After much anticipation for our vacation, I can’t believe I have ‘been there, done that, and have the pretty picture’.
We chose Oceania’s Insignia, Pearls of the Riviera for its itinerary and the fact that May is a wonderful time to be in Europe (especially since my birthday falls in May).
Barcelona was the embarkation port for our cruise and we spent a few days enjoying the sights and wandering Las Rambla. Every morning we woke up as they were cleaning the streets and the markets and stalls on Las Rambla were getting ready for their day.
Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona
On May 17th we boarded our ship that was to be our home for the next 10 days. Our stateroom was a Penthouse and although not as large as some of the staterooms on luxury vessels or Oceania’s new ship the Marina, it was spacious enough for us on this busy itinerary. We had not been in our suite for 10 minutes when Woody, our Stateroom attendant and Claudio, our Butler came to introduce themselves and see if there was anything we needed.
Penthouse stateroom onboard the Oceania Insignia
Oceania, although not all-inclusive, does include bottled water, soft drinks, specialty coffee and teas. I definitely enjoyed the lattes and cappuccinos throughout the day and the free bottled water that was readily available every time we got off the ship at a different port.
One of the things I always hear from clients who have traveled with Oceania is that they love the food and the fact that there is no charge for the alternative dining in Toscana or Polo Grill. I can certainly agree with them. The food and service was excellent in all of the restaurants. We even had the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful sunset while dining al fresco on the deck at Tapas on the Terrace one evening.
The dress code on the ship is country club casual which was nice as we did not have to pack any formal wear. This meant more room in my luggage for shopping!
Polo Grill Restaurant
Getting off our ship in every port was very easy since there were not thousands to disembark. We took advantage of having a leisurely breakfast on the Terrace before getting off.
In Valencia and Palma de Mallorca we made use of the free shuttle into town and were able to wander and enjoy the cities. Our weather was a little cloudy on both of these days and we were able to see Valencia on the Hop on Hop off Bus just before it started to rain.
Palma de Mallorca
When we arrived in Marseille our driver, Eva was waiting to meet us and she drove us to Aix En Provence, St. Remy and La Baux. All were wonderful stops and I would definitely like to return to revisit Aix.
Aix en Provence
Upon our arrival the next day in Monte Carlo our driver, Andy was waiting at the pier and drove us to Saint Paul de Venece, one of the most charming villages with a Michelin restaurant with a beautiful view of the hillside.
St. Paul de Vence, France
Our next stops were Eze and Nice where we enjoyed the market and lunch at a great restaurant overlooking the old town and market. On our return to Monaco, Andy took us on the Grand Prix circuit for the Formula 1 race that was running on May 28th. We returned to Monte Carlo that evening to try our luck in the Casino.
At the next port, we paid to take the Oceania transfer into Florence and got a bonus when we were rerouted due to construction on the entrance ramp of the highway and had to take the route to Florence via Pisa, so we were able to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Ponte Vecchio, Florence
After a full day in Florence we returned to the ship. As we stepped off our coach the band was playing and the Captain and crew were there to greet us with cold towels and refreshments. What a nice welcome all the guests received as they walked the red carpet to board the ship.
Guests being welcomed back to the ship in Florence
We enjoyed the marvelous ports of Amalfi and Sorrento where we took the hydrofoil to lovely Capri.
Our journey came to a close as we disembarked the ship in Rome and said ‘Arrivederci’ to Italy and Oceania.
Ruins in Rome
Artists selling their work in Rome