Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Cruise Tips + Pictures From Our Trip

First of all, thank you to Kelley for taking charge over the last three weeks while I was away for my wedding and honeymoon. It was all a whirlwind, but everything was just perfect. 

I hope to post some pictures from the wedding once we get them all back from our awesome photographer, Josh. Side note: Josh photographed Katherine Webb and AJ McCarron's wedding last weekend, so we're in the company of Alabama Royalty!

R.B. and I were so fortunate to be able to take a two week honeymoon to the Mediterranean. We flew into Barcelona, got on a cruise ship, and ended in Rome. We stopped in Marseille, Monaco, Calvi, Florence, Tunisia, Sicily, and Naples along the way. It was such a great trip. 

Being that it was my first cruise, I wasn't really sure what to expect. But, it ended up exceeding my expectations. And, we picked up a few tips that may help you on your next cruise. 

1. Upgrade your room if possible: The regular rooms on cruise ships aren't particularly large. We upgraded to a room with a private balcony, and it was our best decision of the trip. Even though you don't spend much time in your room (hopefully), 11 days is a long time in one tiny room. We enjoyed reading on the balcony and watching the sun set each night.

2. Participate in the onboard activities: There are tons of activities on board the ship all day every day, ranging from Bingo to musical entertainment to karaoke. We tried to do something every night after dinner. We especially enjoyed the shows by the Noordam Singers and Dancers (mini Broadway-type shows), the Marriage Game Show, and karaoke. 

This was our favorite show on the ship by the musicians of the BB King Blues Lounge.

3. Book spa appointments ahead of time: I really enjoyed some relaxation time at the spa, but I learned that if you want a prime appointment time (ie. an at sea day), you better book before the ship leaves. The appointments book fast, but you can usually book online before you leave. 

I got a keratin treatment while on board, so I sported straight hair most of the trip. This is in Marseille.

4. Research your shore excursions: There is tons of information online for just about every cruise port city and the excursions that are available. We gleaned lots of great information from Cruise Critic. We purchased excursions through the cruise line for Marseille, which also included Aix-en-Provence, Tunisia, Sicily, and Naples, and we purchased a shuttle pass through the cruise for Florence, but explored the city on our own. We also did Monaco and Calvi on our own. We enjoyed the Aix-en-Provence/Marseille and Pompeii/Sorrento (Naples) excursions the most. The tour guides are very knowledgeable about the area, so you're able to learn a lot. And, everything is prearranged, so it makes things much easier and less stressful. 

La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona




Calvi, France


Carthage in Tunisia

Sidi Bou Said in Tunisia

Palermo, Sicily

Sorrento is known for their huge lemons and limoncello.

The people of Pompeii were instantly fossilized under 20-30 feet of volcanic ash from an explosion of Mt. Vesuvius. 

We have over 1200 pictures from the trip, so if you'd like to see the slideshow, come on over! 

Here are a couple to make you laugh...

At the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco

We've all had one of those days...

We had a wonderful time and can't wait to go back! Are there any tips you would add to the list? Where are some of your favorite vacation spots? 

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