We arrived in Monaco and the weather was absolutely beautiful. The view outside of our cabin when we woke up was just spectacular and exactly what you would expect to see in Monaco on the Saturday Qualifying day of the Monaco Grad Prix.
Luxury yachts, cruise ships, and other vessels dotted the Mediterranean in front of Monaco.
As this was the qualifying day for the 76th Monaco Grad Prix, the ship was buzzing as many of the passengers had booked this cruise specifically for this event. The timing of the cruise worked perfectly as these 2 days in Monaco would also be the last days of this cruise.
There were many excursion to choose from on this day (listed at the end of this entry), but we did not even think twice and chose to join the Monaco Grand Prix Exclusive Grandstand Experience. With our excursion set to leave at 9:00am, we had a quick breakfast and headed for our meeting point in the Galaxy Lounge. From there, we headed to the Tender Boat as the Crystal Serenity was anchored off of Monaco and not in the port (this would be an important distinction tomorrow…).
When we got off of the Tender Boat, we were met by our guides for the day.
They provided us with our passes for the day and some other items such as water and ear plugs.
As we made our way from the pier to the road towards the Grand Prix, we were in awe of both the yachts and the view of the coastal hills.
The walk to the Grand Prix was actually a little long, but with the excitement of seeing the race, we did not mind it at all. Actually, it was a nice bit of sightseeing as we also passed the Museum of the former Grand Prince of Monaco, Renier III.
The closer we got to the Grandstand, the busier the streets became and the felling in the crowd was absolutely electric.
We made sure to keep a close eye on our guide as it was very easy to get distracted by the sights of the souvenir stands, the people, and the the sounds of the Grad Prix.
As we made our way through security, we entered our seating area gate under the Grandstand. The sounds of the Formula Renault 3.5 Qualifying sessions was loud, yet welcoming.
As it was still early in the day, the stands were not yet full. We found our seats and were immediately impressed with our vantage point for the race and the amazing views of the yachts and sea. From where we sat, we enjoyed long stretched of the race course as well as a large screen monitor that ensured we were never missing a moment.
On our seats were provisions provided as part of our excursion.
This included a seat pad for comfort, water, more ear protection (not really useful to be honest), and a schedule for the days’ events.
The schedule came in really handy as we could plan on what we wanted to watch and at which times we could leave the Grandstand to explore the streets and the festivities happening around the town.
As the morning progressed, the parties happening on the yachts across from us began growing larger.
This was the view to our left, you can see the cars on the course. At the base of the buildings tot he left of the picture there was a distant view of the cars as they raced up the hill and headed to the famous hairpin turn of the Monaco Grand Prix.
Here is a closer look at it.
Here is our view to the right (zoomed in a little).
Off in the distance, we could even see our ship.
After the Renault 3.5 Qualifying ended, we had a little time before the Formula 1 – 3rd Practice session started, so we headed for the streets of Monaco to take in the atmosphere.
The streets were alive with people from all over the world, it is the most purely international event I had ever attended.
We had a little gelato and visited some of the stores and stands.
When we returned to our seats, our lunch (provided as part of the excursion) had arrived.
We were give a sandwich, a salad, some macarons, and a cookie.
With the Formula 1 – 3rd Practice session starting, the crowd levels had grown.
The practice session, was exactly that, a practice. It was exciting to watch and really got us motivated for the Qualifying Session taking place later in the afternoon.
It was during this session that the realization of just how hot it was in Monaco. It was beautiful sunny day with no wind, and we welcomed the 2 hour break and decided to see if we could walk over to the casino. Unfortunately, the streets were cordoned off due to the race and the walk to the casino that should have been 15 minutes would have been well over an hour.
From the street, we could see the castle with the flag indicating the the Prince was in residence.
We visited the Monaco Grand Prix Fan Zone to grab a quick bite and watch the activities.
One of the most popular activities was the Pit crew challenge where the fans could try their skills at changing the tires on a race car. The fastest time of all the fan teams won VIP passes to Final tomorrow.
We returned to our seats to watch the Formula 1 Qualifying session.
The Hermitage Monte Carlo terrace was also filled with spectators on the balcony next to the apartment building. When the race is held, there is a minimum stay, and in the case of a hotel such as the Hermitage Monte Carlo or Hotel de Paris in front of the casino, it is about 9000 Euros per night. The cruise cost was about 16,500 USD (all-inclusive) and about 14,200 Euro for two people. Whether you want to visit by cruise or stay at a hotel and watch from the terrace, it depends on your budget and preferences.
Here are some videos we took of the action.
After a full day of racing and events, we walked back to the Tender Boat pick up area and returned to the ship.
We were exhausted from the day in Monaco and re-energized ourselves lying by the pool until it was time for dinner.
On this night, we had made reservations at Prego, the Italian restaurant on Serenity. Guests can eat once a sailing at the specialty restaurants (Prego and Silk Road). For those staying in a Penthouse cabin with Butler service, you can actually order from these specialty restaurants throughout the cruise and have it delivered and set up by your butler in your cabin.
The atmosphere in Prego is that of a classic Italian restaurant from the decor, the staff, and the food was just great. By far, my favourite meal of the cruise (but I love Italian food and may be a little biased in that opinion).
As there is a Hublot shop on the ship, the driver for their team came aboard to meet with the passengers.
During the evening, we were kindly offered VIP tickets for the Formula 1 race the next day. We were not planning to go to the race, but were excited to receive such a great offer. We made a short night of it as we were completely drained from the activities of the day and our rich Italian meal.
We fell asleep eagerly looking forward to our second day in Monaco.
Monaco Shore Excursions
Yes, the Grand Prix was the main event in Monaco while we were there. For those not attending the Grand Prix qualifying events on the first day in Monaco, there were plenty of other excursions to participate in (prices are per person, applicable only to this sailing, and in USD ):
- Monaco Grand Prix Exclusive Grandstand Experience $699
- 76th Annual Monaco Grand Prix Exclusive (2 Day Grandstand Silver Package) $2,479
- Flavors of Nice $129
- Nice & Eze $99
- Cannes, Grasse Perfumery & St-Paul-de-Vence $199
- Round-trip Motor Coach Transfer to Nice (afternoon departure) $99
- Eze & Cap Ferrat (afternoon departure) $99
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