I’ve always wanted to do a cruise and the perfect opportunity came up following our wedding in Menerbes and three nights in Rome. We would embark on a 7-day cruise on the Crown Princess, from Athens to Venice, stopping off at a bunch of Greek islands (Mykonos, Katakolon and Corfu), Croatia and Venice. We had never visited Italy or Greece before this trip, so to say we’ve ticked off a few boxes is an understatement.
Cruise ship life in itself is something that simply has to be experienced. There is something truly special about arriving in each new city without heaving around luggage (stays on the boat in your cabin, while you explore) and being able to drive around from each port, be it by taxi or hire car/scooter. In Katakolon, for example, we walked from the ship directly to a scooter hire shop and went on a 40 minute ride to Olympia, home of the Olympic games. Did you know the Olympic torch starts its journey from Olympia to the host nation every Olympic Games? I didn’t. Six hours of exploring, shopping and eating later, we were back on the ship, heading for Corfu as the sun set. We waved goodbye to Katakolon and read up on Corfu, where we would be arriving by 9 the next morning – such was the theme of our seven nights at sea. We chose to do each city on our own, but there are very well organized tours available for each stop, should you wish to join.
Can you imagine the cost and pain of visiting and traveling around those same cities and countries in the same space of time? It certainly wouldn’t come close to the $1,700 it cost two of use (together, including meals) for the 7 day cruise. Read that again and think about it carefully. Imagine what you would pay to do all of that..
Back to life on the cruise ship..
I sensed it before but after seeing the different cruise companies and ships docking at each port, I can say for sure that the Princess Cruise company has the best ships. And the mix of guests is also impressive with every age group accounted for. We were on the ’Crown Princess’ and this beast is just spectacular. There are countless restaurants, lounges and indoor/outdoor bars, as well as a casino (tripled our money on the first night and stopped after that!) and about five pools and numerous hot tubs, steam rooms, gym, nightclub etc.
In terms of poolside relaxation, we preferred the pool in the ’Sanctuary’ which is where we spent most of our time chilling out, away from the mid-deck pool party – which we did dip into from time to time. We also made use of the adults-only pool at the very back of the ship which very relaxed and calm. Likewise, we preferred to pay a nominal fee to dine in the ’speciality’ restaurants, which provide a more high-end meal than the standard (free) meals/restaurants. Not that there was anything wrong with the standard meals, we just decided to treat ourselves. The Crown Grill was so good and specializes in seafood and meat. I still feel guilty for ordering that extra course of lobster, which I really didn’t need!
We opted for a cabin with a balcony which we only really started to enjoy towards the end – I guess we were too busy exploring before that. It was quite something rolling into Venice as the sun rose, taking in St. Mark’s Square from our balcony, with our room service coffee in hand! The TV was also great, as we caught up with world headlines on CNN every morning, before heading off to another city. And yes, there is Internet, with fairly decent speed, I might add!
On our next trip I think we will get a cabin with a small lounge and balcony, so that we can enjoy cocktails and meals in the room, making use of the various specials they have on bulk booze for your cabin.
The service on board is right up there with a 5-star hotel. There is a number you can call for any questions you might have – very useful, as getting to know your way around and learning about what is available to you on board (everything) takes a few calls and questions. You also have a cabin steward who will do anything you require. Our guy (Ian) even had a broken shoe mended!
I’m stoked to finally do Mykonos and it was mind blowing wandering around Olympia. We were completely blown away by Corfu which is so beautiful I had no idea! The small taste we had has definitely prompted us to plan a longer stay there next time we’re in Europe. The same can be said for Split (Croatia) as there are so many more islands for us to explore. And as for Venice.. wow. Words cannot describe. I’m so glad Venice included a sleep over, so we were able to indulge in lunch (Harry’s bar, no less – home of the Bellini and carpaccio) as well as a dinner!
It was well and truly a trip we will never forget and I honestly cannot fault Princess Cruises. Their organisation leaves you wanting for nothing. Looking at it in a business sense, I was constantly in awe of their systems and communication they have in place – leaving absolutely nothing to chance. They even transferred our luggage from our cabin door to the airport for us.
Before falling asleep every night we would read over their daily newsletter, which gives clear weather, history and advice for the next day’s city, as well as news about activities all over the boat. And boy are there activities – one of many highlights was a magician who performed in the Princess Theatre who we will never forget. Making things float in mid-air and more – it was crazy. We also won $160 from an original amount of $50 at the roulette table and celebrated on the ship’s nightclub dance floor later that night! Turns out I’ve still got those moves..
Thank you Princess Cruises for delivering above and beyond our wildest dreams. We will be back!
Check out some of our pics from Venice, Croatia, Corfu, Olympia, Mykonos and around the Crown Princess cruise ship.
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