April 2018 - 7 Night Western Mediterranean (Barcelona Roundtrip) Cruise on Carnival Horizon
A Taste of Italy
There was a serious problem with returning to the ship in Cagliari, Sardinia. With several ships in there were 1000s of people trying to catch the required shuttle + zero organization = near riot. Carnival has changed out this port now. The options in Naples were so much that I wished we had an extra day there instead of Cagliari! Rome was fabulous!! As was Florence but there are several public transport to be aware of: shuttle to bus area of port (required and 5€) then get public bus tickets and take public bus to train station (1.30€) to get into Florence or Pisa on your own. So add that 1/2 hr+ to your timetable! The public bus back to Piazza Grande (Grande 4) will be packed!!
The shuttle to downtown Marseille was 17€ but heard from other cruisers that there was a free city shuttle a short walk down the pier. We did a private tour to Aix-en-Provence and Cassis and loved it! The views overlooking Cassis are awe-inspiring!! Cassis (Cass-ee) is a beautiful marina village. You deserve a glass of some wine or drink outside in the pier !!
The Norwegian Fjord cruise has so many beautiful places on the itinerary - you can't go wrong with these ports. There isn't really enough time to do some of the more distant hikes, like Pulpit's Rock, but if the ship wasn't going north-south-north-south, perhaps there could be? I wish there was more time in the towns where the excursion options involved distance places (like Flaam).
Carnival Horizon - Get back from shore a little early if you want to get a lounge in Serenity
Livorno (Florence & Pisa), Italy - We loved Florence ! I had been here before so bee-lined to Mercato Centrale for my spices that I was running out of at home. Now loaded up we headed down the back way towards the Duomo and Santa Croce to see Galileo and Michelangelo. We crossed the Arno and walked up to Piazzale Michelangelo for the amazing views of the city. A nice lunch and we headed to Ponte Vecchio, Piazza Reppublica, David, more gelato (expect 10€ cones near the Piazza Republica and Duomo ) and a walk to Santa Maria Novella before catching the train back to Livorno.
Cagliari, Sardinia - The views from the top of the city were very nice, the buildings were pretty but I could have skipped this port. We weren’t in long enough to really go outside the city so just did a city tour so that was 1-hr. We took a city bus (PQ or PF) our to the city beach which was to be very nice but was covered in mounds of washed up straw. Not yet “prime season” so it wasn’t yet cleaned up. Still the water was clear and I can see this being a nice beach in the season.
Barcelona, Spain - We had an extra day here due to flights and walked around the city. We used the metro but my husband got snookered at the entrance gate by a couple who “helped” him. Instead they got his 10-card ticket and almost his wallet. Not in love with the city! Our experience with taxis was either fantastic (Barcelona City Taxi) or awful (regular black and yellow taxi). The regular taxi couldn’t find the port!! I had to give him directions!! But the parks up on Montjuic are very relaxing and a cool place to walk. The flowers were out and it smelled of lilacs Great views of the city and port from the castle. They are doing repairs at Park Guell so are limiting entry to 30 people at a time. I was done with queuing up so we just walked around.
Marseille (Provence), France - This was a fun stop. We had a private tour with Fabrizio who was very animated and loved to talk about Provence. In Aix-en-Provence we walked the Cours Mirabeau on farmers market day and heard about Cezanne and the fountain histories. We had a little time for shopping and then headed to Cassis. Since it wasn’t windy, we could go up to the cape lookout over Cassis. Scary but beautiful! There were a group of rock climbers who had just scaled the promontory. The beach and village were gorgeous!
Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy - I love Rome! We had a layover before the cruise here so got to see even more than if we just had this one day. So we spent more time at the Forum (hubby almost got pickpocketed by a teenager her - watch out!) and the Colosseum, but did get a chance to toss a coin into the Trevi fountain. We had gelato stops but not enough time for a relaxed lunch so we just waited. The Bocha del Veritas (Mouth of Truth) is opened only for a limited time, which I had forgotten from a past visit. It closes at 2 pm - we got there at 3 pm. Been here 4 times and I still have so much left to see!!
Naples, Italy - I love this port!! So much to do it was hard to decide. Luckily I’ve been here before so I’m not hating myself for skipping Capri! We took a tour along the Amalfi coast, first stopping in Sorrento for a limoncello tasting. Basically a shop stop ( but ok - wish I had picked up the sandals I saw there). We then drove to Positano - my objective! It was beautiful but since we were a larger bus, we couldn’t go into the village which was a huge disappointment for me. We then had about an hour or so in Amalfi - which is a beautiful city on the coast. The dri e up through Ravello is vertigo-inducing!! If you want the views, sit on the right side. If you get vertigo sit on the left! Our final stop was Pompeii, and being near the end of the tourist run we had much less crowds. We only had 1 1/2 hrs here and there’s so much to see that we wished for more. Our guide at Pompeii was very informative! We made it back to the port with enough time to deal with the queues through security again. One shop owner started to sing Italian opera to entertain us!
Haugesund - Haugesund is a pretty town with a quay where locals pull up for a drink. There was a great IMAX like movie of the area that showed area waterfalls & mountains in helicopter spinning visuals. Apparently it was supported in large part by local energy companies, as they discussed the energy picture almost as much as the scenery of the region.
Flaam, Norway - The train ride is truly one of the most scenic anywhere! The village is small but really pretty and many walking trails to enjoy. This is where we had the least amount of time (back by 2:30 pm) but needed the most amount of time in order to do the famous "Norway in a Nutshell". A big disappointment with the scheduling - we really had wanted to do this full tour of fjord boat/bus up to Voss/train to Myrdal and then down to Flaam.
Alesund, Norway - My favorite city! So beautiful! The Art Nouveau area is exquisite - I love beautiful buildings and this was a joy to walk around! The city is walkable, but to get to the far reaches, like the aquarium and its beach area or to the Sunnemore Museum, you will need to use a bus. Mt Aksla is on the bus routes but they aren't one way roads, so that can be an experience! The walk down is easier than up (418 stairs) but the view from the restaurant area are amazing and shouldn't be missed.
Hamburg, Germany - Did not like Hamburg - graffiti all over and people are not very friendly towards Americans. That's my take. The Hafen City part was nice and we saw an open air concert. We really enjoyed the Miniatur Wurld exhibit.
Southampton (London), England - I did not do an excursion, but rented a car to see southwestern England before my flight. The cruise quay is far from pretty much everything. We took a cab versus walking 1.5 miles in an industrial area. There wasn't an ATM anywhere near the cruise port either.
Hellesylt, Norway - Only those who had booked the overland excursion to Geirganger were able to depart the cruise ship. It was a beautiful site to see the waterfall in the center of the town upon arrival.
Bergen, Norway - I had always wanted to visit Bergen and I wasn't disappointed. The funicular brings you up to a beautiful overlook of the city and the walk to the lake is very quieting. The moss seems to soak up the sound, making for a peaceful day in the city. The old wharf area of Bryggen reminds me of what life along the quay in old Norway must have been like - even today, having a fish market so close to the quays reminds us of its heritage and the sea that made this City so important historically.
Geiranger, Norway - The fjords into Geiranger were breathtaking!! Such sheer cliffs with water cascading off. Very serene with the quiet water of the fjords. Once in town, the Hop On Hop Off bus allowed you the opportunity to visit several places without the extreme hiking it would require without transportation.
Kristiansund, Norway - We loved this seaside town - we took a tour of the islands and saw the most beautiful and colorful houses. They love their boats here! We enjoyed some waffles at one of the islands too - reminded me of my growing up time on another island thousands of miles west!
Norwegian Jade - Get a spa pass early!
Every Wednesday you'll receive the latest articles, deals, and news from the Cruiseline.com team, plus tips and photos submitted by our vibrant community of diehard cruisers. You'll also get a free gift — a downloadable, printable PDF of our guide to cruising!
Sign up for weekly cruise deals.
Join other subscribers and get the best cruise deals of the week in your inbox every Thursday.