As my granddaughter’s high school graduation approached, we wanted to make it a three-generation celebration, with my daughter, granddaughter and me. We discussed where and how my granddaughter wanted to experience Europe, her chosen destination.
In order to get the most out of our two-week vacation, we chose travel via cruise ship on a 7-day itinerary on a newer ship (2021), the majestic Enchanted Princess, a Mediterranean Princess Cruise with a departure date in June.
Read More: What to bring on a cruise
Why Sail on Princess Cruises?
Whether exploring the ancient ruins of Greece and its Greek Isles, the romantic Italian cities, the stunning coastline of Spain, or the culturally fascinating country of Turkey, you’ll find something to love on the “Real Love Boat,” a Princess Mediterranean cruise.
Did you know? Princess Cruises became a household name in the mid-70s, due to the television series, “The Love Boat,” mostly filmed aboard the Sun Princess in Mexico. I admit – I was a fan of the series, and remember watching it with my parents and siblings.
With a variety of Mediterranean itineraries (more on this below) available on a Princess cruise line, travelers can choose one that fits their interests. Since Greece topped my bucket list, I suggested starting with two days in Athens, and then boarding our 7-day Mediterranean Cruise.
What are Popular Ports of Call on a Mediterranean Princess Cruise?
From Alaska and the Caribbean to Italy, Spain, Greece, France, Turkey and more, with so many ports of calls, how to choose the perfect one for you?
Since my first international trip was to Italy, (exploring Rome, Civitavecchia, Florence, Naples, and the Italian Riviera for three wonderful weeks!), I wanted to experience destinations with my family that none of us had visited. A cruise checked off all the boxes.
I’ve several times cruised before (most recently on a Disney Cruise and Regent Seven Seas), and loved the experience, so we decided a Mediterranean Cruise would be perfect, allowing us to visit many destinations, and not having to pack and unpack each time.
Mediterranean Ports of Call
Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Spain. The city is home to the Sagrada Familia, an unfinished church designed by Antoni Gaudí, and the Picasso Museum.
Located on the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea, Gibraltar is a popular tourist destination, known for its stunning scenery, rich history, and Mediterranean climate. Hike to the top of the Rock of Gibraltar, visit various museums and historical sites, and shopping in the duty-free shops.
Rome is the capital of Italy and one of the most historic cities in the world. The city is home to the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Vatican City.
Venice is a city built on canals and is known for its romantic atmosphere. The city is home to St. Mark’s Square and the Doge’s Palace
Accessed via the port city of Messina, Sicily is a melting pot of cultures and natural wonders. It is known for its rich history, culture, stunning scenery, beaches, and delicious cuisine. Popular tourist destinations include the Valley of the Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Mount Etna, one of the most active volcano in Eruope, with stunning views.
Athens (Piraeus), Greece
Athens is the capital of Greece and the birthplace of Western civilization. The city is home to the Acropolis, the Parthenon, and the Temple of Zeus. Cruise the Greek Isles, sailing the Aegean Sea with ports of call including Santorini and Mykonos amongst others.
Istanbul is the capital of Turkey and is located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. The city is home to the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and the Grand Bazaar.
Explore the medieval city and wander its narrow streets and alleyways.
In addition to visiting these popular destinations, you’ll also have the opportunity to book Mediterranean Sea shore excursions to lesser-known places that offer a unique glimpse into the local culture. (More on that later.) You might visit a traditional village in Greece, take a cooking class in Italy, or go hiking in the mountains of Spain.
What We Did at Our Ports of Call
We chose a 7-day Mediterranean cruise on the Enchanted Princess, based upon the ship’s ports of call. Here is an overview of our ports and what we chose to do at each of them.
Athens: Arrive Early Before Your Cruise
We arranged to fly in two days earlier to (hopefully) get some rest and help with jet lag. We also explored Athens on our own – one of the highlights of our vacation!
This was our first port, and we chose “Fira on Your Own.” We docked and took a bus up the side of the mountain with hairpin curves (a nail-biting drive). Our tour guide gave us a brief overview of the area, and then let us explore on our own.
I love cooking classes, and now my daughter and granddaughter are hooked as well. We chose Cooking class & exploring Kotor on our own.
Sicily (Messina), Italy to Taormina
We opted to explore Taormina on our own. Located on the east cost of Sicily, we weren’t expecting a 2-hour bus ride, but we took advantage of the ride with a nap. This beautiful hilltop town is known as the Pearl of the Ionian Sea, located on top of Mount Tauro. This was a fun (and expensive) shopping day for us.
Naples, Italy to Sorrento
Many passengers chose to explore Capri or Pompeii (which I had already visited). As you can tell, we prefer time to explore on our own, so our tour of choice was Sorrento & Local Wine Tasting. From the Naples Cruise Port, Sorrento is just over an hour bus ride. We explored Sorrento on our own, shopped til we dropped, and fell in love with this beautiful city. This popular tourist destination is known for its food, lemons, and limoncello.
On our return to the cruise port, we stopped for a wine tasting and pairings at a Casa Setaro Vineyard, located in the Campania wine region of Italy on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius. Beautiful vineyards serving organic wine and amazing views.
This was our final destination, and we didn’t want to feel hurried to get to the airport, so we opted to spend 24 hours in Barcelona. My daughter actually visited here in high school with her Spanish Club. We overnighted at the luxurious Majestic Spa, and (you guessed it) explored on Barcelona on our own.
Best Time to Cruise the Mediterranean
The best time to cruise the Mediterranean depends on what you’re looking for.
- Want to avoid the crowds and high prices? Then the best time to cruise is during the shoulder seasons of spring (April-May) and fall (September-October). The weather is still mild during these months, but with fewer tourists and lower cruise fares.
- Looking for the warmest weather? The best time to cruise is during the summer months of June-August. However, keep in mind that this is also the peak tourist season, so prices will be higher and crowds will be larger.
- Looking for a specific type of experience, such as a wine cruise or a history cruise? Check the cruise line’s website for specific dates and itineraries.
Here is a more detailed breakdown of the pros and cons of cruising the Mediterranean during each season:
- Pros: Mild weather, fewer crowds, lower prices
- Cons: Some ports of call may not be fully open yet
- Pros: Warmest weather, longest days
- Cons: Peak tourist season, higher prices, larger crowds
- Pros: Mild weather, fewer crowds, lower prices
- Cons: Some ports of call may be closing for the season
- Pros: Fewer crowds, lowest prices
- Cons: Coldest weather, shortest days, some ports of call may be closed
More Sailing Date Thoughts
Many (like us) choose a summer sailing date as it coincides with the kids’ school break. We booked our 7-day Princess Mediterranean cruise in early June, the week after Memorial Day.
A summer sailing date increases the cost, and the temperatures are hot and muggy! When we visited in June, be prepared for summer crowds – everywhere! Every port of call was crowded oftentimes with multiple ships docked.
Not only were the ports busy, but the narrow streets, tourist destinations (i.e. Pompeii, Pisa, Vatican museums, the Acropolis), and shops were also packed. Combine that with the humidity and sometimes you may wish you stayed onboard in the air conditioning.
In addition, the lines to return back to our ship were also long. For example, when we docked at Kotor, Montenegro, on the shores of the Aegan Sea, after our cooking tour, we explored its medieval city on our own. When it was time to return to the ship, we were thirsty and hot but had to wait in line without shade for about 30 minutes.
How Much Does a Mediterranean Cruise Cost?
Well, that depends on the time of year, the destination(s), and the length of your cruise. To follow is a general overview of the potential cost.
- The average basic price of a 7 night Mediterranean cruise is $848 per person. In the peak summer season, this increases to $1218. The price of a 7-night Mediterranean cruise during winter can be as little as $430.
- The basic fare does not include airfare, shore excursions, alcoholic beverages, spa treatments, tips souvenirs, and casino games.
- When booking a Mediterranean Princess cruise, factor in the cost of excursions, drinks, and tips. These add up quickly, so it’s important to budget accordingly.
SheBuysTravel Tip: For our trip, I really wanted to know the total cost, inclusive of all of the above, and I expressed this to our travel agent. We booked the Princess Premier package, which included unlimited premium beverage package and WiFi. Our “deal” also included prepaid tips. We booked in advance our excursions, spa, and airfare through Princess Cruises. We budgeted by making monthly payments.
By the time we boarded the cruise, everything was paid for except souvenirs, optional food on excursions, and, if you want to try your luck, casino games.
How to Get a Deal on a Princess Mediterranean Cruise
Here are some ways to save money on a Princess cruise:
- Book early!
- Look for cruise deals and promotions
- Book a shorter cruise
- Choose an interior stateroom
- Book a future cruise on board
- Enjoy lunch on board when in port
- Ask a travel agent!
SheBuysTravel Tip: Read this article for more tips on Family Cruise Vacation Planning.
How To Choose Your Stateroom
Choosing the right stateroom on a cruise is important, as it will be your home for the duration of your vacation. There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a stateroom, such as location, size, amenities, and price.
- A cruise stateroom is a private living space on a cruise ship.
- Staterooms are also known as cabins or cruise rooms with four main types: Interior, Ocean view, Balcony, Suite.
- Similar to hotel rooms, cabins are usually more compact, with one or more beds, a private bathroom, storage space, and often a desk and seating area.
- Balcony staterooms are usually larger and have floor-to-ceiling windows. The extra space is mostly for the veranda, which has a door that leads to an outdoor seating area.
- Staterooms range in size from 135 to 600 square feet. The average size is 220 to 300 square feet.
Tips on How to Choose the Right Stateroom on a Cruise
Start with these basic questions:
- Do you want a window or a balcony?
- Do you need a bathtub or a shower?
- Do you need a mini-fridge or a safe?
- Do you need a king-size bed or two twin beds?
- Do you want a stateroom that is located near the pool or the dining room?
- Do you want a stateroom that is located on a quiet deck or a deck with a lot of activity?
Consider these additional questions:
- Your budget: Cruise staterooms can range in price from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. It is important to set a budget before you start shopping for a stateroom.
- Think about your location preferences: Cruise staterooms are typically located on different decks and in different parts of the ship. Some people prefer to be located in the center of the ship, while others prefer to be located at the front or back of the ship. It is important to choose a stateroom that is located in a part of the ship that you are comfortable with.
- Consider the size of the stateroom: Cruise staterooms come in a variety of sizes, from inside staterooms to balcony staterooms to suites. It is important to choose a stateroom that is large enough for your needs. If you are traveling with a family or group, you will need to choose a larger stateroom.
- Think about the amenities that are important to you: Some cruise staterooms have more amenities than others, such as a private balcony, a bathtub, or a mini-fridge. It is important to choose a stateroom that has the amenities that are important to you.
How We Chose Our Stateroom
We wanted a balcony stateroom with a veranda (B512 on the Enchanted Princess Baja Deck, category DB), so we could truly experience the Mediterranea Sea. We often sipped coffee on the balcony in the morning to watch our ship enter and dock at the port of call.
With three women in one room, we wanted to splurge on a suite, but our budget wouldn’t allow it. Instead, we upgraded to a deluxe balcony suite with a little more room. (An interior, no window cabin was not for us.) Still, with one bathroom, we had to coordinate to get ready and moving when we had a scheduled excursion or dinner reservation.
SheBuysTravel Tip: To maximize your stateroom space, read this: What to Bring on a Cruise (And What Not To Bring)
One of our favorite restaurants onboard is The Catch by Rudi. (Make reservations early!) Photo credit: Diana Rowe
The Princess MedallionClass App
The Princess MedallionClass app is an all-in-one app that provides access to digital experiences on a Princess cruise. The app interacts with your Ocean Medallion, a free, wearable device that communicates with thousands of sensors onboard and in port. This device allows guests to have a more personalized cruise experience.
Containing no personal information and free of charge, the Medallion is required to be carried onboard because it serves as the room key.
As one who often loses or misplaces her room key, this was a lifesaver. As you approach your home, the digital screen on the outside of your room pings your name and automatically opens your door. Also, amazing after a shore excursion of shopping and your arms are full of packages!
The Medallion has many other uses, including:
- Speeding up embarkation
- Enabling payment
- Helping staff find you so they can deliver drinks, snacks, or other services directly to you
- On-demand services
- Family and friends locator
- Ship navigation
- Interactive fun
- You can also access these experiences through your stateroom TV and digital portals around the ship.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Before departing for the cruise, check the box online to have your medallions shipped and complete their travel checklists. This will give you a “green lane” for faster embarkation, only requiring inspection of documents before boarding.
We arrived at the dock, with our luggage already tagged, and the Princess employees took our luggage to deliver directly to our room. Our travel documents were inspected and then we went to another line to check into our room. From arrival to boarding ship, our total time was under one hour.
Things to Do on the Enchanted Princess Cruise
The Enchanted Princess Cruise ship is massive – with passenger capacity of more than 3,600! With a ship this large, after unpacking, the first thing we did was connect to WiFi, so we could log onto the Princess MedallionClass App.
Then we explored the ship. Located the restaurants, bars, pools, activities, etc. to get the lay of the ship and (hopefully) not get lost.
Visit the Piazza
The Piazza is the heart of the Enchanted Princess and a great place to people-watch, shop, or enjoy a drink or meal. This is also where many evening live bands, magic shows, and more took place. Arrive early to get a seat!
Swim in the pool
The Enchanted Princess has two pools, a main pool and an adults-only pool. There are also several whirlpools and a splash pool for kids. We spent most of our days at sea here.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Order the pizza near the pool bar – it’s amazing and addicting. Finish up with soft serve ice cream, and add toppings.
Relax at the spa
The Enchanted Princess has a luxurious spa where you can get a massage, facial, or other treatments. We booked this in advance, in order to snag prime spa times when at sea. All three of us enjoyed a relaxing massage on the first day at sea. I rebooked another massage, and my granddaughter had a facial.
Watch a show
The Enchanted Princess has a state-of-the-art theater to see Broadway-style shows, movies, and live music.
Try a new restaurant
The Enchanted Princess features 25 bars and restaurants, both all-inclused and for-fee options, including Italian, French, and Asian restaurants. There are also several buffet restaurants and casual cafes. For foodies, make a reservation early at the upscale Crown Grill.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Our favorite, go-to restaurants were (in no particular order) The Catch By Rudi, Sabatino’s Italian Trattoria, and poolside pizza at Gigi’s. We also enjoyed the ship’s buffet, World Fresh Market, favorite picks at the buffet: pastries, eggs benedict, fresh fruit (pineapple!), and made to order cappuccino.
Movies under the stars
This was one of our favorite activities. While sunning at the pool, a HUGE big screen TV drops to watch movies. Check your Medallion app or your ship’s daily schedule for movies. The hamburgers at the SeaView Bar and the pizza by the slice at Gigi’s are to die for!
Visit the casino
The Enchanted Princess has a casino where you can play slots, table games, and poker. We tried our luck one evening, but smoking is allowed, and since we are not fans of smoking, we didn’t return.
The Enchanted Princess has a variety of shops, including boutiques, souvenir shops, and a duty-free shop. Great shopping options, and souvenirs are actually reasonably priced.
Take a shore excursion
The Enchanted Princess offers a variety of shore excursions, so you can explore the ports of call that you visit. So many excursions, so little time.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Book excursions in advance,at least a couple of months (if not sooner) before departure as many will sell out. You can book via Princess Cruises, or book your Mediterranean Sea Shore cruises through GetYour Guide.
Why is Cruising the Mediterranean a Popular Vacation?
The Mediterranean Sea is a popular cruise destination, as it’s home to a rich and diverse history, dating back to ancient times. Visitors can explore ancient ruins, medieval cities, and modern metropolises. A Mediterranean Princess cruise is a great way to experience all that this region has to offer.
The Mediterranean region is home to a wide variety of cultures and landscapes, from the ancient ruins of Greece and Rome to the picturesque villages of Italy’s Amalfi Coast.
The Mediterranean region is steeped in history, dating back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. Passengers on a Mediterranean cruise can visit ancient ruins, such as the Colosseum in Rome and the Acropolis in Athens, and learn about the region’s rich history.
The Mediterranean region is known for its delicious cuisine, which features fresh seafood, olive oil, and other healthy ingredients. Passengers on a Mediterranean cruise can enjoy delicious meals at the ship’s many restaurants or try local cuisine at ports of call. (Hello Italian and Greek cuisine!)
The Mediterranean region is known for its stunning scenery, with turquoise waters, white-sand beaches, and dramatic cliffs. Passengers on a Mediterranean cruise can enjoy the beautiful scenery from the ship’s deck or go on shore excursions to explore the region’s many natural attractions.
Cruising is a great way to relax and de-stress. Passengers on a Mediterranean cruise can enjoy the ship’s many amenities, such as the pool, spa, and casino. They can also relax on the deck and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Overall, cruising the Mediterranean is a great way to experience the region’s diversity, history, food, scenery, and relaxation.
What are you waiting for? From the ports of call to onboard dining, to chilling at the pool to onboard entertainment, all three of us enjoyed the Enchanted Princess! My only regret was that we didn’t take advantage of the onboard offer for a low deposit on a future cruise.