Cruise Diary: Taking a Grandparent on a Dream Cruise to the Mediterranean

Tiffanie is a business development manager for Holland America Line on the West Coast. This summer she went on a cruise to Europe with her grandmother and had the time of her life … her grandma did, too! Cruising is the perfect option for multigenerational travel, as there’s something for every age, every level of activity, every interest! Read on and see what made their Holland America Line cruise so memorable.

This summer I took a 12-day Mediterranean cruise on Oosterdam from Venice to Barcelona with my grandmother. She’s 84 but has the mind, body and soul of a 64-year old! She never had many opportunities to travel while she was married, so in the last few years she’s been fulfilling her built-up wanderlust … and I’ve been happy to assist. She’s always wanted to go to Europe and it’s my favorite destination (especially the Med), so I surprised her and said “get ready, you’re going to Europe in three weeks!”  Needless to say, she was excited!

Cruising is the best way to explore Europe for the first time. We visited seven countries in 12 days, which allowed us to get a taste of a wide variety of history, cultures, landscapes and culinary experiences in a short amount of time. And it made my grandma feel a like rock star traveler, adding seven countries to her list in less than two weeks! Plus cruising makes exploring Europe easy — no car rentals, hotel reservations, packing/unpacking, and moving around from city to city.

Tiffanie and her grandma at the Colosseum.

Tiffanie and her grandma at the Colosseum.

We had an amazing itinerary that visited big ports like Rome and Barcelona, but also smaller, less-visited ports like Sarande (Albania) and Toulon (France), which provided a balanced and unique travel experience. Also, on many of the ports we we had longer days with a later departure time. This was a huge contributing factor to the enjoyment of our cruise, as it allowed us to take our time, fully enjoy the day, see more, not be rushed, and we could even sleep in some days then go ashore.

So what did we do ashore? In Dubrovnik we walked the old city and rode the cable car up the mountain for incredible views. For our first visit to Sarande, we went to Ksamil beach, enjoyed a peaceful day and ate the best mussels I’ve ever had. Greece took us back in time when we visited the Olympia ruins in Katakolon where the first Olympic Games were held, and then we visited an active monastery where 12 nuns live (and can’t leave except for medical emergencies). We took beautiful tours in Naples and Rome, but Tuscany was my favorite Italian port. We rented a car and enjoyed a beautiful drive to San Gimignano, a charming medieval town in the countryside where we visited a family-run farm/winery and were greeted with a feast of food and wine. We also rented a car in Toulon and drove to Aix en Provence. It was a lovely day despite the rain.

Tiffanie and her grandma at the winery.

The ship overnights in Barcelona so guests have one final night before going home the next day. This gave us extra time to explore this amazing city. We had an incredible night at a Flamenco show with a buffet of delicious tapas and sangria. It was the perfect way to end our adventures!

Holland America Line ships are perfect for multi-gen groups because there are activities for all ages. My grandma could learn tips and tricks in the Digital Workshops while I lounged by the pool. Then we came together to get cooking tips at the America’s Test Kitchen shows followed by an afternoon performance at Lincoln Center Stage. At night, after a delicious dinner, we went to the show or enjoyed the music at Billboard Onboard or B.B. King’s Blues Club. Some nights we even just relaxed in the stateroom, ordered room service and watched movies on demand.

Fun with food for Tiffanie

People say she’s the lucky one to have a granddaughter that takes her on cruises. But I’m the lucky one to have an incredible grandmother who loves to travel as much as I do. I feel so fortunate and thankful to have had this experience with her, and can’t wait for the next one!


Join the Discussion


  1. Carolyn September 17, 2018 at 7:21 pm - Reply

    I took my Mom on a Holland cruise and we had such a good time. Not knowing that 5 years to the day she passed away. I am so happy that I have those memories of me and my Mom cruising together. She loved it and so did I.

  2. Lyndsay November 13, 2018 at 9:58 am - Reply

    What a fun idea for making special memories! I would love to take my mom on a cruise one day!


  3. Henry Nowicki May 16, 2019 at 4:03 am - Reply

    Hi … I would like to submit a blog re the Maasdam. Where do I send it?


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