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Pacific Princess Cruise Review by ibfern: Transatlantic Renaissance Cruise on the Pacific Princess


ibfern
10 Reviews
Member Since 2006
3,383 Posts

Member Rating

Cabin 5.0
Dining 5.0
Embarkation 5.5
Enrichment Activities 5.5
Entertainment 4.0
Family & Children Not Rated
Fitness & Recreation 5.0
Public Rooms 5.0
Rates 5.5
Service 5.0
Shore Excursions 5.5
Value for Money 5.5

Compare Prices on Pacific Princess Transatlantic Cruises

Transatlantic Renaissance Cruise on the Pacific Princess

Sail Date: November 2011
Destination: Transatlantic
Embarkation: Other

We sailed on what was touted as the Renaissance Cruise, and true to form we visited many ports that brought the Renaissance to life. The Pacific Princess is a beautiful ship, and it is getting that well loved look. Things like the chunk of plastic missing from the sink, and the way the toilet flushed so tentatively, this ship does need some updating! It's still a great ship, just getting a little worn. I was in the room next door to the one I spend 28 days in last year and I had the same steward Victor, apparently he never changes ships. Lucky for me, he was very good and I was happy to see him again. I was in room 6072.

The cruise staff was all nice and mostly consisted of the 6 new dancers on the ship. They did a great job of managing the trivia mobs, there were very few trivia uprisings, and I only had one episode of trivia turrets! LOL The CD was OK, but we asked for more games and did not get many, so the nights were kind of boring. We had several shows, More all repeats for many of us and most well attended in spite of that. The entertainment was OK but there was not enough to do at night on the ship. It was dead almost every night by 10! Ok by us, we were exhausted from visiting many ports, this was a very active itinerary, and we are not exactly late night partiers!

Our favorite staff member was David Crathorne, the master of the Princess Choir, and Piano Playing/Singing Entertainer Extraordinaire. Everybody loved David, when we played music/Broadway trivia with him he made us grade our own papers and guess what? Nobody cheated. It felt so grown up! He was our Choir coach and director, and he made all of us non-singers very comfortable and confident. He held sing-along's which were so much fun, the whole ship was singing Broadway. He was the best. He is on vacation now but will be back on the Pacific for the whole World Cruise, lucky people! After that he will be on the Sun Princess doing another World Cruise! I am busy trying to figure out how to get on one segment of any of those world cruises, just to see David.

The Princess Choir was really great fun; we all participated in it including many of the husbands. We practiced for 4 days then gave the performance of a lifetime in the passenger talent show as memorialized on a DVD given to me, which I am trying to upload to YouTube! Please listen with a light ear, none of us are pros and most of us have crappy voices. If you hear a great female voice its Pia, if you hear a bad one it's probably me!

The food was fine, some day's great and other days not as great. I'm not a foodie and I am a picky eater so I feel less capable of reviewing food but I can say that every effort to please me was made and I did enjoy those special Ruben sandwiches, without Russian dressing and toasted with the cheese melting! ? I also loved every single sorbet, even the lime and basil, which was only a little weird but good.

I hear the gym was crowded but I stuck to the walking/running track outside because the weather was so nice and the seas were mostly calm. I also took the stairs almost everywhere. I got a good start for my next cruise, which is Jan 1 on the Splendor! Yikes.

Caryn and I were able to plan our Cruise Critic luncheon where they made a special pasta and dessert for all of us. A shutout to Maryann here, she showed me that these kinds of luncheons are easy to organize. Thanks Maryann, I miss you here on the Pacific this year but I got lots of news about our World Cruise friends to share with you later. ? You will laugh. Anyway, the luncheon had a large turnout; we were expecting 40 but 52 showed up! This through the dining staff into a tizzy, but we enjoyed the newcomers all the same! We had a gift bottle of wine as a give away (thus the large turn out), everybody got tickets and we had one of our favorite waiters (Rui) pick the winning ticket so it would be fair. The winners were happy to get this wine, I had donated it because Fabrizio had given us so many bottles we could not drink them all!

Our friend Pia was having a bummer of a time, we all wanted her to heal and it seemed all of cruise critic was sending healing thoughts for her so she could get over the pain in her ass! I think the sea days did her good. Eventually she started to heal and was able to do most activities. She totally saved our choir, I don't know if anybody knows what a great voice she has and on the video she is hidden behind the first row. Pia is tiny and should have been placed in the front, and with her tiny body comes a great voice!

We had a long dinner at the Bistro (the alternative dining restaurant) the night before our final night, good company helps pass the time, and the food was also very good. Ken ordered the lasagna twice because it was so yummy. I did not realize that they actually have 3 different menus; we liked many things on each menu. Dessert was also very good especially since my begging for Sorbet reaped several bowlfuls for our table! One tip I can give here is to be wary of ordering the Focaccia bread from the menu, it is not just a few pieces, it's a whole pizza sized serving. One is enough for 6 diners.

Embarkation and disembarkation was all a breeze, with such a small ship there are never lines to get on or off. This is one of the greatest benefits of cruising smaller ships. Also, we got to visit smaller ports like Genoa, and Motril, which were both very special places. No matter where you are on this ship, you are not far from anything. This is a good thing when you injure yourself and have to get around! The happy staff is always welcoming you back "home" by name, a really nice touch which made me feel all warm and fuzzy coming home from a hard day of touring!

This was a great cruise; we had beautiful weather almost the whole time, visited some wonderful ports, and best of all, met some great people! Wino parties (thanks Fabrizio for the wine) for the last several nights were a blast. We found a secret spot behind the buffet where we felt comfortable bringing our own pre opened bottle of wine because the bar was on the other side. Our last day was bittersweet for sure. I always hate saying goodbye. And so it was the end of another wonderful cruise! Below is my port reviews as well as more ship reviews as I wrote about them almost daily, in case you don't want to read further you don't have to!
Roma, Roma, Roma

This is an account of our pre-cruise visit in Roma, we had 3 days there before we got on the ship and I had plans to conquer the city! After a grueling 20 hours of cars, trams, and airplanes we finally made it to Roma, it was beautiful to behold even from the air. We were off the plane and got our checked luggage very quick and as we exited the baggage area we see Fabrizio (allarounditaly.net) running to us with the most welcoming smile and lots of hugs. He would not allow us to schlep our luggage and insisted on carrying our stuff to his van, all the while engaging us in conversation and catch-up. We zipped out of the airport and before we could say Mamma Mia we were in the Eternal City. Fabrizio insisted on showing us some sights, just quick drive bys, and then we went to our hotel, Hotel Pantheon smack in the middle of the ancient city center. Once again, Fabrizio would not allow us to touch our luggage and he dragged all our pieces to the lobby, we checked in and made a quick pit stop in the room, and then we headed back out to go to dinner with Fabrizio. We went to a delightful restaurant close to the Pantheon called "I'angolette Romano" where we had an amazing and delicious dinner including antipasti, pasta, lemon Veal, wine, and a trio of desserts which completely hit the spot. The prices were very reasonable and the food was excellent. After dinner we went back to the hotel and parted from Fabrizio knowing we would see him again several times on this visit and cruise.

The hotel was nice (Hotel Pantheon), located right at the Pantheon; we had a nice room with a view of the lively Pantheon area streets, which was just what we wanted. The hotel kept asking us if we wanted our welcome drink and we politely asked if we could have it the next day, which was no problem. We went to sleep and got a good nights rest, waking up and feeling ready to tackle the city on foot.

We walked from our hotel to the king of Baroque churches called St. Ignacio, the Romans call this the 3D church because the artist Pozzo painted a fake dome which looks very much like a dome if you are standing in the proper place to see it. Its very cool, moving through the church you see it become distorted and even then it is something to behold. This church is painted very much like the Sistine Chapel with biblical scenes rising up the walls and onto the roof of the church. Don't forget to turn on the lights of the dome, they really illuminate it well and it only costs one euro. Beware of beggars, and do not pay them if they tell you there is charges to see the church, all churches in Rome are free.

Next we head to the Ghetto area to visit the ancient Synagogue and Jewish museum, which is right on the Tiber close to Ponte Fabrizio. On the way we find the cat rescue place called Torre Argentina, which is filled with ruins and cats! A must see for cat lovers.

The Synagogue and Museum are very interesting, we learn that Rome's Jews are some of the oldest Romans around; they came here long before the birth of Christ! We also learn the heartbreaking history of their lives in the prison like Ghetto, which came after thousands of years of living as normal Romans. It was all very sad and I quickly became saturated and it was time to go cheer up. We walked the bridge and saw the walls that fortify and protect Rome from the flooding Tiber River. Then we walked through the Ghetto and noted a lively area filled with all kinds of people, shops selling kosher foods and other items. There are many ruins close to this area where you can walk amongst the pillars and ancient remains of a theater. From here it was easy to walk up Capitol Hill where the magnificent Campidoglio designed by Michelangelo.

We had to walk around and see the great views of the Forum and Palatine hill before we decided to visit the Capitoline Museum. The museum was incredible, filled with some incredible pieces of sculptures, Bronzes, paintings, pottery and figurines, and murals. It took us hours to see all of it because we took our time and savored the beauty of the art. As we are walking through the upper floors I notice the sun is going dawn and I cannot believe it. Sunset was beautiful from the top of The hill and we see it set over St. Peters, as we decide to head back to the hotel for our welcome drink.

The walk back to the hotel is quick, and we see many Romans out for their nightly walk, and people are gathering in squares all over the city. We make a quick pit stop at our hotel, and they remind us of our welcome drink, which really makes us feel good! We love our hotel, Hotel Pantheon, which is less than a minutes walk to the Pantheon, and is a small boutique like hotel with only 13 rooms, very quaint and clean. Our rate of 140 Euros a night (prepaid) is great for the spectacular location and it includes a full breakfast served from 7am-10am. It's definitely a be-back kind of place.

The hotel recommends a wonderful restaurant called " The Popes Table" right around the corner and it is filled with locals and no tourists besides us. The food is so good and very reasonable and we will definitely eat here again before we leave Rome.

The next day our driver/guide/friend, Fabrizio picked us up to take us to Calcata, Lake Bracchiano, and a wonderful family run restaurant in Ceri called "Trattoria La Rocca" where we sit and enjoy a leisurely meal that is incredibly good, the Tiramisu is the best I have ever tasted in my life. Mamma Mia this is good food! The town of Calcata is a gem of a secret medieval town filled with artists and creative types and has quite an interesting past, something to do with an embarrassing relic that disappeared in the late 1970's.

We hit the pharmacy because I am getting my travel bug, this time it feels like a bad sinus infection with a productive cough! I have antibiotics with me and I will start them when I get back to the hotel, but for now Fabrizio took me to a pharmacy and translated my needs to the Pharmacist, this made things a lot easier for me. I was worried that I would have to find a doctor and Fabrizio eliminated that problem.

Back in Rome, we say goodbye to Fabrizio but we know we will see him tomorrow. As we walk in to the hotel Pantheon we bump into some new friends me made at breakfast and decide to go out to dinner with them. The hotel recommends Alfredo's, the place where Fettuccine Alfredo was invented. Of course we order it and it is good. While the food is nice, it is very expensive and we all suffer she'll shock from the bill, which is 150 Euros including a 17-euro tip! We think that is expensive for the antipasti plate, bread and oil, and the pasta! I liked the restaurant we ate at last night much better, mostly because this prices were much more reasonable.

Transfer to the Port

The next day Fabrizio picks us up with a full busload of some friends who are already on the Pacific Princess, he got up early and picked them up at 8am, and us a 9. He takes us on a whirlwind tour of Roma, we all giggle with delight as dear Fabrizio teaches more and shows us delightful secret areas all around the city. We even hit the designer outlet mall as we head to the port; this mall is exactly like any outlet mall in North America. Since its Sunday, it is very crowded and there are no great deals and no big designers like Missoni! After an hour I'd so it's time to get on the ship. No worries though, Fabrizio is driving to Livorno tonight so he can pick us up and take us all on a tour of the Super Tuscans areas tomorrow. We all adore Fabrizio; he even brings our friend who is sick on the ship some wine to help her get better. What a guy!

Port of Livorno: Super Tuscans

I woke up early and looked out to see a cloudy sky, yet the air felt warm and I knew that this was going to be a great day. We were touring with Fabrizio, which alone meant everybody would have an entertaining, educational, and fun day. After a very quick breakfast I rushed down to our pre arranged meeting place because I was excited to meet the group of CC friends. One couple that signed up never showed and we all had to pay for them anyway but that is the way it goes when you don't collect any deposits. Fabrizio never asks for this and so I didn't either, I prefer the honor system. Oh well.

We were all very excited to spent another day with Fabrizio, and today we were going to visit an area of Tuscany that none of us had visited, called the area of the Super Tuscans. Fabrizio was filled with good-hearted energy and his joy was contagious. We were not going to let the no shows bum us out!

Our first stop was an ancient Etruscan town called Populonia on the Golfo di Baratti, it was beautiful and the clouds had completely cleared up. We visited some Etruscan Necropolis, which were the ancient buried sites of many families, and located on the Mediterranean. After telling us all about the way these Italian ancestors lived Fabrizio brought us to the top of the mountain where we had magnificent views of the sea and surrounding Islands. He brought us to an ancient fortress and we had the whole place to ourselves. One of our friends had a bum knee and Fabrizio was able to drive to the top and drop us off. Then he took it upon himself to make sure she walked safely and comfortably, it was very precious to see him walking her around.

Next, we drove to Campiglia Marittima, another ancient village very close to Grosseto and Populonia where we visited an old fortress, and we had to walk up a steep hill to the top to get a 360 view of the area. Some of us pooped out halfway up but Fabrizio took all of our cameras and ran up that steep hill so he could take pictures for us. Once again he walked our friend up and down with so much care, she felt very safe and well cared for.

We stopped for a bite of lunch and then continued on to our wine tasting where we sat and tasted a white wine and several red wines from this winery, as well as Grappa, which is made from the grape skin. I got drunk from inhaling the Grappa! We got a tour of the place, as well as some tastes of bread and the olive oil made here at the winery, which was delicious. By now we were a very happy group.

Our last stop was the quaint town of 8th century town of Bolgheri, located on a hill and protected by walls. We walked the streets with Fabrizio as he explained the lore of this town, pointing out a thousand year old Olive tree and explaining what the various statues were about. We got to do a little shopping and then it was time to return to the ship.

Our magnificent day with perfect weather was coming to an end, and so was my time with Fabrizio. How sad it was for me to leave him, as he has become family. Reluctantly, I said goodbye to him knowing that I would be back soon because of the joy he gives us where we visit Italy. Fabrizio is definitely a be-back!

Port of Genoa, Italy

We took a tour and visited three charming villages in Liguria; Portofino, Santa Margherita, and Rapallo. We started early; Jim and Thelma were with us on the bus so we hung out a bit. First stop was Rapallo, a cute baroque town with a ton on trump l'iole (trick eye), which is where they paint fake facades on buildings like brinks, window frames, and even windows. We walked the narrow streets and shopped a little, mostly for an ATM! After a brief tour, we stopped at a restaurant and had coffee and croissants and juice. We did not have much free time so we walked the seaside promenade and the narrow streets back to the bus.

Next we got dropped off at a port (Santa Margherita I think) after taking a scenic ocean road, the road we had driven many years ago, which goes through many tunnels on its way to the French Riviera. We boarded the boat, grabbed outside seats, and took in the lovely coastline thanks to the weather gods who were happy again! We ended in Portofino, a lovely town with a reputation of attracting movie stars and other famous people. The villas on the hillside were fantastic, and very pricey!

After a brief tour, we got free time to walk through the town and explore. I explored one church but mostly stores. Because this was low season, many of the shops (mega designer) were closed. I managed to find a few places to spend my Euros, a wonderful Venetian glass shop and a market where I bought local Liqueur. Found bathrooms that were clean too.

Next we boarded our boat and headed to Santa Margherita, another beautiful seaside town. Again we were giver a brief tour, although we're able to opt into a longer tour, which we did. I really liked this town a lot; it was larger and more down to earth, more approachable. We walked the narrow streets but only had a few minutes free and I spied a Gelato place and made a beeline for it. Yummy, I got dark chocolate and pistachio. Before I knew it we were boarding the bus and heading back to the ship. This was a great day with a taste of the Italian Riviera, leaving a hunger for more.
Port of Nice, France

Nice is nice! We met our private guide Sylvie early for a whirlwind tour of the surrounding areas. Although this was supposed to be a "been there, done that" tour we actually visited several places we had been to before including Vence and St. Paul du Vence. This is a very expensive tour, in light of it only being a half-day, and we still enjoyed it a lot.

Port of Barcelona, Spain

We visited La Sagrada Familia yesterday and noticed some work had been completed since our last visit a few years ago. The Pope visited last year and this fueled the construction, especially the ceiling, which was finally covered so that it would not rain anymore inside.

This is a magnificent structure. In 1882 the first foundation stone was laid and conceived by an architect Francisco Pillar and a year later it was taken over by Antoni Gaudi who re-created the original project seeking a more organic composition. Although this church is slated to be finished in 2026, many believe it will never be completed! We enjoyed seeing the variety of artistic styles that are represented in this structure, the most recent work renders more Star Wars/Terminator type figures with the Roman soldiers looking like Storm troopers.

Last year the church was dedicated and declared a Basilica by the Pope and it was finally opened for worship. Construction is more than halfway completed with 4500 square meters of space where 8000 people can worship. I can't imagine this ever getting completed but if it is finished by 2026 I might be able to actually see it! That would be awesome.

When it is finished, there will be a park across the street where today there are many stores and apartments. People who own property here know that someday they will have to move. Meanwhile they seem to be profiting from their location and since they all have free bathrooms at the back of their stores, so do the visitors.

After visiting the church and taking a short city drive, we were dropped off at the shuttle buses where we learned they are gouging us by charging $8 per person each way! Also, if you order drinks on the ship while we are ported here in Barcelona they are charging an extra 8 percent tax. What?

Port of Motril: Granada & The Alhambra

We took a Princess tour to visit The Alhambra and the Church in Granada, there were 8 or more buses full of us and we descended on these places en masse! This is the worst part of taking tours from the ship. At one point I grabbed my husbands arm and started talking to him when I realized it was a stranger, with his wife. Oops.

Granada is 2000 feel above sea level and today there was snow covering the Sierra Nevada's, it was cold. The city is very clean and with fewer people, except where we were, and its beauty surprised me.

We visited the Alhambra first, and it was amazing. Our guide Pablo was brilliant in his knowledge of the Muslim influences and he painted beautiful verbal pictures of the various palaces and gardens we visited. Although the tour touted only 5 steps, there were really hundreds and hundreds and we went slow because we needed to help quite a few folks using canes, good thing there was nobody in wheelchairs because it would have been impossible for them. Most folks were prepared to walk several miles, but after the complete tour of both the Alhambra and the beautiful chapel in Granada, one girl's pedometer indicated that we had all walked over 7 miles! It was exhausting but really fun and totally worth it!

Our tour was quite reasonable. For $79 we got a long full day of touring and a full lunch including bottled water and wine. It was so-so food but we got to sit down and rest our aching feet and break bread with friends, and we all needed to rest. So much so that inspire of giving us plenty of extra time to shop, almost nobody did anything more that sit and rest!

After lunch we went into Granada, with it's cobbled streets and narrow passages, and visited the fantastic church, which is the buried place of the kings and queens of Spain, at least Isabel and Ferdinand. This gothic church has quite an art collection, as well as some important remains such as the arm of St Paul. Apparently there are four different churches in the world who claim to have this same arm, who knows what is really In there! As they added to the church the style evolved into Baroque, then Rococo as it got more and more ornate and gilded. It was a beautiful place and I am glad I saw it, rather than go to the bathroom! We had too few pit stops, but there was so much to see and our guide was trying to cover as much as possible. This place is definitely worth going back to see at a more relaxed pace, definitely a be-back.

We got back to the ship just in time for dinner, no time (or energy) to change out of our jeans so we just went as we were. It seems to be a general trend, at least on this ship. Lots of people well dressed in nice jeans! One outstanding couple (Murray and Ro) wore paisleys and they looked fantastic every night! I had to know where they shopped so I can get my husband some of those incredible shirts. I love paisleys!

Tomorrow the weather is Gibraltar is supposed to be sunny and in the 60's, as I expect we will have prefect weather for the entire cruise. I am getting pooped from daily ports and can't wait for the sea days, of course I plan on continuing to do it all until those sea days!

Port of Gibraltar

This is a late post, the Internet has been down for iPads and iPhones so I was unable to post sooner. They must have downloaded the fix today while I was in Casablanca, so here is my take on our Gibraltar tour.

We had a bloody good time in Gibraltar today. The weather was perfectly clear, warm, and without wind, making this an unusual day for this time of year, we loved it. After a quick breakfast, we met our tour group and off we went to visit and learn about the rock.

We drove completely around the island, visiting Europa point, and using a newly opened tunnel, which enabled us to drive without using side streets. After Visiting the point, and seeing the new Mosque at Europa point, we went to the museum. We were lucky they opened for us since it was Sunday and most stores were closed.

After the interesting museum with its Neanderthal skull, we headed to the cable car and up to the top we went, it was such a clear and nice day this ride yielded many spectacular pictures and a lot of oohs and aahs! At the top we were able to take a lot of scenic pictures of our ship, and each other next to the rock. My husband has a bad fear of heights and he toughed it out and I even got him to pose at the edge of the top, with the rock behind us. My hero!

Next we went back down the cable car to the halfway point where we were able to see the Apes, the older mothers and fathers and many babies, all so cute from a comfortable distance. These are wild animals and they bite, even through they are as cute as can be. I kept my distance and got to photograph another man who got so close the Ape jumped on his back. It took him a while to get that ape off, and I got his email address to send him the pictures I took because they want to use it for a Christmas card picture.

Finally we did the siege tunnel tours and they were cool, and involved a lot of walking. I figure I earned my dessert tonight!

My favorite experience was when I learned the history of the "f" word! In the 1400's the Brits battled the French. The Brits were fine longbows men, using their middle fingers (called the plucking finger) to pull back the string, so when the French would capture them they would cut off their middle fingers. After the war when a Brit would see a French person they would hold up their middle finger while they would shout "I've got my plucking finger" and that turned into "pluck off" and so on until it eventually turned into the current "f" word which is often used while holding up that middle plucking finger! Love this story!

Port of Casablanca and Rabat

We spent the day in Casablanca with Pia and Mike on a shorex that was long, scary, funny, interesting, and a little gross! We mostly laughed, although we did incite a bit of a revolt when they tried to take us on a carpet shopping "learning" experience, barf. We did get to visit a reasonable shop owned by the government (no haggling) where we all found a few trinkets, and where the stuff they sold was better, higher quality, and easy to buy.

Our guide smoked the whole time he was with us, blowing his smoke into our airspace without regard. Who does this? When we visited the mosque, our guide disappeared to make phone calls and probably to smoke a pack. In fact he did this at every stop, by the time we all got off the bus he was long gone except at the carpet store.

The mosque was beautiful with multi levels for women and men. We visited the bathrooms and they were the most immaculate holes in the ground we ever saw! As we were coming and going a vendor followed us trying to sell not designer watches, tee shirts, and postcards. Going in the price was 10 Euros, and we knew the prices would come down when we departed and sure enough the prices dropped as we headed to the bus. We decided we wanted the postcards for a dollar but the guy stood firm on his price of two dollars, we said no. Next several stops the same guy was there and at each place the prices went down until the designer watches were one dollar each but nobody bought any! Finally he started throwing tee shirts into the bus, we ignored him and the security man on our bus got him to leave us alone. He continued to follow us anyway!

Ken and I took many pictures of clusters of cars making six lanes where there was two, and where everybody seemed to have the need to go first and so they did at risk of life and limb. We saw people herding cows, lambs, and sheep on the side of the freeway, riding bikes into ongoing traffic at nighttime, and pedestrians crossing eight lanes of traffic, dodging fast cars, motorcycles, bicyclists, donkeys pulling cards, and even horses. What a mess.

The highlight of the day was when, on the way back to the ship, we got the bus driver to pass the other bus (the ones that ate all our food in Casablanca) while we were in a giant cluster pluck of a traffic jam on what I guess was a freeway! Hahaha

Port of Madeira: Food and Wine in Funchal

We decided to go into town using the shuttle, after being gouged in Barcelona for close to $20 for a round trip shuttle, we thought the $8 RT was ok, of course free would have been better! We headed off with our new friends Caryn and Stan.

The weather was cloudy the whole time but my hot flashes enjoyed a day off here because it was cool. We got to town by 9am and stores were opening so I was happy. Then we started looking at prices and everything was very expensive so we headed for the super markets. We found several, they were both two stories with food courts and all sorts of shops, kind of like a supermarket-mall. I found hard candies for my scratchy throat, after deciding that the pharmacies were charging way too much for the same thing!

This was a very short stop and it was time to go before we had seen very much of the old town. We managed to go to the Blandy Wine lodge for wine tasting and learned that they charged for this! I wanted a bottle for cooking and bought the least expensive one, which was about 9 Euros. I also bought a small sample pack of 4, which was actually the same price as tasting each, figuring I'll have my own wine tasting on the ship.

We pulled out the last of our Euros at the ATM and were surprised to see how much the euro has dropped against the dollar. We were able to pull out 250 more Euros than we had estimated. Now I have money for the next TA in spring or fall, whenever we manage to go.

It was time to go back to the ship and we had hardly scratched the surface of Funchal, necessitating another future visit! I am always willing to turn a negative into a positive. We got back to the ship and the MDR was open, hooray for more food. I had the best pasta of the whole trip, a spicy tomato sauce although they spelled it tomatoe on the menu but there were no toes in it! Was Dan Quail writing our menus?

Port of Beautiful Bermuda

Bermuda was nice; the sail in was so pretty with its blue-green water and so many islands. I was glad I was up to see it. The city of Hamilton is nice, very clean, and mucho expensive. We bumped into Mike and Pia in a store, upstairs in the sale area, and hung out with them for the rest of the day. We all found stuff to buy and both the boys found nice Bermuda polo shirts, making them happy. We hunted for the super market, it was immaculate and super expensive, still they did have Pepsi light so everyone was happy. We walked up and down hills and then went back to the ship to play trivia and plan our wino party. Pia beat me up every hill we walked and she was mending well. Less


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Cabin review: Pacific Princess Oceanview Double with Balcony Deck Six 6072

Good room with a great steward Victor, some wear and tear showing but nothing more than cosmetic stuff and just a little of that. Perfect location on the ship, 1 floor down to MDR, 3 up to Buffet!

Port and Shore Excursions


Port of Barcelona, Spain We visited La Sagrada Familia yesterday and noticed some work had been completed since our last visit a few years ago. The Pope visited last year and this fueled the construction, especially the ceiling, which was finally covered so that it would not rain anymore inside. This is a magnificent structure. In 1882 the first foundation stone was laid and conceived by an architect Francisco Pillar and a year later it was taken over by Antoni Gaudi who re-created the original project seeking a more organic composition. Although this church is slated to be finished in 2026, many believe it will never be completed! We enjoyed seeing the variety of artistic styles that are represented in this structure, the most recent work renders more Star Wars/Terminator type figures with the Roman soldiers looking like Storm troopers. Last year the church was dedicated and declared a Basilica by the Pope and it was finally opened for worship. Construction is more than halfway completed with 4500 square meters of space where 8000 people can worship. I can't imagine this ever getting completed but if it is finished by 2026 I might be able to actually see it! That would be awesome. When it is finished, there will be a park across the street where today there are many stores and apartments. People who own property here know that someday they will have to move. Meanwhile they seem to be profiting from their location and since they all have free bathrooms at the back of their stores, so do the visitors. After visiting the church and taking a short city drive, we were dropped off at the shuttle buses where we learned they are gouging us by charging $8 per person each way! Also, if you order drinks on the ship while we are ported here in Barcelona they are charging an extra 8 percent tax. What?

Port of Livorno: Super Tuscans I woke up early and looked out to see a cloudy sky, yet the air felt warm and I knew that this was going to be a great day. We were touring with Fabrizio, which alone meant everybody would have an entertaining, educational, and fun day. After a very quick breakfast I rushed down to our pre arranged meeting place because I was excited to meet the group of CC friends. One couple that signed up never showed and we all had to pay for them anyway but that is the way it goes when you don't collect any deposits. Fabrizio never asks for this and so I didn't either, I prefer the honor system. Oh well. We were all very excited to spent another day with Fabrizio, and today we were going to visit an area of Tuscany that none of us had visited, called the area of the Super Tuscans. Fabrizio was filled with good-hearted energy and his joy was contagious. We were not going to let the no shows bum us out! Our first stop was an ancient Etruscan town called Populonia on the Golfo di Baratti, it was beautiful and the clouds had completely cleared up. We visited some Etruscan Necropolis, which were the ancient buried sites of many families, and located on the Mediterranean. After telling us all about the way these Italian ancestors lived Fabrizio brought us to the top of the mountain where we had magnificent views of the sea and surrounding Islands. He brought us to an ancient fortress and we had the whole place to ourselves. One of our friends had a bum knee and Fabrizio was able to drive to the top and drop us off. Then he took it upon himself to make sure she walked safely and comfortably, it was very precious to see him walking her around. Next, we drove to Campiglia Marittima, another ancient village very close to Grosseto and Populonia where we visited an old fortress, and we had to walk up a steep hill to the top to get a 360 view of the area. Some of us pooped out halfway up but Fabrizio took all of our cameras and ran up that steep hill so he could take pictures for us. Once again he walked our friend up and down with so much care, she felt very safe and well cared for. We stopped for a bite of lunch and then continued on to our wine tasting where we sat and tasted a white wine and several red wines from this winery, as well as Grappa, which is made from the grape skin. I got drunk from inhaling the Grappa! We got a tour of the place, as well as some tastes of bread and the olive oil made here at the winery, which was delicious. By now we were a very happy group. Our last stop was the quaint town of 8th century town of Bolgheri, located on a hill and protected by walls. We walked the streets with Fabrizio as he explained the lore of this town, pointing out a thousand year old Olive tree and explaining what the various statues were about. We got to do a little shopping and then it was time to return to the ship. Our magnificent day with perfect weather was coming to an end, and so was my time with Fabrizio. How sad it was for me to leave him, as he has become family. Reluctantly, I said goodbye to him knowing that I would be back soon because of the joy he gives us where we visit Italy. Fabrizio is definitely a be-back

(5.5)
Port of Genoa, Italy We took a tour and visited three charming villages in Liguria; Portofino, Santa Margherita, and Rapallo. We started early; Jim and Thelma were with us on the bus so we hung out a bit. First stop was Rapallo, a cute baroque town with a ton on trump l'iole (trick eye), which is where they paint fake facades on buildings like brinks, window frames, and even windows. We walked the narrow streets and shopped a little, mostly for an ATM! After a brief tour, we stopped at a restaurant and had coffee and croissants and juice. We did not have much free time so we walked the seaside promenade and the narrow streets back to the bus. Next we got dropped off at a port (Santa Margherita I think) after taking a scenic ocean road, the road we had driven many years ago, which goes through many tunnels on its way to the French Riviera. We boarded the boat, grabbed outside seats, and took in the lovely coastline thanks to the weather gods who were happy again! We ended in Portofino, a lovely town with a reputation of attracting movie stars and other famous people. The villas on the hillside were fantastic, and very pricey! After a brief tour, we got free time to walk through the town and explore. I explored one church but mostly stores. Because this was low season, many of the shops (mega designer) were closed. I managed to find a few places to spend my Euros, a wonderful Venetian glass shop and a market where I bought local Liqueur. Found bathrooms that were clean too. Next we boarded our boat and headed to Santa Margherita, another beautiful seaside town. Again we were giver a brief tour, although we're able to opt into a longer tour, which we did. I really liked this town a lot; it was larger and more down to earth, more approachable. We walked the narrow streets but only had a few minutes free and I spied a Gelato place and made a beeline for it. Yummy, I got dark chocolate and pistachio. Before I knew it we were boarding the bus and heading back to the ship. This was a great day with a taste of the Italian Riviera, leaving a hunger for more.
Read 127 Genoa Reviews

Port of Gibraltar This is a late post, the Internet has been down for iPads and iPhones so I was unable to post sooner. They must have downloaded the fix today while I was in Casablanca, so here is my take on our Gibraltar tour. We had a bloody good time in Gibraltar today. The weather was perfectly clear, warm, and without wind, making this an unusual day for this time of year, we loved it. After a quick breakfast, we met our tour group and off we went to visit and learn about the rock. We drove completely around the island, visiting Europa point, and using a newly opened tunnel, which enabled us to drive without using side streets. After Visiting the point, and seeing the new Mosque at Europa point, we went to the museum. We were lucky they opened for us since it was Sunday and most stores were closed. After the interesting museum with its Neanderthal skull, we headed to the cable car and up to the top we went, it was such a clear and nice day this ride yielded many spectacular pictures and a lot of oohs and aahs! At the top we were able to take a lot of scenic pictures of our ship, and each other next to the rock. My husband has a bad fear of heights and he toughed it out and I even got him to pose at the edge of the top, with the rock behind us. My hero! Next we went back down the cable car to the halfway point where we were able to see the Apes, the older mothers and fathers and many babies, all so cute from a comfortable distance. These are wild animals and they bite, even through they are as cute as can be. I kept my distance and got to photograph another man who got so close the Ape jumped on his back. It took him a while to get that ape off, and I got his email address to send him the pictures I took because they want to use it for a Christmas card picture. Finally we did the siege tunnel tours and they were cool, and involved a lot of walking. I figure I earned my dessert tonight! My favorite experience was when I learned the history of the "f" word! In the 1400's the Brits battled the French. The Brits were fine longbows men, using their middle fingers (called the plucking finger) to pull back the string, so when the French would capture them they would cut off their middle fingers. After the war when a Brit would see a French person they would hold up their middle finger while they would shout "I've got my plucking finger" and that turned into "pluck off" and so on until it eventually turned into the current "f" word which is often used while holding up that middle plucking finger! Love this story!

Port of Madeira: Food and Wine in Funchal We decided to go into town using the shuttle, after being gouged in Barcelona for close to $20 for a round trip shuttle, we thought the $8 RT was ok, of course free would have been better! We headed off with our new friends Caryn and Stan. The weather was cloudy the whole time but my hot flashes enjoyed a day off here because it was cool. We got to town by 9am and stores were opening so I was happy. Then we started looking at prices and everything was very expensive so we headed for the super markets. We found several, they were both two stories with food courts and all sorts of shops, kind of like a supermarket-mall. I found hard candies for my scratchy throat, after deciding that the pharmacies were charging way too much for the same thing! This was a very short stop and it was time to go before we had seen very much of the old town. We managed to go to the Blandy Wine lodge for wine tasting and learned that they charged for this! I wanted a bottle for cooking and bought the least expensive one, which was about 9 Euros. I also bought a small sample pack of 4, which was actually the same price as tasting each, figuring I'll have my own wine tasting on the ship. We pulled out the last of our Euros at the ATM and were surprised to see how much the euro has dropped against the dollar. We were able to pull out 250 more Euros than we had estimated. Now I have money for the next TA in spring or fall, whenever we manage to go. It was time to go back to the ship and we had hardly scratched the surface of Funchal, necessitating another future visit! I am always willing to turn a negative into a positive. We got back to the ship and the MDR was open, hooray for more food. I had the best pasta of the whole trip, a spicy tomato sauce although they spelled it tomatoe on the menu but there were no toes in it! Was Dan Quail writing our menus?

Roma, Roma, Roma This is an account of our pre-cruise visit in Roma, we had 3 days there before we got on the ship and I had plans to conquer the city! After a grueling 20 hours of cars, trams, and airplanes we finally made it to Roma, it was beautiful to behold even from the air. We were off the plane and got our checked luggage very quick and as we exited the baggage area we see Fabrizio (allarounditaly.net) running to us with the most welcoming smile and lots of hugs. He would not allow us to schlep our luggage and insisted on carrying our stuff to his van, all the while engaging us in conversation and catch-up. We zipped out of the airport and before we could say Mamma Mia we were in the Eternal City. Fabrizio insisted on showing us some sights, just quick drive bys, and then we went to our hotel, Hotel Pantheon smack in the middle of the ancient city center. Once again, Fabrizio would not allow us to touch our luggage and he dragged all our pieces to the lobby, we checked in and made a quick pit stop in the room, and then we headed back out to go to dinner with Fabrizio. We went to a delightful restaurant close to the Pantheon called "I'angolette Romano" where we had an amazing and delicious dinner including antipasti, pasta, lemon Veal, wine, and a trio of desserts which completely hit the spot. The prices were very reasonable and the food was excellent. After dinner we went back to the hotel and parted from Fabrizio knowing we would see him again several times on this visit and cruise. The hotel was nice (Hotel Pantheon), located right at the Pantheon; we had a nice room with a view of the lively Pantheon area streets, which was just what we wanted. The hotel kept asking us if we wanted our welcome drink and we politely asked if we could have it the next day, which was no problem. We went to sleep and got a good nights rest, waking up and feeling ready to tackle the city on foot. We walked from our hotel to the king of Baroque churches called St. Ignacio, the Romans call this the 3D church because the artist Pozzo painted a fake dome which looks very much like a dome if you are standing in the proper place to see it. Its very cool, moving through the church you see it become distorted and even then it is something to behold. This church is painted very much like the Sistine Chapel with biblical scenes rising up the walls and onto the roof of the church. Don't forget to turn on the lights of the dome, they really illuminate it well and it only costs one euro. Beware of beggars, and do not pay them if they tell you there is charges to see the church, all churches in Rome are free. Next we head to the Ghetto area to visit the ancient Synagogue and Jewish museum, which is right on the Tiber close to Ponte Fabrizio. On the way we find the cat rescue place called Torre Argentina, which is filled with ruins and cats! A must see for cat lovers. The Synagogue and Museum are very interesting, we learn that Rome's Jews are some of the oldest Romans around; they came here long before the birth of Christ! We also learn the heartbreaking history of their lives in the prison like Ghetto, which came after thousands of years of living as normal Romans. It was all very sad and I quickly became saturated and it was time to go cheer up. We walked the bridge and saw the walls that fortify and protect Rome from the flooding Tiber River. Then we walked through the Ghetto and noted a lively area filled with all kinds of people, shops selling kosher foods and other items. There are many ruins close to this area where you can walk amongst the pillars and ancient remains of a theater. From here it was easy to walk up Capitol Hill where the magnificent Campidoglio designed by Michelangelo. We had to walk around and see the great views of the Forum and Palatine hill before we decided to visit the Capitoline Museum. The museum was incredible, filled with some incredible pieces of sculptures, Bronzes, paintings, pottery and figurines, and murals. It took us hours to see all of it because we took our time and savored the beauty of the art. As we are walking through the upper floors I notice the sun is going dawn and I cannot believe it. Sunset was beautiful from the top of The hill and we see it set over St. Peters, as we decide to head back to the hotel for our welcome drink. The walk back to the hotel is quick, and we see many Romans out for their nightly walk, and people are gathering in squares all over the city. We make a quick pit stop at our hotel, and they remind us of our welcome drink, which really makes us feel good! We love our hotel, Hotel Pantheon, which is less than a minutes walk to the Pantheon, and is a small boutique like hotel with only 13 rooms, very quaint and clean. Our rate of 140 Euros a night (prepaid) is great for the spectacular location and it includes a full breakfast served from 7am-10am. It's definitely a be-back kind of place. The hotel recommends a wonderful restaurant called " The Popes Table" right around the corner and it is filled with locals and no tourists besides us. The food is so good and very reasonable and we will definitely eat here again before we leave Rome. The next day our driver/guide/friend, Fabrizio picked us up to take us to Calcata, Lake Bracchiano, and a wonderful family run restaurant in Ceri called "Trattoria La Rocca" where we sit and enjoy a leisurely meal that is incredibly good, the Tiramisu is the best I have ever tasted in my life. Mamma Mia this is good food! The town of Calcata is a gem of a secret medieval town filled with artists and creative types and has quite an interesting past, something to do with an embarrassing relic that disappeared in the late 1970's. We hit the pharmacy because I am getting my travel bug, this time it feels like a bad sinus infection with a productive cough! I have antibiotics with me and I will start them when I get back to the hotel, but for now Fabrizio took me to a pharmacy and translated my needs to the Pharmacist, this made things a lot easier for me. I was worried that I would have to find a doctor and Fabrizio eliminated that problem. Back in Rome, we say goodbye to Fabrizio but we know we will see him tomorrow. As we walk in to the hotel Pantheon we bump into some new friends me made at breakfast and decide to go out to dinner with them. The hotel recommends Alfredo's, the place where Fettuccine Alfredo was invented. Of course we order it and it is good. While the food is nice, it is very expensive and we all suffer she'll shock from the bill, which is 150 Euros including a 17-euro tip! We think that is expensive for the antipasti plate, bread and oil, and the pasta! I liked the restaurant we ate at last night much better, mostly because this prices were much more reasonable. Transfer to the Port The next day Fabrizio picks us up with a full busload of some friends who are already on the Pacific Princess, he got up early and picked them up at 8am, and us a 9. He takes us on a whirlwind tour of Roma, we all giggle with delight as dear Fabrizio teaches more and shows us delightful secret areas all around the city. We even hit the designer outlet mall as we head to the port; this mall is exactly like any outlet mall in North America. Since its Sunday, it is very crowded and there are no great deals and no big designers like Missoni! After an hour I'd so it's time to get on the ship. No worries though, Fabrizio is driving to Livorno tonight so he can pick us up and take us all on a tour of the Super Tuscans areas tomorrow. We all adore Fabrizio; he even brings our friend who is sick on the ship some wine to help her get better. What a guy!

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