Carnival Magic Cruise Review by smurf120: Magical Fun in Europe
Overall Member Rating
Magical Fun in Europe
Destination: Europe - Western Mediterranean
Carnival Magic cruise in Western Mediterranean was a wonderful trip and great way to explore Europe. The cruise was great way to have housing at night and all the food you can muster during the day. I don't want to rehash all that was mentioned before - so here are my summaries:
Staterooms - we had balcony room on 6 - the rooms were large and comfortable. Staff kept everything well kempt and towels well stocked everyday. For those of us experiencing jetlag and could not sleep through the night, the 24 hour rotation of the same 2 movies every 3 hours was not helpful.
Food - we had Your Time Dining (6:45 PM - 9:00 PM), never had trouble getting a table but did rotate about the dining room every night. At least we got a chance to meet a variety of diners and staff! Food was delicious - quite a feat since need to serve thousands of people every night. Lido deck was my least favorite for breakfast since there is always rush of people. During sea day we had lunch at More Cucina Capitana - pasta was good - chicken was standout since I don't usually like white meat.
Red Frog pub - great fun - we tried to see how much "tubes" we can finish but the staff retrieved them for other patrons to use. I wish we could get those pictures. Did not try their special brew.
Casino - I was surprised by how clean and how well the filtering system must have been working - maybe new ship? Last time I cruised, I had asthma attack and sinus infection from smoke in the casino. Did not leave the ship coughing at all!
Skytrack - I wish I can go back and run the skytrack again. It was so much fun - even though I was outraced by 7 yr old. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
We stayed at Gran Hotel La Florida on Tibidao - top of the mountain range. Its the hotel that sits next to the carnival. Yes, there is a carnival and church on top of the mountain! The hotel vistas were stunning!
Here are some trip advisor reviews and pictures: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g187497-d266131-Reviews-Gran_Hotel_La_Florida-Barcelona_Catalonia.html
Many highlights here, but don't miss La Ramblas, Barcelonetta, and Tibidao!
An hour later we found ourselves on top of Piazza di Michangelo overlooking the entire city of Florence. The vista was breathtaking. Even Florence is also an ancient city, it is considerably cleaner, well kept, and more walkable than Rome. Instructions to sites that say 10 minutes will be 10 minutes! And no crazy giant streets with puzzling traffic to contend with! We were dropped off at Basilica Santa Croce to explore for about an hour, then Duomo Santa Maria Del Fiore to explore for 4 hours. Had lunch at a charming little restaurant behind the Duomo. Met up with our driver at 2 PM then drove to Pisa to visit the leaning Tower.
Dropped off at the ship well before last call. Wonderful, calm, relaxing, easy.
However we opted to take the train out to Cannes, France. After getting off the ship, we walked about 10-15 minutes (Monte Carlo is small but many uphill winding roads) to the train station and purchased two roundtrip train passes to Cannes for 34 euros. It was a serene one hour ride along the blue coast on a very clean train.
Even though we did not run into any celebrities, Cannes turned out to be the highlight of our trip. We walked along the docks, shopping area, had coffee at a cafe, then wonderfully fresh oysters at a seaside restaurant.
Travel tip: 1) The train station does not take standard American credit cards, only coin cash, and the screen language choice is French. 2) Remember to stamp the train ticket in the yellow machine 3) Grab a train schedule - the trip takes just over an hour each way! 4) Cannes casino required passport for entry
The train station is about 10 minute walk (there are tons of instruction online - we just followed the throngs of people). We purchased two BIRG tickets from the ticket counter - I asked for "BIRG", the ticket attendant said "Roundtrip" - they were 9 euro each. Grabbed a seat then had merry journey to Rome. This train was considerably more well worn than the French train of the last stop, also lots of graffiti along the buildings - did not make for picturesque ride.
Got off at Roma Ostiense, switched over to the Metra B line to Coliseum. So it turns out that monuments in Rome are huge and close together. By close together I mean that you can see a whole row of monuments Circo Massimo, Palatine Hill, the Forum, and the Coliseum all together but it is a very long walk with little shade. I think the walk from metra stop to Coliseum was 20 minutes then the line already wrapped around the building with potential baking under the sun for 2-3 hours. We snapped some pictures and went along our way.
Our next Italy must go to stop was the Trevi Fountain - where we were told by the police officer at the Coliseum was 10 minutes away in a general direction. It was about 30 minute walk crossing giant streets with questionable traffic lights. The fountain was beautiful and everything we dreamed of and we threw in the coins for good measure.
Our next stop was Piazza Navonna which we were told by another polizia that it was 10 minutes away. We baked another 20 minutes and sat at a cafe to cool down. I think here was when I realized that either Italians walked really really fast or I should just double all the walking time I am quoted henceforth.
Vatican City (also the smallest country in the world) was our next destination. I was advised by the waiter that the walk from Piazza Navonna to the Vatican Museums would be roughly 1/2 hour - this was much closer to 40 minutes. The Vatican really was otherworldly experience, perhaps much better if there was not a sea of people moving you forward at every corridor. Definitely a site to see if you are visiting Rome. I was very impressed by the collection of paintings, sculptures, and details of every piece of ornament. It was literally miles of art to behold.
After leaving the Vatican, we were well exhausted and wanted to trek to St. Pietre Train station back to Civitavecchia but alas someone finally truthfully let us know the walk was about 50 minutes (he might have said 15) so we took the #64 bus from the front of the hospital.
Just when we thought our adventures in Rome came to an end - we met the cruise rush train ride. I came researched and prepared and read all about not being able to obtain seats so that you "might" need to stand the whole trip. I was not prepared to take running leap to jam myself into the doors with taller people than I, dripping sweat on me for 45 minutes due the very very minimal air conditioning. At least I was better off than the guy who had his face smashed up against the door window for 10 minutes.
After finally getting back to Civitavecchia, in an extraordinarily sacrilegious move, we stopped in the local McDonalds to enjoy AC and 0.80 euro ice cream cones (we had gelato earlier in the day). Shuffled back to the shuttle line, almost needed to crawl or partially dragged by my significant other to our stateroom. Shower. sleep.....
1) The train takes 45 minutes to get from Messina to Naxos, then you need to find a bus to take you up to Taormina - which is on the side (near the top) of a mountain. The bus took off on time in Messina, drove really fast, still got to Taormina late. Each time it stopped, people had under a minute (you can even say seconds) to get on and off. I still don't know if our bus even stopped near the Naxos station because everything was a blur.
2) The bus ride is actually quite lovely. Well, not if you have motion sickness or fear of heights. As to the safety, I am sure it is quite safe since people do this everyday for years. The ride up Taormina was gorgeous looking over the cliff to the Mediterranean - even great angle to see the island of Isola Bella.
I might even say that is might be well worth the excursion expense to take the Taormina on Your Own tour with the ship because the bus only runs every hour - we missed it and took a taxi back - 80 euros and 45 minutes. The taxi driver drove very very fast.
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A Magical Week