Our sailing on the Liberty of the Seas was for our Honeymoon, from Barcelona visiting Toulon (La Seyne Sur Mer, France), Nice & Monaco (Villefranche, France), Pisa & Florence (Livorno, Italy), Rome (Civitavecchia, Italy), and Naples, Sorrento & Capri (Naples, Italy), before returning to Barcelona.
Our first cruising experience was amazing. We didn't want the holiday to end, and thoroughly enjoyed our week. There were of course a couple of things that we'd do differently or bear in mind but overall Royal Caribbean didn't disappoint.
I'd been sceptical of cruising, afraid that it would full of older people with nothing for me to do, and that I might have blown over £3000 on a kind of floating Butlins for the middle classes. What I found was that being in a different location every day with a full entertainment programme was ideal and there were hardly any oldies!
• If you have 'My time' it's worth booking dinner for several nights ahead. If something comes up that you want to do the next day, swap as soon as possible. The food was amazing. I'm vegetarian and the choices were reasonable in the dining room. One night was a bit more limited, and ended up going for Spaghetti which wasn't the easiest to eat with a white dress
• Take swimwear in your hand luggage if you're arriving in the early afternoon.
• Book tours before you go, save time and money
• You don't need beach towels unless you're planning on visiting a beach on-shore. You get free towels onboard by the pool.
• Take some flip flops in your bag if like me, you like to travel in your heaviest heels or shoes, so you can be comfy and get around the ship before your luggage arrives.
• If visiting, and walking up, the Tower of Pisa, don't take a bag. They dont allow you to take bags up the tower (although a few people had camera bags). Even a very slim handbag (a Radley messenger) wasn't allowed, although I did try to reason that it didn't make me any bigger than somebody with a large bottom. Just take wallet, passport, camera and phone, and ensure you apply sun cream before you leave the coach.
• Know what's free. At mealtimes in the Windjammer, certain drinks such as iced tea, iced water, and sugar free cordials are freely available. There are one or two coffee stations (only one or two) that are free, and as well as buying proper coffee, tea and hot chocolate in the Promenade Cafe, you can get free coffees from the self service area as well as free cakes and biscuits. Tap water is free at mealtimes, or you can get a large bottle of chilled mineral water for $4. We had the fountain drinks package for each of us, but going next time I probably wouldn't do it as we mainly drank iced water anyway.
• Get bottled water for going on day trips. It may be expensive but it can sometimes be a while before you can stop to buy some.
• There are some good fixed price restaurants in Rome near the pantheon, but less towards the Trevi fountain. We had a good meal near the Trevi fountain but it seemed there was more choice nearer the Pantheon.
• Watch your bag around the Trevi fountain - last time I was there we had our camera nicked, and it was round the Trevi fountain that our guide spotted a young girl pickpocketing. Watch out for loud sneezing near you, people offering you random things like roses or trying to engage you in conversation, or anything designed to distract your attention.
• Don't buy anything on the boat until the final day unless you're absolutely desperate, or there's only one left. They have a sale on the final cruising day.
• If visiting Pompeii, Herculaneum or Vesuvius, in August take a parasol. It is incredibly hot.
• The tours in Italy, by Aloschi bros, I think, handed out a bottle of water to each person but it's still worth taking a bottle.