Europe - Western Mediterranean
We arrived in Barcelona 2 days ahead of the cruise. Stayed at the Hotel Continental Barcelona. Very nice and centrally located.
Boarding the ship on Monday was very well organized and we were on board within minutes of check-in. Our cabin was on deck 7 fwd. Excellent service provided by James 'Mr. Bond' from Costa Rica.
My Time Dining worked out well and we were well cared for by Sathish and Milan. Stephanie was a pleasure to work with in setting up dining times. Food throughout the ship was very good and we especially enjoyed one night at Chop's Steakhouse. We ordered breakfast in bed twice and Room Service was prompt and food was hot.
We found the Schooner Bar to be a great meeting place and we were entertained by Cresente (Chris) with card tricks and bar puzzles.
Windel at the Sky Bar and Deel at the Pool Bar kept us well refreshed.
The evening shows were good but we didn't see most of them due to full days of sight-seeing.
This is a More
port intensive cruise and we enjoyed every port of call. Tendered in Cannes and Split, but this did not cause any problems with meeting tours ashore on time.
We took private tours in groups of 8 with Riviera Premium Tours in Cannes, Tuscany Taste Tour in Pisa/Florence and Rome, and AP Tours in Salerno for our Pompeii, Sorrento, Amalfi Coast. I would highly recommend them all but ESPECIALLY Tuscan Taste Tour. Venice, Ravenna and Split are easily done without a paid tour.
Disembarkation was as easy as getting on the ship and we were at the airport by 0830. Taxi cost 23 Euro.
This was a super cruise, great people, and excellent crew and staff. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
Stayed at Hotel Continental Barcelona. Excellent location, friendly staff, free wi-fi, free buffet and beverages including beer and wine.
Monaco & Village of Eze
Met on the pier. Very nice introduction to France. Visited Nice (flower market and beach), Eze, Perfumery, Monaco, Prince's Palace, etc., Monte Carlo Casino (won 45 Euro on Roulette), lunch (not included but we ate as a group, very good.
Florence & Pisa Tour
Fantastic tour. Maurizio, owner of Tuscany Taste Tour, met us on the pier and off we went. Small group of 8, MB van and we saw it all. Pisa, Florence, Accademia, etc. We weren't on our own. This was an organized tour with pre-paid tix to see David. Ate at a favorite of Maurizio, who joined us for lunch.
We ported in Salerno, not Naples (no option in Ports). Met at the pier and visited Pompeii, Sorrento, and the Amalfi Coast, stopping in Positano, Amalfi, and for lunch overlooking the beautiful coastline. We were in a 16 person group and just right for this excursion. We were the first group into the ruins at Pompeii and had a great guide. Lots of riding on this scenic drive but we were able to stop just about anywhere for photos, shopping, potty-breaks, and food.
Rome on Your Own
Another Tuscany Taste Tour. This is not on our own (but there is not a selection for a tour that includes it all). And we saw it all. 8 Pax van, Marcello the driver. 2+ hours in the Vatican with guide, Trevi, Spanish Steps, Forum, Colosseum, Pantheon, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's Basilica and Square, lunch, gelatto, etc. Marcello dropped us off at the sights, within steps. Saved a lot of walking.
Cannot say enough about Tuscany Taste Tour and the incredible service and experiences.
This is a combination Ravenna, Italy and Split, Croatia, as there is no Ravenna choice.
Nothing to see or do at the port of Ravenna. Take a shuttle into town, from there, all the mosaics can be seen in a short, self-guided, walking tour.
This was our final port of call. Tendered and had plenty of time. Walked around the city, visited open air markets of fish, flowers, clothes, etc. A nice beach nearby, wide promenade, plenty of shopping.
Paid excursions (ship or private) are not needed. Overnight in Venice, on an island, impossible to get lost. Equally impossible to re-find some place we stumbled upon. So much fun, lots to see, easy to get around. Bought a 36 hr vaparetto pass, worked great. Took free water taxi to Murano. Rode a gondola, sharing the experience with 2 other couples. Ate dinner where our gondoliere was headed for a meal, right on the canal, overlooking his gondola. Bought masques, rode the elevator to the top of the tower, visited the Doge's palace, Bridge of Sighs, the Prison, enjoyed stand up food, sat on the Lion, kissed on the Rialto Bridge, explored the city at night, and on.