Amazing time on the Voyager of the Seas!
Europe - Western Mediterranean
We are a young couple in a late 20's who booked on the RCCL Voyager of the Seas for our honeymoon; this was our first cruise. We flew to Barcelona prior to the cruise and spent 2 nights at the Hotel Zenit Borrell in a residential neighbourhood which is a 5 minute walk from the Metro stop Hospital Clinic. The hotel was nice and the room furnished with modern furniture, but the room was exceptional small for North American standards. The walls are extremely thin as well. But overall the hotel was nice. We purchased a T10 card (7 euros) and took the Metro from the airport to downtown (a hassle if you have lots of luggage though). We used the T10 card to get around for the next few days in Barcelona and had no trouble at all. Barcelona is a great city and everyone should spend a night or two pre-cruise or post-cruise when embarking from there.
We booked the cruise directly on the Royal Carribean website and were upgraded to a Junior Suite (at the AFT end of the boat) on Deck 6. More
The room was more than enough space. We didn't end up using our balcony since the weather was cold at sea. Our stateroom attendant Fred was excellent, as is all the staff is friendly. They will always say 'hi, how are you' while walking in the hallways. The first two nights, we felt a lot of movement on the boat, but we were able to sleep through it. For dinner, we had My Time Dining at the Magic Flute on Deck 5. Most nights we had Francis as our waiter, and Pedro as our assistant waiter. Both were fantastic with accommodating our requests, remembering our likes/dislikes for future nights and bringing drinks without even requesting. The first two nights we shared a table of 8 with others and met a few nice couples which we ran into a few times throughout our trip. But since it was our honeymoon we had preferred to have dinner at a table of 2, which Nino (Magic Flute greeter) kindly made possible for us for the remainder of the week. For breakfast, we ate at the Windjammer/Island Grill; and lunches we had at each of the cities.
We saw a couple of the shows; some were interesting (Knight Magic), some not (Ice Skating). We enjoyed most of the facilities - rock climbing, bingo, gym, shows, trivia, behind the scene of La Scala - and had a great time.
This wasn't a cruise where we laid around on the top decks sun tanning, as it was quite chilly (during the day it was 16-19'C and it was windy). But we knew this prior and were looking forward to the ports and travelling within the cities. It was not at full capacity; we guessed around 1500 guests.
At each of the ports, we ventured out of on own since we didn't want to be tied down to a tour. We purchased the Fodors European ports travel book and in addition RCCL will provide you with a summary of each of the ports, a map and guidelines, which were really helpful. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
We docked at Livorno and took the train first to Florence. The cruise offers $12/pp shuttle to downtown Livorno and still quite a distance from the train station. There are taxis lined up outside the cruise and we shared a taxi with another couple for 20 euros to the train station. We spent until early afternoon in Florence at the major tourist attractions (i.e. statue of david) and took the train to Pisa. At the train station we walked to the Leaning Tower of Pisa which was a long 25-30 mins walk. Others we talked to after took the bus. From Pisa to the Livorno is one train stop (approx. 15 minute train ride).
We were told the night before that we would not be docking at Marseille due to the high wind. Instead we docked at Le Seyne Sur Mer, and took the cruise shuttle ($12/pp) to Toulon. We walked around Toulon and went to the market which is opened until noon daily. We spent most of our time shopping since we didn't have a lot of time at the previous ports. We were back on the cruise early to ensure our last night prior to departure.
All the staff mentioned prior that the Naples port is known for pick pocketing and to be careful with belongings. We got off the boat around 7:30AM and walked to the train station which was about a 20-25 mins walk. Since it was early in the morning, there were not a lot of people around in the city. We took the train to Ercolano in order to see Mt. Vesuvius. The one way train was 1.80 euros, but the train attendant ripped us off by not giving us the correct amount of change. We sat at the front of the train and the train attendant assisted to ensure that we got off the train. Note: we were surprised with the amount of graffitti on the exterior of the trains. Outside of the Ecrolano train station, there is a travel/tour store which we booked a bus and entrance to Mount Vesuvius (16.50 euros/pp) which is the only live volcano on the mainland of Europe. The bus is the only way up to the mountain. We were on the bus for 10 with 3 other couples. It's a 15-20 minute drive up vertical and narrow roads. Upon reaching the parking lot, the bus provides you 1.5hrs to climb the mountain and walk around. Make sure to be wearing running shoes or hiking shoes, as the path consists of dirt and loose rocks. It was fun hike to the crater and beautiful views of the cities below and sea. After Mount Vesuvius we were dropped back off at the same train station, and we walked down the street (towards the water) to Herculaneum which is a smaller archelogical site. You can walk above it and see the overview of it for free (prior to the entrance). We decided to take the train to Pompeii (for 1.40 euros/pp) to see the city ruined by the volcano eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Pompeii is much larger than we thought and we only had 2.5 hours and didn't even cover off half the map. We took the train to Sorrento (approx 1.80 euros/pp), which appeared to be a very nice city. We didn't get to stay long since we wanted to catch the last Hydrofoil (11 euros/pp) back to Naples. The ride was 45 minutes and quite rocky through the waves. But on the upside, it docked right next to the port and was a 5 minute walk back to the cruise ship.
Upon getting off at cruise, the port has free shuttles to the edge of the port. We walked from the port to the train station, which was a 10 minute walk. We purchased a BIRG ticket for 9 euros/pp which was valid for the round trip ticket to Rome, and the bus/metro within Rome. We got off at San Peitro to visit Vatican City first. We didn't realize on Wednesday mornings, mass is held at Vatican City and the line ups are line with locals and tourists to enter. We toured around the major attractions of Rome on foot and the metro.
This port required tendering (board a smaller boat to get to land) and it was an efficient process not having to wait long for the boats. Upon arriving on land, we walked 5 minutes to the train station (to the right along the water) and took a train to Monte Carlo. Monte Carlo is a nice city along the water and resides many rich residents. Unfortunately the casino did not open until 14hr and we could not see inside. We did watch the changing of the guards, which was okay. We then took the train to Nice and walked around the city here. We hiked up Le Chateau and it was a beautiful view of Nice and the sea. From Nice we took a train back to Villefranche and walked around the portside town which was really nice.