Princess and the Sea
21 May 2012
Fran @ Hitched
After the excitement and build up to a
wedding the newlywed bride and groom deserve a romantic honeymoon together in
order to pro-long their wedding celebration.
A time to reflect on recent celebrations, a time to discuss future plans
together and a time to be alone, away from your everyday routine.
My new husband and I have just spent 17
nights on a cruise, sailing around the Mediterranean Sea…and wow, what an
experience we had!
We chose to go on a cruise so that we could
see several different places, all in one hit, and so that we didn’t have to
keep packing and un-packing a suitcase.
We booked our cruise through Princess Cruises, shortly after securing
our wedding date and venue in December, so we had plenty of time to look
forward to our holiday of a lifetime.
Our journey commenced and concluded in
Southampton, just an hour from where we live - and we chose to arrive in style
in the form of an oversized limousine.
We checked in and boarded the Grand Princess, a passenger cruise
carrying 2600 guests and 1200 crew on board for all 17 nights covering a total
distance of 6126 nautical miles.
After settling in to our mini-suite we
explored the huge ship – getting to know every inch of what would be our new
home for the next few weeks. Our room
was comfortable, and had a balcony which gave us a little bit more space than
an instate room would have provided.
At 4pm on Wednesday May 2nd our
Princess Cruise set sail for Cadiz in Spain.
We spent the next 3 nights sailing in to open waters, en-route to our
Arrival: May 5th @ 6:39am after
having sailed 1146 nautical miles from Southampton.
After sailing in to Cadiz we ventured off
the ship, excited to see a land, and an interesting city. Unfortunately it rained like we had never
seen before – all day – but that didn’t stop us from having a good time. We walked around the cobbled streets of Cadiz
(looking for shelter), and experienced Spanish style cuisine before heading
back on to our ship drenched head to toe. It would have been lovely to have not
had the rain, but we made the most of our day on land.
The next two days were spent laying on deck
in the sun as we set sail for Valetta, Malta.
Being half Maltese I am very familiar with how beautiful Malta is, but
it was wonderful for my husband to see where half of my family is from, and to
visit my parents who actually live on the island.
Arrival: May 8th @ 6.44am after
having sailed 1074 nautical miles from Cadiz.
Malta is a small island, and is just 17
miles wide by 9 long. The sun was
shining as our boat docked at Valetta’s port and just a few moments later we
were met by my parents. We drove to the
walled and very ancient city of Mdina where we had a welcome breakfast and a
lovely walk around so that we could experience a view unlike any other on the
island. We then headed over to a tiny
town called Ghargur where we drank Cisk, a local beer at a local band tavern,
followed by a family gathering so that my new husband could meet all of my
extended family. Our day in Malta was
not only one of the most memorable days of our trip, but also a memory that we
shall both keep forever.
After an emotional farewell, we set sail
once again on the Grand Princess to our next destination, and one I had always
dreamed about – Venice.
Arrival: May 10th @ 8.47am after
having sailed 742 nautical miles from Valetta.
I’ve heard loads about Venice in the past,
but you seriously can’t visualize this quirky city unless you’ve seen it for
yourself. The busy narrow streets and
ever flowing canals were truly incredible but it was a ride on a gondola that
reminded us of why we got married in the first place. It was so romantic, and
what a fantastic experience! Our gondola driver, Allessandro took us out on to
the Grand Canal and we would highly recommend that anyone going
to Venice, even if it isn’t your honeymoon, should experience this exciting
The following day we docked in Split,
Croatia, followed by a full day in Dubrovnik.
Arrival: May 11th @ 9.26am after
having sailed 215 nautical miles from Venice.
Arrival: May 12th @ 5.56am after
having sailed 116 nautical miles from Split.
I didn’t know much about Dubrovnik until I
did some research about it regarding the hitched.co.uk destinations for
weddings abroad. From the pictures that
I had seen during my research Dubrovnik looked beautiful, but in real life it
is one of the most beautiful cities that I have ever been too! The town of Dubrovnik is situatied inside
what looks like the walls of an ancient castle.
The orange roofs and marble style floors make Dubrovnik one of the most
wonderful places on earth. It's clean,
has character and has some of the most stunning views from all over. A truly magical day!
Arrival: May 13th @ 6.45am after
having sailed 207 nautical miles from Dubrovnik.
Our next stop sailed us in to Corfu,
Greece. I wasn’t sure what to expect
from Corfu but something about the weather told me that it was going to be a
fun experience. The sun was beaming down
on the Grand Princess as we sailed in to the port, and after a bit of a lengthy
walk we reached the town of Corfu. After
some local shopping and a coffee in a busy central square we sat at a
restaurant overlooking the ocean in front of us and enjoyed a lovely Greek
Salad. After a slow walk back to our
ship we set sail for our final stop,
Arrival: May 16th @ 8.38am after
having sailed 1314 nautical miles from Corfu.
After having been at sea for 2 days we were
happy to reach Gibraltar, or ‘the rock’ as it was referred to on the
peninsular. Gibraltar is tiny, but is
full of exciting experiences if you have the time. The famous ‘monkeys of Gibraltar’ live mainly
on the rock but can sometimes be seen in the busy town which is jam-packed full
of duty/tax-free shops. Gibraltar has a
typically British feel about it and its local currency is the Pound, so it made
knowing how much money we were spending easy.
After walking around all day we headed back to the Grand Princess for
the last time.
We were never bored of things to do once
back on the Grand Princess Cruise.
Everyday we received an itinerary in the form of a ‘Princess Patter’
which gave us a full outline of the activities and challenges available on
board, should you wish to participate.
From ballroom dancing to Bingo there is an activity for everyone, no
matter what age you are. There was also
a Grand Casino on the ship that was open at various times throughout the day
and night if you’re feeling lucky!
And when it comes to food on a Princess
Cruise you are always spoilt for choice!
There are several restaurants on board which are open for breakfast,
lunch and dinner, as well as a buffet which is open throughout the day should
you feel the need to eat more! There was
also an ice cream bar, pizza bar, burger bar, Panini lounge, sit-down pizza
restaurant and 2 exquisite restaurants offering prime Steak and traditional
Italian food. Afternoon tea was also served from 3:30pm every day and several
bars were open 24 hours a day so that we could enjoy the odd glass of champagne
or early evening (or morning) cocktail.
There is also an opportunity to get married
aboard the Grand Princess. The Wedding Chapel, which was located on deck 15 is
a wonderful place to tie the knot at sea, and for friends and family at home
there is a fully fitted web-cam so that everyone can celebrate with you, if
they aren’t able to come on the cruise with you! Getting married on board and celebrating your
honeymoon at the same time is a great idea, and apparently every day whilst we
were at sea there was either a wedding, or a renewal of vows, so we definitely
weren’t the only honeymooners onboard.
Our journey concluded on day 17 with a once
in a lifetime opportunity to visit the captain on the bridge of the ship. We were invited to see the ship from the
drivers point of view and got to learn all of the secrets which help keep these
huge ships afloat.
After having sailed a further 1179 nautical
miles during 2 straight days at sea we finally reached Southampton.
Spending our honeymoon on a cruise was an
exciting experience and unlike anything else I could have imagined. Our moving hotel gave us the opportunity to
visit 7 destinations that we would never have been able to do in a 2 and a half
week period had we chosen to fly and we didn’t have the stress or hassle of
packing/un-packing or travelling to and from airports.
For us a cruise was a fantastic option and
a holiday that we will never forget.
Our top 5 cruise honeymoon tips:
~ If you have time before, or after your
wedding and before you set sail on your honeymoon cruise, try and research the
destinations in which you are going to visit in terms of tours and local
currency. With just a day in each port
you don’t want to be running around trying to exchange money or booking tours
at the last minute. Excursions for each
destination are available through the Princess Cruise operator before you
travel, or through the dedicated desk on board.
~ Pack appropriately. Our cruise consisted of 3 formal nights which
were black tie, along with 14 smart/casual nights. However you also need to consider clothing
and footwear for during the day – both on sea days and port days.
~ When it comes to activities onboard during
days at sea, be sure to do what you really want to do early, rather than leave
everything until the last minute because you won’t fit everything in. Even though we were on the Grand Princess for
17 nights we still didn’t fit everything in that we wanted to experience!
~ Pamper yourself! The Lotus Spa onboard the Grand Princess
offers anything from a hair cut to a hot stone massage…….and everything
in-between. It’s your honeymoon!! So be
sure to take advantage of the opportunities provided.
~ If you aren’t a good passenger when it
comes to travel sickness then make sure you speak to your doctor before you
travel. We didn’t experience any
particularly bad weather during our travels, but motion sickness bands or
medication would be advisable, just in case.
There is a dedicated doctor onboard the ship at all times, just in case
of any other medical emergency.
Where will you be spending your magical honeymoon?