What I Liked About It :
1) I got to see and have a taste of the European cities I have been dreaming about. The Vatican in Rome, Florence in Italy, Monte Carlo in Monaco, Valencia in Spain and even discovering Gibraltar - this UK territory located on the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula.
2) No worries about what to eat as food is available 24 hours a day. You can have buffet or fine dining. From ice-cream, coffee, tea to alcoholic drinks the choice is yours. If fitness is your priority while indulging there is a well equipped gym and several pools. There is night dancing, zumba and line dancing. As loyal cruisers say "It is a moving resort".
3) The nightly shows, casino, spa, art gallery/auction, library and maybe other areas I did not even discover. However,some of these activities are not included in your cruise fees like the spa and how much you spend in the baccarat table.
4) Knowing and paying for the cost in advance makes the trip more manageable. Of course there are still charges that can incur like the margarita and even the soda but one can watch over these orders.
What I Did Not Like About It:
1) I said cruising is the best way to sample a city. But that is just it - to sample. One cannot savor the place and enjoy its true color. The cruise ship has a schedule and shore excursions (as they call it) can only be done within the time frame. No enough time to enjoy the local food or sip coffee by the streets as Europeans do and not much time to shop either (not that I wanted to).
2) Having food available 24 hours a day seems too unrealistic for me. With the thought however that I have paid for it makes it more tempting. Then around the middle of the cruise the food gets boring. Housekeeping service was at its best to the point of suffocation. Room and bed is cleaned 2x a day. I could get used to it but it these do not happen in my real life. Food and service is what makes cruising appealing to a lot of people, but it became of a nuisance to me.
3) Yes there was a gym and other fitness activities but for the regular person like me and my partner who have low motivation when it comes to working out - going to the gym in the cruise ship remained a dream.
4) And most importantly, I find being in a ship too restricting and not the best use of my time. Going to the nightly shows was fun - but only because I have nothing else to do. I am not a pool person so I did not take a swim. There were entertainment on some decks such as movies, a violin quartet, the band, the piano players. There was a library even. All of that was meant to cater to everyone's idea of fun and enjoyment while on board. I guess I belonged to the 5% difficult people so hard to please.
I am not closing my doors on cruising. I may do it again - although not very soon. And so here's
What I Would Do Next Time :
1) Choose the ports/places that I am NOT THAT interested in. Cruising for me is to discover new places. Places that could be hard to reach. Cruising is not for places I want to immerse myself. When we decided to go on this cruise, I chose the Mediterranean thinking I would truly enjoy myself. I still did but I could have enjoyed it more if we stayed longer.
2) Do a financial evaluation between cruising and making arrangements on my own before plunging in again.
3) Stay 2-3 days in the ports/places of embarkation and disembarkation. For one - to give allowance for delayed flights. Secondly to fully enjoy at least 2 cities even if they are not in your bucket list - as one never knows the gem every city holds.
After all that has been said and done - the one thing that rings in my mind now is this -
Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.
~ Gustave Flaubert