entrance is right next to the train stop and we bought a €12 walking tour which was well worth it. Our guide was excellent. The price does not include the €15 entrance fee, but we did avoid the ticket queue as the guide buys your tickets.
We then had lots of time after the tour to explore on our own. It is an amazing place and definitely worth visiting. Plenty to see in a day.