I started planning my cruise back in April of 2012, searching the internet, checking for info on the Mediterranian, which is where I wanted to go. By October I had chosen my cruise, for the Ports of call and for the ship, Royal Caribbean's "Serenade Of The Sea". My flights were booked at the same time, Emerates deal was to good to miss. At the time I booked, I was planning to cruise alone, as a friend had some unexpected expenses and had to bow out, but by February 2013, another friend was set to join me, and we started planning our adventure, shopping for cloths, looking at excursions, Oh the excitment.
We were alike in our choices for shore excursians, but, our choice of romeinalimo proved to be difficult, as you need to find 6 other people to share, I had only one site to post on until near the last 3 weeks, and could not get enough interest, will know better for our next cruise, it was from this site, cruisecritics that we were able to get onto a similar excursion for Cannes, which included, Nice, Monarco, Monte Carlo. That was spectacular, for La Spezia, we hoped off the shuttle bus, walked into the infomation office, and found a boat trip up the coast, that toured Cinquiterre, for just 35 euro and max of 12 people, we had only 8, it was so great, others went by train, and found the crowds hard going, we relaxed and as the first stop was already full of tourist, the boatman took us further on and we revisited that town on the return journey. Rome was hit by heatwave conditions, I had hoped for an Indian Summer but that was a little more than we bargained for, so we did not enjoy that day, especially as you need to travel by train for one and a half hours to get in from the port! Raveena, and a local bus around the cliff sides to Amalfi was crowded and hot, but oh! the views were special, and a local on board suggested we catch a local ferry back , so for 7.5 Euro bus, and 8 Euro ferry, and lovely shopping and sites in Amalfi, was a good day. After 4 ports , it was good to have a day at sea, I a hand massage with manicure, and my friend, a hair cut and style, lovely. Next was Venice, a beautiful port to sail into, we had booked a Gondola at sunset with serenade and tour, plus a 3 course dinner to follow, although 10 gondola's with 6 people each on board, when we moved into the Grand Canal, and the Tenor sang some beautiful tunes, some of which we new and sang along to, then moved through smaller canals with people watching and listening from the bridges, it was well worth it. Finding the restaurant was some what difficult, but lovely food and company, had us sitting till late into the evening. The next day, we wandered the lovely streets and alleys, saw St Marks Square, Bridge Of Sighs, etc, etc.
Ravello was a minor stop and we only spent a couple of hours on shore here! but Kotor in Montenegro, well, when we sailed up the ford, it was raining and grey, most of us were quite disappointed, then suddenly the sun came out, but clouds remained on top of the surrounding mountains, and we were looking at a breath taking scene, once we landed, and got into the old city, we were very impressed, and wished we were to stay there longer, we sailed at sunset and the lights came on to another spectacular view, as we had window seating for dinner, we were able to enjoy it all. two days sailing back to Barcelona was timed well with a top to toe massage and facial, lazing and swimming in the Solarium before enjoying 3 nights in Barcelona, and almost 3 nights in Dubia.
Whilst on board we were in cabin 4057, which I chose, and was fortunate to not be switched, we were near the Centruim bar, lifts, internet, one floor down from our dinning area, centre of everything really, and no noise. We enjoyed the Schooner bar for a drink before dinner, the Murder Mystery night with dinner at Giovani's, the shows in the theatre were fantastic! as was all the entertainment and shopping. All in all, we had the best experience, and cannot wait to book our next cruise, Serenade was just the right size for us. With plenty of places to see and do, or just a quiet corner to read and relax, together, or off on our own for some me time, it was well set out, most entertainment after port calls tended to be later at night, and we were usually pretty worn out from day tours, but others certainly partook of the fun. Meals were of a high standard, and we certainly fell into the trap of having 3 course meals, until the last few days, when all we really wanted was a small serve of meat and 3 veggies! So yes, dieting know we are home!
I am now hooked on cruising, and will try for one every year, even if I have to go solo, I don't think there is any better way of holidaying, especially as Australia is so far from other countries, it makes sense to make the most of your time overseas to do and see as much as possible, in the most comfortable way.