If you ever find yourself planning a trip that requires you to travel from Barcelona to Rome—or just Spain to Italy in general—you may consider flying or taking the train. Now flying will be quick and is going to cost a pretty penny and the train will require station switches and come to a total of about 12+ hours. There is another means of transportation that gives you a relatively cheap option, a good dose of scenery, and an enjoyable time: ferrying.
For about $150, you can take a Grimaldi Ferry from the Barcelona Port to the Civitavecchia Port and then you take a quick train from there to Rome. This option provides a place to sleep for the overnight ocean ride, 2-3 meals, and great views of the Italian coastline to cram the memory of your camera.
Make sure to locate the Grimaldi port during your time in Barcelona so that you don’t have to do so last minute. The Barcelona Port is south-west from the Christopher Columbus monument and goes in alphabetical order. Just keep walking along the port coast and you will eventually find Grimaldi.
After a quick boarding, the ferry jetted off from the port and I was on the way to Rome.
The 2nd cheapest option for sleeping on the ferry is a soft cover airplane-esque seat (cheapest is a hard pull-down seat); if you are lucky, you will have an entire row to yourself to lay down on. Otherwise you can purchase a cabin, but it’ll cost you much more money. I would not recommend the cushion seat for those who have trouble sleeping, suffer back problems, or those who cannot handle the snoring of other passengers. I personally just went to the upper deck and put my head down on a table to sleep; it was much more peaceful and I got to see the sunrise.
I will also recommend that when you purchase your ticket online, purchase your meal tickets as well. Grimaldi gives you a fair discount for the online purchase and you have a guaranteed meal or two while you are on the ferry.
After we set sail for Rome, I decided to grab dinner and Grimaldi gives you a healthy amount of options to choose from, so you won’t be disappointed. At first, I thought I was going to be eating alone when I was approached by a young woman my age asking if I was solo-traveling as well. We decided to eat with each other, which made for a great and memorable time.
Enter Ruby Bisson: blogger, craftswoman, traveler, and an all-around fantastic personality. Make sure to check out her blog here: http://ruby-claire.com/ as she is an engaging writer who speaks in a personable tone that makes you craving more.
The conversation made for a very enjoyable 3 hour dinner where the topics included our life stories, our futures, my world rank #82 in Harry Potter Quiz Up, a few of our travel stories up to the ferry, and what we had for us back home. I would say this was one of the most memorable nights of my entire trip because I fulfilled a goal, while seemingly small, that I set for myself when I embarked on my Eurotrip: I made a great friend who I still talk with to this day. Again, check out her blog; you won’t be disappointed.
After dinner, I took advantage of the tranquility by strolling along the top deck and star gazing for awhile. Depending on how much sleep you need, you can do this for hours and the staff let you wander the ship whenever you want.
In the morning you can treat yourself to a great breakfast that’s both cheap and filling.
At about 10-11am, the ferry staff will set up lawn chairs and fill the pool on the top deck so the passengers can enjoy the glaringly sunny and warm weather. I am pretty sure I lounged on the top deck for a total of 8 hours. During that time, Ruby and I were treated to a flash mob with the dance leader (or should I say master) dressed in a neon yellow tank top, speedo, and Nike kicks; I swear they danced for 3 hours straight. It was uh…interesting? entertaining? to say the least. Otherwise, I either slept or read Game of Thrones.
Unfortunately—and I don’t know how—the ferry ended up being 4 hours late getting into the Civitavecchia Port, which had me a bit anxious since I had to be in Rome by the end of the night for my hotel reservation; as soon as I was able to disembark, I sprinted off of the gateway and down to the shuttle bus to the train station. The bus driver waited 10 minutes after the ferry disembarked before shutting the doors with the bus comprising of me, an American family of 6 (4 kids under 14), an English traveler, and two Austrians.
As soon as the bus closed its doors, it began its hell-bent mission to get us to the train station for the last train to Rome for the night. The bus twisted and screeched through the narrow streets—I swear the bus went up on two wheels at one point, but probably not—shouting into his communicator to hold the last train. What should have been a 20 minute shuttle turned into an 8 minute roller coaster ride and I could not thank that driver enough; he also wouldn’t accept tips and just told us to run for the train.
All of us bolted through the station, not even bothering to stop at the ticket terminal. We even crossed the tracks to get to the train—a huuuuuuge no-no—instead of going underground to pop up on the other side of the platform.
It was actually a pretty funny scene that I still have in my head with all of us, our backpacks and roller luggage hindering us, screaming for the train to hold up as it started to go. Thankfully banging on the sides beckoned it to stop and we had made it. We didn’t even have to pay for the train to Rome!
Overall, I believe the ferry ride to Rome is a much better experience than flying or taking the train. You have a full day to meet some great people, it’s a scenic ride that allows you bear witness to a vivid sunrise and sunset, and it feels like a small cruise, albeit not as luxurious, but not any less enjoyable.