When the offer for a dynamite price on a marvelous ship taking her TA repositioning from the Caribbean to the Med arrived in the inbox, we snapped at the chance to get to Italy (and back) for a very reasonable price. The cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Civitavecchia was perfectly timed, and the air extension was so reasonable that we wound up spending nearly two weeks roaming Italy on our own.
Wintering near Fort Lauderdale, we hired a private car to deliver us to Port Everglades and pick us up from FLL, eliminating completely a huge part of the stress component inherent in travel preparations. Arriving as soon as decently possible (about noon), we were whisked through boarding procedures and found ourselves enjoying an afternoon of leisure and exploration after a lovely, special luncheon for Mariners.
Our cabin couldn't have been more delightful. Our travel professional outdid herself, securing a VE class verandah amidships on the port side, which meant we had the very best of that class. We whiled away the afternoon (marvelous weather, fortunately) alternating the usual new-ship hide 'n seek with some total indolence out on our see-through balcony. The bathroom was perfect with a full-size tub and decadent shower, as well as plenty of storage space for those little incidentals. We took turns making friends with that boss of a toilet -- learning quickly nevernevernever to turn your back on it or remain seated while flushing it! The rest of the stateroom was comfortable and well-appointed, with plenty of toiletries, storage (amazing, since we were packed for nearly a month!), etc. The bed was quite comfortable (still wish the TV was centered to the bed instead of being to one side, but it's obvious why this wouldn't work), and The Robe -- of course! -- a delightful luxury. Mirrors were plentiful and helpfully located. The minibar was nicely stocked and freshly restocked daily. Room service was impeccable, especially for breakfast, with nice selections delivered fresh and on time.
Security concerns raised their ugly heads following the mandatory lifeboat drill when numerous cabin occupants (a) didn't report and (b) couldn't be located afterwards. Big no-no, especially a mere few months after the Costa Concordia disaster. Our sailing, scheduled for 5 p.m., was delayed for more than an hour and a half while that was straightened out. WE absolutely didn't mind, far preferring the captain's care for our safety and comfort (this WAS a TA, after all), above anything else. We still think gratefully of him.
Obviously, with both of us a tad on the squeamish side, we anticipated a bit of mal de mer, which was dealt with proactively by pre-dosing with meclizine for the first several days. After that, everything couldn't have been smoother, and we discontinued the meds.
Dining -- well, what CAN one say? Perfect, particularly since we were seated with two of the most enchanting gentlemen. Wait staff? Ditto. Stewards? Couldn't have been more accommodating, even though we are late risers and we know for a fact that they REALLY wanted us up and out much earlier.
One single fly in the Eurodam ointment: The separators between the individual balcony spaces are actually doors. One of ours became unlatched during a rather wild night ride and flung itself back and forth loudly. The sea was much too rough for technicians to deal with it safely, and so the chief steward for our deck came -- himself -- and ventured out to put a temporary stop to the banging, allowing us (and our next-door cabin mates!) to have a peaceful night. The problem was cured permanently the next day when the swells calmed.
We thoroughly enjoyed the entertainment, from the sedate Adagio Strings to the full-out high-octane energy of the Broadway-style shows and reviews. The library in the Crow's Nest was very spacious and well-appointed. The Silk Den, Tamarind, and Caneletto's were fine; we didn't do The Pinnacle, since we had tried it on a prior cruise and found it didn't measure up to the extra price required (even though relatively nominal).
The ports visited en route to Italy included Funchal on Madeira Island, and Malaga and Alicante on the Costa del Sol. All three were wonderful experiences, although we didn't use any of the HAL shore tours offered. If we had to choose two of the three, we would have skipped Malaga, which appeared much more industrial and less evocative.
To sum it up, the next time we are looking for an economical TA round-trip and can arrange our schedule accordingly to use two weeks instead of 8 hours to arrive, we won't hesitate to sign right up. Even with the upgrade to the VE cabin and the air extension, we came out 'WAY ahead dollar-wise, and we had an absolutely wonderful time doing it. The back-of-the-bus experience in the air, even on the most spacious aircraft, just doesn't cut it.
Take it from us -- Eurodam and her crew put on a wonderful show, start to finish, and we will always enjoy future experiences when she is available to meet our cruising needs.