- Created: July 1, 2019 2:33 pm
- Last updated: August 25, 2019 8:53 am
- Distance 8,776,391.08 ft
- Time 669 h 10 min
- Speed 2 mph
- Min altitude -11,785 ft
- Peak 2,917 ft
- Climb 89,114 ft
- Descent 89,882 ft
- Distance Instructions
1. Civitavecchia, Italy
Civitavecchia is a coastal town northwest of Rome and the starting point for our cruise. Unlike other passengers, we did not arrive here from Rome after visiting the Italian capital. Instead we came here by train from Genoa in the north of the country after having travelled along the French Rivers for over a week.
We stayed overnight at the Hotel San Giorgio at the promenade and close to the cruise port. Unfortunately, we did not see much of the city other than the seafront marina and bits and pieces of the old town. Apparently Civitavecchia is, in fact, a city rich of monuments and archeological sites that prove the historic presence of many cultures and civilizations. It was a quaint and comfortable port to depart from but also nothing overly special.
2. Florence, Italy
The ship docked in coastal Livorno and like many passengers we opted to go to Florence. We had booked a shore excursion (having been offered four with the price of the cruise) and hopped on the bus for the 1.5 hour drive. We were excited to go to Florence and neither one of us had ever been there. The capital of Italy’s Tuscany region is said to be one of Europe’s finest and is home to many masterpieces of Renaissance art and architecture. One of its most iconic sights is the Duomo, a stunning cathedral with a terracotta-tiled dome engineered by Brunelleschi and a bell tower by Giotto. We visited them as well as the Galleria dell'Accademia displaying Michelangelo’s “David” sculpture. The Uffizi Gallery exhibits Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” and da Vinci’s “Annunciation.” There are a lot of stellar sights in Florence, perhaps too many treasures to see in such a short time. However, in total, we were completely underwhelmed by the city. There were way too many tourists schlepping themselves around the city center. Florence did not look well maintained but rather run down. The vibe of the city and the people did not feel positive. Perhaps it was because we came with such high expectations but both my husband and I felt that Florence was overrated.
3. Portofino, Italy
We had to tender in Portofino as it’s such a small and exquisite port that at first glance looks like it’s only accessible by yacht or boat. Portofino is a fishing village on the Italian Riviera coastline, southeast of Genoa and commonly known as a resort of the rich and famous. Pastel-colored houses, high-end boutiques and seafood restaurants fringe its Piazzetta, a small cobbled square overlooking the harbor, which is lined with some of the fanciest and mist ritzy super-yachts you can ever imagine. Pristine, orderly and beautiful- but also fake and intimidating depending on how you look at it. A path leads from the Piazzetta to Castello Brown, a 16th-century fortress and museum with art exhibitions and panoramic views of the town and the Ligurian Sea. We did not go there but saw it from the port.
We went on another shore excursion organizers by Oceana that took us on a 4 hour boat ride. Touring by boat offers a completely different perspective on the Italian Riviera, exposing beautiful cliffs and bays. The first stop was at Camogli, a small fishing village of brightly painted houses in the Golfo Paradise. The seaside promenade and historic center was particularly charming. After visiting Camogli's 12th-century, Baroque-style church, we had time enjoy to stroll around. We also saw San Fruttuoso by boat, a tiny, forest-lined inlet only accessible by boat or by foot and learned about the history of the medieval abbey. During the return cruise to Portofino, we had some locally made wine and traditional Genoese bread, baked with olive oil and salt. After returning to the port we walked around Portofino a little more and returned to the ship by tender.
4. Monte Carlo, Monaco
We had to tender here as well and upon setting foot in Monte Carlo took a hop on hop off city tour. Monaco, the tiny independent city-state on France’s Mediterranean coastline is known for its upscale casinos, yacht-lined harbor and prestigious Grand Prix motor race, which runs through Monaco’s streets once a year. A magnet for high-rollers and hedonists since the early 20th century and one of the world's most notorious tax havens, this place is as wealthy, ritzy and star-studded as it gets, usually things I’m not too fond of. However, Monaco somehow managed to feel beautiful and make its beauty accessible to all who wonder around. Monte-Carlo, its major district, is home to an elegant and famous belle-époque casino complex and the ornate Salle Garnier opera house. It also has many luxe hotels, boutiques, nightclubs and restaurants, but you can also just enjoy the stunning views atop the city hills, the gorgeous flowers or low key and fun sights like the aquarium, Jardin exotique and old town. After the city tour we took a local bus to the beach. Unfortunately, I can no longer remember the name, but it was a small but pretty beach where we rented a day bed and just relaxed for the remainder of the day.
5. St. Tropez, France
We arrived in St. Tropez and tendered to get to land. This coastal town in the Provence region of southern France is very ritzy and boasts a sexy image. At the Old Port, yachts the size of spaceships are showcased my millionaires and attract tourists who admire them.
However if you look further than the intimidating and annoying glitz and glamour, St. Tropez is actually a gorgeous beachside destination. We lingered around the port and eventually took a Taxi to the beach (I believe it was Pampelonne beach). The long, iconic sandy beach was lined with exclusive restaurants, bars & clubs. In between all of that there was a piece of open public beach which was arguably nicer than the spots around and didn’t cost a cent. We put our towel down right here and relaxed all day. The water was spectacularly clean and blue and the vibe very pleasant. We stumbled into one of the restaurants for lunch and had a fantastic fish and seafood meal. I would return to St. Tropez any day and do exactly that again.
6. Marseille, France
We had a full day in port and booked a shore excursion that would take us to several places in the region. We boarded our coach and took scenic drive into the Provençal countryside to the charming old town of Aix-en-Provence. Here, we began a walking tour on the grand Cours Mirabeau, a wide avenue built on the site of the city's medieval ramparts and shaded by leafy 200-year-old trees. The avenue was beautiful and surrounded by private mansions with elegant facades, wrought-iron balconies and finely carved doorways. We went on to explore the old Mazarin District, founded by Archbishop Michel Mazarin in 1646, and later home to many writers and artists such as Paul Cézanne. The district is also noted for its meticulously kept walled gardens. We stopped at the beautiful St. Sauveur Cathedral with its many contrasting architectural styles, a legacy of countless additions and renovations performed between the 5th and 18th centuries. We had about 1.5 hours of free time for lunch and a little souvenir shopping before leaving to Marseille. There we drove through the colorful Old Port, where the city's Greek founders landed in 600 B.C. I was in Marseille during high school about 15 years earlier and was amazed how much more beautiful it had gotten (and it was already stunning then). During our panoramic tour of the city, you we saw the classically French sidewalk cafés, thriving markets, and picturesque fishing boats bobbing in the harbor. We drove to one of Marseille’s most famous landmark - the Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica standing high above the city on a hill. The architecture of the Romanesque-Byzantine style basilica boasts magnificent domes, multi-colored stone, and golden mosaics. Walking all around the Basilica, we could not get enough of the gorgeous scenic views of the city and the bright blue Mediterranean from up there. After the visit we took the coach through the shopping district, passing the Palais Longchamp, a fantastic 19th-Century complex of stately museums, elegant fountains, and an expansive Zoological Garden. It was a lovely day! The south of France is very special and I would always revisit.
7. Barcelona, Spain
It was our second time in Barcelona (a city we love and adore since spending a week here in 2014). This time we took a cab to Barceloneta beach and stumbled upon one of the coolest local neighborhoods in the city.
This seaside area is the perfect place to chill, eat, surf and sunbathe. There’s an endless palm-lined promenade for aimless walking as well as tapas places, bars and even more self made entrepreneurs selling everything from drinks, to beach towels to fake designer bags. The current was quite rough when we were there so swimming was not an option but it did not affect our enjoyment of the day on the beach. The weather was perfect, the vibe super cool and I would recommend anyone to go visit Barceloneta, even if you think there’s too many sights in the city to cover first.
8. Ibiza, Spain
We were very excited to visit the famous party island of Ibiza for the first time and wanted to see the island but also spend time relaxing. So we decided to use the last of our 4 tours included in the price of our cruise for an all day Ibiza discovery tour but to skip on the latter half of it to go to the beach.
The tour bus first drove us to Las Salinas where we stopped to view the salt flats. The salt industry was one of the first on the island and depending on the season, the salt flats are also a great place for bird watching. From there we passed through Sa Caleta, which offered great panoramic views and continued to San Jose, a tranquil town located high in the hills far from the hustle and bustle of Ibiza's resort areas. We walked around town and saw its 14th century Parish church. After that we got back on the bus to go to San Antonio, a city dominated by the beautiful palm-lined promenade which skirts the harbor, constantly busy with yachts, speedboats and ferryboats. While the other visitors continued their tour we hopped on a taxi to Playa d’en Bossa, one of the famous beaches on the island. Playa d’en Bossa is dotted with cool beach bars and home to some of the biggest clubs in Ibiza. The water was gorgeous to look at and fun to dive into - crystal blue and perfect temperature. There’s also endless powdery white sand and chill-out space with sunbeds and parasols. We rented a day bed which was not cheap but completely worth it - for the remainder of the day we relaxed on the beach, enjoyed great food and drinks and listed to laid-back music played by live DJs.
9. Amalfi, Italy
For Amalfi, we took a 6.5 hour culinary and wine tour offered by Food & Wine Trails via Oceania cruises. We wanted to experience authentic food of the region and explore as much as possible and taste the flavors of Amalfi. Known for having one of the world’s most spectacular coastal roads, Amalfi is a haven for foodies offering locally grown lemons, sample artisan-made mozzarella cheeses, and a host of other local delicacies. The tour included a visit to an ancient Roman villa, limoncello demonstration, vineyard tour at a family-owned Tramonti winery, and a wine-paired luncheon served at their family’s restaurant.
We drove the tiny roads slithering around the hills by bus down the coast to the town of Minori, where we visited an ancient Roman villa from the Augustean Age in the 1st century. Discovered in 1932, you can still see the existence of a water heating system, structure walls, and floors decorated with beautiful mosaics.
From the villa, we took a short walk to visit an artisan limoncello producer. We watched a demonstration of how this famous liqueur is still made locally by hand, and tasted the delicious results.
Just a short drive inland from Minori is the village of Tramonti. Here we visited a small, family-run winery and one of the region’s most well-known vintners. During a walk through his trellised vineyards, we were told how their grapes are grown on heritage vines, some of which are over 100 years old. After the tour, we had lunch at the family’s osteria serving authentic Tramonti dishes made with locally grown products and served with two varietals of wines.
Upon return to Amalfi, there was still enough time before last tender, so we strolled through the streets of this beautiful town, marveled at the giant beautiful lemons sold in the street and had some gelato. As we got back on the ship there was a special surprise in store for us: Oceana had arranged a sail away party with champagne toast on deck and Time to Say Goodbye and other classical music playing as we pulled out of Amalfi port.