Carnival Freedom July 12th 2007 This will be long.....and mostly about the ports. We are in our early 50's cruising without children.
Pre cruise Rome
We planned 3 days pre-cruise in Rome. Left Houston the 8th and arrived in Rome the 9th...
Baggage experience upon arrival/ good resolution.
3 out of 4 bags did NOT make it, One checked bag and our two carry on bags. (We had to gate check our two carry-on's in Houston because of a crowded flight) ...Long story short, they delivered our carry on bags to our hotel the afternoon of the second day, the 3rd bag was totally off the system! So after numerous calls, with the help of our Hotel, we decided to take the express train back to the airport Wednesday afternoon ...They had no record of our lost bag. I asked to look in the locked room at baggage claim....There it was!!!! So if you have a lost bag in Rome, don't give up! You just have to be pro-active! (When we packed we tried to divide our clothes/toiletries between the 2 checked bags and 2 carry on bags...Good thing we did!!!)
Day 1 Arrival 7/09(Monday) We had pre-arranged a taxi with Marco from Italy Cab....He did not show!!! So , after we realized we only had one bag, and filed all the necessary claim forms, we got another taxi (no problem) and went to our Hotel. We stayed at Hotel Capo d Africa, about 3 blocks from the Coliseum. ( Small , boutique hotel). I cannot say enough good things about them!!! The staff was excellent, the service was excellent, the room excellent (A/C was cold), the breakfasts were excellent! They were especially helpful in our missing bag adventure! Upon arrival, we threw our 1 bag into our room and about 2:00 PM , we were headed to Palentine Hill, bought our tickets for the Coliseum there ( no line). And by-passed must have been hundreds for entrance..... Great!!! Later that afternoon we explored the surrounding area . We found a lovely bistro above the Metro station ( onVia Delle Terme Di Tito) with a view of the colleseum , had a glass of wine, we must have sat there for over an hour....we were not rushed, in fact had to finally ask for our tab.. Down the block, we found Ostaria Da Nerone...and had a wonderful dinner . We let the waiter choose for us. We had antipasto, pasta, dessert, bottle of wine, espressos and lemonchellos for 38E's...What a deal!!! And delicious!! It hade been a long day so we walked back and retired to our comfortable room!
Day 2 7/10 (Tuesday) Vatican Museum (We sent our reservation request by fax 30 days prior, to the following numbers.011-39-06-698-84019 and 698-85100. There were two numbers posted, we did not know which one was the right one so we faxed both. We received our confirmation by fax about 2 weeks later. There was no extra charge for this service) We had reservations for 10:30, took the metro, very easy! We got there a little early so we explored a bit. Came across a huge open market of fresh meats, fish, fruits, cheese, wine and souvenirs. This was near Via A. Doria, about two blocks from Vatican Museum entrance. The Vatican museum was awesome!! A must see!!! We would strongly advise reservations, when we finished our tour the line was all the way around the Vatican city walls to St. Peters Square!! Dress code: We were a little concerned b/c the only bag that arrived with us contained our formal clothes and a pair of shorts/top each and DH's shoes and deodorant!!!!!! I wore the Capri's from our flight over, DH only had his day old long shorts, no problem they let us in!!. Afterward, we caught the Red Hop-on/Hop-off at the Vatican on Via della Concillazione and we spent the rest of the day visiting the other sites of Rome, . Ate lunch near P.zza Navona ,at a cafe called Mimi e Coco on del Governo Vecchio That evening we walked to the city walls and had pizza/wine near the Coliseum.....Busy Day!!! And more of our clothes had arrived.....
Day 3 7/11(Wednesday) Spent the morning using the hop-on/off to visit the remaining sites.. Later that afternoon we (as I said earlier) took the Leonardo di Vinci express train to the airport to find our lost bag. (If you are flying into Rome and do not have a lot of luggage the train would be the way to go!!) That evening we took the metro to meet our new cruise critic friends (and share to the port) for dinner.. They were staying at Hotel Quirinale on Via Nazionale. We walked to il Chianti Vineria on Via del Lavatore very near the Trevi Fountain for dinner.. There's a short cut through a tunnel off Via Nazionale, that goes to the Trevi!, Wonderful dinner food and new friends!!! Left the Trevi with Roses I really did not want LOL.
Notes on Rome: We found it very easy to get around (used the metro and the hop-on/off)....just have to go with the flow! By the way, the Metro closes at 9:00PM !! The food was all delicious!!! Had lots of gelato!! Didn't have anything we didn't love!
We did NOT get attacked by gypsies! The people are very friendly and will help you with directions! Do drink (and fill your water bottle) from the small/ large fountains found all around town, the water is cold and refreshing! We loved Rome!!! (wear comfortable shoes...be prepared to walk!!)
Day 1 Cruise 7/12 (Thursday)
We had pre-arranged transfer to the port with Marco, of Italy Cab....Had been trying to contact him the last two days but his phone was not in service....so we hired Rome Limousine, Italy They were on time and actually less expensive that Italy Cab (145E's) for 4 of us. (We also used them for debarkation.)
We arrived at the port about noon. The check in was, as to be expected, long but not bad....it's like that for all cruise lines. We had to wait to get into our room, so we ate lunch at the buffet... The decor on the ship was fine! We stayed in a balcony room on lido deck (forward) near the entrance to the pool area. ( It was a bit noisy during the afternoon sea days and because of the open doors the hallway was always warm). The cabin was large with plenty of storage...loved the drawers under the sofa!!! We asked our steward to empty the mini bar, that was no problem! We now had a place to cool our beverages. One thing I liked about the ship is they let us bring a bottle of wine on board at every port... It was nice to try the local wines! Not much going on tonight.....We had late seating dinner (8:30 Posh) We had arranged to share a table with our new CC friends, the company was wonderful!
Day 2 Naples 7/13 ( Friday) We took the ships tour, Taste of Sorrento and Pompeii. We really enjoyed the farm. Maria took us on a brief tour, we had an antipasto plate with their house Chianti and a taste of lemonchello. Rosa then did a demo on how to make Motsarella cheese...enjoyed that! They dropped us off in Sorrento for some shopping, we were there about 1 ½ hours!!!! I purchased some lemon tablecloths and kitchen towels, DH got a really nice pair of Leather shoes and a belt ...I could have stayed there all day. But, we were off to Pompeii. We really enjoyed the Pompeii tour !! There was food, refreshments and souvenirs at the site, so we had gelato and more lemonchello (lemonchello factory there) We needed that after the tour, it was very warm. Make sure you have a hat! We also made a brief stop at a cameo factory. .That was very interesting!!! Back to the ship for an afternoon dip in the Endless, (aft) pool...., dinner, and called it a day...night!
Day 3 First Sea Day 7/14 (Saturday) Actually got up early, went for a swim in the aft pool, this pool was very nice/quiet until about noon…. First Formal night…everyone seemed to dress up!!! Went to the late show "The Big Easy" Wonderful, absolutely rated "G" .
Day 4 Rhodes 7/15 (Sunday) We loved this Port!! We decided just to walk around town, lovely! We walked up the Roloi "clock tower", beautiful views of the city from there. (plus with the price of admission you get a free drink) Ate at corner bistro. The only name I could find for it was "Pitas Gyros, Enjoy our food" and we did!!! Prices seemed to be better here than Athens and Katacalon, so don't hesitate to buy. We purchased spices here. Very reasonable about 1.3E's for large bag. And a really nice Greek style silver bracelet set and necklace for 40E's. Used the ATM at the entrance to the town…no problem and good exchange rate!
Day 5 Izmir 7/16 (Monday) We took the ship tour to Ephasis and Terrace houses. Our tour guide was Icha(sp) she was great! I think the ruins were as good as Pompeii, but smaller. The terraces houses were amazing…another Must See!!! There were shops at the end. Prices (bargaining) was better here than the Grand Bizarre . Don't hesitate buying your inexpensive souvenirs here either. The Turkish Delight is addictive! Have your picture taken on a camel….What fun! Note: There is a large grocery store kitty-corner from the port entrance, if you need anything you can find it there… They take Mostly Turkish Lira and Euros, but would take USD at the Bizarre. We had gotten some lira from Bank of America before we left.
Day 6 Istanbul 7/17 (Tuesday) What a port!!! We took the ships Tour to the Blue Mosque , Hagia Sophia and Grand Bizarre. The Mosque and Sophia were beautiful. Dress code: I wore a skirt, sleeveless top, with a shawl to cover shoulders, DH wore his long shorts (that were OK at the Vatican) but had to wrap a shawl around his legs for the Mosque. We then were taken to a carpet demo… We skipped the carpet demo and went to the bizarre… (All the tours let you come back to the ship at the end of your tour around 2:00PM or stay at the Grand Bizarre the rest of the day with free shuttles back to the boat every 30 minutes. ) All I can say is WOW!!! Absolutely unbelievable!!!! After browsing a while, I bought a set of 5 mosaic glass lamps, for 100E's, they are absolutely beautiful. They even wired them for us! We already have them hanging on the patio! Beautiful! Also got some great bracelets for 1 lira (.80 cents) If you're looking for inexpensive costume jewelry, here is the place to buy!! Also woven pillow covers and leather floor pillows.. They also have thousands of knock off bags. But…They did not bargain as much as we were told. Had a lunch of what looked like baked pasta with meat/spices and freshly squeezed orange juice, delicious! Also tried the sinit bread, tasted like an unsalted soft pretzel, good ! We got absolutely lost in the maze of shops, luckily I took a picture of our entrance, asked a security guard how to get there…he gave good directions out! No Problem! Went back to the ship to deposit our purchases then took a taxi to the Spice Bizarre (10 lire). The smells in this bizarre were wonderful!!! We got tea and fresh saffron here. They also had caviar (very expensive) and lots of samples of Turkish Delight! This was a mini Grand Bizarre and great fun!.
Day 7 Sea Day 7/18 (Wednesday) You really need a rest at this point!!!! But if you want any quiet, Go to Deck 10 on either side of the ship by the A/C intake fans, there are chairs available (sun and shade). Showers here too…. We tried the "high tea" with classical music this afternoon ….Tea was Lipton tea bags…the people were so loud you could not hear the music….enough said for now… Went to the show tonight Pete Fisher .Very good virtuoso violinist!
Day 8 Athens 7/19 (Thursday) We did this port on our own too. We shared a taxi with our CC friends from the port to Platka. The posted rate is 9E's…but we "negotiated" 20 E's for the 4 of us LOL….Taxis are a rip off! He dropped us off at Monastiraka. We walked to the Acropolis. It was VERY VERY HOT!!! Bring water, there is nothing once you start your journey to the top! It is worth the trip!!! We spent about 2 hours at the Acropolis. Afterward, we ate lunch at Kapyatie a nice cafe near Hadrians Library . We walked around the city the rest of the day. Found the Hard Rock on Fillelenon (for a T-shirt), had the best Baklava and Frappuccino at a bakery on Ermou near the Snytagmatos Square and a cold Greek beer in the flea market at the end of our day, complete with live Greek music! There is a "happy train" at the entrance to the flea market. We did not use it, but we heard it takes you around the city…next time…
We took the train back to Parius (3E's for both of us) .Once in Parius, use the escalator to get across the street, turn left, you can catch a bus (#843) back to the ship here for 0.5E's but the bus only runs every 40 minutes, so we shared a cab with 2 others back to the port (6E's) for all of us.. Wonderful Day!!!
Day 9 Katakolon 7/20 (Friday) We did not tour today. Slept in and went into town about 10:00. Really nice little port town. Very Colorful! Did a little shopping and had a really good lunch by the water. The restaurant had blue tables/umbrellas, I have the name but I don't have the 'keys" on the computer to type it… If you are going to buy anything here buy in the morning before the tours come back to town. The prices went up about 20% after !!! We found this port to be a bit "pricey" compared to the others….But found earrings to match my Greek bracelet set ,only 9E's and we both bought Greek style cotton shirts , both for 37E's.
Day 10 7/21 (Saturday) 3rd sea Day We decided to try the aft pool once again….We got there early (about 8:00) and it was very nice and quiet ….After lunch is when all the excitement usually started. All week we were inundated by screams of “Marco Polo”, infants in the pool with diapers, children eating ice cream in the pool and yellow blow up toys… Finally Security showed up…third sea day!!!! Too little… too late…. So we went to our “shady quiet place and read.
During the afternoon the ship sailed by Stromboli an active volcano….I think every passenger was on the Port side of the ship, we did not tip over…LOL
This was the second formal night….really did not feel like dressing up but did anyway…Glad we did because most everyone was dressed up too!
Day 11 Florence 7/22 (Sunday)
We did a share to Florence using Tuscany by Taxi. Would recommend them! ( Lucky for us because there was a train strike that day.) He picked us up at 7:30AM. Had reservations at the Accademia for 11:30. (Called the museum about 1 month earlier (011-39- 055 -294883), they gave us a reservation number and we were able to walk right in, it did cost 3E’s more per ticket but well worth it) we arrived 2 hours early but it was no problem, they let us in. Reservations are a must…the lines were very long!!! David is amazing!!! The rest of the day we walked the city saw ‘fake” David at Piazza Della Signoria,.Went to a wine tasting at Enoteca Pontevecchio on Corso dei Tintori 21/r , (near Santa Croce) this was a free tasting. We tasted 4 whites and 4 reds along with different cheeses and olive oils and balsamic vinegars, including one that was 88E’s for 100ml!! … with no pressure to buy (but we did)…if you like fine wine try to locate this place, a real find! Shopped the Ponte Vecchio, ate lunch at Bar Gelateria Pasticcera on Via Guicciardini 43/R (really good ) , And, of course we shopped and shopped some more!!! Really wished we would have gone to Pisa too, there was plenty of time. Next year!! We left Florence at 5:00 back on the boat by 6:00..
Day 12 Back in Rome 7/23 (Monday)
We took the ships shuttle to the port entrance and walked (about 10 min) to the train station. Purchased a BIRG pass into Rome (8E’s each) . This was about a 45 minute ride in a train with no A/C. Pretty warm! We re-visited Trevi, and St. Peters Square, walked around a bit, Had lunch near the Trevi at a Tavola Calda (self service) wish I had the address b/c it was again a wonderful meal! Wondered down Via Del Corso to Via Conditti with all it’s designer shops!!…bought a leather purse (not a knock-off LOL) and pashminas. Took the train back to port, wandered around Civit, this is a quaint small town, you can get bottled refreshments here to take on board. Then we returned to the ship to pack!!! Funny thing…our suitcases had shrunk...Hummm….
Debarking 7/24 (Tuesday) We were the first group off of the ship (6:00), found our luggage easily, our Taxi service was there, and we were on our way home….. luggage and all!!
Sum up : A wonderful vacation !! We absolutely loved the ports, that is why we booked this cruise, the ship for us was a simply “means to an end” but… that said…This was our 5th Carnival Cruise And our 19th cruise overall. The staff was great, our cabin steward wonderful, the ship décor was good, and the ship was clean, I was a little disappointed with the food at dinner, It was good but nothing to rave over, and we think they should still sing and dance after dinner just not every night. The lunch buffet had some really good salads. And the deli and pizza were very good!! Not to forget the fish & chips, did not try the fried selections but loved everything else. We only went to two shows, and both were outstanding! Did not go into the Casino. But… There was just something “off” for us personally about this ship. Just too crowded and noisy. . The aft pool was a mess every afternoon! In the evenings on the Promenade deck near the Meiji bar you couldn’t move without someone running into you Maybe it because it was summer and there were a lot of children and teens aboard (a lot, but certainly not most, were polite and well behaved.) Some parents really need to teach their children travel etiquette. Some adults need to lean a bit of it themselves… All in all, we absolutely will cruise the Mediterranean again… soon…. but won’t be sailing the Carnival Freedom, at least in high season. We will try to stick with the smaller ships for now and off season!!! Lynn & Bob