Last summer, we took our first family cruise. My wife and I had cruised dozens of times on a lot of different ships over the years but we’d never cruised as parents with two little kids in tow. To say we were nervous about how our week-long sailing would go with our littles ones, ages three and six at the time, is an understatement.
Would it be safe? Would they get seasick? Get bored? Would we feel stuck in too-tight quarters for a long time? Would they have fun?

To our relief and delight, it couldn’t have gone any better. We loved sailing on Princess’ Enchanted Princess (here’s our review) so much that we booked a 10-day New Year’s Eve cruise a few days after getting off the ship. We all loved that one too so we booked another cruise for this summer.

One of my cruise tips is to book excursions right away. We did not because we booked the cruise two weeks before departure and everything was filled up.

Our cruise started in Barcelona, then sailed to Gibraltar, Marseilles, Genoa, Florence/Pisa (Livorno) and ended in Rome. In preparation, my wife Natalie and I watched some family-friendly reviews of the cruise and of the destinations on YouTube. The two things our kids wanted to do the most was see the monkeys at the top of Gibraltar and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Unfortunately, because everything was sold out, including taxis, car services and buses, we weren’t able to make it to Pisa.

But I did make sure we saw the Barbary apes in Gibraltar. Fortunately, Gibraltar isn’t as popular as Italy. The tiny British Overseas Territory, located at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula, makes it easy for cruise passengers to see the sights, thanks to their tourism office located in the cruise terminal.

I wasn’t sure how we were going to get up to the top of Gibraltar but after speaking to the two guys working the tourism booth, I found out everything I needed to know. They did such a great job, I asked if I could record them for a YouTube video since there wasn’t great information online. The video is embedded below and beneath that, some of my notes. Keep in mind this was filmed in June 2023, so prices might have changed.

YouTube video

When we got off ship, we weren’t sure where to go so we went to the tourist board. They were very helpful and said there’s not a lot of good information online. They said that most people don’t realize that if you just take the tram up the rock, you can’t see all the sights.

They recommend taking an organized tour. You can get one in town and you don’t need to make an advance reservation.

To get to town, you’ll have to take a taxi, which is 3 euros apiece, cash. It was the only time we needed cash. Our three-year-old was free since she sat on our lap. They don’t have car seats.

It’s either a five-minute ride or a 15-minute walk into town from the port. If you want to go to the tram, it’s another 15-minute walk from town.

There are three ways up the rock: The tram, by foot or via organized tour. You can’t drive in Gibraltar unless you have a local car. You can’t rent a car in Spain and then drive around. Once you see the roads, you’ll understand why.

Our tour cost 40 euros apiece (our three-year-old was free again). We made five stops along the way. The driver said the tour would take an hour and 40 minutes but it was longer.

The 40 euro price included admission to everything and we paid at the end. The driver joked that if you don’t like it, you don’t have to pay. Everyone loved it.

Our first stop was the caves, where they do a show about every seven minutes. We stopped there for 25 minutes.

According to our guide, there are 300 Barbary apes on the rock and he warned us not to carry any loose things. My daughter wasn’t too happy that she had to leave her doll in the van! And definitely don’t wander around eating food — the monkeys will try to get it all (although the monkeys were all pretty laidback and looked positively bored by us.)

According to our guide, there’s no crime in Gibraltar and we left our backpacks in the van. The guys I spoke to in the tourist office said that if a local loses something, it will be returned because everyone knows each other. The biggest criminals are the monkeys!

We then checked out the glass Skywalk, which had incredible views

We ended our tour with the view of the airport, which was cool although there weren’t any planes while we were there, just people walking, which might actually be even cooler.


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Johnny Jet’s top 10 cruise tips
12 things I learned from traveling to Europe this summer

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