Review We have only been able to write about 6 of our 8 ports, so I will include the last two below.
Just as the comments here on CC, the ship lived up to the hype. I can't imagine planning a trip without CC.
Embarkation - Came in a day early from the states, and enjoyed our time before leaving in Rome. We spent most of the day visiting Rome then took Rome Cabs transfer to the port. We arrived very late almost 4:00 p.m. Smooth embarkation, we were checked in and in our rooms within 30 minutes of arriving at the port. Luggage was up in our rooms within 30 minutes of our arrival. One bag was delayed for some reason never reported. It has obviously been opened, but no mention of why was included when it was finally delivered. Nothing was missing however.
Room - We had a balcony. Room design was very good. Good storage. I still don't see how 4 people could stay in one of these rooms however. We brought a power strip as suggested here on CC and it was a life saver. They give you a hairdryer in the drawer but we brought our own. Bathroom included large shower with great water pressure, typical drawers and amenities. Best design of any cruise bathroom we have seen.
TV command center. Great. You could watch movies on demand, TV shows, and order room service on the TV, see pictures that were taken when you got on and off the ship. I believe you could also use it as a computer as there was a keyboard, we chose to use the internet lounge, however. Balcony furniture was a step above what we have seen in the past. The chairs reclined as needed and the deck felt personal and private. I was not aware if someone could see into our balcony. We could see the balcony of the bump out rooms though.
Noise - In room 8205 (my son's room) he had some trouble with techno music each night which affected his sleep. The cruise personnel were very responsive and even offered him a chance to sleep in another room for a few nights. We believe the sound came from the Quazar on Floor 5. Our room 8209 had the same noise, but we were able to fall asleep. There was more of a noise problem with the doors slamming (most likely because of the balcony).
Food - Originally wanted to cruise on Celebrity because I had heard the food was really good. I have to say I didn't think it was special at all. We did not eat at any of the specialty restaurants, however. We had late seating 8:45 p.m. which suited us well. The only service issue we had the whole time was they had our 6 top table right next to the kitchen entrance which made for an ugly view, bumping of the staff into our chairs. The wait staff at that table was not very good either, they seemed new. Food was given to the wrong people and the timing of the courses was off. We complained and asked for a new location and the next day we had one. We really liked our new waiter, however, he and his assistant seemed to have too many tables. They were very attentive for the most part, but we did have to ask for the coffee service during dessert not after most nights. We enjoyed eating in the buffet every day for breakfast and were able to get in and out fairly quickly even on port days. I'm sure the food in the buffet was every bit as good as what we ate in the main dining room each evening.
Sky Bar We enjoyed this location every night for pre-dinner drinks. We loved the waiter, Bruce. The views up there are fabulous. Make sure to get up there if you can during the sunset. I think is a best kept secret and we usually had the run of the bar until dinner. Make sure to go up at least once. Entertainment - the Glass Show was impressive and very interesting each time we saw it (twice). Unfortunately, the entertainment during the cruise was mediocre. The dancers and singers were good just the shows were poorly written. They did a Circ de Sol type show that was very good however, and there was a comedian/magic show that was pretty good. Not as good as I expected. We never hit up any of the night clubs except one after a show one evening. It was very slow with hardly anyone there. We did enjoy the casino and it was so nice being able to sit and gamble without someone blowing smoke in your face. How refreshing. I wish all ships would go this route.
Ship - Beautifully designed and good floor plan, not too big or too small. We even were able to get chairs on sea days (though we did have to hunt). Elevators worked pretty well too. The internet connection, though expensive ($29 for 30 minutes), worked at a faster pace than we have ever seen before. One nice touch was when you returned from your port tours, the staff was outside with cold wash cloths and juice or cold water to drink. We always got a warm "welcome back" as well. Loved it.
Staff - our room steward and assistant were competent. Nothing special, no towel animals but we did have turn down each night as expected. We were pleased with response times. The few times we did room service it was punctual. Almost all of the staff was friendly and seemed happy.
Smoke Free - The ship was beautiful, clean, and best of all mostly smoke free (all ships should be). We had a Veranda (as did all of our group) and the views were magnificent. We were on the port side but I think in the Med either side is great. We could smell smoke in the evenings because I believe on the port side smokers are allowed to gather in the area around the pool deck.
Disembarkation - Again very easy. We chose to "walk off" with our luggage, but those that didn't seemed to have an easy time finding their luggage. We were met by our Rome Cabs driver for a trip back to the airport. But that is another story.
I highly recommend Celebrity to anyone; this was a great itinerary, good company and a fabulous ship. What a combination!
Santorini Rated 5+ Best port ever. We got up early made it on one of the first tenders, took the funicular up to Fiera, then took the bus to Oia right away. Saw the Donkey Train going down. I wonder how anyone can go down the moutain on one of those.
We eventually found the bus station and had a bit of a wait for the bus but entertained ourselves. Fiera was OK, nothing to write home about, but Oia! OMG! The most beautiful place in the world. When you see pictures of Greece this is probably what you see. We got there so early we had the town to ourselves for a few hours. It is worth getting up early to get there ahead of the crowds and tours. We stopped for a morning coffee at a place with a wonderful view on the side of the cliff. (I guess they are all on a side of a cliff right?) Good service and enjoyed the view, then continued our walk up to the end of the town. On our way back down, we stopped in some shops, and then stopped for lunch at another beautiful place for lunch. The food was good, but I'm sure there were other places that would be more highly recommended.
We had to wait for the bus for a while when we were ready to leave around 1 p.m. The crowds and the tour groups were in Oia in force, we were glad to be leaving. I wonder if we would have loved this town as much if the crowds had been there when we were? Regardless, make sure to go if you ever get a chance, one of the best ports I have ever been in. The views from the ship, up the mountainside are so beautiful that you have to see it yourself in person.
Well we decided to cancel a private tour that would have taken us to Pompeii (were were tired of ruins), and to Postiano, Sorrento, then to Capri. We were told there was no way we could have done all this. However, in the end I believe we could have done it all if we had not done Pompeii.
The cost on the hydrofoil was 16 euros each way so not cheap. We did buy our return ticket at the time we brought the outgoing tickets. There was a bit of a line and it took about 20 minutes to get our hydrofoil tickets. When we arrived in Capri we wanted to see the Blue Grotto. We considered the boat trip to it (12 euros per person), but one of my daughters gets sea sick and we negotiated with a convertible cab driver 30 euros each way to drive us for the day. The cab was cute and held all six of us. He drove us up and over to the Blue Grotto. We waited on the side of the mountain and the boat guys eventually came over to get us. I donï¿½t remember the cost however, it was worth it and quite a spectacle. Our driver told us that it would have been twice as busy if we were there later in the day. Enjoyed it though. Our driver took us to Anacapri where we shopped a bit and ate a nice lunch. He then drove us up to Capri Town which was pretty but the high end shops were so expensive we just got a drink and watched the people and enjoyed the views. Then we hydrofoiled back to the ship. In retrospect, I donï¿½t know if I would do Capri again. Santorini was much more beautiful and had more to offer. I think we would have enjoyed the Amalfi Coast trip just as well. Maybe next time.
We went with 30 other passengers that had gathered on CC and were treated to an a/c bus and visits to the Acropolis-Parthenon Site. It was a very challenging walk I don't know how anyone not fairly fit could do that climb, but it was worth it. At first we were surprised at the numbers of people there since we had arrived early as recommended on CC. It seemed very crowded, but then when we left, we saw how crowded it could really get. It seemed very dangerous and your need good footwear to avoid slipping on the smooth marble and stone. Well worth the visit. We loved it. Then we went to the Old palace, The Tomb of The Unknown Soldier in front of the Parliament and the Changing of The Guards, which was very interesting. The Temple of Zeus (OK), The Old Olympic stadium (the original stadium built in the 1863 for the first modern Olympic games in 1896)(another OK).
Some of us on the bus wanted to dine in an authentic greek restaurant and the tour guide arranged for us to go to one he was familiar with. It was interesting seeing the local and eating traditional greek food. Then the Plaka (old town. which I had looked forward to all day. Whoops, it was a big disappointment, most of the items there were not authentic or even greek. We were glad to go back to the ship after a long day. The cost of this trip was 28 euros plus a tip (we gave 3 euros pp for the tip). Good ideal to share a private tour.
This was quite a surprise, we enjoyed this port so much and didn't expect to. We had a private tour with Hello Ephesus. The cost for the day was only 450 euros for 8 hours. The price includes:
English speaking professional tour guide who was very good. The best we had, very knowledgeable.
Private A/C minibus just for our family group of 6!
Visit to Ephesus including the Odeon, temple of Hadrian, roman baths, Celsius library and the Theater.
House of the Virgin Mary. Here because we were just 6 our tour leader asked a large tour group to let us go ahead and we did not have to wait in the long tour bus lines that had developed when we arrived. It was worth the visit.
St Johnï¿½s Basilica. Loved this
The Temple of Artemis. Enjoyed this part of the tour
Terrace houses. This is a DON'T MISS, make sure to go.
Selcuk Museum. Nice but not enough time.
Lunch with Turkish starters, salads, kebabs from the grill, and fruits of the season. This was included and one of the best meals we had at any port. We did visit a carpet factory and my son got to work on a rug, but then we got the hard sell on the carpets, which were beautiful, but we already have antique ones here at home. After discussing that with the gentleman, he offered my husband his card and told him to contact them if we wanted to get rid of our old carpets, because he may want to purchase them...
We had made such good time, we were offered to stop at a leather company where we were greeted and our adult children participated in a leather fashion show. Again the hard sell to buy the coats but we didn't. They were lovely though and the time there was very enjoyable and fun.
We went to a pottery store, again my son was offered to chance to throw a pot which he tried and did pretty well. Then we were shown the area where you buy these same pottery items. My daughter brought a pretty small bowl, many of the items were very expensive. All entrance fees, Parking fees, there were no hidden charges. All in all a great day, we loved this tour more than any of the other private tours we booked. We highly recommend Hello Ephesus!
There was a $10 charge per person to take the shuttle bus to town which you purchase on the ship; this was one of the few things I didnï¿½t like I think this should be included in the cruise. I recommend you pay it though, the road is very narrow and steep and a waste of your valuable limited time on the island. You can walk, but itï¿½s about a mile or so.
We got off the shuttle and walked quite a while (almost an hour) before we found the bus station where we brought our tickets to the beach. We took the bus to Platis Gialos beach. It was a pleasant ride and we enjoyed the views. When we got to the beach, we walked and stopped at an area with umbrellas. The cost was 5 euros per person and included a bed and an umbrella. Then you got 5 euros off of any food you ate at the restaurant. We did eat there and it was OK, donï¿½t have the name of the restaurant, it wasnï¿½t very memorable. The beach was beautiful but we were constantly being asked to buy a massage or handbags. Beach was nice and sandy.
On the way back from the bus station, we got lost again trying to get back to the boat. If you are in a hurry I would suggest you take a cab to the drop off for the buses if you donï¿½t tender. As much as I hate to tender, it would have been cheaper to not have to pay the$10 per person for the bus transfer. we arrived we each got an umbrella and padded lounge chair at a restaurant that allowed the use of the bathrooms. The water was beautiful and the sun was shining, just like all the pictures you see of Mykonos. Again, no excursion needed.
We returned to the shuttle pick up and went back to the ship. It wasn't what I expected, but still a pretty little island.
Least favorite port. We followed CC information and decided to make it a beach day. We went to Faliraki Beach after negotiating with two cab drivers (we had 6 total). It was 50 euros round trip. We were dropped off at the beach and they came back to pick us up at the designated time. We didnï¿½t pay until they brought us back to the ship. We had some want to charge us 60 euros, so negotiate and make sure you are clear that you will pay when they bring you back to the ship. Taxis are hard to find at the beach sometimes. The beach again had umbrellas and chairs for rent, this time 3.6 euros per person. No discount at the little restaurant behind us. The beach was pretty but the sand got very hot very quickly. Also there were a few ladies who were topless on our section of the beach. Many germans vacationing there. The water was rocky and hard to walk on, you really needed shoes. But the rocks were rounded and beautiful. Not as nice as Mykonos beaches though. The Old Town was within walking distance of the port so easy to see. The shopping was typical tourist fare.
Beautiful, clean port and easy to navigate. We were dropped off by our Rome Cabs driver almost at the front door.
We arrived a day early and transfered the airport to our Rome hotel for 50 euros for three of us plus luggage. Highly recommend. From Rome hotel to the port we used Rome Cabs again but this time with 6 plus luggage. It was 140 euros for the transfer to the ship from Rome. Same cost (140) to return to the airport from the ship. Liked the driver taking us but the driver at the end of the cruise was distracted and even texting and talking on his cell phone during the transfer. We were not happy with that.
We stayed at the HOTEL CAMPO DE' FIORI, VIA DEL BISCIONE, 6 00186 - ROMA - ITALIA, we stayed in one of their apartments because we had four of us. The cost was 290 euros but the apartment we were promised was exchanged for a lovely apartment, unfortunately it was on the third floor of an old Rome building. Great location but noisy even on the third floor. Luckily they allowed us to store all our large luggage at the hotel location and just take over what we needed for the evening. I can't imagine having to carry 10 days worth of luggage up three flights of very slippery stairs. The apartment was great and if you were staying for a while, with a large family would be ideal. The apartment we ended up staying in would have slept 6. We had plenty of room.
We met the rest of our group after freshening up from our overnight flight. I took an Ambien so was able to sleep pretty well on the plane and was able to stay up easily all day. It rained but we were able to see The Vatican/Sistine Chapel (no wait) around 3:00 p.m. We took the side tour exit after the Sistine Chapel viewing (which by the way was a bit of a let down). The cathedral was breathtaking and I'm not even catholic. I recommend going to see that while you are there.
We walked from the hotel to the Vatican then we took a small bus back to the hotel area, it was quite fun to drive thru those crowded streets. The drivers are crazy but you never seen any beat up vehicles. So they must be good.
The rain began in ernest so we went to dinner at a restaurant close to the apartment in the Campo Fiori, it was OK, nothing to write home about. Then to see the Trevi Fountain which was so crowded even on a rainy Thursday evening. We walked everywhere and it was nice even in the rain. When we arrived at the Pantheon it was closed (we were never able to figure out why) but returned the next day to see it in all its glory. The roads were very slippery so make sure to wear the proper footwear.
Went to the apartment and immediately went to sleep. The bar below us was pretty loud, but I had earplugs and that helped it. We woke up early the next morning walked to a nice little restaurant and ate a lovely little breakfast outside our hotel lobby. We then walked to the bus stop to catch a bus to the Colisseum. We didn't have any coin on us, and we ended up riding for free everywhere that day. The weather was beautiful and it continued to be so during our entire stay. We were so lucky.
Arriving at the Colesseum,we were accosted by one of the Roman soldiers who grabbed my 22 year old daughter and encouraged us to take pictures of him playing around with her. Then he tried to get us to give him money for that. We gave him a few euro but it was clear he wanted more. Beware.
The line was very long for tickets but because of these message boards, I knew there was really no need to wait. We walked to the Palatine ticket office and purchase our tickets there walked back to the Colisseum and walked right in. We didn't get a tour guide, but think that one would have been a great idea. No need to buy the Colosseum ticket ahead of time. We enjoyed it.
We then took a bus to another location near the Pantheon, and walked over. It was beautiful, one of the most fabulous places I have ever been. The light coming in and the structure itself was lovely. We then stopped for a sandwich for lunch which was cheap and inexpensive, shopped at a lovely little farmer's market, then went back to the hotel to get our luggage and be picked up by Rome Cabs for our trip to the port.
Two - half days is not enough to see Rome, if you are going, make sure to allow at least 3 or more days just to see the highlights. Beautiful city, I recommend it to everyone.
We took Rome Cabs to the port and arrived there around 4:00 p.m. It was about an hour ride from Rome to the port.
Wow this was one of our favorite ports. We loved the tour we took. It was with a gentleman's brother who we had heard about on CC. His name was Ignazio Astone his brother's name was Mario. Complementary snacks and cold beverages for all passengers inside vehicle. We went to one winery which was wonderful. They fed us cheese and fresh bread and gave us a tasting. Then allowed us to purchase a bottle of wine for 10 euros, we didn't have to pay for the tour. We did that and successfully smuggled our bottle on the ship to enjoy later.
We had historical and geographical explanation of all sites visited. We had 11 of us in a huge a/c bus and the cost for the entire day was only 40 euros. It was very nice. I do recommend him, even though his accent was fairly heavy and we did have to strain to understand him at times. We saw Mt. Etna during the drive as well.
Then we were escorted to the funicular to Taormina and I recommend this location for a visit highly. It was beautiful. Our guide paid for the cost of the funicular and the ride up was breathtaking. We then had a tour of the town before returning and seeing the astrological clock. We were gone all day. Don't miss this trip.