Cruising the Mediterranean Guides from around the world.
Why visit only one city when you can do up to five in a week? This year, I decided to try this new trend of conquering the world, where you spend an entire week in a luxury hotel and tour the Mediterranean. The Navigator of the Seas is the fourth in five of Royal Caribbean International’s Voyager class cruise ships. With so much to see and do on board, you may end up wishing you had booked back-to-back cruises. The ship sports some amazing features to keep your days filled with joy and passion: a rock-climbing wall, ice-skating rink, mall-like indoor promenade, a cigar lounge, a basketball court, a mini golf field, two pools, a Jacuzzi, a spa, a cosmetic lounge, an in-line skating track and much, much more.
We chose a large cabin with a balcony on the 14th floor of this 300 meter ship. The room was tastefully decorated in pleasing color tones with fine light woods finished in soothing greens and beiges. The room comes with a double bed, television, room service, a sofa and a mini bar. The ship cruises at night and stops at one of its five destinations every morning, giving you a full day to enjoy the best the city has to offer. Starting in the late afternoon, activities on the ship don’t seem to have a limit: Shows, casino, slot machines, bingo, drinks and restaurants are just a few of the attractions available for adults and kids alike.
Eating on the boat: A great range of dining options is available on board. For a sweet treat, head to the famous Ben & Jerry’s ice cream parlor. For a light snack, day or night, try the Café Promenade for a freshly prepared pizza or sandwich. For something more substantial, yet still casual, try Johnny Rockets, it has a great atmosphere and a menu of 1950s-style diner favorites. Fine dining is on the menu at Portofino and Chops Grille. The former offers Italian classics, the latter features up market grills such as Filet Mignon and mesquite-grilled salmon among others. The three-story main dining room - with each of its three levels named after famous ballets, like Swan Lake, Coppelia and The Nutcracker - is exquisite, with a warm and welcoming color scheme involving burgundy and gold, a grand staircase and a bronze sculpture of a dancer. On the third night is the gala dinner, a special night hosted by the captain and his team. For a more casual and easy dining experience, the complementary food court is open all day long and serves an international buffet of endless choices.
Fun and Entertainment: There are an abundance of options, such as Broadway-style productions (like Now & Forever and Dreamgirls, which feature the 14 Royal Caribbean singers and dancers). There’s also a group of Latino dancers and magicians that performs in a theater that can seat 1,350 people. One of the most unique features at sea is the ice skating rink. The huge walking atrium and the upper terraces are even bigger than Lebanon’s local beach resorts and offer the same fun possibilities. The entertainment portfolio covers all travelers’ needs aged between 2 and 92 years.
The cities visited:
Departing from the port of Civitavecchia, a few kilometers away from Rome, the ship takes you on a wonderful discovery to three countries and lasts six nights and seven days. Our journey started at the ancient city of Genoa.
Genoa is the 6th largest city in Italy and is filled with architectural wonders that represent its rich past. Part of the old town of Genoa was inscribed on the World Heritage List (UNESCO) in 2006. The city's rich art, music, gastronomy, architecture and history, allowed it to become the 2004's European capital of culture. Make sure to visit the Medieval Gates of Genoa, the palace of St. Georges, the monument of Christopher Columbus, the Piazza Ferrari and the iconic Lanterna. The sightseeing red bus can help you visit them all in just a couple of hours. Also, don’t miss the Spianata di Castelletto, a gorgeous "terrace" that hangs in the historical center district; it offers fabulous view of the city and port.
The second stop was in Villefranche, France a summer paradise east of Nice. Villefranche-sur-Mer adjoins the city of Nice to the east along Mont Boron, Mont Alban and Mont Vinaigrier, and is 10 km southwest of Monaco. Cannes is also not far way. The bay of Villefranche is one of the deepest natural harbors of any port in the Mediterranean Sea and provides safe anchorage for large ships. The city limits extend to the hills that surround the bay and soar from sea level to an altitude of 520 meters at Mont-Leuze. The three "Corniches" or main roads linking Nice to Italy pass through Villefranche. We chose Nice and went on a shopping spree before having lunch at La Pizza, one of the most famous Italian restaurants of the city.
For our third breakfast, the ship had already stopped in Barcelona — my favorite destination — which we discovered during the previous City Guide. Barcelona is the land of wonders, an amazing city that radiates culture. The first thing you should do is grab the “Hop-On, Hop-Off” bus since it’s the easiest and quickest way to discover the best of the Gaudi’s, which includes: The Olympic city, Gaudi’s monuments, the Barca football arena, the Placa Espana and much more. Additionally, lunch at the Marina is the best you can have.
Continuing our quest to discover more and more of the Spanish Mediterranean coast, Palma De Mallorca was our fourth stop. The Palma City Sightseeing bus does a circuit of Palma that includes tourist attractions like Pueblo Español and major shopping centers like Av. Jaume III and Porto Pi, the Castell de Bellver, Passeo Maritimo, the historical center as well as the ferry and commercial ports. The busses are double-decker and the top floor is open air to enjoy the weather and the breathtaking views.
Arriving to Sardinia, we had to choose something quick and easy since Sardinia is the second largest Mediterranean city and visiting everything it had to offer was impossible. Sardinia has few well-known monuments, but many are worth visiting. In particular, Cagliari (Casteddu, Castle) and Barumini (in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites since 1997) are beautiful landmarks and won’t let you down. A nice view that overlooks the city can be enjoyed from the Cathedral while having a bite before returning to the ship.
The last day at sea is designated for cruising; you can enjoy the boat during the day and try all the water activities on deck, or you can spend your day sunbathing. It is a great experience and comes at a reasonable price considering that the packages include Bed and full board for a week with no additional charges.