Embarkation: Very well organized and quick.
Balcony Suite: Roomy and spacious. NOTE: We thought there was a problem with our AC and called maintenance. They said it was normal as it was set at 72 degrees. We were very warm in the room and it never got very cold. So if you are hot natured - this will be very uncomfortable for you
Food: MDR - Southern Lights: 6 out of 10. Italian restaurant: 4 out of 10. Prime steakhouse: Excellent - well worth the extra $30. Service was 5 star in the steakhouse. Southern Lights at lunch was much better than dinner.
Service - Room steward was excellent. Ship's personnel very accommodating and courteous.
Red Frog Pub - Loved it! The guitarist is excellent and very personable. The ventriliquist was great!
Music: We love Big Band music and there was none of this on the ship. We love to dance and there was not much dance music.
We didn't do too many shows as we were so tired but the evening.
Debarkation: Very well organized.
The ship definitely has a 70's look about it. Just looks like every other Carnival ship.
Don't ever book a European vacation in August. The heat was terrible!
The Captain made the trip very nice by arriving in Venice early. Also it was very much appreciated that he made got close to Mt Stromboli (the active volcano), for everybody to take pictures. It was an awesome sight.
Barcelona was awesome! It is a city full of energy. The architecture is beautiful. Would recommend taking the hop on and off bus tour to try to get in as many sites as possible. We had no problems with pickpockets - but we were aware of our surroundings. A lady with us almost got her purse pick-pocketed but she felt someone tug on her purse and she confronted them. The thief just shrugged it off. If you are cautious you should be fine - and don't have to be fearful!
Monaco - This is a port you can easily do on your own. We took the bus into Nice, France and spent all day there. We planned on going to Eze but ran out of time. I would highly recommend both of those towns. When we got back to Monte Carlo we spent time walking around the main square near the palace. If you have a chance go to the casino. We ran out of time.
Savona/Genoa - We took the train into Genoa. We ate authentic pasta with pesto and it was absolutely delicious. Went back to Savona and found the smaller Sistine chapel which was very beautiful. The chapel volunteer spent a lot of time with us telling us the history of the chapel. The neat thing about Savona is that you can easily walk to the town from the ship. Very quaint! Definitely you can do it on your own.
Rome - We did on our own but it was extremely hot and crowded! I had to buy an umbrella to help get shade from the sun. The Vatican was so crowded that we felt herded like buffalo. This was my first time to Rome and I can describe it in one word "overwhelming". We went to the Coliseum, Trevi Fountain, The Vatican, San Clemente Basilica. And we had a fantastic lunch not far from Trevi. My advice is don't try to do it on your own. Take the highlights of Rome because that is about all you can see. We did the train on our own and it was not air conditioned. US air conditioning and European air conditioning is 2 different things. This is another plus about taking the excursion versus on your own - the air conditioned buses.
Naples - We saw Pompeii and Herculaneum. And didn't have time for much of anything else. Would recommend Herculaneum before Pompeii but we enjoyed them both. Wanted to see the palace in Naples as well as the National museum but just ran out of time. Be careful in Naples! It is a very dirty city but still lots to see.
Messina - We did the Mt Etna and Taormina tour. Mt. Etna was okay but being in a huge bus on hair pin turns was a bit intimidating. Also, our bus driver got into an accident and hit a Mercedes while we were on it. No one was hurt but it was comical watching the two drivers yell and argue at each other in Italian. I would recommend Taormina and seeing the amphitheater and exploring the quaint town but wouldn't recommend Mt. Etna.
Dubrovnik - Gorgeous city! Extremely hot and crowded! We lasted only 2 hours because of the heat. We wanted to walk the wall but just were too hot to enjoy. If it is cooler I would definitely recommend it!
I loved Venice. You don't have to take the People mover because the ride is about 3 blocks. We bought the 24 hour Vaporetto pass which allows you to go anywhere. Don't bother trying to sit in San Marco Square at night and listen to the orchestras. To have a cup of cappuccino and sit in a chair will cost about $45. (6 euros for a cover charge and 25 euros for the cafe). We went to Murano and bought some jewelry and had lunch. Didn't have time for Burano. We walked around to see the sites. The gondola prices are regulated by the government and shouldn't cost more than 80 euros during the day and 100 euros at night (per boat) not per person. The excursion on the ship charged about $100 per person for the gondola ride. That is far too expensive. Make sure you establish how long and how much before you get on your way in the gondola.
Next time I go to Europe I would not take a cruise but fly over and rent a car. There is too much to see to be limited by being in a port for just a few hours. English is spoken quite a bit so if you do your homework (like Rick Steve's books on Europe) then you will get more out of it. If you are not adventurous then cruising may be the best bet to see a lot of different places for a short period of time