Day 1 and 2 Flew from St. Louis to Charlotte and then on to Rome. We arrived in Rome at 9:30 am and had arranged a driver in advance. That was definitely worthwhile! He drove us to our hotel and gave us lots of info along the way. We stayed at the Albergo Cesari which is between the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain. Our room was ready upon arrival at noon. The staff was friendly (English speaking), the room was basic but clean and breakfast was included. We had a quad for the four of us. The real plus was the locationclose to everything! We spent the day exploring the city on our own. I felt safe everywhere we went and did not have a language barrier. We got a few Euros before we left home but found the ATMs in Rome to be easy to use. Our bank is part of the Global ATM Alliance so there were no fees at participating banks. There was an ATM right by the Pantheon.
Day 3 We enjoyed breakfast on the terrace. They had pastries, meat, cheese, cereal, fruit, yogurt and beverages. We arranged a tour with Miles and Miles (Rome and Countryside) in advance. Francesco picked us up promptly at 9:00. He was great! Just like having a family member taking you around. We planned out our day and headed out. Following are a few of the places we saw-Spanish Steps, Catacombs, Cappuccini Monks, Coliseum, Popes Summer Home, stopped in the morning for cappuccino and in the afternoon for gelato, market with meats/cheeses (had samples). We had a nice lunch by the Popes Summer Home with Francesco ordering for us. We returned to the hotel around 4:00.
Day 4 We hired a driver in advance to take us to the Epic. Its about 1½ hour drive. Forgot to mention earlierwatch out for the scooters!!! They zip around everywhere and rules of the road are optional. Fewer people board in Rome so processing went very quickly. We splurged by staying in the Haven 2 bedroom suite. Our concierge Adrian met us and we headed up to our suite for a tour of the Haven area. Im spoiled already! We went down to the buffet for lunch and later met everyone at our CC M&G. Enjoyed dinner in the Epic Club where there was never a wait. By boarding in Rome we missed out on some of the first day cruise events. I would suggest any first time cruisers to leave from Barcelona. Day 5 FlorenceWe had room service for breakfast and headed down for our 7:30 tour with NCL. As we arrived the Captain announced they were not stopping because of the high winds. It was too dangerous to try to dock. So, we had an unexpected day at sea. They scrambled and got some other activities planned for the day. Day 6 MarseilleDIY todayWe took the trolley up to Notre Dame Church and then had lunch along with a little shopping. This was our least favorite port. Day 7 MallorcaMagical Majorca & Train to Soller tour with NCLWe took a bus to the Cartinusian Moniastery and spent a substantial amount of time on a guided tour. We had a short amount of time to wonder the city. We came back on the train. I prefer the private tours and the cost is not anymore. Day 8 Barcelonaanother DIY dayAfter Rome this was my favorite port. We took the port bus to the Columbus monument. (port bus $3.50 round trip) We then jumped on the metro and headed for the Sagrada Familia. This is definitely a must see but be sure to buy your tickets in advance to avoid the lines. We hopped back on the metro and headed to the Picasso Museum. The museum had been closed and just opened back up so the lines were very very long. We skipped the museum and headed to a Tappas restaurant we saw in Rick Steves book. One more time on the metro to La Rambla where we wonder back to the Columbus Monument and headed back to the ship. Day 9 Day at Sea Day 10 NaplesPrivate tour The Amalifi Coast and PompeiiWe headed to Sorrento and had about an hour to do a little browsing before heading into the clouds of Positano. Beautiful views as we headed up the coast and had some time to wander around Positano before lunch. Lots of steps and hills! We had a family style lunch at Trattoria LaTagliata. It was wonderful! After lunch we headed back down to Pompeii which is another must see. Day 11 Time to head back to Rome. We stayed at the same hotel again and toured the Vatican in the afternoon. Very crowded!!! Day 12 Back to Reality! Make sure to have plenty of time for your layovers. We almost missed our flight from Charlotte to St. Louis. Our flight was 2 hours late leaving Rome and I did not realize the long process we would be in for once we reached Charlotte. 1-get luggage 2-go through customs 3-recheck bags with airline 4-go back through security Yikes! Fortunately, our flight out of Charlotte was delayed by 30 minutes, so we just made it. There was a little running through the airport! We very much enjoyed the Epic. The perks of having a suite are sweet. The concierge Adrian and our butler Hippo made our trip extra memorable. We saw the Blue Man Group and Legends both were worth seeing. Teppanyaki was the only specialty restaurant we tried. It was very good and a fun experience. I did feel the food in the main dining rooms was not as good this trip. I thing they are pushing more towards the specialty restaurants. Already, thinking about our next cruise with