Three days out of our seven-day cruise with Princess Cruises were spent at sea. Sea days were so different from days at port. When docking and arriving at a new location, we were so eager to get ready, grab our bags, and explore off the ship. Days at sea were a bit more relaxed, and definitely embodied the whole “come back new” philosophy of Princess. Can anyone say spa day?! We took full advantage of sleeping in, ordering room service, and checking out everything the ship had to offer, without a schedule in place. Here’s a little glimpse into our days at sea…
Wandering around the ship was so much fun. Each day, we somehow found another section of the ship we had never seen before. The photos above were taken at the very front of the ship, which was one of our favorite places to relax and just enjoy the views. At times our hearts definitely were aflutter, looking out and seeing nothing but endless blues and clear skies.
One night we had the opportunity to tour the ship’s galley and meet executive Chef, Naveen Quadros. Chef Quadros along with his staff, showed us all over the kitchen and explained the process of how he created the menu for that evening. It was definitely one of the most elaborate meals we’ve ever had, with everything from lobster tails and caviar to homemade gourmandises and chocolate mousse cake. By the end of this meal, we felt like we were bursting at the seams and couldn’t possibly eat another bite. It was such a special treat.
We can’t talk about this trip without mentioning how we had the great pleasure of meeting the ship’s captain, Edward Perrin, and tour the bridge. This is something we never thought we would do…just chat with our ship’s captain and exchange stories at sea, no big deal, right?! Haha He showed us all over the bridge and explained the functions of the navigational controls. Before we knew it we had all the ship lingo down…muster, lido, starboard, wake, tender, the list goes on…we were ready to take control of the ship. Okay, not really, but you get the picture. He did offer some great cruising advice we should all keep in mind: never dance on your balcony’s table with champagne in hand. Future cruisers, take note. 😉
Speaking of balconies, this is where we spent a good portion of our days at sea. We were a little nervous about cruise life because of the preconceived notions of small rooms and rocking ships, but we were pleasantly surprised with the comfort of the space and this is where we spent a lot of our time relaxing. With 24 hour room service and the breathtaking views, we were in heaven.
So we’ve been cruisin’ the Caribbean for the last two days, and we’re slowly starting to get the hang of cruise life. It now seems pretty obvious as to why so many people opt for cruises for their vacations. It simply takes the guess work of out of everything…the restaurants, shows, excursions, the list goes on. Everything is here.
Our first stop on the cruise was at Princess Cays in the Bahamas. It was the perfect start to this adventure, with a laid back atmosphere on a private beach. We opted for a little bungalow by the shore and fell into total relaxation mode complete with a picnic lunch. We kicked back and vegged out in the shade, under an umbrella, watching the paddle boaters and snorkelers in the water. We couldn’t help but think back to our honeymoon in Mexico… We’re not what you would necessarily call “beach people”, but we can never resist good food and the sound of the ocean. It was a bit cloudy, but everyone has been so friendly and the views are so beautiful, that it was impossible for a few clouds to bring us down. Today we’ll be at sea, while we make our way over to St. Thomas. We’ll be spending the day exploring the ship a bit more, and making a trip (or two) over to the pastry shop to satisfy our sweet tooth. 😉
We had two short days in Florence, Pisa, and Rome, but they were probably two of our favorite days traveling together. Visiting Italy has always been on our dream list of places to visit, so we really couldn’t believe we there. The ship docked in Livorno and we drove to Pisa to see the famous Leaning Tower in the Square of Miracles. This place felt like an ancient amusement park with all the medieval architecture and crowds. People stood on fences, trying to get the perfect photo “holding up” the tower. It was really fun to see and kind of surprising just how much the tower actually leaned. After, we made our way to Florence for just a few short hours to grab lunch and shop around. Florence was breathtaking. It’s really difficult not to sound cheesy or cliché when describing our time there, but if you’ve ever been, you’ll know what we mean.
We met up with a friend for lunch, who had already snagged a spot waiting on line outside of at All’Antico Vinaio. We’ve heard so many amazing things about this place, but didn’t really know what to expect. Well 20 minutes later, we found ourselves indulging in some of the biggest sandwiches 5 euros could buy you, sitting just outside the shop, with fresh mozzarella and tomatoes dripping on our shoes. It was absolutely perfect. We walked through the Historic Center taking in all the sites, stopping at the Duomo which towered over us. We didn’t get to climb to the top of the cathedral, but if we were to go back we’d love to check out Café at the Oblate Library. The views look incredible!
On the morning of our last day on the cruise, we gathered in one of the ship’s restaurants with all the new people we had met, shared stories with, and grew to love. It was our last day together, and it was pretty crazy to think we would be saying goodbye (well, more like “so long”) to this group of people that felt more like long lost friends, in just a few hours. With bags on our shoulders and cups of coffees in hand we all wobbled off the ship, wheeling our luggage behind us, to the bus that was waiting for us at the port. We all loaded on, told the driver our stops, and drove in to Vatican City for our last excursion together. We chatted about our favorite parts of the 7-day trip, what are plans were after our day in Rome, and where would all be flying out to next.
Like a bunch of sardines we all packed ourselves into the Vatican Museum for a tour before heading to the Sistine Chapel. Pulling up to the museum was quite a sight to see; lines wraps around the building and crowds of people stopped on the street to snap photos. If we weren’t with a group like this, we’re not too sure if we would have been able to visit and experience Vatican City in this special way, without getting too overwhelmed. (This was the debarking tour we signed up for.) We really wish we took more photos, especially while in the Sistine Chapel, but they were very strict about photography. The artwork was unlike anything we’ve every seen before, and by the end of our tour we had a few kinks in our necks from looking up at the intricate paintings on the ceilings the whole time. We immediately fell in love with the 3-D painting effect, troupe l’ceil, which creates the illusion of shadows making paintings look like sculptures. They definitely fooled us a few times, especially when one of us didn’t have their glasses on. 😉
After our tour we checked into our hotel where we refreshened up for the evening and then quickly headed out to explore the city. By this point we were starting to feel the affects of so many days of travel with a jam-packed itinerary, but we quickly reminded ourselves that trips like this are only once in a lifetime and we only had one day in Rome, so off we went! We grabbed a quick bite to eat at Taverna Rossini (Margherita pie and cacio e pepe, which is officially our new favorite pasta dish! So tasty!), which was right down the street from our hotel, before heading to the Spanish Steps. We decided to walk there, (take in the sunshine, and fresh air along the way) and were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves strolling through Villa Borghese on our way there. The architecture and artwork in Europe is truly breathtaking, but this park was unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. Imagine children singing songs and playing games in the shade under huge trees, adults dancing and playing music in the street, roller blading competitions resulting in some of the loudest cheers from crowds nearby, and couples riding twin bicycles with the biggest smiles on their faces. This place was full of life and love and the energy was completely captivating. People there really know how to have a good time and enjoy life — they’re doing it right!
After an intense cab ride with the sweetest older driver, who wasn’t really sure where we were trying to get to, but did his best to wind in and out of the narrow cobblestone streets, we arrived at our dinner spot for the night: Alfredo e Ada. It is a traditional Roman restaurant that was recommended to us on Instagram, and boy oh boy was it worth the search! Around the Colosseum there are so many restaurants aimed at tourists, which are super convenient, but we wanted to really experience an authentic meal that was somewhere the locals may eat. The intimate and homey atmosphere, was truly perfect for our last night in Europe. The dim lighting, the waitress who recited us the entire menu from memory, some red wine, and complimentary dessert. Next to our table, on the wall hung an old calendar from November 2004…the year we started dating. Maybe it was simply a coincidence, but as we shared some of our favorite stories from over the years and our dreams for the future, we couldn’t help but feel as though we were right where we were meant to be.
We’re not really sure how our trip to Italy was already two months ago (what?!), but to say we miss our time there would be an understatement. At least we left with hundreds of photos, a ton of memories, and some new good friends. We only had a few days in Italy, but we think it was our favorite place we visited. There’s no denying France and Spain were incredibly beautiful and captivating, but there was something about Italy that completely made our hearts melt.
Actually getting to Portofino could be considered a bit tricky, but thankfully the Princess Cruises team had everything mapped out for us, which made it super simple and stress free. Our ship docked in Genoa, and then we took a bus to Santa Margherita, where we boarded a motorboat to beautiful Portofino. The short boat ride there was a treat in itself and once we arrived we instantly felt as though we had stepped onto a movie set. The buildings were incredibly colorful nestled right on the crystal clear water, with yachts and sailboats coming in and out of port. We spent the day roaming around the cobblestone streets with Olivia and Blake, who were really just the sweetest people ever!! This has to be one of our favorite things about traveling — meeting new, kind, and inspiring people. (Thanks for the group shot, by the way! 😉 ) We can’t wait to visit Texas one of these days and spend some time with them! We filled our bellies with an insane amount of pizza and gelato at Da I Gemelli, watching the boats go by, and sharing stories about our families back home. It’s was a cute little restaurant conveniently located right where the boats docked. We couldn’t help but feel like we were living in a postcard.
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This post was made in partnership with Princess Cruises. As always all thoughts and opinions are our own.
We still can’t believe its been a month since we’ve been back from our European trip with Princess Cruises. Thinking back, the whole trip still feels like a dream and we’re already talking about going back, especially to France! We only spent one day there, but it was enough to completely suck us in and we can see ourselves spending a few weeks there to explore the entire country. We’ve been saying that for quite a while now, but one of these days we’re hoping to make it a reality!
Click “Read More” to see more from from our trip…. READ MORE
Spain! Where do we begin?! We’ve been back from our Mediterranean Cruise with Princess for a little over two weeks now and thinking back on it still feels like a dream. This was a trip we didn’t think we would take till much later on in our lives, so we’re still a little in shock about it all. We keep thinking, “Did that all really just happen?!” Our adventure began in Sitges, Spain…a charming little town about 40 minutes outside of Barcelona. We stayed there for the night before embarking on the ship the next day. Upon arriving at our hotel, we quickly freshened up from our 12 hour flight, thankfully caught a second wind (which was probably more like a third or forth one at that point) and hopped on a bus to Barcelona. We only had 24 hours in the city so we wanted to soak up as much as we could.
Read on to hear about some of our favorite places and see more photos from of our time in
Sitges, Barcelona, Cartagena, Marbella & Puerto Banus! READ MORE
Well, we would never have guessed it but we’re becoming quite the cruisers. 😉 We’re off again with Princess cruises on a Mediterranean cruise through Europe. We are over the moon excited, as visiting Europe has been a dream of ours for as long as we could remember. (Dancing under the stars in Rome, was one of the things we wrote on the “Before I Die…” wall in San Diego a while back. It may sound corny, but it’s true.) We will be stopping in Spain, Great Britain, France, and Italy. We can’t wait! We leave Phoenix today and head to Philly where we will catch our connecting flight to Barcelona. When speaking about the trip and our port of call in Barcelona to friends and family, this song from the Vicky Cristina Barcelona soundtrack kept popping into our heads and playing over and over. Man, if only all the music from Woody Allen’s films could be playing as we stroll through the streets in Europe. We joked about creating a playlist to listen to while exploring each city. It’s a rather romanticized way to imagine the trip, but we can’t help but feel like it would be the optimal way to experience these places for the first time together. 😉
With each new trip, comes a little more knowledge on how to pack smarter for time away from home. We packed early this time (we know we couldn’t believe it ourselves), and boy did it make things easier. Packing light is always something we’ve aspired to do, but somehow is harder than it sounds. We used to begin packing and before we knew it, we had multiple pairs of shoes, random accessories, and bulky items. We’ll be on an 8-day cruise and then stopping in New York to visit some friends and family before heading back to Phoenix, so wanted to make sure we kept our luggage to a minimum while still bringing all the essentials. Here’s a few tips and tricks we’ve picked up for packing lately…
It’s been a while since we’ve updated our luggage and we are so happy we finally got our hands on these new carry-ons from Away. We’ve been lusting after them for a while, and now we are pretty excited to take them for a spin! (When you start swooning over things like luggage, a shiny washer and dryer, and hey — maybe even a new cutting board, that doesn’t mean you’re getting old, right? 😉 ) Anyway, packing smart should to start with the actual luggage. These are pretty light, which is a major plus when lifting them up in the plane’s overhead compartment and have several different compartments to keep everything from intimates to shoes, to even dirty laundry all separate and in their place. This makes our maybe-just-a-little-too-neat (borderline anal) personalities very happy. They have four wheels and swivel in every direction, which is a major step up from our old carry-ons. It may sound like an obvious feature to look for when choosing a carry-on, but we’ve been distracted in the past with cute duffles, only to get through security feeling like our arms were gonna fall off. Lastly and maybe one of our favorite features, they have built-in chargers and USB ports. Can you say, “game changer”?
PACK VERSATILE ITEMS
Packing versatile items has been so helpful when traveling. It may take a little longer to mentally organize outfits and what pieces can go with what, but in the end we feel like this saves so much space and time. Packing versatile bottoms like black or dark blue denim that can be casual for day and dressed up for dinner at night is always a must in our luggage. For pieces that are more specific like a dress or jumpsuit, change up your shoes and accessories to go from day to night. We found ourselves doing this several times on our last cruise, even though we packed multiple outfits. Done packing? Now think about what you can take out of your luggage. Unless you absolutely love the water, one bathing suit will work just fine. We used to pack multiple, but we would find ourselves going to the pool or beach once a day for a quick dip (sometimes every other day) when traveling. Cruises have formal dinner nights and different events going on daily. Packing one pair of heels for multiple dinners, and one suit with different shirt and tie options has been helpful on saving room. For the most part, it’s pretty casual and we’ll be walking around a ton, so lightweight cotton tops and comfy shoes are what we’ll be reaching for most days.
Click through below to see what we’re packing for our Mediterranean Cruise:
ORGANIZING YOUR SUITCASE: LAYERING + ROLLING
Start with laying your shoes and bulky items on the bottom of your suitcase, then begin rolling your clothes and layering them on top. We’ve heard of the rolling technique for years and it seems like kind of a given, but we didn’t start doing it until recently and now we don’t know what took us so long. Rolling cotton tops, pants, and skirts takes up so much less space than regular folding. Plus, you can get in all those little spots in your luggage that feel like wasted space. Tissue paper has also been helpful for more delicate materials and dressier items. Wrapping and rolling the garment in tissue paper helps it from getting wrinkled during travel. It may feel like an extra step, but anything that saves us time from ironing or a dry-cleaning room service bill is fine with us! When possible, bring sweaters, jackets and hats with you on the flight. You’ll save room, keep your hat from getting squashed in your luggage, and a cozy layering piece with you in case you get cold on while traveling.
What are some of your tips and tricks for traveling?
Follow along with us on instagram the next few days as we explore Europe! Can’t wait to check out the cruise ship and all the beautiful cities!
The last stop on our trip with Princess Cruises was in St. Maarten. We’d been looking forward to this stop, the whole cruise. When we told our friends and family that we were going to be visiting the Caribbean, St. Maarten seemed to be everyone’s favorite, so we were eager to check it out. We had signed up for a tour around the French and Dutch sides of the country, so we were off the ship pretty early that morning and greeted by our tour guide named Hysterical — and yes, she definitely lived up to her name. 😉
We were completely taken with the views, crystal clear water, and breezy weather of the Dutch side of St. Maarten. Hats were a life saver during this trip. 😉 While on the French side we explored some local shops and wandered around the rainbow colored streets. We loved how quaint everything felt and the pops of color were so cheerful! We ended off our exploring with a famous guavaberry smoothie and headed back to the ship for a little relaxing on deck.
Stay tuned for one more post from our trip, sharing our favorite moments on the ship!
Check out our stops in the Bahamas & St. Thomas, too!
The second stop on our trip with Princess Cruises was at St. Thomas. After a relaxing day at sea, enjoying the ship, we traveled south through the night. The next morning, we were awakened by a knock at our door where we were greeted with room service for breakfast. (The croissants and fresh fruit every morning were our favorite!) Still sleepy eyed, we tip toed over to the balcony, and opened the curtains to let some light in. The view from our room was unlike any other. We brought our breakfast outside and sat on the balcony just looking at the gorgeous water and land that we were going to explore that day.
We had originally planned to check out a botanical garden in St. Thomas. Unfortunately, we booked our excursions a bit late (tisk tisk, we know), and that particular one ended up being sold out. We didn’t do any organized tours that day which we were originally a little bummed out about, but it actually turned out to be one of our favorite days from the whole trip.
We took our time getting ready and then headed out without any plans. We walked around a bit and checked out some local shops for a while, then decided to take the Skyride to Paradise Point. The views on the way up were breathtaking, with homes nestled in the mountains and beautiful flowers all around — just the ride alone was a treat. It’s located right across the pier, so once you get to the top you are surrounded with an amazing view of the water and all the ships docked at the port. We couldn’t help but snap photos of the beautiful view, which was truly like a postcard. We’re so glad to have gotten a polaroid together to add to our collection. We always love looking back at photos of our parents, when they started dating and were newly married, on vacations, so these photos will definitely be special to look back on years down the road.
Cruise life, and cruise fashion, is a lot more casual than we’re used to, but we completely embraced the laid back style. It was clear early on that we just may have packed too much and found ourselves consistently reaching for some lightweighttees, easy denim, sneakers and slip-ons. Bridge and Burn has some of our favorite tees, and their “Rivers and Lakes” tee felt pretty appropriate for the trip. The striped tee was a major score from Zara, on sale for $7! (Yes, please!) We walked around quite a bit so comfy shoes were no exception. Our navy Vans and Nisolo sandals were perfect for wandering around St. Thomas all day, with a bit of a nautical flare. It was SO breezy out and of course with being on the water, a bit humid too, so a messy top knot (maybe the most unintentionally messy top knot) was necessary. 😉
Can’t wait to share some photos from the next stop in St. Maarten!
We recently got the opportunity to partner with Princess Cruises on a 7-day trip to the Caribbean. We haven’t been on a cruise since we were very little, so we’ve been excited about the idea of spending a week at sea.
Like most people, when we thought about vacation, we thought about what we were going to pack. Casual wear, formal nights, pool and beachwear…cruise packing seemed a bit more intimating than we’re used to, but we broke it down into a few basic pieces that we think we’ll be pretty versatile while aboard the ship.
We figured we’ll be spending most of our time in casual wear during the day, relaxing and checking out everything the ship has to offer. Basic tees, denim shorts, and easy slip on shoes are key. Loving these sandals by Nisolo. We fell in love with their company on our trip to Nashville, and we’ve been hooked ever since. 🙂 We also brought along a light jacket (his and hers) just incase it gets chilly at night.
We love dressing up, but don’t get to take advantage of these dressy nights as much as we may like. We have two formal nights and a few semi-formal dinners. For the formal nights, we thought we’d keep it simple with a classic black suit and little black dress.
This had to be the easiest part of packing…swim suits, flip-flops and a coverup. Found this little dress last minute, which doubles perfectly as daywear and an easy coverup, while out exploring the islands.
We wanted to keep packing to a minimum so we didn’t bring too much. This Madewellbackpackand our trusty ONAcamera bagare perfect for holding everything while we’re out sight seeing and exploring during our stops at each port. We also packed a sunhat, sunglasses (his and hers), and big straw bag to hold all the essentials (bugspray, sunblock –SPF 70+ over here!, and water bottles) for days relaxing on the beach.
We are so excited to start our cruise tomorrow! It’s been way too long since we had a vacation, and with all the craziness that 2016 has already brought us, we are thinking it’s coming at a perfect time. Follow along with us on Snapchat (@newdarlings) for constant updates from our trip!
We are Robert and Christina: husband and wife, photo takers, adventurers and best friends. We like to laugh too hard, dance all night, and explore together. Here is a little glimpse into our lives in sunny Phoenix, Arizona.