Sailing through the Mediterranean on Celebrity Cruises newest ship Beyond was truly beyond words, beyond dreams- with eight ports of call in nine days it was a spectacular whirlwind tour of Spain, France and the Italian Riviera. Beyond is the newest and largest of the Edge series of luxury cruise ships from Celebrity and having now been on all three I can say that they really took it to the next level with Beyond. They kept all the best of Edge and Apex but added the most spectacular lounge/bar at the stern (rear) of the ship. The aptly named Sunset Bar (see first photo) is a tiered level lounge area with the best view when leaving ports and of course the sunsets, I maintain you feel like you’re in a luxury resort when sitting back there enjoying a cocktail or two.
We started our trip out in Barcelona (see here) It was our first time in Spain and we immediately fell in love with the energy, architecture and of course the food! Be sure to visit all the amazing Gaudi masterpieces ie Sagrada Familia & Guell Park but my favorite spots were Plaza Reial and Barceloneta. We are already planning another, longer trip soon.
Stop number two was Marseille, France a beautiful historical port city. We spent a few days here about five years ago and were very excited to return. I highly recommend doing the electric bike tour of the city. Our guide, who was a local, showed us parts of Marseille we didn’t know about – be sure to check out Le Panier, a hip little area not too far from the old port, so many cute shops and great places to eat.
Nice was our third stop – shown above – and one of our favorite days on the trip. I had been to Nice many years ago so it was so fun to test my memory of what it was like the first time. It was a larger city then I recalled, we trekked up the hill to get the full view of this very charming city and I was shocked by how sprawling it was. We coincidentally had some friends traveling through the south of France at the same time so they picked us up in Nice and we drove down to Cap Ferrat for a day at Paloma Beach Club. Lunch was a namesake salad Nicoise and French rosé then a dip in the Med to cool down from the now infamous heatwave (see more here)
This was shot on the river banks of Pisa. I never explored anything beyond the leaning tower area the first time I visited and it reminded me a lot of a quieter Florence. If you’re a mega fan of the HBO series My Brilliant Friend like I am – you may recall the main character went to Uni in Pisa and this is right near the campus she attended.
We were so thrilled to visit Florence again and introduce our son to this wonderful city full of art, history and amazing gelato. We took an electric cart tour through the city to see a little more than we would have on foot since we only had one day. Our guide took us to an 800 year old pharmacy that was such an incredible experience, as always I wish we had more time.
In addition to expanding the rear deck for a larger sunset viewing lounge, the Celebrity Beyond also boasts two infinity dipping pools and the effect is mind-blowing! Sipping champagne while, floating around watching an incredible Italian sunset – I mean does it get any better? And FYI we were the only ones in there so don’t give away my secret!
There was something about going to Sicily that was awe inspiring to me – it wasn’t my favorite stop (we didn’t have time to see much of it) but I had this inexplicable excitement to be there. I think its because of the way Sicily and its decedents are portrayed in cinema and literature and it’s not the most visited part of Italy. I will say we had the most incredible, dare I say the best I ever tasted, gelato in Messina. We were tipped off by our waiter at Le Voyage on board Beyond, who told us it was the best gelato in the world – he’s 100% right. Just an added note; the most beautiful exit from port on this trip was leaving Messina. It’s apparently a pretty tricky port to maneuver in and out of but it’s such stunning land and seascape, we of course watched it all from the Sunset Bar while toasting my husband’s birthday.
I cant believe it took me so long to get to Capri, it is now officially my favorite place on earth. I highly recommend starting out your visit with a private boat ride around the island and to the Blue Grotto. We did a small group boat trip which was fine but next time I will definitely go private – you can take a dip in the water and get all the epic photos without strangers in your pic. Our tour guide did us a solid and recommended that we go up to Capri Centro for lunch (take the funicular, we took the stairs and it was brutal) we ate at Al Capri and it was hands down the best pizza on the whole trip!
Our final stop was Rome – the ship docks in Civitavecchia which is about and hour from Rome itself and the location of many summer homes of the Romans. Rome to me has to be one of the most exciting cities on the planet, It’s like walking through a massive museum. Everywhere you look theres is a statue, a fountain or an ancient ruin. Standing in the middle of the Colosseum is mind blowing when you think about the history of it – we took a guided tour and learned so much about the Gladiators, Emperors, slaves and ordinary citizens that populated this incredible structure. Aside from the historical sites and Instaworthy photo opps the less talked about attractions in Rome, but my favorites, are most definitely Trastevere and the Tiber River bank. In the summer the river is lined with pop up shops, restaurants, bars and carnival attractions it feels a little like the Seine in Paris, even on a weeknight its a popular area perfect for people watching and sipping a Spritz.
I visited Trastevere about 20 years ago before it became the hip, bustling neighborhood it is now. A friend of mine at the time had attended university in Rome and recommended we visit the area for the best tiramisu in town, I personally don’t think bad tiramisu exists in Italy.
Traveling by sea is such an incredible way to explore the world and doing it with Celebrity Cruise lines makes it extra special, it always feels like coming home after a day in port. I hope you enjoyed getting a little peek at my European holiday and perhaps inspired a few of you to see the world!
Ciao for now ~ Zia xoxoxo