When Heather surprised me with a romantic cruise around Europe, I was shocked. I couldn’t believe she planned such a huge trip so close to our wedding day. The prewedding getaway, however, turned out to be exactly what I needed.
With only 29 days left until our wedding, we packed our bags for a cruise to Europe with Celebrity Cruises. Our first stop: Barcelona, Spain. Since our ship, Celebrity Edge, was boarding in Barcelona, Heather planned for us to go a day early. We had time to explore the city while eating delicious vegan food and admiring breathtaking architecture.
Once on the ship, we were greeted with warm smiles and a glass of champagne. We toasted to our prewedding moon and went to find our room. When we opened the doors, we were ecstatic. The room was everything we could have wished for—including romantic! It even had a veranda that looked out over the water’s edge.
We then walked around the ship to get acquainted with where everything is and what we could do. Every inch of the ship was decorated so magically. From the midship chandeliers , to the unique pieces of art and furniture, to the cascading plants filling our favorite drink spot, Eden, it was all so beautiful. We walked hand-in-hand through the art gallery, gazing at each piece. We sipped more champagne while locating the pool and spa. Lastly, we found our assigned dining room, Normandie, with its elegant tones of blush and crystal and candlelit tables.
Not only was the ship itself perfect for a romantic getaway, but Celebrity was also holding their annual Pride Party at Sea celebration. I can’t think of a more perfect prewedding vacation for us! What did this mean? It meant that our love, being a part of the LGBTQ community, was going to be celebrated while on the ship. A party led by Olympic gold medalist Adam Rippon was scheduled for the third night of our cruise. How perfect!
After a candlelit dinner and a show, we decided to call it an early night. The following morning, we woke up to a sunrise over Valencia, Spain. We showered and got ready so that as soon as the gangway was down, we were ready to explore! The announcement came over the intercom around 7:30am, and we left the ship. Right outside, there were shuttle buses that we could take to the city center, and then hop back on when we were ready to come back to the ship later that day. It was well worth the 12 euros to have that easy transportation in place!
That port day in Valencia, Spain we had the fun opportunity to take over Celebrity Cruise’s Instagram account and show everyone the city, the culture, and what we saw and did. Again, we were blown away by the support of Celebrity Cruises for us as a couple and the LGBTQ+ community.
The shuttle bus dropped us off in a great location right across from Serranos Bridge, which led to the city center. We walked around the park underneath the bridge and under the largest palm trees we’ve ever seen. We then walked towards the Serranos Towers. Once through the castle-shaped entrance, we were in the city’s center. To our surprise, there was a parade going on that day! While we had to dodge flying candy, it was amazing to be a part of this cultural experience.
We walked around the streets admiring the architecture of the buildings, most of which were apartments and little shops underneath. We found lots of beautiful, big wooden doors and pastel-colored walls with greenery growing up the sides. These areas made for great photo spots!
By the end of the day, we had used our first international ATM, eaten chickpea falafels and vegan burgers, found a street with rainbow decorations, and went to an art museum where we saw actual works by Picasso himself!
On day three, our ship docked in Ibiza, Spain. We had no plans, so we joined two new friends of ours, grabbed a taxi, and went to the beach. Once at the beach, we rented a daybed right on the water. We spent the whole day playing in the sand, splashing in the ocean, laying out, and enjoying the sun. We also enjoyed some amazing vegan sushi, pad thai, and ice-cold beer!
That night was the much-anticipated Pride Party at Sea. The night began with a Pride Parade near the Theatre where a band led us all the way to the pool deck. Olympic medalist Adam Rippon was ahead of us waving a rainbow flag. He gave a short speech, the dancers performed , and the party got started!
We had so much fun dancing, drinking specialty rainbow cocktails, and celebrating with so many loving and supportive people. The pool deck and entire ship was glowing in rainbow-colored lights shining bright over the waters of Ibiza. What an amazing night we will never forget! Heather and I often forget anyone else is in the room when we start dancing and taking over the dance floor. This night was definitely one of our favorites.
Day four was our one day at sea. While we had big plans to sit by the pool, participate in some activities, and watch some shows, our exhaustion (and jet lag) caught up to us and we had an extremely lazy day to ourselves. We ended up staying in our room, napping, watching movies, and talking about everything we’d seen and loved so far. It was exactly what we needed that day! We were so thankful to have such a beautiful room to relax and recharge in.
On day five, we docked in Marseille, France. One of the things we were most excited about seeing and doing was visiting Château d'If on a boat. This ended up being one of our favorite memories from the trip. It’s a small little island that used to be the location of an old jail. If you’ve ever read or seen The Count of Monte Cristo, then you know all about it! With its white stone walls and crystal blue water, it’s a gorgeous location. We ended up spending hours out there.
Luckily for us, there is a little cafe on the island, so we had a delicious Mediterranean lunch before heading back into the city center of Marseille. We even got to try the traditional French drink, pastis.
On day six, we woke up to the most stunning landscape right outside our window in Nice, France. We were in love before even getting off the ship that morning. The buildings stacking on top of each other went all the way up the hill, next to the water’s edge. It became our favorite port immediately. The ship didn’t dock, it anchored us in the water and a tender boat took us out to the port.
We walked around the colorful city, painted in pinks, oranges, and reds. We shared fresh-squeezed orange juice and the most delicious vegan caesar salad we’ve ever had. We saw the Russian Orthodox Cathedral and the Matisse Museum. It was the perfect day!
On day seven, we docked in La Spezia, a smaller city a couple hours from Florence. This was perhaps our most interesting and memorable day for unlikely reasons. It all started when Heather and I took a taxi to the train station and spent 30 minutes at a ticket kiosk deciphering Italian to buy tickets to Florence, which we learned is also called Firenze.
This being our first train ride, it took us a bit to know what to do or where to go. We briskly walked to one side of the station reading the screens, trains whizzing by, people scurrying about. We hoped we were on the correct side and waiting for the correct train. We asked two women, who thankfully spoke English, for help. It turned out we needed to get on the same train as them. Later we found out they were from Washington and had seen our proposal online! Small world!
It was definitely a bonding experience for us. Once in Firenze, we enjoyed lunch at one of the vegan restaurants that Heather found online prior to the trip. It had only opened minutes before we walked up, so we had the whole place to ourselves! It felt as though the place had been rented out for just the two of us. We sipped Pinot Noir and ate the most delicious white lasagna unlike any we had ever tried before! It was such a romantic lunch! With full bellies and happy hearts, we headed back to the ship. What a fun day! We make everything an adventure when we are together.
On the last day, we docked in Rome to disembark from our ship. We couldn’t believe our time on Edge was over! Since this was our first time in Europe, we wanted to see as much as we could, so we booked a hotel and stayed another night in Rome. While in Italy for 48 hours, we drank water from street fountains, tried seven different kinds of pasta, and had a professional photoshoot at the colosseum and Roman Forum. We even bought some pasta and Italian seasonings to bring home with us!
Heather studied Latin in high school, so this was her most anticipated place to see in person. As we walked around Rome, we were both mesmerized by the history of what we were seeing. Knowing the years in which these buildings were built, the battles and wars that took place, the history that was written in these streets hundreds of years ago—it’s so beautiful and inspiring! We both took time to soak up the moments of what we were seeing and where we were.
Between the ship itself and the cities we visited; this was the most romantic trip we’ve ever been on. I fell even more in love with Heather while we were seeing Europe and knowing that in only days she’d be my wife. It was the perfect prewedding vacation! When we were on the ship, we were gifted a very nice bottle of champagne. We decided to bring the bottle back with us to pop when we book our next Celebrity Cruises trip. We can’t wait to travel more around the world with Celebrity Cruises!