We didn’t choose this cruise. It chose us. My husband had some vacation coming up and we presented the dates to our vacation planner and asked her to come up with something.
We have a planner. She gets deals and discounts for us and presents us with countries that we would never think to travel to. She does cruises and all other types of vacations. We leave all the fine details up to her and she includes her price within our budget.
She presented us with this Mediterranean cruise.
The original cities were:
Naples (Capri/ Pompeii)
Livorno (Florence/ Pisa)
*pinches nose bridge*
We didn’t know many of these places and it didn’t sound like fun. Carnival Horizon drops you in ports close-ish to the main attractions. Then you get to it by way of their expensive tours (a whole other post) or hop on a non- Carnival tour outside.
If you are someone who is considering this cruise and reading this post to help make up your mind…PLEASE DO IT! This was the best cruise we have ever been on.
As a Black family, we’re always a little wary of travel destinations. In the back of our minds we always wonder how we will be treated in certain countries. It doesn’t stop us from going to new countries, of course , but it’s always on our mind. Let me tell you that the Italians are THE BEST PEOPLE WE HAVE EVER MET! They obsessed over us and there was no city in Italy that our son wasn’t gushed over by every random man and woman on the street.
Let me give you a little run down on each city .
*Side note. We NEVER take the Cruise tours. There are always tour guides (or as I like to call them… “hustlers”) outside willing to sell you a tour for €15-20. These similar tours on the cruise are often hundreds of dollars/euro.*
CAGLIARI (SARDINIA) – WRONG!! The first stop was actually Messina,Sicily. We only realized as we came off the ship so beware of changes in the schedulewithout prior knowledge. We took a €15 tour in a little street train that took us up mountain tops and down main streets. We toured Cathedrals and many other picture worthy locations. This tour included food stops to San Gaspano store where we had the most amazing olive and orange jams. The last stop was at a little bakery with the best cannoli you didn’t know you’ve never had. Just walk out of the cruise port and you will see ladies holding up signs advertising the Discover Messina tours. There is a little walking involved but the tour is stroller friendly.
TIP: Walk with a hat for your child and an umbrella for yourself just in case its a hot day.
NAPLES (CAPRI/POMPEII) – As you are walking out of the port you are going to meet men trying to sell you tours for way too much. Walk past them all the way out of the cruise terminal. There you will find tours for the usual €20-ish. These tours take you to Pompeii and a few other stops. Beware of Italian holidays as there may be a lot of traffic and some stops like Positano will be off limits. Also beware of the times the tour buses come pick you up to carry you back to the cruise terminal. We ended up missing the last bus from Sorrento and had a 2 hr fiasco by various modes of Italian public transport trying to get back to the ship which included taxi, metro and a 30 minute sprint through the streets of Naples with a toddler in a stroller making us the last people on board. Don’t be those people. KEEP TRACK OF YOUR TIME!
TIP: Pompeii has a little office at the side of the ticketing counter (right before the rest rooms) that can keep your stroller for free. They give you a ticket to collect it afterward.
ROME (CIVITAVECCHIA) – You might have to spend a little bit of money here. The “hustlers” outside are way more expensive. The tour we took was a shared bus with 4 other couples from the cruise. It cost us about €60 – 70 each. The tour took us to about 8 stops, ending at the Vatican. The ride from the Civitavecchia Port to Rome was about 1 hour on a straight road so prepare for a long but comfortable ride. There was also a food stop at a restaurant. It was not included in the price. This tour was stroller/wheelchair friendly, tiring and fantastic!
TIP: Don’t be afraid to haggle the price of the baby or toddler you have in tow. It shouldn’t be full price for them.
LIVORNO (FLORENCE/PISA) – For this day we stayed in Livorno. We took a shuttle to the main city area. These shuttles were about €5 from the port. As you come off the shuttle there are the usual people selling you bus or river tours at the usual price. We took a bus tour. This was about Day 5 we were exhausted and decided against going on an adventure to Pisa. Livorno is a beautiful city but there’s not much to do.
TIP: Ask the cruise staff the best way to get to the main attractions. Chat up your server, bartender or room steward. They know the cheapest way to get around every country.
MARSEILLE ( PROVENCE) – Carnival sort of left us up to our own devices in France. If you are not taking the cruise tours there is a shuttle available to downtown. Be prepared to walk a very very long distance out of the port to meet the shuttle. The lines are going to be extremely long and so is the wait. After about 15 minutes in the hot sun we were told we could easily take public transport. At the side of the shuttle area there is a huge painted line on the pavement. If you follow that line from the shuttle stop and walk about 10 minutes you are going to come to a small kiosk selling tickets to downtown. We bought a day pass and hopped on a bus. It took us straight downtown. There isn’t much to do unless you are starving. Then there is everything to eat. At the side of the huge mirrored ceiling area there is a kiosk selling tickets to two islands off the coast of Marseille. Join the extremely long line and do the boat tour. You won’t regret it!
TIP: Fold up your stroller, put on your hat and go to the top deck to enjoy the incredible views.
So there is it folks. This is my first blog post and I’m still trying to figure things out. I hope it wasn’t boring. I hope it was informative to say the least.
STORY TIME. We were on deck, trying to get some footage of the sunrise. As we wrapped up and hopped on the elevator to head back to our room, the doors open a few floors down to let 2 couples in. As they saw us they shouted, “THAT’S THEM!!”. We panicked. Just a little. They pretty much dragged us off the elevator to show us the above photo they took of us while they were having dinner at a restaurant on the same deck.
Reasons like this is why we travel. You can believe that people are going to treat you differently because of your (insert relevant hang up) OR you can bravely go….even if it’s to another city or town over….and learn that people of the world are as kind and as beautiful as you are.