We stayed in Barcelona for two nights before the cruise. Wonderful city, very glad that I got to see as much as I did! We stayed at the Ayre Hotel - Gran Via. Very nice hotel, overlooked the city, and perfect location to get anywhere! The Magic Fountain was just behind the hotel, a must see! We used public transportation, and the Hop On Hop Off bus for everything! HOHO was well worth the price to see as much as possible, in a short time! Must Sees are Parc Guell, Sagrada Família , and Las Ramblas! The architecture in the city is just amazing! Check out the McDonalds in Passeig de Gràcia. They had table service, wonderful cappuccino and amazing desserts! Nothing like our McDonalds! I would like to go back and explore more of the city!
This was my 6th cruise, but first time to Europe, and first time on Royal Carabbean. I've cruised with Norwegean, and Carnival before. In my opinion, as far as the cruise line, NCL and CCL are both better than RCCL.
We had an ocean view room on the Splendour, sailing April 2-9, 2010. The ship was very nice, however, the service was not up to par with any of the other lines that I've been on. The room steward was good, we had all the normal towel animals, and she always made sure to greet us. Did have to ask for ice most nights, but that is my only complaint.
I can't say the same about our wait staff. Both the Lead Waiter and Asst Waiter were new, and I don't think that they have much training! The Asst waiter was nice, but the lead waiter was such an alpha male that he belittled him whenever possible. There were some nights that it was just the two of us, and still the service was still mediocre! I was very disappointed with the main dining room. The selections were not that bad, but they were rather boring. The desserts were the real disappointment! There was one night where there was no chocolate on the menu...how can that happen???
This is a cruise that is so port intensive, that I didn't really go to the bars. We had late dinner (9:30 pm), so it was close to 11 pm by the time we got out of the dinning room! They did schedule many of the shows before dinner, they were good. Nothing stood out, but enjoyable. It was too cold for the outside pools. Very nice indoor pool!
The ports were all amazing! First Villefranche. We traveled on our own, and took the bus to Nice. It was simple, and very easy to get around. There were some pretty steep hills and steps, but there were lots of things to see, so it was an enjoyable walk. Nice was wonderful! Their presentation of their food was amazing! The Straw Market and fish market were great! Such small little streets, with people, and cars! I would not want to drive there! The restaurants looked great, and huge servings! We passed several flea markets, it was interesting to see what they considered antiques, considering all of the amazing the history in Europe!
Next was Rome. We arranged a tour with RomeInLimo! They were the best!!! We had Vinny, if you want to get around all the normal bottlenecks, he knew how! With his knowledge of the city, I can't imagine how you could have seen any more! I strongly recommend this tour operator! There was so much history in Rome, it gave me the chills to think of all that happened in the places that I saw! I arranged to take to tour with some very nice people that I met through the Cruise Critic Roll Call, it was so much better than a ship tour, and cost us half the money! Make sure to sign up for the Roll Call for your ship, it's a great way to meet some very nice people before the cruise, and makes the cruise experience more fun!
In Naples, we were lucky enough to have Vinny (RomeInLimo) again for our tour of Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast too. They arranged our own private tour of Pompeii. This is strongly recommended, since you only have a few hours there. She was very interesting, and made the tour fun. Lunch in Sorrento, very beautiful city. Loved the restaurant that Vinny took us to! Had pizza and some Lemoncello...mmmm! The Amalfi Coast, and Positano...unbelievable beauty! Again, lots of hills!
Next Corfu, we arranged a tour with CorfuTaxiTours, we had Dimitris. He gave us a great tour of the island, and told us some very interesting stories! He gave us a private tour of an Olive Factory, and we got to see Tripa Tavern. The owner offered us a snack. I would love to have been able to have a meal there! Very cool place!
Next was Split, Croatia. We walked into town on our own, went to the market, very interesting setting with the Palace of Diocletian. Had some local brandy in a small bar, it very good!
Finally Venice...this was the city that I most wanted to see...it didn't disappoint!!!! We had two nights at the Pensione Guerrato. I couldn't ask for a better host, room, or location, and very reasonable for Venice! We overlooked the Market near the Rialto Bridge. Venice was magical!!! Make sure to just wander, getting lost in Venice is half the fun. We found some amazing places, by accident!!! We took the Water Bus everywhere! Went to Murano and Burano. I loved the amazing colors of the homes in Burano. I would have liked more time there! Took the Alilaguna Water Bus to the Airport. I definitely want to go back to this city to explore. I loved all of our ports, but this was my absolute favorite! It is a magical place!!!!!!!!
All and all it was a wonderful trip. It was a perfect time of year, not warm enough to use the outside pools, but perfect for sightseeing! Every port was amazing. Each port had plenty of walking up hills and steps, but the sights were worth it! The ship wasn't the quality that I expected, but it wasn't much of a disappointment, because you were too tired to do very much after all the traveling in the ports!