I’ve always been tempted by photos of stunning cruise ships you see in adverts, but as a holiday, I just wasn’t sure if the sheer scale of it was for us.
But lockdown had got to all of us, and the Sky Princess promised a getaway from it all, with stops at historical cities like Seville.
So, it took little persuasion for my husband Carson to join me on a two-week, seven-port tour of the Med.
The first thing that hits you is the sheer size of the vessel. The Sky Princess literally has her head in the clouds, and you have to squint as you look up at its 18 decks. It normally carries 4,000 passengers with 1,875 crew – almost one crew member per passenger – but due to Covid, it was sailing at 60% passenger capacity for safety reasons.
Our all-inclusive Princess Plus package included all meals, snacks and drinks at the restaurants, apart from the speciality restaurants, which charge a reasonable $25-$29 (£18.85-£21.86) for a four course meal. We were also entitled to 12 drinks a day. How on earth were we going to get through all that?!
First stop was deck five, which had a mezzanine stretching up three floors and looked like the lobby of a five star hotel, with its grand piano and marble staircases.
Cafes and restaurants are in abundance, offering afternoon tea, speciality coffees, Italian ice cream, freshly made sushi, handmade pizza at Alfredo’s Pizzeria, and the Estrella and Cielo’s restaurants, which were included in our package.
There are also restaurants like Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria, Bistro Sur La Mer and the Crown Grill, which offers succulent steaks.
If you get peckish the International Cafe on deck 16 is open 24 hours.
Our friendly steward showed us to our cabin, on deck 15, where first sight was our balcony looking out to sea.
Waking up next morning to views of the ocean is a treat you don’t forget.
For breakfast, we tried the Estrella restaurant, where our attentive waiter offered us a choice of pancakes, crispy bacon, smoked salmon with cream cheese, fresh fruits, croissants or the full English.
To work off a few of the accumulating pounds, I decided to try one of the several pools on board and found one where you could watch movies on a huge screen as you swim.
There are countless other things to do. The daily schedule lists around 80 different events and activities starting with an abs class, then wine tasting, cocktail making, quizzes, craft-making, games and a singles get-together.
At the Lotus Spa, friendly experts offer services like hair cutting, massage, aromatherapy and acupuncture. I opted for an intense hair treatment, which was wonderful, and Carson enjoyed 75 minutes of being oiled, pummelled and soothed, courtesy of the Bamboo massage.
Our day-long port visits included Seville, Barcelona, Marseille, Cartagena, Palma Majorca, Corsica and Gibraltar. Organised excursions range from £37 to £376 or you can go your own way.
We picked an excursion to see Seville, which started with a walking tour, then lunch at a local restaurant of salad, fish, profiteroles and local wine.
A few days later at the Majorcan capital of Palma, we hopped on to a little wooden train, which cut its way through the mountains to the tiny city of Soller and a visit to a centuries-old family-run olive oil company.
The next day in the Spanish part of Cartagena, we decided to tour this city on our own and enjoyed strolling along tree lined boulevards, stropping at pavement cafés.
In Gibraltar, we visited its ancient caves and met the famous free-roaming apes.
The journey was sadly almost over. Did we enjoy it? Yes. The staff were super friendly and efficient, the food excellent, the ship luxurious, clean and comfortable, and we never felt crowded.
Waking up in different parts of the world was wonderful, and it’s certainly less hassle than flying.
P.S. Passengers on the Sky Princess must have received their second vaccine dose at least 14 days before cruising and have vaccination proof. Safety measures include mask-wearing in public areas, but not while seated in the restaurants and bars, or in exercise areas.
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