My trip to Europe was divided into two segments, one was spending a week in Spain and Italy and the other was sailing away for nine nights on a cruise. My family and I went on the Jewel of the Seas from Royal Caribbean, and I got to say... it has been the best cruise I have been on! We went to Italian and Greek islands, as well as having two days at sea. It was an experience that will live in my heart forever.
Day #1: Civitavecchia
Day number 1 was the day of boarding from Civitavecchia in Rome. My family and I got to the ship early in the morning, that way we could take full advantage of all of the amenities. We scouted all the lounges, clubs, bars, restaurants, and other facilities our first few hours on board. We sailed away in the evening and with that, our cruise adventures began! Each day we were at a different port, and in each port we had an excursion through Royal Caribbean. I highly recommend booking tours with them, it might be a little more expensive but you are guaranteed to have a great time and be back on the ship on time.
Day #2: Sicily
The first port was Sicily. We took the excursion called "In the Godfather's Footsteps", and it basically took us around the places where the movie The Godfather was filmed. We got to see the famous Bar Vitelli, try some limoncello, and the church where Michael gets married in the movie. Our tour gave us some limoncello ices along with a piece of Sicilian bread, and told us that we needed to dip it into our ices for the "true Sicilian taste". I definitely recommend doing it, you would never have guessed that bread tastes amazing with limoncello ices!
Day #3: At Sea
Our third day was spent at sea, and just like any other person on a cruise we did exactly what we were supposed to do... relax! The entire day we spent it under the sun by the pool. That night was also one of the two formal dinner nights, so my family and I dressed our absolute best!
Day #4: Mykonos
Our excursion in Mykonos got cancelled because of the bad weather, and it worked out for the best! Originally, we were going to go to one of the beaches and not see the main town. My family and I ventured into the town in the rain and made the best out of it. At one point we were freezing so we sat at a local caffe and we each ordered a Greek Coffee. I had never had one before, and I must say you MUST try them, simply delicious and uplifting. The day cleared out around noon and the sun truly made Mykonos come alive. I recommend definitely doing Mykonos on your own, no excursions. It is a really small town and you cannot get lost at all, plus you get to see amazing little stores with locally made jewelry.
Day #5: Rhodes
The next port we went to was Rhodes and we took an excursion to the Acropolis in Lindos. On our way there we stopped at a ceramics shop where we saw how all the famous Greek pottery is made. My favorite pice was a cup designed to teach people how to be humble; the cup would only hold a certain amount of wine and if the person poured any more, then the entire cup would drain the wine. After the shop we headed to see the Acropolis. This is one of the temples of the Greek Goddess Athena, and to get there it is a long hike so be ready to climb a lot of stairs. At the top of the Acropolis you have the most amazing view of the beach that is down below and the rest of the city. After seeing the temple, we went down and got ourselves frozen greek yogurt, which I highly recommend, and made our way to the beach and relaxed for the remainder of the day.
Day #6: Santorini
It has always been a dream of mine to see Santorini, and this trip made it come true! If I had to describe Santorini, it would be Mykonos times ten. Both places are gorgeous, but Santorini is much bigger and wider. The excursion took us to the main tourist areas of Santorini and even showed us the most expensive hotels, which range from 1,000 - 2,000 euros a night! We had a little wine tasting during the day of some Santorini Wines, and I'm normally a sucker for the red wine but the dessert wine was definitely the best one! We ended our stay with a nice rooftop lunch of traditional mediterranean food with a view of the ocean and our cruise.
Day #7: Athens
I was super excited to go to Athens, particularly because I really wanted to see the Parthenon, dedicated to the Greek Goddess Athena. This is one of the most famous Greek Temples, so naturally it was a must on our list. Just like the Acropolis in Lindos, getting to the temple required a hike, but it was not as bad as the one from Lindos. The Parthenon is massive, and it can be seen from anywhere in Athens. After seeing the temple, we went down to the city and had falafels! I've tried them in New York, but nothing will ever beat the taste of a falafel made in Greece.
Day #8: At Sea
Day eight was our second sea day, and just like the first sea day, we spent it relaxing all day! At night though, we did have another formal dinner night and we got invited by a very special duo dynamic family to join them at their table. This entire day, although spent at sea, was super special to me. I cherished every moment and activity I did that day. It is a day that will remain in my heart always.
Day #9: Naples
This was the longest day of the entire trip, our excursion went to Capri, Sorrento, and Pompeii, and it would take around 10 hours to complete. But, it was totally worth it! Capri was absolutely beautiful and it became my favorite spot that we visited. The atmosphere in Capri was very elite, most of the stores were big fashion houses like Dolce & Gabbana and Chanel. I was also able to see the famous Lovers Rock, did not get to sail through it but maybe next time! We had lunch in Sorrento and afterwards headed towards Pompeii. Seeing the aftermath of what the eruption of Mount Vesuvio did to Pompeii was shocking, seeing the bodies was even more shocking.
The cruise was an amazing experience and what made it even better were the people that I met. We all bonded quickly and would see each other every night and would not leave each others' sides until it was late at night... or really early in the morning. I know that our paths will cross again, and I am excited for when that day comes. I am a determined person and do not give up easily, so I am keeping the promise I made at the end of this cruise forever. And a very special thank you to the woman that made this entire trip possible, my mother! I love you so much, you are a beautiful human being and one of my biggest inspirations. Thank you thank you thank you!