It was very exciting to visit all the exciting Europe for the first time, and very exhausting as well. My cousin and I had to fly in the day of because of a wedding... big mistake. Despite all the warnings from the experts on the boards, we kept our flight plans just to accommodate the wedding.. never again! Delta airlines @ JFK airport in NYC didn't process our tickets properly, so when we arrived in Rome we barely made the second plane to Barcelona. No one seemed to know where they were going in Rome airport, the blind leading the blind! but when the woman @ the ticket counter finally gave me the time of day, she gave us the proper boarding passes... However our luggage did not make it to Barcelona.. we cruised our dream vacation w/ out our luggage,, only had outfits in our carry-ons! It was quite amusing to see ourselves dressed in the sparkly outfits from the gift shop! we had no other choice. luckily I had packed quite a bit in my carry on.
Words of Wisdom I wish I took from the experts on the boards!!!: Never fly in the day of your cruise to Europe!! It leaves you quite exhausted and if you make your cruise,, it'll be by the skin of your you know what! next time I'll skip the wedding and fly in 2 or 3 days ahead,, it's worth the money!
The ship was great.. it was my second cruise, first inside cabin. It was bearable and saved me money to spend in ports. The food was just ok, we did eat @ 'Cucina De Capitano' for a small $10 fee,,, the food was good, and the waiters were great fun singing Italian songs for us.. it was a nice experience. The shows were lacking again,, the comedians and karaoke were the best entertainment second and third to John Heald.. He is quite a nice fellow, and excellent cruise director with a great sense of off the wall humor.. I ran into him at the Red Frog Pub very late one evening, and even though he was visibly exhausted, he and his entourage still welcomed me with open arms for a nice chat.
The ship was humongous and it was easy to lose track of front or back! the pools and hottubs were hopping.. kids seemed to enjoy the slides and other outdoor activities. i enjoyed the hammocks in the adult only "serenity" area.. even though people "saved" the hammocks by placing their belongs on them, I moved them aside until they would return.. they never did. This was a truly relaxing area, you can even order lunch from a limited menu from up there.
Which brings me to the staff,, nothing short of fantastic!! My room steward and his assistant were wonderful,, always kind and attentive. the wait staff throughout the entire ship, indoors & out were also so much fun and great to be around! They were so enjoyable to be around!
Now about the ports, it you're going to a bustling place like Rome.. please do yourself a favor.. book a tour with pros! We hired Albertina Cottuno from Michelangelo tours. I highly recommend her to pick you up in Civitivecchia .She was Fabulous!! you can contact her through her email: firstname.lastname@example.org. her rates were very affordable and reasonable, she was very professional and gave us the tour of a lifetime in Rome...believe me, with the small amount of time you have, use it wisely.. hire a driver! you won't be sorry. Ask her to take you to her 'secret place',, it's truly amazing!! For Livorno we hired "Travel Tuscany for Cruise" You can contact them @ email@example.com. She was also very kind and patient, and gave us a fabulous tour of Florence & Pisa. I highly recommend her as well, she also had great affordable rates.
You will be quite exhausted on this cruise, so rest when you can! it was quite a memorable time & i'm very grateful to cruise critic for helping us 'meet' people ahead of time. i also met other friends that I keep in contact with. Live life... live your dream... go to Europe!