I left Montreal on air sardine can ..aka Air Transat on July 14 Our cruise was scheduled to leave Civitavecchia on the 17 of July first for Eastern Med then WEstern Med In total 20 days
I booked my hotel the RAGANELLI on Via Aurelia on Hotels.com at a fairly reasonable price .Room was clean bathroom nice but this hotel is a bit far from Central Rome Since my focus was to be near the Vatican it worked out OK
Francesca at the desk was most accommodating with wifi etc Breakfast was nice I enjoyed the Cappucinos and always got ice in my water bottle
THe hotel directed me to local restaurants where the food was very good and relatively priced
ONce my son arrived we headed out to visit the Vatican .It was a few bus rides away but doable WE then headed to visit Romes Synagogue and walk in Trastevere I forgot to mention I got to the hotel with Rome Cabs and they picked up my son that night and we shared a ride with Kim and family to port All with Rome Cabs
WE had a situation whereby my small carry on suitcase was left behind at the hotel and only realized once we got to port Needless to say after EXTREME frantic moments my son went back with the driver to retrieve it.... contents intact
THank you RAGANELLI HOTEL and SANDRO for noticing I left it behind and STEFANO of Rome cabs for quick solution to that problem YOU ARE THE BEST. I cannot praise ROME CABS enough who really stepped up I will return to ROME God willing and will use their courteous punctual service again GREAT JOB by Stefano and Patrizio and Sylvestre
WE then headed to TRASTEVERE and found a little bar/restaurant where the lady spoke French .allowed us access to wifi and made us the best salads and gnocchi ever . Her husband was the cook WE were never rushed and had a nice time there
Getting back to the hotel was complicated but after walking around A LOT did get back .It did take more than 1 hour
The next day we headed to port and my mentioned problem But it was all resolved and I was able to breathe again HAL people did call the hotel to tell us my son had picked up the bag and was headed back Apparently I sounded hyisterical worrying about the bag and my son getting back MORAL OF THE STORY always count bags before you leave DO NOT TRUST drivers to do so
Keep valuables with you ...NEVER rush to leave ...mistakes happen
Also always go to port early we were so we were able to go back and forth to Rome in good time The whole anguishing rigamaroll took 2.5 hours and my son still came back on time
Our first cabin was 8135 ...comfy enough under LIDO deck The scraping of deck chairs in middleof the night was DEFINTELY an issue .
NOTE TO SELF NO MORE CABINS UNDER LIDO DECK!!!!
The worst problem of this cabin was the rejected dirty water from LIDO deck thrown daily on my balcony I advised the front desk and they did clean it but the very same thing happened the next day and each subsequent day THank god my concerns were addressed properly For the second leg of the cruise I was switched cabins and upgraded
THANK YOU HAL
WE had an aft deluxe verandah suite with an enormous balcony .Very comfy cabin and wonderful balcony .Our concierges Joyce and Assina were the BEST ever THey settled issues quickly and with a smile Thank you girls!!!
The crew on Lido deck under ERICS supervision were SUPER Every day I picked up my sliced papaya and was greeted by name and with smiles LOVED IT!!!
Our first 10 days we had tablemates from Canada and Scotland all very nice SErvice in the dining room was pretty bad as too little waiters for all those tables We hardly went to shows because dinner took so long However the sunsets were gorgeous
Food for the most part was good ..sometimes a little too salty but for the most part very adequate However sweets left a lot to be desired EXCEPT chocolate ones THey were unbelievable!!!
I found the first Maitre D a little rude when he demanded My son get a jacket I explained I spoke to my HAL PVP and she said shirt and tie would be ok ...He wanted her name and told me she did not know what she was talking about and he had to have a jacket Well I wrote home and got my sister to bring his blazer on the second part of the cruise as she was joining us .He was not pleasant at all
Our stops were many all diverse and interesting .Dubrovnik was lovely /We walked up and saw cliff divers,shopped went for a boat ride and had a lovely day THere is a local bus right outside the port that takes you in town for very little as compared to ship transfer
Corfu was a beach day in DACIA where we had a nice lunch in a seaside cafe which we stayed in because all his lounge chairs were sold out My son and I enjoyed lunch there Nice Place Nice people Took a city bus to get too . Stepping in the Med was very nice
Olympia Janet of our Roll cAll organized a tour Hot but interesting. Purchased Honey from a local producer WE tasted It was Yummy Shopped in Olympia Had lunch in a small cafe Behind the main street of KATAKOLON near port Souvlaki Salad and Gyros were excellent
Kusadasi was ruins in Priene Dydima and Milotus with Ephesus Deluxe tours Enjoyed all in spite of heat But did not care for snake in Priene
Loved lunch It was FABULOUS My son noticed no women anywhere I told him they were cooking the amazing food we had Turkish food was truly excellent
WE purchased leather in the BAZAAR I felt at a good price from NARCIS I got a 3 quarter coat my son a jacket REpairs were done on the spot He gave us an amazing gift before we left!!!!
Santorini we took a boat with our tablemates to OIA then bus to FIRA yhen other bus to black beach Appreciated dip in MED again Barely made it back to tender and cable car There were 6 ships in port ...a little crrrrrazy
Athen was the hop on hop off bus I had planned to skip Athens but my son insisted I was pleasantly surprised by the city reduced pollution and the beautification since my last visit I guess the OLYMPICS had a very positive impact
Nowhere were people agressive but they did share their tales of economic woes but their attitude was extremely accepting in spite of circumstances I really hope they can get out of their mess
Messina was a visiting shopping day I would not waste too much time here except for the famous clock
Back to Civitavecchia ...shopping not much here Beach was unappealing
Livorno our driver sent by UMBERTO of Italy driver took us to Pisa Lucca and Florence ...CROWDS were enormous but we really enjoyed that day WE headed back early because it was so very hot Shopping in this area was good
Barcelona was a gem waiting to be discovered . Our first day we went to SITGES beach LOvely day Next day was Hop on Hop off bus Boy did Barcelona change since I was last here beautiful city deserving of a few days visit
Palma was shopping day in Corte Ingles and on Jaime 3 street GREAT BARGAINS
Monaco was hop on hop off bus Very expensive Nothing to write home about Very crowded ...nice architecture but would not bother going back
Tunis ...ship made us feel very nervous about going on our own or shopping there .WE had no problems I found people pleasant and did purchase a few trinkets but we did take the HAL our IT WAS HOT like an oven .I do not remember ever being this hot Poor people could not even drink because of RAMADAN ...I sweated bullets ...even the breeze was very hot Our guide insisted purchases be done at his friends shop ...I did not climb that hill so I avoided it all but my sister was caught and felt she had been cheated
I bought a few things while waiting for them Truthfully none of the merchants were as agressive as HAL made them to be I speak FRENCH but I do not believe it made a difference I bargained with them as is part of the game I had no problems They encouraged us all to come back and enjoy their resorts I did buy their sweets and they were awesome . But be prepared for extreme heat Bring LOADS of water ...you will need it !!!
Palermo we visited Monreale etc Next time we will head to the beach instead ...after so many churches ..enough is enough Enjoyed shopping in the local market LOved the PARAGAYOS ...looks like a squashed peach YUMMY
Naples was all about the Amalfi coast with UMBERTO of Italy driver .Wonderful day Wonderful lunch at la TAGLIATA restaurant overlooking an amazing view Food was delicious Owners wonderful Freeflowing wine . WE sacrificed a visit to Herculaneum for lunch ....great decision Loved Sorrento Positano and the Amalfi coast .Thank you Umberto
Everywhere we went it was very hot I bought a huge hat in SANTORINI because I needed to cover up
Re Noordam ...ship unfortunately I believe is understaffed so nOT as clean as others WE had issues with our first balcony and even in the deluxe suite I never saw anyone cleaning or scrubbing ..and it showed ...pool had stuff floating in it ...I found all kinds of garbage on my balcony ...YUCK But they did move me so I hope it is all better now
Best ever was the BBQ leaving Corfu The food the Views were spectacular I will remember this one forever IT was unique with Greek music and sunsets to boot
All the grilled meats were out of this world BRAVO TO ERIC and His staff THe diasplay of fruits was yummy Cold watermelon after that glorious dinner was the right touch All ships should do this It was DEEEELICIOUS!!!!
THats it LOved our 20 days Entertainment on board for us was not up to par but because qwe were so port intensive it did not matter Would I do this one again ...I think so But I would plan less ruins and more beach days ...also the price would have to be right
HAL did step up after I reported the problem with our cabin and I appreciated the upgrade So Thank you ...nExt time try NOt to lose so many of my clothes in the laundry ...but that too was corrected
All in all a great 20 days Be advised the AC on ship is full blast I came back with a miserable cold i'm still nursing so bring a sweater for the ship Casino and Hallways are very cold I loved the MED I loved the weather
Europe is great
THe Med is great
I love cruising and this one was great too