Our first surprise came a few weeks before we were due to set sail. Our local travel agent contacted us to tell us the great news-Celebrity had upgraded us-to the Penthouse Suite!
We arrived in Barcelona early Saturday morning and went to the pier. By 10am we were able to check in our luggage and then left to explore Barcelona for a few hours. The cruise attendant told us about the local bus. 3Euro's round trip. Great bargain! When we checked in (about 1pm) we walked around the ship for about 15 minutes and then went upstairs to see our stateroom. Breathtaking! It was more like an apartment then a stateroom! The living room had 2 flat screen TV's (we knew we weren't there to watch TV but still quite impressive!) We had a dining room that could easily seat 6 people along with a butler's pantry complete with a full size refrigerator with an ice maker. A bottle of Dewar's and a bottle of Absolute were at our disposal as well as daily fresh fruit and afternoon snacks. A bottle More
of Champagne was sitting in a bucket of ice on the coffee table in the living room. The deck was fabulous! A bistro table and 2 chairs as well as 2 lounge chairs. Oh, and an outdoor hot tub! The master bedroom held a very comfortable king size bed with plenty of drawers and another flat screen TV. A walk in closet and a make up vanity rounded out the area before entering the plush master bathroom. A tub big enough for 2, as well as double vanities, a separate toilet area and a walk in shower. We never had any issues with hot water. We had breakfast in our room each morning. Imagine waking up to the views of Portofino!!! The entire crew was so very friendly. Every night we went to the Martini Bar-not to drink-but to watch Eugene the bartender and his amazing tricks and magic! And his personality was genuinely warm and friendly. We had a tour of the bridge and were invited to have dinner at the Captain's Table. We ate at the private restaurant Murano 3 nights while we were there. The night of our 30th wedding anniversary the head waiter brought us a beautiful cake and gave us a special speech. Our food was excellent and the service fantastic. We also loved taking a meal from the cafeteria to the back and watch the views of the port. So peaceful and so pretty! We didn't have time for much of the onboard entertainment as we went on several shore excursions. All in all we loved every minute of our cruise. The upgrade to the Penthouse was certainly unexpected and most welcome but it is apparent by our conversations with many other guests that they too felt like royalty. Now we understand why so many people rave about Celebrity. I know that if we are fortunate enough to cruise again we will first check into what Celebrity has to offer. In the past I have cruised with Cunard (1976-QEII), Carnival, and Royal Caribbean. Although those companies have many great qualities we will always remember this cruise for the sincere and gracious attitudes displayed by all the crew. We loved it! Less
We chose to stay an extra night in Barcelona. We didn't use the cruise for hotel or tours. We throughly enjoyed our day in Barcelona. We arrived at our hotel very early (8:15am) and they were kind enough to go ahead and give us a room to nap in. We used the Bus Touristic in Barcelona and once we realized where the stops were we were able to navigate the city easily. A very friendly and clean city. Would love to go back and spend several days there.
The port I was the most looking forward to ended up being the most disappointing. We had our one and only rainy day here. The streets are beyond crowded and everything was so very expensive. I was prepared for the expense as I knew about it from my research. However, it was just annoying to see so many overpriced items. And shopping seems to be a big activity on this tiny island. We did go to AnaCapri and took the skyride to the top. Can't be upset by weather as it has to rain sometimes! However, the tour guide assigned to us (via the cruise) was absolutely terrible. It was obvious he had no real interest in his job and even left us behind on Capri. We had arrived at the meeting spot 10 minutes early and spoke to our guide to tell him we were there. He told us we had lots of time and in less than 4 minutes he was gone with our group. We hadn't even left the area! All the other tour guides the ship used always did a head count and took each passengers name and room number prior to beginning the tour. Not this guy. He was walking so fast through the streets that some of the guests had a hard time keeping up with him. There were so many tourists and so many vehicles when we first arrived that if I weren't so tall it would have been very difficult to even see him to keep up with him. However, I went to the onboard cruise desk when we returned and told them of our experience. They asked me to write down the events of the day and that they would pass along my information to the person in charge. By the end of the day I had a note from the ship cruise desk telling me they took our comments very seriously.
Long drive into Florence from the port. Very crowded with tourists and residents. The highlight actually had nothing to do with the tour itself. We (my husband and I) were celebrating our actual anniversary day with lunch overlooking Ponte Vecchio. The table next to us had 6 people from Germany. I was lucky enough to be able to carry on a conversation with them, in German. It was so much fun and brought back wonderful memories of my first trip to Florence (1976) when I was living in Germany as a teenager. Florence itself requires at least an entire day to just explore the many beautiful buildings.
I booked a private tour guide who picked us up right at the port. Miles to Miles. Absolutely fantastic. I am so glad we spent the extra money for the private tour. Quite expensive but well worth it to have someone drive us to all the main attractions all the while explaining what we were seeing. The only real disappointment was the vast amounts of graffiti everywhere you looked. Such a shame.