My husband and I recently cruised in the Mediterranean for the first time, and it was fantastic! We have cruised with several different cruise lines over the years, but they were all in the Caribbean and Alaska. For this trip, we wanted to venture to some of the ports in Europe. We had never considered cruising in Europe because we thought the port times were too short and we would feel that we didn’t have time to see everything. However, we found an itinerary with Virgin Voyages that we liked and decided to go for it.
The name of the voyage was French Daze and Ibiza Nights, and we sailed on the Valiant Lady. The cruise started and ended in Barcelona, and our ports were Marseille, Cannes, Palma de Malorca and Ibiza. We decided that if we felt short on time in any of the ports, we would make a point to revisit some day. Two of the port stays were overnight – Palma de Mallorca and Ibiza – which was just icing on the cake. On those nights, we ate an early(ish) dinner on the ship and then went into town for the evening. We spent our time wandering the winding cobblestone streets and exploring the beautiful bars and restaurants in the old town. Then, the next day, we still had time to visit the landmarks.
Why did we choose Virgin Voyages? We have sailed with them previously, and really like what they have to offer. First and foremost, the food is the best that I have had on a cruise. Instead of packing everyone into the main dining room or specialty restaurants (with an upcharge), Virgin simply has six onboard restaurants. We made dinner reservations before our cruise, and also had brunch in two of the restaurants on our sea days. There are no additional charges for any of the restaurants unless you want a tower of crab legs or a 10-pound steak (something like that).
The entertainment is also very different. There are no Broadway-style productions or ice shows. Instead, they offer magicians, mentalists, comedians, a dance party, a crazy game show and a couple other shows that I really don’t know how to describe. And then there’s Scarlet Night, where the whole ship is transformed with red lighting and decor, and the guests are decked out in red. The party culminates with a pool party at 11pm, which gets a bit crazy, but we enjoyed it from the deck above, watching people jump into the pool, red cocktail dresses and all.
My favorite thing about Virgin Voyages is the laid-back vibe. There are no formal nights, and nobody cares what you wear to dinner, as long as it’s not your swimsuit! With that said, we found that most people still dressed nicely, just because they wanted to. For those who didn’t feel like it, they weren’t turned away at the restaurants or made to feel ashamed of their attire.
When we booked our cruise, it included some “bar tab” money, which is their version of a drink package. We don’t drink a whole lot, and since sodas are included with every cruise, we had a “0” balance due at the end of the week. What a great way to end a cruise!
If you’re still reading, let me give you just a few tidbits about the ports:
Marseille – Honestly, we weren’t overly impressed with it. We took a full-day ebike tour, and got to see some beautiful areas around the Calanques National Park, but it’s kind of a run-down city, especially considering it is the second largest city in France, after Paris.
Cannes – We spent our entire day in Monte Carlo, which is something I’ll never forget. It was an easy train ride to get there, and we enjoyed all the beautiful yachts, expensive sports cars, the Royal Casino (think James Bond Casino Royale), and the streets of Formula One. It was the perfect day, and since our ship didn’t leave until 7pm, we did not feel rushed to get back.
Palma de Mallorca – This beautiful island of Spain is not to be missed. We spent our time wandering the old town, visiting the iconic La Seu Cathedral, and just taking in the beauty of the port city.
Ibiza – What can I say? Everyone needs to see Ibiza at some time in their life. The young people on the ship thoroughly enjoyed the overnight stay because they were able to go to the clubs and stay out until dawn. (Virgin provides a bus that goes back and forth to the ship the entire time.) That’s not our scene but we still loved wandering the area and enjoying a cocktail (ok, maybe more) as we watched the people living and loving life in Ibiza.
I could easily write ten more pages about Virgin Voyages and the ports we visited but I know the only people who might read it would be my friends and family. 🙂 I’ll just leave it here – this was the trip of a lifetime and I highly recommend cruising in the Mediterranean with Virgin Voyages.