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Western Mediterranean cruise review on the MSC Fantasia

After my first cruise exploring the Eastern Mediterranean with the MSC Magnifica (read all about it here), I definitely was in the mood to cruise. Not long after we decided to explore the other half of the Mediterranean sea, namely, Spain, France and Italy on board the MSC Fantasia. Read all about my second cruise in this Western Mediterranean cruise review.

Table of Contents

About the MSC Fantasia – ship review

The MSC Fantasia is a cruise ship released in 2008 and is known for its stylish, yet ecological design. Spread out over 18 decks you can find a multitude of amazing things to spend your time on, a great selection of restaurants, a 4D cinema, a palazzo filled with chic boutiques, and a massive range of sports facilities.

The cabins are superb and chic and make you feel right at home. The embarkation process was just as smooth as on my first cruise, and after a quick safety briefing, we were allowed to explore the ship and set sail towards our first port.

If you wanna have more information about the MSC Fantasia besides this Mediterranean cruise review – click here.

First port of call: Glitz and Glam in Cannes

Our first port on this cruise was the famous little town at the French Cote d’ Azur, Cannes. The disembarkation process at this port was especially fun (for me at least), because we were brought to shore on small tender boats.

The small coastal town of Cannes on the French Riviera is mostly known for hosting the annual fabulous film festival. We chose to explore Cannes on foot, because it’s not too big and very nice to walk around. We strolled around the Boulevard de la Croisette, and took a nice walk along the coast, lined with sandy beaches and cute small boutiques.

Another beautiful part of Cannes that you should definitely check out is the Old Town, which is also known as Le Sequet. The little fishing village offers old-world charm as well as exceptional views.

Below the Le Sequet you can find the charming Old Port. If you wish to take it a bit easy I can recommend trying the fabulous private beach clubs along the Croisette. I can especially recommend La Plage du Martinez and the Carlton Beach Club. Make sure to check out Le Baoli, my favorite restaurant in Cannes.

Have a look at my favorite shore excursions in Cannes here.

There are also many lovely villages in the South of France that you could check out on your shore day.

Beach Bliss in Palma de Mallorca

One of the most underrated stops of this cruise route is definitely Palma de Mallorca. While the island has a terrible reputation of being home to all the German drinking tourists, in reality, there is so much more to see (just make sure to avoid the Ballermann area if you do not wish to encounter these people). The rest of the island is filled with beautiful coastlines, long white sandy beaches and a charming historical old town. This port was definitely my favorite one from all mentioned in this Mediterranean cruise review.

The capital of the island is Palma de Mallorca. You can easily explore it by foot. Make sure to visit the beautiful Santa Maria Cathedral, a beautiful Gothic landmark overlooking the Port of Palma.

The old town of Palma is nice to explore and stroll around in, vibrant little cafes and street artists cover the cobblestoned streets. Another beautiful spot to visit is Bellver castle, a circular 14th century castle that offers an amazing view over the city.

For a more relaxing day at the beach make sure to visit Paseo Maritimo or the Playa c’an Pere Antoni, the closest two beaches to the port. If you wish to explore any beaches further away from the port make sure to arrange for transportation or book a guided tour with the cruise line.

For amazing half-day trips and excursions in Palma de Mallorca click here.

cathedral mallorca

Barcelona, the cosmopolitan capital of Catalonia

Combining maritime charm with astonishing medieval architecture is the Spanish City of Barcelona. The city is famous for its fantastical church Sagrada Familia, as well as other modernist landmarks designed by Antonio Gaudi.

As most cruise ships do, we spent only one day in the fabulous city of Barcelona. We sadly did not have time to explore all of the stunning landmarks we wanted to see, so I will only mention the most impressive ones.

The cruise ship transfer dropped us just outside the port and we decided to walk all the way towards the Sagrada Familia, the famous unfinished cathedral of Barcelona. The surrounding quarter of the cathedral is picturesque in itself and definitely a great place for you to explore.

The walk took quite some time but gave us a nice impression of the Catalonian capital. We decided to combine our lunch break with some shopping at the famous shopping mall El Corte Ingles at the Placa de Catalunya. Make sure to visit the rooftop restaurant of the mall to have a stunning view over the city.

Our walking tour continued us down the famous pedestrian street Las Ramblas. The boulevard connects the Placa de Catalunya with the Port Vell. The street is filled with cute little restaurants, street artists and shops and is absolutely vibrant. For fresh fruit and street food make sure to stop by the Mercat de la Bouqueria.

From my previous, longer stays in Barcelona I have learned about several other spots that are definitely worth a visit. For lovers of architecture I can recommend the Casa Batllo as well as the Park Guell.

For an amazing photo opportunity make sure to check out the Bunkers del Carmel. Beach lovers will find themselves right at home at Barceloneta Beach, the most famous of Barcelona’s beaches. Lastly, make sure to visit the Camp Nou Stadium of the Barcelona football team, if time permits.

Check out my favorite half-day excursions in Barcelona!

Relax ocean-side in Corsica

After an exhausting day in Barcelona we were quite happy to have a more relaxing port of call on the next day. Our ship was headed towards Ajaccio, the capital of the French island Corsica.

Corsica is famous for being the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte and has a great selection of beautiful beaches. Upon arrival we booked a tour on a small train that took us across the island and showed us all the magical places and explained the great history of the island.

Check out my favorite tours and shore excursions!

Corsica Cruise Western Mediterranean

The Vesuvio of Naples

Our next stop was the home of the Pizza and Mount Vesuvio – the Italian city of Naples. This was the only port of call where we had actually booked an excursion provided by the cruise line.

Immediately upon arrival we boarded a bus that drove us straight to the starting point of our tour. This was about an hour away from the famous crater. We hiked up to the crater on a small tour, guided by a local that shared his knowledge about the volcano with us.

The Vesuvio is one of the only two active volcanoes in Europe and is about 1281 meters high. The hike does not require any previous hiking experience and the top is not particularly difficult to reach.

The crater is quite impressive to see and also allows you to overlook the city of Naples from above. The last eruption was in 1944, authorities expect the next one in the near future. It could be devastating for all the people who live close by, in the so-called death zone.

Last stop: Cinque Terre

Our last stop on this cruise was the beautiful Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre is a string of five old fishing villages perched high on the Italian Riviera. The five towns are famous for the colorful houses and vineyards that cling onto the steep terraces. The villages are called Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Rio Maggiore.

In high season there are a lot of tourists roaming the cities and they are hard to explore. We explored the villages via a boat tour and I can definitely recommend that.

We were able to get a beautiful view of the hillside villages without having to mingle with the masses of tourists. Make sure to try some famous pesto or delicious seafood if you do happen to explore the villages up close!

To explore my favorite excursion on shore click here.

Sea day on a Mediterranean cruise review

Many people ask me if the sea days on the ship were not boring. While I agree, that shore excursions are great fun, they can also be pretty demanding. Therefore I have also included an example of a day at sea in this Mediterranean cruise review.

On a typical sea day I can finally sleep in and enjoy my breakfast in peace. On some shore days, you have to be up quite early to not miss your excursion. After breakfast is a great time to explore the sundecks and lie besides the pool until lunch comes around.

Having lunch on the ship is another great advantage of the sea day. Usually you are gone during lunch hours so I used to miss that on shore days. The lunch buffet at the MSC Fantasia is amazing. You can basically choose between many different dishes from all over the world. Sea days are also nice to enjoy the cocktail package we booked. You can drink an endless amount of fabulous and fun cocktails by the pool.

Later in the day it is time to check out the shopping street on the ship. Also we had a look at the shows. There are infinite things to do on a cruise ship, so a sea day is perfect to explore all of them. Therefore, unless you have many sea days in a row, I find them quite enjoyable.

Western Mediterranean cruise review

If I had not already been a huge fan of cruising and especially of the MSC lines, I would have been after this cruise. I hugely loved all the stops and I have gained so many new experiences in just a small week. In hindsight, I think I should have taken it a bit easier on some of the stops. I was very exhausted when we arrived at the Cinque Terre.

This time we could not reach our first port of call by car, so we booked a Fly + Cruise option via the MSC Website. I can definitely recommend booking the flight alongside the cruise.

In the case of a delayed flight, the cruise boat will actually wait for you. Otherwise the cruise line will make other arrangements in order to still catch your boat. After landing the bus picked us up at the small airport of Genoa and drove us directly to our vessel. The Fly + Cruise option is something I can recommend if you are looking for a relaxed and stress-free cruise!

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