Editor Travels; A Mediterranean Cruise – Visiting 6 ports in 7 days
We’ve just got back from an amazing 7 day Mediterranean cruise with Princess Cruises. This was my third cruise, and the first cruise with my family. We had an amazing week on board Regal Princess and travelled through a total of 6 ports across Spain, France and Italy, including the embarkation and disembarkation ports. Our cruise itinerary was as follows;
- Day 1: Barcelona (embarkation)
- Day 2: At sea
- Day 3: Gibraltar
- Day 4: At sea
- Day 5: Marseille
- Day 6: Genoa (Rapallo)
- Day 7: Livorno (Florence)
- Day 8: Civitavecchia (Rome)
The amazing thing about cruising is that you get to cover so much ground and visit multiple destinations with minimal effort. It felt so special waking up in a new place every morning, with my son and partner along for the ride.
Read on to find out what we did in each destination and how we got from the port to our heart of each destination. I've also included some of my top tips based on our own experience.
This blog post has been created as part of a paid content campaign with Princess Cruises. All words, views and photos are my own.
Visiting 6 Ports in 7 Days on our Mediterranean Cruise
Barcelona was the starting point of our 7 day Mediterranean cruise. We flew in the day before, which gave us some time to explore Barcelona. We hopped on the Aerobus from Barcelona Airport to the Placa Espanya, where our hotel was located. We managed to squeeze in a visit to the viewing platform at Arenas de Barcelona shopping centre, some authentic Spanish tapas, a walk down Las Ramblas and a metro ride (which our train-obsessed son loved). To reach the Port of Barcelona we hopped in a 15 minute taxi which was reasonable and very easy.
We stayed 1 night at The Onix Fira Barcelona which is a good value hotel and ideal for a one night stopover.
Top Tip: Barcelona's Aerobus is a super easy and cheap way to get from Barcelona Airport to the city centre. One way tickets cost only 5.90 euros and the buses go from the arrivals terminal every 5-10 minutes. But be aware that face masks are still obligatory on buses in Spain and you will be refused a ride if you are not wearing one (we learnt this the hard way!). This was in September 2022.
The first port of our Mediterranean cruise was Gibraltar which was a great introductory destination. As Gibraltar is a small island, there were no long transfer times. You could simply step off the ship and walk in to the town centre. We booked a dolphin spotting shore excursion which was incredibly special and memorable (the cost was $79.95 per adult). We saw so many common and bottle nose dolphins! After the shore excursion ended we caught a public bus before catching the cable car up to the top of the rock of Gibraltar!
The rock of Gibraltar is best known for the monkeys that live on it and for the historical cable car that can take you up. It’s a unique experience and a must for anyone spending the day in Gibraltar. We even found a little playground for Theo near the Commonwealth Park.
Top Tip: If you're visiting the cable car independently (not included in a tour) then be sure to book your tickets in advance online. This will allow you to jump the main queue and save lots of time. You don't need to book for a specific time, just a specific day. A cable car return ticket is £18. Children over 5 are £8.50 and under 5's go free.
After a sea day on board Regal Princess, we docked at Marseille, France. Instead of booking a shore excursion for Marseille, we booked return coach transfers from the port and explored in our own time. The cost for the transfers was $16 per adult, and our son went free. The transfer took around 25 minutes and felt easy and convenient.
Before the day I researched ‘child friendly things to do in Marseille’ and found ‘Le Petit Train de Marseille’, a hope-on-hop-off tourist train operating 2 different routes across the city. This was the perfect activity to do with our son as we got to see lots of Marseille whilst keeping him entertained by the ride. The train took us up to the famous Notre Dame de la Garde which towers over the city. The cost was 9 euros per person and our son went free.
We soaked in the views from the Notre Dame and explored the cathedral before coming back down to wander around the Vieux Port. This is where we found Bar de la Marine, a bar used to film the proposal scene in Love Actually!
4. Rapallo (Genoa port)
The second half of our cruise included major Italian ports which serve as gateways to some of the most iconic destinations in Italy. From the city of Genoa, you can access the spectacular Cinque Terre as well as the coastal town of Portofino. Genoa itself also has a lot to offer if you don’t fancy a longer transfer.
We opted for a shore excursion to the coastal town of Rapallo, which is the neighbouring town to Portofino. The guided tour included transfers to Rapallo, a short walking tour of the old town, a coffee and pastry stop as well as lunch and a cooking demonstration at Dao Vittorio in Recco. This historical restaurant dates back to 1865 and has been passed down the same family for 6 generations. The food was phenomenal and it tasted even better after seeing how the pesto and focaccia is traditionally made.
Our day in Rapallo was my favourite of the whole cruise because everything just went so smoothly, Theo was so well behaved and the food was incredible. Had we not have booked on to the shore excursion there is no way we’d have had this unique experience. The exact tour was the Princess cruises Rapallo and pesto tasting and cost $149.95 per person which is relatively high for a shore excursion because it included a generous amount of food and drink.
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5. Florence (Livorno port)
Livorno was our final port of the cruise which is the gateway to Tuscany and to beautiful towns such as Florence, Pisa, Siena and San Gimignano. Scott and I road-tripped Tuscany in 2016 so I couldn’t wait to return, but now as a family with our son. We booked a ‘Florence on your own’ shore excursion via Princess Cruises, which included a guide-led transfer to and from the city.
Even though we were exploring Florence independently, it was nice to have a local guide give us tips and advice for our day during the transfer. I knew this would be the longest transfer of our cruise, but unfortunately traffic and a toilet stop took the transfer from 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours. In hindsight, a 4 hour round trip was just far too much for a young child and it was a bit of a lesson for us to be more selective on shore excursions with long transfers.
I re-read my City Guide to Florence to retrace our steps and find my favourite restaurant from our old trip. Unfortunately Osteria di Giovanni was closed on the day we visited (amazing, authentic restaurant off the beaten paths which I highly recommend), but we found a great alternative in Ristorante Pensavo Peggio, which is located on the same street, Via del Moro. We also booked tickets to the Interactive Leonardo Da Vinci Museum as we felt it would be the most engaging museum for our 3 year old. Unfortunately he was still a little young for the museum and the activities within it so we whizzed round the whole thing in around 25 minutes.
I loved having the opportunity to return to Florence but it didn’t feel like a very child-friendly city, so we did struggle at times. But as my Mum says, Florence will always be there! We can return another time to enjoy it as a couple, or when Theo is older.
6. Rome (Civitavecchia port)
Civitavecchia was the disembarkation port of our mediterranean cruise, which provides easy access to the city of Rome. I would have loved to tag a couple of extra nights in Rome but we’d already been away for 2 weeks at this point and Scott couldn’t take any more leave.
A great tip for booking a cruise is to consider your embarkation and disembarkation ports, how accessible they are to you and if they’re good places to extend your holiday by a few nights.
We absolutely loved our Mediterranean cruise with Princess Cruises and can’t wait to cruise again as a family soon.
Good to Know
Good news! Princess Cruises is running this same cruise itinerary on Enchanted Princess in 2023, meaning you too can experience a 7 night Mediterranean cruise from £549 per adult.
Alternatively, if you fancy experiencing the same cruise ship but a different cruise route, Regal Princess will be sailing from Southampton for the 2023 season with 8 night cruises from £649. If you’re based in the UK like me, this means you can enjoy this amazing cruise ship without taking a flight.
Read more cruise blogs from The Travelista
Read more about Regal Princess and my previous cruises;
- My Regal Princess Ship Tour
- 13 fun and child-friendly things to do on board Regal Princess
- The Ultimate Cruise Ship Guide to Enchanted Princess
- 9 Reasons to try Cruising with Kids