Booked our trip in June 2011 for Nov 18th sailing. We paid 899 per person for a balcony, with insurance and taxes and pre paid the gratuity total cost for cruise was $2329. (received 100 ocb) We booked our own airfare with British Airways for 999 per person - with tax and insurance and pre selection of seating total came to $2335. We flew into Rome two days in advance. booked two nights with Best Western Springhouse at 108 euros per night, but paid 10 euros more once we got there - for a better room. Hotel is located near the entrance of the Vatican Museum. We booked our own transportation from FCO (rome airport) to hotel fixed cost of 45 euros - used same company to take us from hotel to ship and from ship to airport. (www.clickairporttransfer.com) paid 110 euros to go to port and 120 euros from port to FCO. We had a Mercedes sedan. Driver Pietro was on time at all three pickups. Very good driver and would use his services again. (euros at time was 1.33 to dollar)
We did not purchase the drink packages - decided to wait until we were on board to see how things went. We ended up spending a grand total of $110.00 for 3 cokes ( out of the refrig in room) and one glass of wine each at dinner . The drink packages are not something we would ever purchase. the coffee and juices in the buffet were good - don't know why anyone complains about them.
We did go to the speciality restaurant Silk Harvest and Tuscan Grille - will not pre pay again will wait to purchase those until on the ship - I purchased them in advance and once on board they were discounting the price by 30%.
Our cabin was 6302 - the last cabin on starboard side before you hit the back cabins. We had a nice balcony, good view, room was very well done, with lots of storage under the bed, nice closet and drawer space. I did not find the hair dryer until the last night - my fault I should have asked. We did the prepaid gratuity, but gave out additional tips on the last night. The only ship personnel that we had a problem with was the "customer relations" desk. They gave wrong information out about formal night and had attitudes that made you feel like we were imposing on their time.
Food in the Silhouette Restaurant was excellent. The Oceanview Cafe for breakfast was good, but the dinner items were iffy and not enough variety. The Mast Grill for hot dogs and hamburgers was very good.
We were very impressed with the checking in procedures and getting on and off the ship was easy. We brought on two bottles of wine to start the cruise. We booked two excursions with the ship. The day in Sicily - to Mt Etna and the day in Naples - Pompeii. We booked a tour with Ephesus Shuttle for $56.00 each it was us, a driver and a wonderful guide Gizem Aka. We were very pleased with this tour (www.ephesusshuttle.com) The other stops, we got off the ship and walked to everything.