Booked this cruise while on the Eclipse during a Transatlantic voyage. Specifically due to the visitation of Egypt. We were disappointed when Celebrity cancelled Egypt due to the troubles there, but certainly understood.
Flew LAX to Rome on Alitalia. Service was okay but economy was the most cramped of any plane we have been on. Trip to Rome was bearable but coming home was just terrible. Would not use them again.
We arrived in Rome and had our Civitavecchia Hotel ( Borgo de Mare ) pick us up. We loved this quaint little hotel by the sea. Beds a bit hard, but everything else very nice. Great service there. They also transported us to the ship on embarkation day.
We have found the Solstice class ships fit what we enjoy most on a ship. We have been on the Eclipse and the Solstice and look forward to Reflection. Embarkation was swift and we were on in no time. 1:00 p.m., as always, rooms were available. Our Aqua class room was what we were used to and had no problems storing our three bags that we had taken with us ( we enjoy formal nights and dressing for dinner, hence lots of clothes).Our attendant, Paz and her asst., did an outstanding job during the cruise. Many kudos to them.
We always stay in Aqua class so that we can eat in the BLU dining room. We enjoy the intimacy of the room, as well as food and service. We did eat in Murano, Qsine, Tuscan Grille and the new Lawn Club Grill. Lawn club Grill was very nice ( although we ate on the ONLY windy night of the cruise). The staff was great about supplying a blanket, although it wasn't that cold. Enjoyed the interactions of the chefs and the guests in making flatbread pizza, as well as cooking steaks! Would highly recommend all of the alternative dining rooms, I truly believe they are some of the best at sea and well worth the few extra dollars.
We enjoyed the shows as well as the entertainers throughout the ship. Our days at sea were filled with wonderful breakfasts at BLU, Aqua Spa Cafe as well as the buffet. The indoor pool was were we found respite while reading and enjoying the serenity of the space. Shopping, dining, shows and beverages, both at the Martini bar as well as the Cellar Masters wine bar, were just what we love.
Our excursions were great. The Palermo tour was a good, if not brief overview of the city and countryside, with some of the most beautiful churches outside of Rome.The cannolis are not to be missed! Naples was a walk for us to the Naples Archaeological Museum to see all of the mosaics and statuary of Pompeii. We had been to Pompeii before, but to see the actual artwork taken from there, is a treat worth seeing. Had a magnificent coal fired buffalo mozzarella pizza at Lombardy's ( just about two blocks from the museum. Outstanding! Mykonos was a nice walk with great shopping and outstanding food!
Israel was, of course, the highlight. A half day tour from Haifa to Caesarea,was a great introduction to the ancient lands.
We took the Grand Overland (two day ) bus tour of Israel, and truly loved it. Petra tours was the company and Itzhak, a retired Israeli colonel, was our guide.We toured Nazareth, Sea of Galilee,Bethlehem, the National Israeli Museum, Golan Heights, Jordanian border and finally, overnight in Jerusalem. More comment on that under ports.
Debarkation was a breeze, although our booking with Viator, was a bit disappointing, as our driver was late. Stayed one more night in Rome at the Rome Airport Hilton. We liked our accommodations, good food in the restaurant, great FREE shuttle into Rome, and the quick walk to the airport on the day we flew out. We have not been disappointed with Celebrity, including the older class ships. They truly make us feel welcome and special. The price/value is great. Did purchase the Celebrity cookbook on board, and have used it to sell many of our friends on taking a Celebrity Cruise!
Next up is the Marina with Oceania. Will let you know how they measure up.