This was our "trip of a lifetime", celebrating a graduation, a retirement, and our 25th anniversary. It did not disappoint. We were very pleased 10 days before departure to be offered an upgrade from our reserved mini-suite to a Vista Suite. The extra space and amenities were wonderful. I already miss the chocolate-covered strawberries in the daily delivery of canapes!
We flew into Rome on June 26th. Stayed at the Holiday Inn Euro Parco Dei Medici. Enjoyed touring the Vatican, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's Basilica, and St. Peter's Square. Yummy lunch at a sidewalk cafe just outside St. Peter's. Visited the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, and Trevi Fountain. The next morning, we headed off to the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Palatine Hill. Went back to the Trevi Fountain area for lunch and shopping. Rome was very busy and congested, but made for a very nice pre-cruise visit. Reserved our tours through Viator and used Zelit Limousine for on-time transport each morning to our tour meeting places.
We went back to the airport to meet the cruise line. Upon arrival at about 8:30 am, we were informed that the ship was not ready for boarding. Princess boarded the 100 or so of us on buses and we went on a city tour of Rome. Drove all around the famous Seven Hills of Rome before heading off to Civatavecchia. It's about an hour drive with pretty countryside views. We were the first bus to arrive at the cruise terminal, so embarkation was extremely quick and easy. Arrived at our room to be greeted be our wonderful room steward Cerry and the traditional champagne welcome aboard toast.
We always choose 6 pm traditional dining. Our servers, Ariel and Vojislav, were excellent. The food was very good. Ariel gave his personal menu recommendations each night and was very knowledgeable answering questions about the food and preparation. Noticed long lines and people being given pagers at the Anytime Dining restaurants around 9 pm.
The ship was wonderful. This was our fourth cruise with Princess so we had no trouble navigating our way around the ship. The ship's staff was very friendly. Just loved our servers Joy and Witty at Crooners. Arny G, the performer at Crooners, was phenomenal, taking requests from each audience member and letting people come on stage to play piano and sing. Entertainment was very good, especially enjoyed the Beatlemaniacs at the Princess Theater.
Took the Ultimate Ship's Tour for the first time. Highly recommend it. It lasted 4 hours at a cost of $150. We visited the backstage area of the Princess Theater and spoke to some performers and stage staff. Then, down to the forward mooring room where the ropes and anchors are moved around. Stopped by the galley and met the Head Chef and had some light refreshments. Headed up to the ship's stacks and then down to the engine control room. Visited the laundry and printing shop. Headed up to the bridge to be greeted by Commodore Giuseppe Romano. A ship's photographer took group photos at every stop, as well as a personal photo with the Commodore. A champagne toast was offered on the bridge. Gifts along the tour included a Princess bathrobe, apron, all the photos taken by the photographer, a personalized notepad from the print shop, and a nice 8-1/2 x 11 picture frame.
Enjoyed our port excursions. This cruise is very port-intensive, so be ready for some very busy back-to-back-to back port days. Two sea days were welcome times for some relaxation.
Venice was a favorite port of call. We awoke to watch the sail-in from the deck just above the bridge. Lots of fantastic photo shots. Explored on our own, visiting St. Mark's Square and shopped in the immediate area. Returned to the ship for a quiet afternoon before heading back to town for our evening gondola ride and serenade. One of the highlights of the trip! We boarded our gondola and headed away from the crowds. Our journey was serenaded by a singer and accordion player who performed 4 or 5 songs.
Overall, this was our favorite trip with Princess. We've previously sailed to Alaska, the Eastern Caribbean, and the Western Caribbean. The Greek Isles trip was an amazing experience. Very glad we went.