Girl Meets Bulgaria

Musings of an American expat in Bulgaria (with detours in Utah and Alaska)

Travel Tales: Cruising the Mediterranean


I never thought I would enjoy taking a cruise. In fact, for years I refused to even consider it. When I thought about my preferred method of travel, it definitely did not include boarding a giant hotel of sorts and floating around with lots of overly-tanned, “cruisewear” bedazzled old folks (you see, going on a cruise with party-loving, booze hounds my own age was one of those “when hell freezes over” scenarios).

Then Princess Cruises entered my life.

I first worked for their land/tour division in 2008 at the Denali Wilderness Lodge in Denali, Alaska (as many of you probably already know).

One of the perks of the job is the great cruise benefits, which helped us book a cabin on the new and beautiful (and HUGE!) Ruby Princess for their “Grand Mediterranean” tour.

For two glorious weeks during the summer of 2009 we sailed the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean–docking in some of the most beautiful places on earth.


Our itinerary

Boarding the Ruby Princess in Barcelona, Spain

Promenade Deck ceiling

Movies Under the Stars (they hand out blankets, cookies, milk, and popcorn!)

Just a few of the dozens of pools and jacuzzis

Putting range on the top deck

It was hard to believe I was on a ship that big!

The staff welcoming us back (with cool towels!) after a day in port

One of the ship's formal nights


While I had a fabulous time, I hated only being able to see each port city for a few hours. I am the type of traveler that likes to spend days (if not weeks) at a destination, getting to know all its little quirks and back alleys, but it was a good way to get a {very} small taste of some of Europe’s most historical and beautiful cities.

The “sea days” (days the ship didn’t dock anywhere) were a fabulous way to unwind–we ate tons of food, sat out by the pools, and just generally soaked up as much Mediterranean sun as possible.

And, as it turns out, I loved hanging out with the older crowd. We met a few great couples and it was nice catching up with everyone after a day in port. Princess’ cruises tends to cater to the older, wealthier cruise demographic. Nothing like Carnival’s well-known “party ships,”–full of drunk twenty-somethings.

The cruise was also where Vince and my mom met for the first time. I think it was a great way for them to get to know each other. Nothing beats a “hi, nice to meet you” over pizza in Barcelona!

Having worked a few more summers for Princess, we have another cruise or two planned. And even with the recent tragedy off the coast of Tuscany, I am still looking forward to setting sail–only next time I will try and be more wary of emergency and evacuation procedures. Being aboard such big vessels, you really get a false sense of security, but obviously things can and do go wrong.

I read yesterday the Carnival Corp. (owner of Costa, Princess, Holland America and seven other cruise lines) is auditing all of its cruise lines for safety and evacuation procedures. I truly hope nothing like what happened to the Costa Concordia ever happens again.

On a lighter note–more Travel Tales detailing each stop on our cruise are in the works! Stay tuned!




6 thoughts on “Travel Tales: Cruising the Mediterranean

  1. Pingback: 2012: A Year in Review « Girl Meets Bulgaria

  2. These look amazing! After my two years with Teach For America my boyfriend and I are thinking about trying to work on a cruise ship to do some travelling while my significant other and I aren’t tied down with kids! Any suggestions?

    • To be honest? Don’t work on a cruise ship! I hate to say it (as I once really wanted to work on a ship as well), but from everything I have heard, it is a hellish experience. I have spoken with some cruise ship staff firsthand, and you could tell they were doing their best to stay positive. Working 16+ hour days, only one day off per week, and living in really cramped quarters is just some of what I have heard. Most said that they never were able to get off the ship in the ports. They were so exhausted that they just slept and did laundry. Of course, I am SURE that everyone has their own story, it all depends on the position you have. I am completely biased, but I recommend looking into working for a cruise line, but in their land division. I work for Princess in Denali, Alaska (this summer will be my third), and it is 100% amazing! You get plenty of time off to travel (I have seen some amazing parts of Alaska) and there is such a great sense of community. Princess (and Holland-America) have operations all over the state. Obviously, you won’t be able to see a bunch of countries, but I honestly doubt cruise ship employees do either. I have done things like salmon fishing, flights over Mt. McKinley, ATV rides, dog sled rides, and much more. You will never be bored in Alaska! Wow, I will stop my pitch for Princess now! Really though, I can’t be of help when it comes to working on the ships. I have never done it and never will. But, if the land side of things intrigues you, please don’t hesitate to email me any questions you have. I could rave about it for hours!

  3. It was such a fun cruise! The best part? Meeting my future son-in-law, Vince!

  4. Fuuny I took this same trip back in 2000 on the “Grand Princess”. Best Trip to see all the different countries.

    • Nice! The Grand was recently renovated and it now (essentially) Princess’ newest ship. The cruises we are looking into are mostly on the Grand. I agree, the Grand Med was a great way to see so many different countries, albeit briefly!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s