The Mediterranean Cruise With Norwegian Gem

Reading too much travel articles over the weekend reminded me of our Mediterranean Cruise in 2009. I would never have thought of taking a cruise if not for our friends in New York. It was never on my list to do before I die. First, because I don't really like the open sea. The thought of being in the middle of the sea at night, or even at day for few hours without seeing any land really freaked me out. Second, because I thought it was expensive. But I am glad that we did it at this early age so that even if we are not be able to do it when we are older, at least we can say we have done it. It is one of the best things I have ever done in my life. To be honest, that was the first time I have ever come close to a Cruise Ship. It was overwhelming! And when I entered the ship, I felt like I was in a completely different place. For a while, I forgot that I was actually inside a ship. It was massive. My fear was suddenly overshadowed by the feeling of excitement. It was very surreal for me because as I said, I have never ever dreamed of being in a Cruise ship before!

Anyway, we took the Mediterranean Cruise for seven days.
This is the elegant Norwegian Gem. The ship is like a floating resort. They have everything - swimming pool, waterslide, fitness centre, a climbing wall, disco, bars, restaurants, bowling etc.

The ship departed from Barcelona, Spain on the 6th of September. We knew we didn't have much time to really explore Barcelona, so we headed to Sagrada de Familia first, then we had lunch in Las Ramblas.

Day 1. Valleta, Malta
Valleta is the capital of Malta. The whole city is a World Heritage Site. To get the whole Malta experience, we walked around the medieval city and spoke to local people. View our complete Malta experience here.

Day 2. At the Sea: Martini Day
Well, it has been a common knowledge among our friends that we don't drink alcoholic beverages. But since we were baptized during this trip, we have been drinking a little bit more. =) This moment was very memorable for me as I managed 4 shots of Martini without collapsing on the floor. Not bad for a first timer,hey?! Apple Martini then became my favourite. Photos here.

Day 3. Napoli and Pompeii, Italy
Sunrise at Mount Vesuvius. 

Our brief stay in Napoli didn't leave us with a good experience as taxi drivers mobbed us from the moment we got out of the ship, offering us to pay 30 euros each to Pompeii. We thought it was a rip off. What we did was ask two more people to join us so we would pay 20 euros each instead. You know what? It also helps that one of you can speak Italian even just a little bit, so they won't rip you off. 

Right after our short trip in Pompeii, Salvatore (our taxi driver) drove us to Sorrento for lunch at Pizzeria Aurora. Then after lunch, we took the ferry to the beautiful island of Capri for our first ever mediterranean swim!

Day 4. Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy
We only had one day to see the beautiful city of Rome, but because Jess planned our day really well, we got to see a lot of places and even spent a lot of time in some.
The Vatican City (where we tried to beat other tourists coming off a tour bus)
St. Peter's Basilica ( to see Michelangelo's Pieta)
The Sistine Chapel (where we jumped a massive queue big time and where Omar took a sneaky money- shot of the  iconic image of the hand of God giving life to Adam).
The Spanish Steps
The Trevi Fountain 
The Pantheon (for the Oculus)
The Vittoriio Emanuele II Monument (where we spent a few minutes chatting with Italian Policemen pretending to be a local)
The Colosseo (where we met two American ladies who told us how lucky we were to have been allowed from the ship to go out and explore the city on our day off.... just because we were asians!

Day 5. Livorno (Florence/Pisa), Italy
In Florence, we visited the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore first before we climbed up 414 steps to the Giotto's Campanile to get a panoramic view of Florence. Then we had their famous gelato at Vivoli.
While our friends went to look for the famous black gold, we entered the Basilica de Santa Croce to check on Michelangelo, Dante Alighieri, Niccolo Ma Chiavelli, Galileo. Then we met up after for some private wine tasting at a wine store beside Santa Croce, where I drowned a whole bottle of wine (how I wish), before heading to Galleria dell'Accademia to see Michelangelo's David.
From Florence we took the train to Pisa.

Day 6. Cannes, France
Our last destination before we headed back to Barcelona was Cannes, where we had a walk on the red carpet upon arriving at the port. We passed by the Palais des Festivals et des Congres before we headed to town for some crepes.

If given the opportunity, I would love to go on a cruise again for 5 reasons:
1. It's not that expensive if you get the best deal. In my experience, we didn't need to pay extra for a window or a balcony because we were out all day anyway and only used our rooms to sleep- literally.The price also includes all meals, snacks, activities and entertainment. You only need to pay for alcoholic beverages.
2. It is very convenient. You don't have to go through the stress of planning your itinerary as it will be planned for you. The only time you probably need to plan your own is if you like to see other places in between. We didn't even need to join group tours. 
3. You will never get bored. There is always something to do. I love the fact that we get to dress up on some nights.
4. You meet wonderful strangers who eventually become your friends like Karishma and Hasseem.
5. And lastly the customer service is exeptional. When we were on the cruise, there was this Filipino guy who greeted us every morning at the door of the breakfast room with his hand spray, welcoming smile and the phrase,"wakey,wakey, washy,washy,happy,happy". And that made our day, everyday. That really made me even prouder to be a Filipino.

It is indeed true when they say that "You Haven't Lived Until You've Cruised". So, if you get the chance you shouldn't miss this experience!

tintin x


  1. you just opened my mind! just the idea of taking the cruise scared me alot. i dont know if i can sleep during the whole travel, i'm so scared of water!

  2. naku Meg, I was terrible looking out to the sea,so I avoided it most of the time. But I really, really enjoyed it! You won't feel the ship moving at all. You and andreas should try it one day. It's a lot of fun!x


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