The cruise started on the right foot because about 2 weeks prior to travel we received an e-mail giving us the opportunity of upgrading from our inside cabin to a veranda. It took about 1 second to make the decision. The veranda cabin wass terrific. We arrived in Barcelona a 2 days prior to boarding the ship to provide time for sampling Barcelona. We did this with another couple and did not use HAL for any of the bookings. We had opted for a 3 day Barcelona card which would provide us with transportation from the airport to the vicinity of our hotel and then 2 days of sightseeing. A waste of time and money. We only used it for the trip from the airport. We should have taken a taxi, more convenient and less expensive in the long run. We had to take a bus from terminal 1 to terminal 2 for the Renfe. When we arrived at the train stop for our hotel, we were faced with schlepping 3 suitcases up 3 flights of stairs. My wife's back was bothering her so I did all the schlepping. She waited on landing to keep an eye on the suitcases while I dragged them up the stairs to the street level. Not recommended. We then tried to find the hotel which was close by. Ha. Try to find someone who knows where the hotel was located worked after several attempts. The hotel was a good choice. near Las Ramblas. We weren't on the same flights with our friends. They arrived about an hour earlier. Our friends were not so lucky in getting from the train station to the hotel. On the way up the stairs to the street level, a 'friendly person helped with one suitcase by grabbing it and turning one of them around. When she arrrived at street level she had all her suitcases but was missing one wallet. After that event Barcelona was great. We were there for Patron Saint Day and saw some great costumes. We boarded the ship without incidence after that. The ship spent the first night in Barcelona so we had another day there.
The first port was Monaco. Very nice. There was a yacht show taking place and the large yachts in port were magnificent. The next port was Livorno and we had hired a car and driver. We used Tuscany by Taxi and our driver was Ricardo. Well worth the price. Ricardo knew his way around Tuscany and got us in fornt of the line whenever possible. Of course, Firenze was beautiful. Next stop was Civitavecchia and we took the train into Rome. Ah, Rome. so packed with sights to see. Next stop was Messina. The clock tower in the Duomo is not to be missed. We then had a sea day and the next port was Nafplion. We took a tour from the ship to Epidurals and Palamidi Castle. Well worth it. Our next port was Katakolon and we opted to walk around town on our own. The next ports were Corfu, Dubrovnik and our final destination, Venice. In Venice we took a tour through Viatour and it was excellent.
One bad note on this trip. I had became ill and wetn to the medical clinic. My care was excellent but the clinic was woefully organized. The nurses and doctor all had problems locating the supplies they needed.