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Mediterranean Cruise: Exploring the best of Europe in 9 Days

A Mediterranean Cruise should be your top choice for your next vacation. Read on to find out all about it.

2019, Western Europe

Side view of a cruise in sea
The sea is the most magical place

Setting off on an unforgettable 9-day Mediterranean Cruise was the highlight of our extensive 30-day European Honeymoon. It unquestionably ranks among the most extraordinary ways to explore the wonders of the Mediterranean Sea and Europe's popular destinations. Various cruise lines cater to the preferences of all travellers. In our case, we selected the magnificent 'EPIC' from Norwegian Cruise Line, a truly awe-inspiring choice. Equally impressive Mediterranean cruises are also offered by Royal Caribbean and MSC cruise lines.

In this blog, we will take a deep dive into all aspects related to planning a cruise holiday, including itineraries, food, excursions, and our personal experience.

So, without further ado, let’s dive straight into it.

About the cruise ship

Picture of Norwegian Epic cruise
Norwegian EPIC

We found ourselves aboard the Norwegian 'EPIC,' a member of the opulent fleet of Norwegian Cruise Line. When built, this vessel ranked as the third largest in the world and remains among the largest ships within NCL's fleet.

Here are some key features of the Norwegian Epic:

  • The cruise has 15 decks accessible to guests that host Restaurants, Casinos, shopping centres, Staterooms, Movie theatres, Pubs, waterparks, Dining halls and so much more.

  • There are several categories of staterooms available on the cruise including Haven suites, Balcony suites, Balcony rooms, Inside rooms and studios for solo travellers.

  • There are 9 restaurants on board.

  • There are 10 bars and cafes on board.

  • The cruise can carry up to 4100 passengers.

  • There is a full-size aquatic park with water slides, pools, and hot tubs.

Overall, it is a cruise ship that has everything you would want for a chill holiday at sea.

Important Note: Cruise ships deployed at different ports change periodically and the cruise lines keep updating their offerings. You may find a different cruise ship at the time of booking your holiday. So, pay attention to the name of the ship so that you can search for the ship and its features online.

Preparation and Planning

Planning a cruise trip is extremely easy and we would argue that it’s a holiday that gives you the most value for your money. You don’t just get a vacation away from home, you get an adventure at the seas, lots of fun at casinos, relaxing nights under starry skies, the thrill of exploring new cities and a chance to enjoy varied cuisines.

Still, there are some things we want to share with you so that it's easier for you to make the right decisions and make your holiday the most memorable one.

Planning a cruise vacation is remarkably straightforward, and we contend that it offers unparalleled value for your money. It's not just a getaway; it's an oceanic adventure, an opportunity for casino excitement, tranquil evenings beneath a starlit sky, the exhilaration of discovering new cities, and a feast of diverse cuisines.

Picture of a map with glasses and a diary

Nonetheless, we have some insights to share with you to simplify your decision-making process and ensure your holiday becomes an unforgettable one.

  1. Choosing the Ideal Cruise Line and Itinerary: With numerous cruise options available, selecting the perfect one can be a daunting task. We suggest opting for renowned cruise lines, known for their exceptional hospitality, and rest assured, you can still find affordable choices among them. Our top recommendations for Mediterranean cruises would be Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean, both offering excellent options to explore the region.

  2. Secure Your Booking Early: Cruises tend to fill up rapidly, sometimes selling out six months in advance of departure. To ensure you secure excellent cabins and take advantage of enticing offers, we strongly recommend booking your cruise as early as possible. By doing so, you may even save up to 35% on beverages, internet access, and shore excursions when purchased in advance.

  3. Opt for the right Stateroom: Cruise ships offer a variety of stateroom options to suit all budgets. You can select a budget-friendly studio room ideal for solo travellers, or consider an Inside stateroom, which may not have an ocean view but comes at a significantly lower cost. However, our top recommendation is to go for a Balcony stateroom. The ability to spend endless hours on your balcony, gazing out at the sea, is truly magical. If your budget allows, there are also ultra-luxurious suites that rival any 5-star hotel suite for those seeking an extravagant experience.

  4. Passport and Visa Considerations: It's essential to thoroughly review visa requirements before confirming your cruise reservation. For a Mediterranean cruise, a Schengen Visa typically is enough. Nonetheless, it's important to verify whether the cruise itinerary encompasses ports that necessitate a different visa. Cruise lines generally provide visa guidance to guests and verify it during embarkation to prevent any potential issues.

  5. Pack Wisely: Weather conditions can be unpredictable during a cruise, so it's wise to pack clothing in layers. Don't forget essentials like ample sunscreen, comfortable walking shoes, and a universal power adapter. Additionally, include some elegant attire in your luggage, as many cruise ships boast upscale restaurants with specific dress codes for dining.

  6. Assemble a Medical Kit: While cruise ships are equipped with trained medical professionals to handle any medical emergencies, it's a good idea to pack a basic medical kit with generic medications and first-aid essentials just in case. However, there's no need to overpack hand sanitisers, as cruise ships promote frequent hand sanitization in common areas and provide sanitiser stations throughout the ship for passengers' convenience.

  7. Travel Insurance: We won't spend too long on this as we always stress the importance of having travel insurance whenever you travel. So, go ahead and get it!

  8. Currency and Cash Considerations: When cruising through multiple countries, you might wonder about which currency to carry and whether cash is necessary. Cruise lines typically conduct transactions in USD. Our recommendation is to carry a Forex card and have a credit card as a backup to cover all your expenses on the cruise. However, when you venture out on excursions in different cities, it can be advantageous to have some local currency on hand. In our experience, relying on cards worked perfectly fine.

  9. Planning Activities Onboard: Cruise ships offer a plethora of activities, making it easy to get overwhelmed. Typically, you'll receive a personalized daily itinerary with details of excursions and onboard activities for the following day. To make the most of your cruise experience, we recommend dedicating some time to plan your activities in advance. Doing so ensures you don't miss out on the fun. You can also explore day excursions before your trip, allowing you to spend more time enjoying your holiday and less time planning the next day's activities.

Well, this is all we learned from planning our cruise trip. We hope you make use of these tips while planning your vacation. Now, it’s time to talk about our journey and experience.

So, are you ready to hop on board this epic journey through the Mediterranean?

Itinerary for Mediterranean cruise

The Mediterranean Sea spans from Spain in the west to Turkey in the east. It is so huge that it takes up to 30 days to cover all major ports. So, for most travellers, it only makes sense to either go for a west Mediterranean cruise (covering Spain, France, Italy etc.) or an east Mediterranean cruise (covering Italy, Greece, Turkey etc.).

We chose to go for the West Mediterranean cruise that followed the path that you can see on the map below.

The Mediterranean Sea stretches from Spain in the west to Turkey in the east, covering such a vast expanse that it would take up to 30 days to explore all its major ports. Therefore, for most travellers, it's practical to opt for either a Western Mediterranean cruise, which encompasses destinations like Spain, France, and Italy, or an Eastern Mediterranean cruise, which includes stops in Italy, Greece, and Turkey.

In our case, we decided on the Western Mediterranean cruise, following the itinerary you can view on the map below.

Map of Mediterranean Sea
Our journey

The journey took us through the following ports and Major cities in Europe.

  1. Barcelona, Spain –The journey starts from the beautiful coast of Barcelona. As we reached the port and set our eyes on the ship, we were literally awestruck. The ship was gigantic and it was hard to wrap your head around the fact that this vessel sails around the sea. It’s literally a floating city.

  2. Cannes, France – The first stop was the popular city of Cannes. The cruise was anchored at some distance from the small coastal town as it doesn’t have a large enough port. We were ferried from the cruise to the coast on smaller boats.

  3. Livorno, Italy – We took a day trip from the port at Livorno to Pisa. The famous Leaning Tower of Pisa is a sight to behold. We clicked so many pictures there and had an amazing time. However, stay vigilant and take care of your belongings as snatchers and pickpockets are very active here.

  4. Livorno, Italy – The next day we took a day trip to the picturesque city of Florence in Italy. This little chic town is going to amaze you with its Italian charm. There are so many iconic places that a day is not enough to see it all. However, we took it easy just soaking in everything Florence had to offer.

  5. Rome, Italy – Next, we explored the heart of Italy and indulged ourselves in the rich history that Rome has to offer. Also, it’s a must to visit the Vatican City when in Rome. Fun fact: Vatican City is the smallest country in the world with a population of just 1000 people.

  6. Naples, Italy –Apart from trying authentic Neapolitan pizza, there is another highlight to Naples. You can Admire breathtaking views of Naples from high above the city in the historical Certosa di San Martino, atop the Vomero hill. We recommend getting a hop-on-hop-off pass to catch all the highlights in Naples.

  7. Cagliari, Sardinia - Cagliari goes straight to the heart. It has a thousand-year history, a magnificent sea and endless attractions combined perfectly with beautiful beaches, lagoon areas and green parks.

  8. Palma, Spain - There are tons of things to do in Palma de Mallorca, and the rest of the island is filled with beautiful towns and attractions worth visiting. We, however, did not get a chance to visit Palma due to a Nightmarish Incident that happened on our cruise (More on this later).

  9. Barcelona, Spain – Disembarking in Barcelona with a suitcase full of memories, we continued our honeymoon in Europe. But to this day, the cruise remains one of the most fun times we had on any trip.

Naples Lighthouse at the port
Naples Lighthouse

Onboard Experience

Norwegian EPIC cruise Front view

Upon our arrival at the port, we made our way towards the cruise ship. The cruise staff efficiently collected our luggage, which would be later delivered to our cabins. With our carry-on bags in tow, we proceeded to undergo a security check. Following the security check, we then proceeded through an immigration checkpoint, where our passports and visas were thoroughly reviewed and verified.

After completing these formalities, we received clearance to board the ship. Stepping into our home for the next nine days, a sense of excitement filled us as we anticipated the adventures that awaited. The cruise ship itself was a sight to behold. With extravagant chandeliers, bustling casino floors, breezy decks, and serene lounges, it felt like stepping into a dream.

We were guided to our stateroom and given an overview of all the main amenities on the ship such as the all-day dining restaurants, the jogging track etc. We headed straight to the top deck. Now that was the liveliest place on the ship throughout our journey. With so many pools, hot tubs, water slides, groovy music, and a dance floor full of fellow travellers, we were just forced to let loose and shake a leg.

The first day was so much fun!!!

Deck of a cruise with lots of people
All the fun happens here

We had a fulfilling meal at the humongous dining hall on the deck where delicacies from different parts of the world were served. However, our favourites throughout the journey were the NY-style pizza slices. They were our breakfast, our lunch, our dinner and even our dessert. We just couldn’t miss them whenever we went to the deck. But apart from that, the buffet had mouthwatering dishes from continental, Asian, Indian, Italian and many other cuisines to choose from.

There are a few things that we would like to highlight from our experience on this cruise:

  1. Know which days are going to be ‘Chill’ days and which days are going to be ‘Active’ days. There is so much to do/see on the cruise but also there are new ports to explore. So, make sure you plan when you’ll enjoy the luxuries on the cruise, when you’ll go on excursions and when you’ll relax at the pool.

  2. Always dine by the window. There were so many instances where we spotted a group of dolphins while dining at the window. Try to get a table in the front of the ship as the dolphins love swimming along or in front of the ship.

  3. Spend the least amount of time in your room. There is so much to do on board all the time. From baking classes to magic shows, from movie screenings to dance performances, there is a bucket full of fun events happening on the ship.

  4. Be punctual. This is important if you don’t want to be stuck at a deserted port in an unknown country. The ships dock and undock at fixed times and will not wait for you if you are late to the port. The exception is if you are on a shore excursion offered by the cruise itself.

  5. Soak in the sea. The experience of sailing as the sea extends to the horizon and there is no sign of land anywhere is just mesmerizing. It will give you a different perspective on life and the things we usually take for granted.

  6. Don’t drink too much. You don’t want to end up in an unfortunate situation in an intoxicated state.

Overall, a cruise is a 5-star hotel in the sea where, every morning, you wake up in a new country or city.

Our Mediterranean cruise was a whirlwind of enchanting experiences and unforgettable moments. We set sail on a journey that took us to some of the most iconic and culturally rich destinations in the world, each with its own unique charm.

It was a celebration of diverse cultures, rich history, and the sheer beauty of the world. It reminded us that travel is not just about seeing new places but also about embracing the people, flavours, and traditions that make each destination unique.

Sunset from a Cruise's Deck
Sunsets are LIT

As we bid farewell to the Mediterranean and our remarkable journey, we carry with us a treasure trove of memories. These memories are like pearls strung together along the necklace of life, a reminder that the world is a vast and wondrous place waiting to be explored.

The Mediterranean cruise may have come to an end, but the spirit of adventure it ignited within us will continue to inspire our future travels.

Bon Voyage!


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