I went on a cruise years ago with my Dad’s extended family and remember being in awe of the luxurious ship and all the fun activities to do with my cousins. Mike had never been on a cruise and we thought it might be a good way to see some of the Mediterranean without having to worry about travel, accommodation or food.
It turns out, we were right! We had a great time aboard the Norwegian Epic. It is huge – the third largest ship in the world. It was built five years ago, but just underwent a refurbishment prior to our voyage.
It has everything from a water park, rock climbing wall and bowling alley to a Cirque du Soleil Theatre and an Ice Bar.
We got a balcony room to give us a little more space and so that we could enjoy some time on the balcony after we put William down to sleep. It was such a treat to be able to get a sneak peak of the ports as we arrived early in the morning, or watch some beautiful sunsets in the evening right from our room.
We also enjoyed many scenic views from the top decks of the cruise ship and the restaurants.
Our cruise passed through the Straight of Gibraltar which I understand is rare to do during the day. It was a bit of a hazy day and I must admit it just looked like a big rock in the distance, but a lot of people were taking pictures!
Our first port was Vigo, Spain. It is a cute little fishing village on the southern coast of Spain.
It is known for it’s fresh seafood and even has an area known as Oyster Street that has all the seafood restaurants. We wandered through the old town admiring the architecture and watching the local artisans.
We stopped for churros at a little café and did some shopping.
Then we walked back to the port and got back on board in time for dinner.
We ate at some really great restaurants while on the cruise. The Ultimate Dining package was given to us as a promotion at the time of booking. There are a number of restaurants that are included in the cruise and then a few extra restaurants that you have to pay for. With the Ultimate Dining package, we could dine at all the restaurants for free. We went to a fancy French bistro, Italian restaurant, American Steakhouse, Japanese Grill and Sushi restaurant. It was quite decadent and we had some really exquisite meals.
Our second port, Lisbon, Portugal, was our favorite because we met up with friends from Edmonton and their two adorable kiddos. They are staying in Lisbon for one month, so they gave us a personalized tour of the city. We tried some local cherry brandy and then wandered through the narrow streets and large squares.
They took us to one of their favorite restaurants, Café Lisboa, which is owned by local celebrity chef José Avillez.
Carrie was lucky enough to sweet talk her way in to a small group cooking class that he was hosting a few days before at the local market. Carrie and Gergely know us well because not only did they take us for a great meal, but we went to the gourmet local market they’ve been frequenting. We tried some delicious ceviche and Portuguese tarts.
We walked down to the water and along the boardwalk.
We made our way into the old town, Alfama, the best we could, but the streets were very narrow and steep and our little group could only go so far. For those that didn’t want to trudge up the hill, they had little tuk tuk style cars and a trolley.
At the end of the day they walked us back to our ship and we said goodbye until we see them again in December.
Our last port was the charming city of Cartagena, Spain. The highlights of this city were an ancient Roman Theatre and ruins.
We spent most of our day sitting at a café in the main square, playing with William and listening to a large youth orchestra giving a performance.
Our cruise ended in Barcelona, Spain. We disembarked for the last time and made our way to the airport to catch our flight to Gran Canaria.