I hope by now you’ve had a chance to watch my cruise vlog covering all the fun we had on our Western Mediterranean cruise on board the MSC Divina. If not, there will be a link at the bottom of this post. Today, I just wanted to give a short overview of our trip!
Rome and Civitavecchia, Italy
We flew into Rome on a Saturday and took the train to the port town of Civitavecchia. It is a beautiful little town right on the coast! After checking in (our hotel let us check in early!) and getting some lunch, the jet lag hit us hard and we retired for the evening!
The next day was embarkation day. Our hotel stay (Hotel San Giorgio) included a transfer over to the port, so after eating some breakfast (which was also included), we headed over to the port. The port wasn’t as organized as I was used to in the States (there was some confusion as where we should be dropping off our luggage), but it all seemed to work out in the end and we boarded the MSC Divina!
Our cruise was very port intensive … no sea days! So, it was eight days of ports and something beautiful to see out our balcony door every morning! It was amazing — but became a little tiring towards the end! 😴 Plan accordingly!
Palermo, Sicily, Italy
Our first port was Palermo, Sicily. This was the port that my husbands family emigrated from in the early 1900s, so we were both excited for that one. This day, we were treated to a city tour that was a “taste of Sicily.” And, boy, was it delicious! The odd thing about gluten in Europe is that it takes a lot more of it to affect my intolerance, and I took full advantage of this fact! We got to try arancini balls from a local market, fresh made cannolis, and dessert wine! Just walking through the market was a highlight for me! The produce was so fresh with stunning color and it looked delicious! Those olives! 😲
Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy
Next, we stopped in Cagliari on the island of Sardinia. Our excursion this day was to the ancient city of Nora to look at the ruins. It was no Pompeii, but it was very interesting none the less.
Palma de Mallorca, Mallorca, Spain
Our third stop was Palma de Mallorca where we did another city tour. The Cathedral in Palma is something to see… so majestic! We also made stops at the Mallorca Pearl Factory and a bull fighting ring. This stop was an afternoon into late evening stop, so we actually got to sleep in a little that morning!
The next morning, we were in Valencia, Spain. Here again, we did a city tour. We visited more cathedrals and got to see much of the downtown areas in the city. We also made a quick stop at the City of Arts and Sciences! Overall, a great tour!
Our fifth port was Marseilles, France. I have to say, this was the port that I was most looking forward to. If you know anything about me, you know that I am borderline obsessed with France. Although I’ve never spent any length of time there, I have my home decorated in a French Country style, our dog was named Monet, and am slightly obsessed with anything that says Paris on it. So, you can bet that I had visions of what my first visit to the South of France was going to be like.
You can imagine my disappointment when our trip to Aix-en-Provence was nothing like I had imagined. It was nothing like the quiet provincial town that the videos I had seen made it seem. Just goes to show… believe nothing you see on the internet. 🤔 We still had a great day and it was a lovely tour. I’m just going to have to go back to visit those rolling fields of lavender and poppies (and have my “Beauty and the Beast” Belle singing in the meadow moment that I had envisioned for my Instagram feed. 😂
Our last port before heading back was Genoa, Italy. Again, our excursion was a city tour, but this one was completely on foot. After arriving at the port, you had to take a ferry over to the main town square and meet with your guide for the tour. We saw a lot of the historical center of town and the cathedral (and had a small tasting of wine and focaccia). I will say this port had the most of those pushy sales guys that follow you around trying to sell chotchkies and souvenirs. Our guide even mentioned to us to hold on to our belongings. The only other port we had a problem in was Palma around the cathedral, where our guide gave us the same warning. Just a heads up for those planning to do this same itinerary.
Rome and Civitavecchia, Italy
The next morning, we were back in Civitavecchia. We had planned to take the MSC excursion which was a city tour of Rome that ended with a drop off at the airport, but MSC cancelled our excursion on the last night of the cruise. It seemed unprofessional and when we asked about other options to get to the airport, they were not helpful at all and told us to take a taxi. The level of customer service was not great, but we did end up finding a transfer to the airport at the port and all was well. We stayed the night at the Hilton Rome Airport and they had a shuttle to downtown Rome that ran every couple of hours. I will also post below my overview video of both hotels we stayed at during our trip if you are interested in seeing more about them!
We took advantage of the hotel shuttle, headed downtown, got some lunch and got to see some of the sight of Rome! After getting a little tired of walking, we did end up taking a tour of the city aboard one of those hop on-hop off bus tours from Gray Line Tours. If you didn’t get off the bus, you could take one loop around the city seeing the sights for only 14 euros per person. Great deal!
Overall, it was an amazing, once in a lifetime type trip. If you have the opportunity, I would definitely give MSC a chance and take this cruise! Like my trip to Germany a few years before, this was my first time back in France and Spain since 1986 and the Mediterranean Sea was as beautiful as I remembered!