Summer vacation season is officially underway and cruising seems to be more popular than ever. And the debut of more new cruise ships means travelers can sail to ports around the world like never before.
The number of new ships setting sail in recent months has been tough to keep track of. Big names are doing big things. There’s was too many to name them all but some highlights include Adventures by Disney and AmaWaterways have joined forces to make river cruising more family-friendly. Royal Caribbean and Carnival both have new ships that are like floating vacation resorts with everything you could possibility need and a list of things you didn’t think was possible.
I sailed Carnival Vista in May and it is huge carrying 3,954-passengers and 1,450 crew members. There’s something to grab your attention at every turn. The SkyRide, an elevated bike track, shares the sky with an elevated ropes course. You can catch a movie at the first IMAX Theater at sea. There’s even brewery on board with a dedicated brew master producing three types of craft beer. It’s a fun ship that’s sailing to some amazing cities in Europe this summer.. and providing travelers with long days in ports to see and do as much as possible.
Ports like Provence, in France. We had nine hours to explore and though Provence is well known to many, I was introduced to something brand new in the village of Roussillon. It sits in one of biggest ochre deposits in the world. Other ochre quarries are below ground, but that’s not the case here and the result is a stunning view of colors in the cliffs around Roussillon.
Ochre is a natural pigment, that’s essentially a natural paint used for home decoration, ceramics and painting. Two different trails, one short, one long, let folks explore and take in the view. It’s a quick walk, but it’s one of those places that will wow you and convince you to linger longer. The village of Roussillon beautifully blends in with its surroundings. It’s less than a five minute walk and a nice place to wander, grab something to eat or shop.
We had three stops in Italy, each day offering a minimum of 12 hours to explore. One of the days we took an excursion and hit Florence and Pisa – and that famous leaning tower. It’s currently leaning at a five-and-a-half degree angle. It’s one of Europe’s most recognized spots, but when you stand in front of it, yes, you realize, how much it’s truly leaning. Rome was an even longer day, with 13 hours to wander and see its many sights like the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain and The Vatican.
A final stop in Athens had the bonus of an overnight stay. Traveling is fun, but sightseeing can be hard work. By the end of a long trip, especially one as far away as Europe, you’re going to tired. In Athens, I wanted to cover as mush ground as possible, but also recognized my limits. The answer, an e-bike tour with a company called We Bike Athens. In a little less than three hours my family had a good lay of the land, and had seen a number of views of the Acropolis that I’d guess many visitors miss. Athens isn’t flat, but on e-bikes, that extra boost, makes for smooth pedaling the entire way.
There’s no arguing it’s a whirlwind tour – we hit six countries in ten days. No standing in line to get passports looked at or visa requirements. But you un-pack once and sleep in the same bed every night. I think it’s an especially nice way for young families to travel or for folks who have never been to Europe or maybe are a little intimidated by the idea of traveling through Europe. It was perfect for my two teens, who had just finished a stressful round of AP tests. You get a nice taste of the destination, and maybe you decide it’s a place you’d like to come back and spend more time.
You can’t do it all when you travel. Find the spots you like, and make plans to come back.
Review and photos by Dana Rebmann. She was a guest of Carnival Vista, but as always her thoughts and opinions are her own.