Cruising is now one of her favourite ways to travel.
My first thought hanging up my sundresses was, ‘Wait, I get to unpack yet still see six destinations in three different countries on this trip?’ I’ll be honest, from there on in I was sold. Starting in Barcelona (I suggest you treat yourself to a night in the city before boarding the ship), I got the little flutter of excitement as the bus rounded the corner and Celebrity EDGE – my floating home for the week – came into view. A whole new place to explore, that travels to other places (while you’re asleep!) to explore. In the life of a travel writer I’m sad to say that the pre-holiday feeling I used to get is almost non-existent these days, but it was back.
After getting acquainted with my cabin (Oceanview Stateroom, surprisingly spacious – especially the bathroom), I wasted no time making myself familiar with the twenty-something bars and restaurants on board. I made some dinner reservations, booked a shore excursion in Marseille and took a mental note of all the best sunbathing spots.
This cruise would also bring me to Valencia, Ibiza, Nice, La Spezia in Italy and finish in Rome, a first time in some places and a return to others. You can pre-book organised tours in each location or do it yourself – I went for a mix of both, taking the handy shuttle at the first stop into Valencia. With no real plan except to eat paella in its hometown, I wandered the streets, stopping for an Agua de Valencia (cava, orange juice, vodka and gin) and shopping for dainty gold jewellery. Get lost in the side streets or stick to the main shopping areas, there’s loads to keep you entertained for a day in the city.
The summer heatwave was approaching though, so I was glad to get back to a cold towel, a cold beer and a dip in the pool. It was only the first day, but the mix of getting to see a new place for a few hours then coming back to convenience and luxury was suiting me well. Like the next day in Ibiza, where I took a stroll from the port to meet a friend who lives on the island for a coastal walk and beach lunch, then came back for rosé and a show – I was getting used to the cruise life.
Craving a little adventure, I booked a kayaking trip in Marseille along the Côte Bleue, then a chillout day in Villefranche-sur-Mer, and lastly a bucket list moment in Cinque Terre. In between days off the ship, I worked my way around the majority of those bars and restaurants I mentioned, eating a seafood platter at sunset on the ‘Magic Carpet’ floating off the edge of the top deck and drinking espresso martinis as the waiters showed off their tricks standing on the bar under an enormous chandelier of the Grand Plaza. Poolside burgers and beers were equally as thrilling though, for those moments when getting dressed felt like too much of a chore.
This is the second cruise holiday I’ve been on. Before the first, I was wary, but this time I was raring to go. And yet I’m still met with a ‘look’ from the travel snobs when they ask “Where are you going next?” I get it, because I too took convincing, but I will genuinely never look back – cruising is now firmly one of my favourite ways to travel.
Fancy a cruise? Celebrity EDGE moves to the Caribbean this winter: A seven-night Western Caribbean Holiday cruise departing 18 January 2020 from €2170pp in an Oceanview Stateroom based on two people sharing, including return flights from Dublin. Depart Fort Lauderdale with stops in Key West, Costa Maya and Cozumel in Mexico and George Town on Grand Cayman island. Includes one night pre-cruise accommodation, transfers, pre-paid gratuities; meals and entertainment on-board the ship and all relevant cruise taxes/fees.