Barcelona and Royal Caribbean Cruise

Susan Hegarty 04 June 2010
This was our second cruise, we flew into Barcelona two days beforehand and stayed at The AC Diplomatic Hotel, a lovely hotel with a roof top pool and a few minutes walk from Las Ramblas. Las Ramblas is filled with cafes, tapas bars and restaurants. There is a wonderful food market, La Boqueria, where you will find every culinary delight imaginable and lots of weird and wonderful street entertainers.

We took the hop on hop off bus which gave us a great overview of Barcelona and dropped us off at some of its main attractions including Camp Nou, Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell. A must see! We also took the cable car to Montjuic. What a spectacular view!

When we arrived at the port the lovely Voyager of the Seas was waiting for us. One of its best features is an indoor promenade that runs the length of the ship and contains bars, shops and restaurants. During the cruise there are events here like parades that are good fun to watch.

Also on board are several swimming pools, a rock climbing wall, an ice skating rink, a basketball court, miniature golf, lots of bars and restaurants, a spa, gym, kids club, casino and a huge theatre for evening shows.

We had an inside cabin and it was a perfect base for us. Inside cabins are great value for money and have all of the facilities you would get in a very nice hotel room.

We opted for the late set dining which meant that if we chose to eat in the main dining room for dinner we had the same dining companions each evening. Between the waiting staff and our fellow diners we had great fun each evening and looked forward to catching up with everyone and hearing about their day. The ports of call on this cruise we Naples, Port for Rome, Livorno, Villefrance & Toulon.

In Naples we took a trip to Pompeii. We had a wonderful guide who took us around the site and made the place come to life with her descriptions of Pompeii. She took us through the streets showing us where the wealthy lived, in houses that still had some beautiful murals that were amazingly pretty intact. One of these house had a mural of a fierce looking dog, she explained that this was basically a beware of the dog sign Pompeii style! We saw the fast food joints of the day, taverns and sit down restaurants, bakeries and bath houses. We saw the casts of people unfortunate enough to be caught up in the eruption. Quite remarkable considering the eruption that destroyed this city took place in 79 AD! This is a place I will never forget and should be on everyone’s list of places to visit.

In Rome we had a wonderful guide who took us on an early morning visit to the Colosseum. We also had stops at the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps before a lovely lunch in a traditional Italian restaurant. The Vatican was next where we were able to skip the long queue and had a private guide who was an art history student and did a great job of guiding us around before arriving at the Sistine Chapel. What a sight!

At Livorno we had organised a trip to Pisa and Florence. The leaning tower was great to see but Florence was the jewel in the crown.

Our next stop, Villefranche is gorgeous, with narrow little streets and lovely buildings. On days when there are cruise ships in port, stalls are set up along the water’s edge with handmade jewellery, clothes and souvenirs. It is about 5 miles from Nice and Monte Carlo is just a bit further in the other direction. Both can be easily reached by public bus or train. Other trips include Cannes, Antibes, St Tropez and the gorgeous medieval hilltop village of Eze. We took the local bus into Nice and walked through the lovely streets in the old town with its beautiful fruit and flower markets before having lunch on the promenade.

Our last port of call was Toulon in Provence. We took a trip to the pretty hilltop town of Le Castellet and in the afternoon visited the lovely seaside town of Bandol.

This was a great cruise. We saw so many wonderful places, amazing cities, breath taking countryside and coast and thousands of years of history all from the luxury of our ship. A highly recommended trip!