We, there were 8 of us, decided to cruise in the Mediterranean. My wife and I are celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary this year. We decided to do something special for the occasion and decided to invite her siblings and their spouses to joint us to celebrate their anniversaries as well. We planned for over a year, and the cruise was just what we had hoped for.
Each couple decided to make this the trip of a life time. Some of us came to Rome via Paris, and Florence before the cruise, and some of us stayed after for a few days in Florence. We all met in Rome three days before departure and visited did the tourist thing. It was going great, until the Friday evening before we were to leave, my brother-in-law got his passport stolen at the subway station near St. Peter's. That meant he could not get on the boat on Sunday. He had to wait until Monday to get into the embassy to get a replacement. Then a flight to Sicily, taking a train up to Messina and getting on the ship there. He had called Royal Caribbean to let them know they would be getting on in Messina. They were told that the captain would be informed. They made it to the ship 15 minutes before departure and were able to get on board, but no one seemed to know that they would be there. That was the beginning of the cruise.
The day in Messina my wife and I, her brother and his wife decided to use the Cruise tour that took us to Mt. Etna. It included a stop at a Jewelry factory that was interesting. The food they provided for us was quite elegant. The trip up the mountain and the time to walk around one of the craters of Mt. Etna was just right. Our guide did a good job of informing without over doing it, and providing us time on our own. I thought the trip was good.
We did all the other ports of call on our own or with private guides. We split up and did various things. The one trip I would comment on was the stop in Ephesus. Our guide, Ertunga, was someone I found through cruise critic. He was very knowledgeable and took us to whatever sites we wanted to see. He also took us all out to lunch at a Turkish restaurant. He asked that I post that he is still available to do tours, and not just of Ephesus. His cost was only $250 USD, for 8 of us.
On board ship, we found the 2nd seating for dinner to be just what we needed. Our wait staff Chris from India, and Aykut from Turkey were excellent and very helpful with suggestions about the various ports we visited.
Rooms were clean, and not bad for space. Small, but worked well. We actually stayed at a hotel in Florence that was smaller than our stateroom.
One suggestion. Make sure you check the daily schedule to be sure you have the correct time of departure. In Athens part of our group did a tour on their own, and were working on the assumption that the ship left at 6p.m. (That was the time listed on the original schedule when we purchased the tickets. However, the ship left at 5 in Athens and they almost missed the ship.