Looking for something fun and stress-free as a way to celebrate my 50th birthday, my wife and I booked a cruise on the Norwegian Spirit over the holidays. The itinerary had us leaving Civitavecchia (port near Rome) on the 22nd, spending Christmas Eve - Christmas Day in Venice, seeing Croatia, Montenegro, Florence/Pisa, and Monte Carlo before stopping in Barcelona for New Year's Eve, then returning to Civitavecchia on January 2nd.
Because it was a good deal, we purchased the reduced airfare through the cruise line. BIG MISTAKE.
Travel to / Embarkation:
Venice (Christmas Day) - great city, but still flooded. Very surreal.
Very walkable, and since I'd been there previously, we didn't take a shore excursion.
Did a gondola ride, a bit expensive but memorable, just COLD.
Dubrovnik, Croatia - took the ship-arranged ($15pp) shuttle into town.
Walked the city walls. Amazing.
Inside the city walls was magical, though the wind seems to gain intensity traveling through the small alleyways and blasts you with cold air. Spiced wine helped.
Kotor, Montenegro - Ferry drops you off near the small town.
Walked through town (on our own) to entrance to steps (1300+) that lead to the fort at the top of the mountain.
Guy at the top sells soda, water, and, more importantly, beer. Amazing views from the top. Small town inside the walls was very cool.
Cats are EVERYWHERE and very friendly.
Our second time there, so we ventured out on our own. Went to Barcelona Cathedral, very impressive. Spent lots of time on La Rambla. Definitely feels like the center of the city in a good way. La Boqueria Market (Mercado de Boqueria) is a must-visit. So much good food, it'd be easy to pig out, walk around, then pig out again. We determined the New Year's Eve celebration was at Placa Espanaya. Party there was INCREDIBLE. Finished up and ended up walking about two miles back to the ship (catching a cab in the middle of crowd that size was both difficult and impractical), made it back with about twenty minutes to spare.