DH and his 15 yr old son took the 7night cruise out of Barcelona. I remained behind at work! Here is their brief review:
Flew to Barcelona on Friday evening and after a €30 cab ride we arrived at the Hotel Colon right next to the Cathedral in the Gothic area. Hotel was very good, good sized room and bathroom, and after dumping our bags we went out for dinner – tapas at midnight – you just have to love the Spanish and their eating habits. Saturday we went for a walk, had lunch and caught a cab to the port for €20 and were onboard by 2.30 after a slight wait.
Our first ever room without a balcony! Cat I 2596 - it was perfectly adequate for a cruise where we did not intend to spend much time in the room – a shower with hard screen and not the flappy curtain, fridge, enough storage, safe and a small seating area. Unfortunately we were on the early dining at 7pm which is too early if you have spent the day ashore – we ate in Portofinos twice and Johnny Rockets once.
Menus were exactly the same as they were for our recent Legend sailing – but in a slightly different order. There was however a special July 4th menu – but no other July 4th celebrations.
Portofinos was excellent as usual and after our first meal there we signed up for the Murder Mystery evening $49pp which included dinner at Portofinos. For the Murder evening the menu was restricted but had the filet steak that was tender and perfectly cooked.
Johnny Rockets we went to once for lunch and once for dinner – onion rings kept on coming and the burgers were fat and juicy.
Villefranche – caught the train to Monte Carlo which was very easy to do – and spent the day watching the beautiful people, their cars and yachts.
Livorno – we caught the RCL bus to the central bus terminus [the only way to get out of the large port], bought the tickets from the newsagent and then took the #1 bus to the train station. Here we went via Pisa to Lucca – the most beautiful town and not many tourists there. Bikes are rented from Piazza Santa Maria at the top of the town pas the old amphitheater – a good way to get some exercise and to see a more relaxed Italy. On the return we had time between trains to walk over to see the Leaning Tower – about 25 mins walk – and take the obligatory photo. The #1 bus back was a scrum with everyone in port racing to get back to their cruise ship
Civitavecchia – Again took the RCL bus to the port gates where it is a simple walk to the train station. In Rome we walked to the Coliseum, the Forum and up to the Pantheon. Then a cab via the Vatican to Station San Pietro – unfortunately the train broke down meaning two loads of returning cruisers were on one train. Had to stand for the hour long journey.
Naples – by now we had had our fill of public transport so we abandoned our plans to visit Ischia and just had a relaxing day. Easy walk into Naples for a traditional pizza lunch amongst the faded grandeur of its buildings
Palermo – our final stop – caught the HoHo bus to get our bearings and then walked up to via cappuccino to see the catacombs and the mummified bodies – but this was closed for lunch for 3 hours – so we went and had lunch ourselves.
Day at sea – saw the ice show, played mini golf again [the course is a bit rough], and generally relaxed.
Disembarking – we were off by 9 but then the free bus that takes you to the Ramblas broke down so the taxi rank was busy. Waited in line for 45 mins and eventually caught a cab up to Sants train station where there is a left luggage facility. €4.50 for a large locker that takes two cases – we then caught the HoHo bus, had a final paella for lunch, picked up the bags and then back to the airport for our flight back to London.
Two minor complaints – we never got the Junior C&A present, and secondly, despite having indicated and highlighted that we wanted the final bill to remain in US$, RCI still converted it back to £ using a very poor exchange rate. What is the point of offering the option to select the currency if they take no notice of it??
In summary, excellent cruise, ship is in great condition; demographic was 50% USA, 25% Spanish and the rest other Europeans. One point – there is a lot to see on this cruise and it is probably best to understand you will not see all of Florence/Rome/Neapolitan Riviera in a day. It is impossible. My recommendation would be to decide on a smaller list of sights you really want to see and ensure you have the time to see them properly – after all you can always come back!