We made the decision that we were finally going to take a trip to Europe. After a lot of time and research, we decided to take a Mediterranean cruise. This seemed to be the best way to see a lot of Europe, in a relatively short amount of time, for an exceptional price. As we would go from port to port, traveling at night while we were eating dinner or sleeping, and we did not have to take travel time out of our schedule.
We found a 12 day Grand Mediterranean cruise on the Norwegian Spirit for a really good price and the 3rd and 4th person in our cabin went free. We had a lot of reservations about this trip because after extensive research we found very mixed reviews about this itinerary and this specific ship. We found a lot of reviews that said the boat was older and outdated and lacking in just about every area. I was very apprehensive that we were going to regret spending the amount of time and money that we would have to spend and not be happy with our choices.
While the Norwegian Spirit is an older and smaller boat than the new Mega ships many cruise lines have, I personally think it has a charm all of its own. The staff was extremely helpful and attentive. The entertainment was great! Food was amazing! We booked a balcony cabin that was small but very clean and everything was in working order. We did book a behind the scenes tour of the boat. In spite of this being our fifth cruise, we had never taken a behind the scenes tour. I highly recommend it! It was a very unique experience to see how these cities on water operate. Overall, I was very happy with what the Spirit had to offer.
Again, after much research we decided to do our tours outside of the cruise line. It was a lot cheaper than the cruise line prices to book on our own and there was a greater variety of tour options. We took other travelers recommendations for tour companies to use and we ended up using two different tour companies and we were very happy with both companies and with all of our different tour guides. I would definitely recommend doing the tours outside of the cruise line. We booked everything online before we ever left home and had tour guides waiting for us in each port where we had booked a tour. Very smooth process with no hiccups.
Considering we got the cruise for 799 a person and a our son went with us for free, the price of the cruise was great! We did make the decision to book our airfare through the cruise line so that we were guaranteed that the cruise would not leave without us if we had flight delays. It was a few hundred dollars more to book through the cruise line than to book on our own, especially since we had points that we could have used, but in hindsight, I do not regret having the piece of mind.
We left from New York going non stop to Venice, Italy. It was not a good day to be in Venice unfortunately. It was windy, rainy and very cold. We still had an amazing experience but it could have been better. I was very disappointed that we could not ride a gondola because of the wind and the rough waters. I had my mind set on taking a gondola ride. So I guess Venice will remain on my bucket list. I will have to go back again.
We tried the Gelato in Venice and I have to say it was probably my favorite in all of Europe. We tried the Gelato in several other places and did not find any better than in Venice. The architecture is truly amazing on some of the buildings in Venice and of course the city on water is a very unique experience. The shopping is very diversified and we bought some very nice souvenirs of Murano glass to bring home.
We had very limited time in Venice considering that our flights did not get in until late morning and by the time we got to the port and got checked in to our rooms, it was already early afternoon. I had read a lot of information about it being very difficult to get from the port to Venice but it was very simple. We left the port area and followed very specific signs to a water taxi and paid a very reasonable sum to get us across the water to Venice. It was also a round trip ticket with taxis coming back every 30 minutes.
We did not have time to book any tours in Venice because of the late time we arrived in the city, the tours were only available earlier in the day. We walked around and shopped and bought some souvenirs and sampled the gelato and looked at the architecture and walked thru a museum. We did get to see some people taking gondola rides as there was a few still on the water even though we could not find anyone open when we arrived due to the weather.
Overall it is a very unique city that I think everyone should see at least once in a lifetime. After a throughly exhausting day, we headed back to the Spirit to get cleaned up and eat dinner. The jet lag was very exhausting, we ended up eating an early dinner and sleeping in the next day until almost noon.
Onto day two! Croatia, here we come!