Viking Cruises Mediterranean Odyssey
Late summer, my husband and I embarked on a Viking Ocean Cruise aboard The Viking Sea. Our Viking Cruises Mediterranean Odyssey journey began in Barcelona, Spain, and ended in Chioggia, Italy (near Venice). Today, I’m sharing about our stops in Spain, France, Monaco, Italy, Greece, and Croatia.
This summer we explored some of the most beautiful countries and cities on the Viking Mediterranean Odyssey Ocean cruise. We had such a wonderful trip that we came back and created a Shutterfly book, because we didn’t want to forget our experiences. If you love the water, and you followed my travel last year, we were in Bermuda, on the Viking Cruises Bermuda Escape.
Viking Cruises Mediterranean Odyssey
The Viking Cruise line has quickly become the world’s most awarded cruise line on both ocean and river cruises. One of the most popular cruises is the sea voyage from Barcelona to Venice: The Mediterranean Odyssey.
I shared our experience on Instagram and received so many comments (and questions) from readers, so today I’m giving the full details of this wonderful cruise.
The cruise is aboard the ship the Viking Sea, which is a mid-size cruise ship (the size that we prefer), carrying around 900 guests.
We love the Viking rooms—they have everything that you need, and you can settle in right away, by putting your things in closets, drawers, under the bed, little cubbies, and more. The bathroom is huge (for a ship), and we loved the balcony, and did I mention their cozy beds?
All spacious rooms include king size beds, heated bathroom floors, generous showers, 24-hour room service and private veranda. Each ship also includes a spa and beautifully appointed lounges and dining spaces—all with a Scandinavian elegance and design.
Here’s a map where we explored on the Viking Sea
Here’s the full map of the Viking Mediterranean Odyssey route. It’s a 13-day ocean cruise that begins in Barcelona, Spain. There are stops in the French port city of Marseille, in Monaco, and a visit into Nice (and we saw the beautiful French Riviera). In Italy, we explored Rome Florence, and Naples, ending in Venice. A highlight was Croatia for the city of Split, and the real life Game of Thrones setting of Dubrovnik. The final stop was Venice (Chioggia) Italy for two nights.
Why we love Viking Cruises
Paul and I have been on quite a few Viking cruises, and here’s why we think Viking is the best:
Inquisitive person’s cruise: The focus is always centered on enrichment and education, with selected experts and resident historians teaching and sharing. The library is packed with books, there is a great variety of music (from classic to the Viking Band), entertainment, and there are no casinos or children under age 18 on board.
Destination experts: Viking excursions are designed to help you explore and engage with your destination in mind, with food, culture, countryside, customs, and–depending on your activity level–a lot of walking.
Classy all the way: From the food, to the people you meet … the entertainment, excursions, beauty of the ship, and the amazing staff—Viking is by far our favorite cruise line.
Viking is for the young-at-heart: My husband and I are in our late-50’s, and we fit in quite well with all the guests on the cruise. We meet so many new friends, and we truly enjoy not only the people, but the staff, entertainment, and all the activities. We cannot recommend Viking enough!
Do we get to relax?
We take every opportunity to use the spa and fitness center. After a day of exploration, or when just relaxing on a sea day, we love fitting everything in. But there is still time to lay by the pool, read a book, and so many places to wander off and be alone.
All passengers have complementary access to the thermal suite, which includes a pool, sauna, Nordic Snow Room, cold water splash bucket and hot stone relaxing lounges. You can also treat yourself to a beautiful spa treatment (individually priced), or take advantage of the ship’s walking track and sports deck.
Food and Drink
The Restaurant is the main dining venue, and offers the highest onboard dining experience, with a changing daily menu and superior wine.
The Chef’s Table and Manfred’s Italian Restaurant are where Paul and I eat the most. They feature regional cuisine and specialty dishes. The World Cafe is a more casual eatery, with alfresco dining, and there’s plenty to enjoy there as well. Have I mentioned the “Seafood Night?” Viking chefs are phenomenal.
One more experience that you have to sign up for is the Kitchen Table. You do pay extra for this, but it’s a fun experience where you get to go to the market with the chef to buy the food that he’ll be using for the meal that night.
What is complementary with the cruise?
We get asked this a lot, so I thought I’d mention the inclusive value:
- One complementary excursion in every port of call: Paul and I take advantage of this!
- Complementary access to the Spa
- Cultural Curriculum: You can hear live cultural talks. They partner with TED, and screen TED Talks onboard.
- Onboard cooking classes
- Alternative dining options at no extra charge
- Beer, wine and soft drinks with onboard lunch and dinner
- Stateroom steward and twice daily housekeeping.
Besides the one complementary shore excursion in every port of call, we’ve also paid for some pretty amazing excursions. Keep reading to see what we enjoyed on this trip!
Super important to know, every passenger gets a Quietvox (a charged headset device) for the excursions. You will never be unable to hear your tour guide. You also get bottled water, as much as you want.
We soaked up the charm of sunny Barcelona, and the Catalonian culture. We strolled along Las Ramblas, got plenty of photos of the masterpieces of Antoni Gaudi (including his main work, the church of the Sagrada Família). In the evening we ventured into the ancient Gothic Quarter. We found a tiny “hole in the wall” to listen to live jazz, and then taxied back to the ship later that night.
Marseille is rich in historic treasures, nestled between the Mediterranean and rocky hills of limestone. Two 17th-century fortresses dominate the charming Vieux-Port, or Old Port, the natural harbor hosts elegant yachts to old style fishing vessels. It’s romantic and lined with dozens of cafes and shops. We also explored the city center, graced by La Canebiere boulevard. We dined at a cafe and enjoyed the signature bouillabaisse, made from freshly caught fish. We ate our share of French pastries, where we believe we had the most perfect donut in the world!
Monte Carlo, Monaco
The elegant city of Monte Carlo in the tiny kingdom of Monaco boasts some of the world’s most exclusive shopping, with mega-yachts in the old port. Our ultra-comfortable coach even drove us on the same streets of the famous Monte Carol automobile race.
The Monte Carlo medieval quarter perches on “The Rock”, an escarpment at the foot of the Maritime Alps. The spectacular views of the Mediterranean are incredible. We skipped the shore excursion and took a bus to Nice. How beautiful laying eyes on the French Riviera, and also walking along the beach in Nice and enjoying a cup of espresso near the water. We came back and walked through Monte Carlo and found a restaurant for lunch. It was one of our favorite meals, as a local was sitting next to us, and she was so charming.
Florence, Livorno, Italy
Tuscany is known as the cradle of the Renaissance and a center of culinary delights and astounding wines. We know this because we spent an entire day in Florence, shopping, walking, people-watching, visiting museums, Brunelleschi’s famous Duomo. For lunch, we followed some locals to a restaurant that did not disappoint. We enjoyed one of the best meals on our trip with memorable, pillowy gnocchi, caprese with zucchini, and some very fine wine. We dined for 2 1/2 hours!
Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy
More than 2,500 years of history live in this city’s streets. We took a rather long bus ride in to see the ancient structures, the Colosseum, the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica. We also went on a private excursion to see the Catacombs. How moving. The narrow staircases opened in mind-blowing caverns that sometimes housed entire families from centuries ago.
Naples boasts a long history in a stunning seaside setting, and is known mostly for its pizza, where we had our first slice of Margarita Pizza. In the Piazza del Plebiscito, the grand and sweeping public square, the San Francesco di Paola Church flaunts a colonnaded facade reminiscent of the Pantheon in Rome, and the Royal Palace overlooks Neapolitans with statues of all the kings of Naples peering out from alcoves. Our excursion here was to the Bourbon Tunnel, which was originally intended as one of the world’s first underground mall, but later used to protect some 6,000 residents from ongoing shelling during WWII.
Corfu has a rich history shaped by conquerors, and by royalty seeking tranquility. We enjoyed walking through Corfu’s Old Town and seeing the magnificent coastal views. Here we experienced one of our favorite local delights, Kumquat Cake. In the hills above Corfu Town on the island of Corfu we visited a family’s home (their personal villa) for a cooking class. This was my favorite excursion, where we cooked and ate traditional Tzatziki, Greek Salad, and Greek Moussaka with béchamel sauce. We ended with Greek Baklava. What a lovely experience this was.
Dubrovnik is a historic jewel, with its12th-century medieval streets, and incredibly preserved structures. So stunning is its Old Town, the playwright George Bernard Shaw famously called it “paradise on Earth”. It is all spectacularly surrounded by a towering medieval wall. Inside, the ancient city’s Stradun is lined with authentic stone houses. The peaceful 14th-century Franciscan Monastery, housing the world’s oldest working pharmacy and fine collection of Renaissance paintings, provide insight into the ages.
We strolled along the charming waterfront, calmed by the light blue water lapping on the shore, and envious of the locals playing in the gentle waves and resting on the shore.
Split is one of Croatia’s oldest cities, built around the palace of Roman Emperor Diocletian. The Riva Promenade has majestic views over a bay and the Adriatic Sea. An Ethnographic Museum is found at the palace’s heart, and shops line the passageways of its ancient basement. Diocletian’s ancient mausoleum is now a stunning cathedral. We went to a winery to eat lunch, where the ownes grew their own grapes, raised pigs, and had beautiful gardens.
We took a water taxi to Venice and walked around, investigating all of the passages that reveal beautiful hidden piazzas, and had a delightful dinner on the water. Our ship was docked in Chioggia, a town about an hour away by ferry. So there we took a taxi to the beach and hung out with the locals. We realized we had not swum in the Mediterrean yet, so we made it happen. It was magical.
Viking Mediterranean Odyssey : the end!
And that wraps up our Viking Mediterranean Odyssey voyage! We had such an amazing time on this cruise. If you’ve ever been undecided about cruising, I highly recommend trying a Viking Cruise. This was not our first time with Viking. You can also check out our other trips:
And check out those clouds in Venice!
The weather was stunning end of August, and we couldn’t have asked for a better experience with travel, our luggage, flights, and the smooth transportation that Viking includes.
Disclosure: Many thanks to Viking Cruises for making our Mediterranean Odyssey possible!
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I’m Sandy—lover of food, family, cooking, THE BIG BOARD, travel, and bringing people together. Through great recipes and connection around the table, we become better, stronger, and more courageous people. Feasting on Life is real, and every time we do it, we grow a little more. Read more...