Prior to our cruise my mother and I flew into London Gatwick Airport and stayed at the Hilton there for one night. DON'T stay there. We had a private driver, Collin from Diamond Trust Transfer, take us to the port and he was wonderful. Will use the company again.
Embarkation was so FAST! The porters took our luggage from us and were on their merry way. There were no porters in your face demanding tips like they do in Florida. Check in was very efficient and quick too. The fastest and most organized we have EVER experienced, and the computers were even down too! Everything had to be written by hand.
The ship itself was gorgeous! Very pink, but gorgeous! I was afraid it was going to seem "too big" since it held so many people, but once onboard my fears were abated. The ship was laid out similarly to the other Carnival ships so I basically knew were everything was right away. The ship was spotless.
Our room was great, loved the balcony and our room stewards were accommodating.
We have always had excellent service in the dining room, but our team this time, Nina and Peter, were the BEST we ever had! Really miss them. The food was to die for too. Even on the Lido Deck. I highly recommend that everyone go to tea at least once during your cruise.
The shows in the large Spectacular Spectacular were excellent, Ron Pass in the Piano Bar was a riot and it was so nice to finally meet John Heald after reading his blog for so long! I will say I was disappointed with the other "house bands" on board. They were not that good, especially when compared to the other bands we've seen on our other Carnival cruises.
All in all this is the best cruise we have EVER taken and a cruise is definitely the best way to see Europe. My mother and I are looking forward to sailing with Carnival again in Europe.
Debarkation in Rome was very quick and efficient too. Plenty of porters to help and they actually seemed surprised when I tipped them.
Now for a quick port wrap up:
LeHavre: Took the Pairs Highlights/Seine River Cruise excursion. Long, but it was worth every penny. Especially because of the lunch cruise - it was a very nice break from the bus.
Vigo: Didn't get off the ship here, but the ship docks right at the city.
Lisbon: Did the Lisbon Highlights excursion. Very pretty place but the people there didn't seem that friendly compared to other European countries.
Malaga: Took the excursion up to Mijas. Great little village in the mountains with some unique shopping.
Barcelona: We took the Montserrat by Rail tour and WOW we can't say enough about this heavenly place. I want to go back.
Cannes: It was raining so we didn't see much of Cannes. Took the Colors of the French Riviera tour. It was OK but lots of time was on the bus without stopping, pictures weren't that great from the bus and it was a very long day. Our brief stop at the Flower Market in Nice was our favorite part.
Livorno: We just took the shuttle from the ship into the city center. We walked around, had some wonderful gelato and we took a canal tour (you could buy the tickets where the shuttle bus dropped you off) through the "old town" and it was so gorgeous. Although there are plenty of places to go to outside of Livorno, you really need to give this gem a chance. It was nice being out and about among "real people".