Our first Med cruise turned out to be the best vacation we've ever had. We flew in a few days early and stayed in Rome at the Albergo Del Senato, which overlooks the Pantheon. What a wonderful little hotel and marvelous beginning to our trip.
After two whirlwind days touring Rome we headed for the ship on Sept 15. We arrived about 12:45 and walked on the ship within minutes of our arrival. I was amazed at how quickly embarkation was handled.
Our stateroom was 1610, in AQ class and we loved it. It is one of the cabins on the "bump" and hence has a much larger balcony than most, which was very nice. The location of the stateroom, just off the elevators, was great. Our stateroom attendant, Sebastiano, was the best we've ever had. He also serviced the RS and PH, but took care of us as though we were in one of those high end accommodations! He had our room serviced within minutes of our departure, every time, he made sure my husband's beer was always full and he went out of his way to make sure we were happy with everything and of course, we were. The room was spotless!
We loved the staff in Blu, many of whom had been on Eclipse when we sailed her in 2010, but they seemed even better this time. We had the same table for all nights but one and our waitress, Carla, was excellent. We don't like to rush through dinner and let her know that the first night. She always asked if we were ready for the next course, and brought special items that weren't on the menu when she could. Oleana, the sommelier, never made us wait for anything. Of course her main purpose is wine service but on the nights that we chose beer or drinks she kept right up and always had my husband's Grand Marnier waiting at the end of dinner each night.
We went to the Lawn Club ... twice we enjoyed it so much. It's very casual, but a lot of fun. The staff wants the customers to interact with them which made my husband very happy. He enjoyed making his own flatbread and assisting with the grilling of our dinners. Mostly it was just fun talking to the staff and learning about their backgrounds. Pete, the "grillmaster" was fun and Jordan, the Lawn Club host certainly made everyone feel very welcome. As I said, we went twice we had such a good time.
We also tried Qsine on this trip and while we enjoyed it and are glad we experienced it we doubt we will do it again unless we are with a larger group. There is just too much food for two people and by the end of the night we were just glad to be finished. They really do need to find a way to have smaller portions for smaller tables, there was so much wasted, it made it hard to enjoy!
The entertainment was good. We enjoyed the orchestra band especially the piano player, Rory. The Acapella group and string trio were both excellent and we spent quite a bit of time listening to them. The dance band kept everyone on their toes, including me!
The ports were wonderful, we were so disappointed when the Egypt stop was cancelled but after our 4 days in Israel it didn't matter anymore. We had a private guide from Guided Tours Israel for 3 of the days and he was excellent. His name was Barney and he was a retired architect/archaeologist who had an immense amount of knowledge about the whole region. He truly made Israel come alive, it was a wonderful 3 days with him. Our first day was also with Guided Tours Israel, a small group that went to Jaffa and Tel Aviv. The guides name was Ron and we enjoyed him but were very disappointed when the persons on the bus voted not to spend $12.00 a piece to go to Caesaria! Amazing that you can afford to go on a cruise but not spend a few dollars to see some wonderful ancient ruins. Ron let us know privately that we had missed out on some great ruins and our other guide Barney agreed when we told him the story.
In Athens we worked with Private Greece Tours who provided a driver and guide and did a wonderful job. We were just so relieved that there was no strike that day and we were able to visit so much of the city in such a short time. The Acropolis was great but the new museum at the base of the site is nothing short of spectacular.
In Naples we went to Pompeii, which was amazing...next cruise we plan to go to Herculaneum which apparently is even more preserved.
Our debarkation took only minutes and we were met by a driver from Rome In Limo who had us at the airport in less than an hour. Getting through the airport lines took about 90 minutes but we still had an hour to spare before the LONG 9 hour flight to Philadelphia. It took me about 3 days to recover from the jet lag, but all I can think about is finding our next adventure, hopefully to include either the Silhouette or the new Reflection when it is available in late 2012.
All in all we were thrilled with this trip. If there was any down side on the ship it was the lousy Internet service. It did NOT bother us at all, but you sure could hear people grumbling about it. It was down a lot but I was still able to check emails as often as I needed. I just can't imagine worrying about surfing the net when I'm either on a ship or visiting a country I've never been to before...but I guess it's a problem for some.
Celebrity sure got it right with the Silhouette, we were very happy and look forward to our next trip with them!