Hope you’re all having a great start to the weekend?
As promised, I’m blogging about day’s 1-3 of the cruise. I have decided to split the cruise travel post into two blog posts – you will see I have gone into a lot of detail about the trip but this is because I received so many emails and questions on social media from people wanting to know specific details about the trip. I hope to tell you as much as I can so you get a really clear picture about cruising.
Prior to this, I had never done a cruise before and when I was asking around about cruising, I heard glowing reports from different family members and friends. They all said the same thing – once you start cruising, you will always want to cruise!
To tell you the truth, I never understood the attraction. I couldn’t figure out the appeal of staying on a ship and docking at certain places for a few hours. But after returning from a week spent on the biggest ship in the world, I now ABSOLUTELY get the appeal! They’re simply amazing!
Myself and Dylan along with my mum and dad had talked about taking a holiday together after we got engaged. I had suggested a Caribbean cruise, but my mam isn’t a great flyer and didn’t want to spend long flying, so we decided on a Mediterranean cruise.
After agreeing on a route and type of trip, I took to my Instagram and asked you guys, my followers, what you recommend; location, type of ship, cruising company etc, and 90% of you came back said Royal Caribbean for sure were the best to cruise with. Lots of you recommended the Harmony of the Seas ship, while others suggested the Allure of the Seas. That night a company called Cruises For You commented on my Instagram asking me to get in touch with them as they were cruise specialists and could help me arrange the perfect trip.
If you’re a long term follower of me, then you will know that I really prefer going to specialists – whatever the topic, be it brows, skin, travel, weddings etc, I like to go with a specialist – that way I know I’m getting the best advice from someone who specialises in that field. So that night I messaged Cruises For You on Instagram and we arranged a call for the following day.
The following evening, a lovely lady called Pamela called me to get booking our trip. She asked me what we wanted and I explained to her that we didn’t want anything boring or too quiet. She recommended the Harmony Of The Seas ship with Royal Caribbean telling us how much there was to do onboard.
Pamela explained that this was the biggest ship in the world but that after September, it would no longer be cruising in the Mediterranean seas as it was originally built for the Caribbean waters. I figured now was the time to snap up this great opportunity so after discussing it with Dylan and my parents, we decided to go for it!
The boat itself was docked in Barcelona and from there, we would be visiting: Palma de Mallorca >> Marseille >>Florence >> Rome >>Naples and then back to Barcelona.
I had always loved history in school – I even love the all the old historical movies like Gladiator, Braveheart and Ben Hur – they’re my absolute faves of all time…. so I was really excited by the idea of visiting locations that were so full of history.
If you like a good quality tourist attractions with lots of history behind them, then you will really enjoy this route, especially Rome and Naples!
Now to get started on the trip itself, and before I begin I just want to note a little disclaimer. From day 1 I have always been honest in my posts. I don’t like writing negatively about things, so when it comes to beauty and fashion, if I don’t like a product, I just won’t feature it on my blog at all. I like to keep my blog for the things that I truly love, however when it comes to travel, I do like to list the pros and cons because let’s face it, travel isn’t cheap and I think it’s good when people can learn from the experiences of others.
Hands down, this cruise was the most expensive trip we’ve ever been on. I have travelled a lot, stayed at some very luxurious locations, but the cruise was definitely the most expensive. Cruises alone are quite expensive and when you get on to ship, there are some extra charges on top of what you have already paid for which might set a few people back – I know we were a little surprised.
Granted, my pros and cons might be very different to someone else’s, but this post is based solely on my experience and my own personal opinion. I will try to shed as much light on cruising by discussing the highs and lows – as I received a tonne of emails about my trip while I was away.
I can still honestly say that the cruise was the most wonderful experience I have ever had. We got to see so much and by the end of the trip, we really felt as though we got your money’s worth.
When it came to the excursions, the Royal Caribbean guided tours were amazing from start to finish. From the food to the transport, they were 100% worth it. We booked one or two direct tours ourselves, and yes while they were great – they were not a patch on the Royal Caribbean excursions. The excursions are pricey but they are so definitely worth it – I’ll tell you more about this in my days 4-7 blog post.
TIP: The minute you board, download the Royal Caribbean app and book your excursions / restaurants as they book up fast!
Having been on a cruise, I can see why people get addicted to them. We get to visit so many amazing iconic landmarks that I never thought I would ever get to see. Every day was different, the service was phenomenal and the food, though expensive, was superb.
Day 1 – Barcelona
Our ship was docked at Barcelona, so we decided to fly into the city the day before and give ourselves a chance to explore the place.
The direct flights from Dublin to Barcelona were crazy money so we decided to book a flight from Dublin to Birmingham and then fly from there to Barcelona. It worked out MUCH cheaper. We stayed in a standard hotel close to airport and got an early night as we were up early the following day to explore the city of Barcelona and later we would board the ship for our cruise.
When you have booked your cruise, everyone gets to choose their boarding time so we chose to board at 3.30pm that Sunday so that we could spend a few hours in Barcelona. That morning we enjoyed Breakfast together in a quaint little cafe in the city called La Esquina, after that we strolled the busy streets of Barcelona and checked out some of the most amazing shoes shops.
Nearly every street had these cool shoe boutiques – myself and my mam checked out nearly every one as we passed by. Later that day we stopped off for some croissants and tea in a beautiful café that overlooked the city. It was so beautiful! I have to say Barcelona is a place I will definitely be returning to. For the short time we were there, we absolutely loved every second of it.
Shortly after we headed back to the hotel and collected our luggage, we ordered and taxi to take us to the port and we were so excited.
As we were driving up to the boat, we were absolutely blown away by the sheer size of the ship. We were actually flabbergasted by how big it was. It really is like a city on the water. Those of you who are following me on Snapchat (sosueme_ie) will have seen how huge it was inside!
There were cafes, pizza shops, boutiques, jewellers, bars, a casino, skating rink, and even a place called Central Park which is a garden that leads you through to a restaurant. It was mind blowing to think that all this was on a ship! It catered for 8,500 people on board including crew so that will give you some indication as to its size.
When we checked in, went straight to our bedrooms to drop off all the luggage. We booked the ocean view balcony bedrooms which looked out on to the sea and they were amazing. There are lots of different options when choosing your bedroom type and what it really boils down to is personal preference and budget.
We decided to go for the middle of the road which was the ocean view rooms and they was absolutely perfect. It was a nice size, and it was so nice to be able to sit out on the balcony with a drink and watch the world go by.
There was lots of wardrobe space, a fab rain shower, and a nice king size bed. It was perfect.
There was one thing we noticed at this point and that was there no iron in our wardrobe. We rang down to customer service and the explained that there is no irons on the ship so if you want anything ironed, you have to pay per item. This could be anything from $3 per item, and even though that doesn’t sound like much, it quickly adds up! So for us, that was a bit of a bummer.
While speaking of charges, I would also recommend that you go with the drinks package on board and the wifi. The drinks package for the week is $500 per person which I know sounds like crazy money, but bear with me! The package includes everything from tea/coffee at breakfast to smoothies and bottles of water during the day, to your wine with dinner at night and your spirits.
It works out at $55 per day per person and to give you an indication of prices – a cocktail is $13 and a vodka & 7up is the same. At first we thought there was no way would spend that much on drinks, but at the end of the trip, when we added it up roughly what we would have spent – we definitely made the right choice by opting for the package.
The WIFI is $15 dollars per day per device but very fast and worth purchasing as you will have NO service at sea.
That night when we were at sea, we decided to check out a show on the ice skating rink. The entertainment on the ship changes each night and I have to take my hat off to them, it was absolutely world class. There was amazing entertainment for children, couples, elderly people, families … it really ticked all the boxes.
This was also the night my dad made his Snapchat debut. I think for everyone, my dad was the man of the week. haha! You guys really seemed to enjoy his sense of humour!
So that night at the ice skating rink, the professional ice skaters put on a show that absolutely blew everyone away. I was always obsessed with ice skaters when I was younger and I LOVED the movie The Cutting Edge as a teenager, so when I heard there was pro ice skating show taking place, you can be sure I was dying to check it out.
Harmony Of The Seas actually headhunts their entertainment from organisations like Broadway, and the Olympics, so you can be sure you’re viewing serious talent!
Following the ice skating, we decided to pay a trip to the casino as myself, dad and Dylan love a bit of blackjack.
We didn’t stay too long though as we were tired and we had a jam packed day ahead of us the following morning!
Day 2 – Palma de Mallorca
We arrived to Mallorca circa 6am and we got off the ship at 10am. From there we got transport into Palma de Mallorca and began about our day. Pala De Mallorca was absolutely one of my favourite places to visit on the cruise.
It was so beautiful. Real old school Spanish style, with cobbled side streets and pretty water fountains. We didn’t book an excursion for Mallorca because we wanted to do our own thing that day. We visited some nice sites, before heading back to ship. It’s definitely a place I would like to go back to someday.
Back on the ship, we got ready that night for the Captains Dinner. The Captains Dinner is a very formal night and if you want, you can meet the captain and get a picture with him. Everyone dresses up and goes very glam. It was an exciting night too because it was our first real night on ship.
I wore a beautiful fringe black dress which you guys loved, my mum wore a stunning ted baker cocktail dress and the lads (dad and Dylan) were suited and booted in tuxes – you can actually rent these on board for $70, so don’t worry if you’re heading and you start freaking out about not having a suit 🙂
After dinner, we went to a jazz club – which is a really swanky bar and then later on to the nightclub (yes a full-on nightclub) and then on to the casino where we also enjoyed a few more drinks and let the hair down.
We actually won some money at the blackjack table that night so that was a nice end to the day!
Day 3 – Marsailles
Marseilles was another beautiful location. We visited Notre Dame and this is where Dylan tried to fly the drone but wasn’t allowed! There was another guy there trying to fly one as well but he also got a slap on the wrist! It was such a pity because the area was beautiful so the drone footage would have been amazing!
We did the open bus tour around different landmarks which was amazing and we learned all about the history of Marseilles.
TIP: Don’t visit places when you’re hungover and it’s really hot outside! Not good – I was in a ball by the end of the day! haha.
After exploring Marsailles, we came back to the hotel and had dinner before going to watch the musical Columbus which was on in the ship’s theatre. It was absolutely brilliant. The stage performances were excellent and the props were unbelievable. It was literally like something you would see in the Bord Gais Energy Theatre.
Afterwards we enjoyed a few drinks in the piano bar. One thing about the ship is there are so many bars to choose from… every night you could visit a different one! There was a very talented Australian pianist who would play songs requested by the guests, so we decided to request a few numbers including our wedding song!
It was so nice to hear her version of it and such a lovely way to end the night!
And that’s it for days 1-3, days 4-7 will be live on Monday!