17-Day Transatlantic Cruise

A 17-day transatlantic cruise! This was our first cruise longer than seven days, our first transatlantic cruise, and our first trip to Spain. It was a seriously enjoyable experience. But wait! There’s more.

After disembarking from the cruise ship, we spent four days in Barcelona and then flew to Italy, where we spent three or four days in Florence, Naples, Pompeii, Salerno, and Rome. Incredible! But, first, the cruise.


The cruise weather was beautiful, comfortably warm during the day and cool in the evenings. We had one day and night of ten-foot swells that caused some staggering on the ship, but we personally did not see any evidence of seasickness. We definitely did not experience any seasickness during the entire cruise.

My favorite seasickness preventative and remedy is the GoPatch. I have found nothing that works better or is easier to use. I know the weather you have during any cruise journey is just the luck of the draw—it’s the weather, right? But cruise ships try very hard to keep all passengers comfortable and avoid all bumps in the road whenever possible.

What to do on a 17-day transatlantic cruise?

What did we do for seventeen days? Exactly what we wanted to and were utterly catered to by Royal Caribbean the entire time. These were the most relaxing, peaceful days.

I spent a lot of time reading, playing cards, watching people, attending theater performances, dining at fine restaurants, having multiple spa treatments, and taking classes here and there. But most of all, we got to meet a lot of fascinating people.

It has been my experience that some of the most interesting people in the world are on cruise ships, and they all have the best stories to tell.

We made some good friends during this cruise, and this is what we enjoyed most. We ate a lot of food; food is everywhere—specialty restaurants, the main dining room, the Windjammer buffet, and other food venues on the ship.

Steve and I relinquished most of our regular day-to-day decisions to Royal Caribbean and were never bored or uncomfortable — for seventeen days!

San Juan, Puerto Rico

This was our first port stop after three sea days. We did not have a planned shore excursion in San Juan, so we simply walked off the ship and proceeded to walk and walk and walk. It was a very hot day, bright and sunny.

We walked quite a distance and up a hill to the Castillo of San Cristobal. This fortress is the most massive fort built by Spain in the New World.

17-day transatlantic cruise
Castillo San Cristobal
17-day transatlantic cruise

On our slow meandering walk back toward the ship, we found a small hotel on a side street that had a rooftop restaurant with a great view of the city.

We ordered mofongo for our lunch, which I had never heard of before. It is a dish made up of deep-fried green plantains mashed together with, in this case, pork. Interesting.

St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.

This was our second port stop. St. Thomas is a beautiful picture-postcard island. Steve and I canceled our planned snorkeling shore excursion here because we (senior citizens and all) had really overdone walking in the heat the day before in San Juan.

We weren’t terribly disappointed to miss the snorkeling trip and pleased to be able to choose so easily how we spent our time on the island. We opted for a casual walk-around, look-around kind of day.

St. Thomas is known as one of the best shopping spots in the Caribbean and the entire world. We aren’t really into shopping too much, but we did step into many shops and look around. We even picked up a few souvenirs. There are lots of goodies to be found there. Another perfect day.

17-day transatlantic cruise
St. Thomas U.S.V.I.

Ponta Delgada, Azores

17-day transatlantic cruise
Absolutely stunning — Ponta Delgada, Azores

Ponta Delgada gets five stars — our very favorite port stop, and there were a LOT of port stops. Our shore time was only 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and we were so taken with the area that I am working on a new trip with Ponta Delgada as the destination.

We booked Viator’s Azores 4×4 Private Shore Excursion from Ponta Delgada for the day. Our tour guide was a remarkable and well-informed young man who drove us to amazingly beautiful parts of the island with stunning panoramic views.

We want to return here to Ponta Delgada to do a little whale watching (one of the best places in the world), wander the picturesque city streets, visit the 16th-century fort on the island, Forte de Sao Bras, tour the Antonio Borges Garden, and maybe even visit the famous Arruda pineapple plantation.

At the end of our exciting island tour, our guide graciously took us to one of his favorite local restaurants for the best steak dinner ever. It was a great day!

Local restaurant in Ponta Delgada, Azores.  Best steak ever!


We visited the famous Alhambra Palace (a World Heritage UNESCO site) at our stop in Malaga. This excursion was booked with Spain Day Tours Top-Day-Tours Group. Steve and I boarded a tour bus for a long ride to Granada through the Andalusian countryside.

We were turned over to a guide at the Palace, who provided us with a handheld audio device and earbuds to listen to the guide’s commentary. This was an interesting and enjoyable history lesson for me. The palace and Generalife Gardens were very crowded—there were lots and lots of tourists.

The Alhambra, a gorgeous Muslim palace, was built as a small fortress in 899 AD, rebuilt in the mid-13th century, converted to a royal palace in 1333, became the Royal Court of Ferdinand and Isabella, and was renovated again in 1526. More information can be found on Wikipedia.

I was fascinated to connect the American author Washington Irving (Rip Van Winkle, Legend of Sleepy Hollow) to Tales of the Alhambra, a series of essays and stories written in 1829 during the time he camped out in the mostly empty Alhambra. I vaguely remember reading this many years ago, but now I have a new copy to read.

Alhambra, Granada, Spain
Generalife Gardens, Granada, Spain
Generalife Gardens


Promenade, Alicante, Spain

This lovely promenade was an easy walk from our cruise ship. It is made up of thousands of wavy-patterned colored mosaic tiles. Kiosk shops with the perfect souvenirs are set up all along the promenade.

We did just a bit of shopping and enjoyed a snack and a drink at one of the many outdoor restaurants. It was a beautiful day!

The magnificent Santa Barbara Castle, a fortification built in the 9th century by the Moors, overlooks the city and after looking up at it from the city streets for some time we decided to take a taxi up and have a look.

We had a small language barrier issue getting a taxi driver to take us because I kept asking him to take us to the fort. He didn’t understand “fort” but one of us finally connected castle and fort as the same thing and we were whisked away to the top.

The views from the castle were incredible and we spent some hours meandering about this castle. Bronze age, Iberian, and Roman artifacts have been discovered in the vicinity.

We took an elevator down from the castle to the street level below and walked back along the beautiful beach that was swarming with beachgoers. Finally, we caught a Hop-on-Hop-off bus and saw a bit more of this lovely city before finally being dropped off near our cruise ship. Another grand day in the books for us!

Palma De Mallorca

This is another one of my favorite cities. Who am I kidding? They’re ALL my favorites! We booked a full day tour with Spain Day Tours that included visits to the Cathedral and Bellver Castle. The beautiful Cathedral of Palma de Mallorca is a prominent landmark that overlooks the harbor. Construction was begun on this cathedral in the 1300s!

Bellver Castle, a Gothic-style castle built in the 14th century, has three semi-circular towers and is massively huge. It has a large courtyard and two levels. We learned that Bellver Castle means beautiful castle!

All good things must come to an end

I know a 17-day cruise may sound to some like a long time to be on a cruise, but we crossed that ocean way too fast for me. We stayed busy and engaged in all the activities on the ship during the long sea days and also so enjoyed exploring at the great port stops we had.

We were very excited for the second part of this Retirement Extravaganza to begin but I was just a little bit reluctant to leave our cozy and entertaining cruise ship. Royal Caribbean had taken such good care of us and shown us such a great time that it was a bit of adjustment for us to even decide on restaurants for dinner!

We were so spoiled! This saga continues with my next post titled Barcelona and I’d love for you to relive this wonderful memory along with me.

17-Day Transatlantic Cruise

6 thoughts on “17-Day Transatlantic Cruise

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  5. As we were on the same crossing, it brought back many memories. My photos are still in my phone.

    1. It still brings back great memories for me too.This was our very first transatlantic cruise. I regret we never met in person on that cruise, but I am sure our cruising paths will meet one day, don’t you? Thank you for taking a look at my stories.

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