There were four of us traveling together. We flew to Rome three days before the cruise and stayed at the Hotel Mozart. We had booked rooms in the Vivaldi Suites and were very satisfied with the rooms. The breakfast (included) was delicious.
Our Rome trip was uneventful except for one distressing adventure. The four of us (me, DH, my husband's sister and brother-in-law) had seen Rome on trips before and decided we wanted to go to the synagogue. We had been there before but the synagogue was not open when we went. We asked the hotel to call a cab for us. When the driver arrived I showed him the name and address of the synagogue in my Rick Steves' guidebook and he agreed to take us there. When we got to the "synagogue" we told him that it did not look familiar. He said we were in the right place and sped off. It turned out that he had dropped us at a mosque. There were lots of people around, there was a flea market and the vendors were dressed in Muslim garb. We spoke no Italian, had no phone and no one could help us or understand us. We were in a strange city and there were no cabs in sight. My brother-in-law is 83 and has difficulty walking. This was extremely frightening and distressing. We had no idea how we were going to get back. We walked for about five blocks. We approached a young woman who spoke English and she agreed to help us get back to our hotel. We had walked to the train station and she assisted us with tickets and rode back with us to the Central Terminal. She was our guardian angel and she was lovely. Her name is Francesca and we are very grateful to her. We told the manager at the hotel about the cab situation but he said there was little he could do. He called the cab company and they offered to buy us a free drink. I would advise anyone taking a cab anywhere to write down the number of the cab and the driver. This is something I usually do in New York but I did not do it in Rome and I was sorry.
We had booked a private car for transportation from the airport to the hotel and from the hotel to the pier. We were very satisfied with our driver from Italy by Limo. He was prompt and courteous.
We arrived at the pier and embarkation was quick. The staff made us feel welcome each and every time we boarded the ship. We had a veranda stateroom and our cabin steward, Robin, kept it pristine at all times. I had requested distilled water for my C.P.A.P. machine and that was provided promptly and at no charge.
The food was delicious. The food in the main dining room was excellent. In addition we purchased a package that included the specialty dining and this greatly added to our enjoyment of the cruise (and our expanding waistlines). Tuscany and Murano could easily keep place with any fine dining restaurant. QSine and the Lawn Club were also outstanding and a lot of fun. The interactive cooking at the Lawn Club was very interesting and educational. Our main dining room waiter Conrad and his assistant Arun were stellar. After the first night they knew our special requests. The menu was varied.
The public rooms on the ship are beautiful. There were a lot of activities and lots of dance and exercise programs. The entertainment was inconsistent some very good some very dull. We saw an excellent Beatles revue and there was also a great singer from the UK. We went to Florence, Genoa, Barcelona, Toulon and the Canary Islands before docking in Fort Lauderdale. In Florence we booked a shore excursion to Tuscany and we enjoyed this immensely. In Toulon we booked a shore excursion to St. Tropez. This excursion was extremely expensive. Our guide had a very annoying voice (she sounded like Elmo) and she did not shut up the whole two hour bus ride there or back. Once we got to St. Tropez we got off the bus and there was a very brief walk followed by a delicious meal at a local restaurant. There was no real tour of St. Tropez. This was a total rip-off! Then we were dropped off at Port Grimaud and nothing was open there except the restrooms. The guide left us there to wander there for 45 minutes. We loved Barcelona and Tenrife but were unimpressed with Genoa.
The cruise took place during Chanukah and Celebrity had an excellent rabbi on board who conducted services for Shabbat and for Chanukah. Celebrity provided the worshipers with wine, latkes, challah and cookies.
My sister-in-law was ill on the ship and went to the ship's doctor. She was treated well and given medication and felt much better one day later.
We always felt welcome on the ship and were definitely pampered. This was one of our best cruises.
Disembarkation was difficult. There are no smart-carts at the Fort Lauderdale pier; you had to get a porter. Only there were no signs telling you how to do this. Finally we were told where to go to wait in a line for a porter. We had booked a rental car with Hertz and they were called several times to pick us up but they never showed up. We ended up taking a cab to their local office. In Fort Lauderdale we stayed at the Hampton Inn in Aventura. This was a nice facility but I would recommend staying closer at the Hampton Inn at the airport.
All in all, a wonderful relaxing vacation.