“It’s a funny thing coming home. Nothing changes. Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realize what’s changed is you.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald
My daughter and I have been back home in Florida now for three days. If you follow me on social media you know that we were on on epic 11 day adventure in the Mediterranean Sea on the newest ship in Carnival Cruise Line’s Fleet…the Vista. That ship, quite literally changed our lives and I’m still trying to process it all.
Vista provided us with amazing food, a warm and cozy bed, non-stop entertainment and above all else, safe passage to ten ports of call in five different countries. We were lucky enough to have sailed with at least a dozen of our fellow travel friends and each port of call was a brand new, eye opening cultural experience for both me and my daughter.
Over the next few days I’ll be going into great detail about each day of our voyage. For now…here’s a little taste of what every day brought to our lives on what is most definitely the greatest adventure we have been on thus far…
Day 1 – Barcelona, Spain
Day one had us arriving in Barcelona after an eight hour red-eye flight from Orlando. We checked into our stateroom, attended a cocktail reception at the Red Frog Pub and Brewery and then attempted to stay awake during dinner in the Reflections Dining Room. Suffice it to say, this bed was a welcoming site.
Day 2 – Marseilles, France
Our first port of call had us exploring Aix en Provence. It was chilly. We wandered cobblestone streets eating croissants and French macarons and perusing the farmers market. When we made it back to the ship we got a sneak peek of the first three-story IMAX at sea movie theater.
Day 3 – Livorno, Italy
We took a thirty minute shuttle into Pisa on day three. This was the one excursion that my daughter had requested. We toured Miracle Square, the Cathedral, the Baptistry and of course snapped the iconic “holding up the leaning tower” photo. That evening we experienced dinner service at the Vista’s Italian eatery…Cucina del Capitano.
Day 4 – Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy
Jet lag attempted to get a grip on me on day four, but the teenager dragged me kicking and screaming out of bed for an eleven hour adventure in Rome. It would have been the regret of a lifetime had I not listened to her. Rome…oh Rome. There was something magnificent around every corner in Rome. We toured the Colosseum & Vatican City, tossed coins into the Trevi Fountain and sipped local wine with lunch. I have SO much to share with you from this port of call.
Day 5 – Naples, Italy
Naples was the first port that we had no scheduled excursions booked. We slept in and then wandered off the ship and into the city square after some Frogger worthy maneuvers. Pizza, gelato and of course wine were all purchased. Back on the ship, we were treated to dinner at my favorite Vista restaurant, JiJi Asian Kitchen. It’s all about the pork belly people… Ask me later about the murder we witnessed in port. (kidding…but only sort of)
Day 6 – Sea Day
I slept in until 1 p.m. I was so ashamed…and well rested. Lunch was room service followed a few hours later with dinner at Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse and then a preview of Carnival’s newest Playlist Production: FLICK which would have knocked my socks off had I been wearing any. It was magnificent!
Day 7 – Heraklion (Crete), Greece
Day seven marked our second port of call with no planned excursion. This was the teenager’s day to sleep in. She didn’t get off the ship in Crete but a group of eight of us chose our own adventure and walked a far piece from the dock and into the town center where I visited the oldest bakery in Crete and was able to score a traditional pork gyro.
Later that day we were granted exclusive access to the Vista’s bridge! I’ll have a separate post with all the behind-the-scenes access.
Day 8 – Rhodes, Greece
Rhodes was my favorite of all the Greek ports of call. The teenager and I took a few hours to explore the walled city, which is a quick walk right from the ship. We sampled more gyros, local wine and did some shopping. Oh… and we finally got the opportunity to dip our feet in the Mediterranean…brrr!
Day 9 – Kusadasi, Turkey
This was to be our second sea day but I was delightfully surprised that Turkey was added back on to our itinerary. Our seven hour “Best of Ephesus” excursion brought us high on a mountain top to the last known home of The Virgin Mary. Afterwards we traveled back down the mountain to investigate the ancient ruins of Ephesus. My favorite part of our day in Turkey was purchasing a savory pastry from a local street vendor.
That evening we were treated to cocktails and music in the beautiful Havana Bar back on the ship.
Day 10 – Piraeus (Athens), Greece
Our last port of call put us smack dab in the middle of Greek civilization. The highlight of the day was of course climbing up to the highest point in the city and standing at the Acropolis. We skipped quickly through the following museum tour so that we could venture out on our own in search of some local eats.
The evening concluded with an Instagram worthy sunset as we sipped cocktails out on the adults only Serenity Deck on the top of the Carnival Vista.
Day 11 – Debarkation Day
Debarkation day had us all scratching our heads wondering where the time had gone. My girlfriends and I discussed how we had wished we had booked back to back cruises. Eleven days and ten ports of call made time move in warp speed. Another eleven days to make the journey from Athens back to Barcelona would have been ideal.
Honestly, with the money saved on airfare doing a round-trip flight to and from Barcelona instead of two one-way flights, we may have been able to pay for the second leg of the journey.
There’s always next time….Carnival Vista II was launched while we were in Italy on this voyage and she debuts in 2018!!!!
Special thanks goes out to Carnival for hosting me and my daughter on this cruise. I was not compensated to write this post and all opinions are my own.