This time tomorrow we will be on board awaiting muster drill! Will take a sleep aid pill as soon as we board to try to get a head start on some decent plane naps!
Arrived about 9 a.m. Transfer to ship was smooth, good ground crew with Celebrity to shuttle from FCO to Civitavecchia.
Wow. This is really the first chance I have taken to update. Three reasons we booked this cruise: food TV, TA to ports we have not visited, brand new ship! Saturday embarkation was easy. We arrived in Rome early and arrived at the port before noon. Check-in was a breeze. Got a bite to eat onboard and discovered a beautiful ship. It is a bit more modern in design; I miss the classic decoration of Millie a little. Cabins were ready about 2 p.m. Standard cabins are beautiful. Showers are a little bigger than standard were on RCI. They also seem well insulated from hearing the neighbors. We like our location on deck 6 - away from the noise of public areas - if there is any. First night onboard was our favorite menu, lamb tangine style. It was great.
We plan to bypass the dining room for the most part, as we were assigned late seating with the food network group. We don't like to eat late and don't really like to eat big dinners, so we plan to just get a bite upstairs most nights. Checked in to food TV group after boarding and got goodies/schedule. Mostly will have sea day activities. They have a hospitality lounge with different small bites open daily.
On Sunday the 23rd we were in port at Sardinia. We joined some other cruise critic members for a private tour and enjoyed it very much. We visited the ruins at Nora - certainly nothing like Ephesus or even Pompeii, but it was a beautiful site by the sea. There was a beautiful simple tiny rock church at the edge of the ruin site. Our second stop was at Pula just to putter around on our own for a short while. My husband and I went in a church - mass was in session. Hubby had a beer, I did some people-watching We left there and got an overview of Cagliari (CAL-ya-ree) including a stop at the archeological museum so that we could see the things our guide Michela had been talking about (nuraghe, bronzetti, etc). It was a good day trip.
Sunday night was our first food TV function, a bon voyage party - a "meet and greet" with the food TV people onboard for this cruise. We also had our first Elite happy hour this night. I like that C still provides a nice array of cocktails and appetizers rather than just wine or beer. We opted to buy the premium alcohol packages, mostly just for convenience. We much prefer "all inclusive" and sort of get that this way. Still have to pull out sea pass every time, but at least we don't have to sign tickets right and left. It sometimes feels they are "nickel and diming" you to death with all the "extra fees" for venues or food and drink items. I'm sure we don't "get our money's worth" every day on the package, but it is worth it to us.
Monday was Palma (pal ma, not palm a) de Mallorca. We did another private tour with the same cc members. It was a lovely day. Small city overview of Palma, then went to Valdemossa, took the narrow gauge rain from Bunyola to Soller. On the plain were thousands of almond trees, in the hills citrus trees everywhere. We enjoyed all the stops, very picturesque.
Today (Tuesday) was our first sea day, very welcome after two days of tours. We had our first Anne Burrell demo today; she signed copies of her new cookbook which had been distributed to all of us. We had our first "class" also today - pasta making. It was taught by Miriam Barron (sous chef of B Flay on "Throwdown") and she did a very good job. All the food TV people have been very friendly and pleasant to interact with.
We had our captain's club "meet the officers" event tonight and it was another enjoyable happy hour. We had our small meal at the buffet and enjoyed listening to Peter James on the piano. The string trio and a cappella group are also very good.
Thursday at sea
Yesterday was our last port day at Lisbon. It was very windy and rainy. We went with another cc group on a private tour with Bruno, founder of "We hate tourism" tours. It was a blast; he made a great day out of a rainy dreary one. Lots of places were not open - he explained that rainy days are rare and many choose to just not work when it rains! We first went to Sintra, quaint little town not far from Lisbon. When you visit a place in Portugal you have to sample the local specialty to say you have really "been there". In Sintra it was a pastry with almond filling. Before leaving town we stopped at a covered fountain for a little picnic provided by Bruno. We had wine, olives, cheese and an excellent bread with chorizo baked inside, still warm it was so fresh! Very enjoyable. We next stopped at Cascais (cash kysh). The specialty here was Santini gelato. It was a beautiful little resort town with lots of small "palaces" previously built by rich folks. Then it was back to Lisbon to see the highlights. Most of the city was destroyed by earthquake about 1750 so it is relatively "new". The thing to eat from here is the pastry from Belem, first baked by monks at the Jeronimos monastery. We were tired, so Bruno ran in and got them for us. The rain continued all day, and it was practically gale force winds at the dock, but our experience with Bruno made it a fantastic day! We sailed while at Elite happy hour, actually saw the sun finally for about 5 minutes.
Last night and this morning was really "rocking and rolling". The captain has announced we are taking a southerly detour to avoid weather in the north Atlantic. It has calmed a little, but the swells are pretty big, probably will not be a really smooth crossing. The food TV group has given little goodies all along the way; cookies every night, Anne's new book, aprons, bag, pillow, visors, etc. Today we had paella and truffles class in the galley. It was fun, paella was good, though I have made truffles before. Had our normal elite happy hour tonight, talked to interesting people. Had a quick and really good supper at the buffet (had a beef kabob), listened to the string trio (they are really good), then off to bed.
Slept late today, that felt great. We had Elite event wine tasting this morning at 11 - it was good for a freebie, but did not particularly like the wines. At 11:30 went to see the chef "cook off" in the theatre - it was fun. Also had food TV wine tasting of their new Entwine wines from Wente vineyards. All 4 were very good wines and they were presented with complimentary foods, very good "class" session. We then listened to string trio awhile, and took a nap! Soon it was 5 p.m. and time for Elite happy hour. Following that we had Food TV evening party, food tasting of the Mediterranean. Also had comp drinks. It was a good party, but too crowded to really enjoy. We did get another photo with Anne. Now we are tired and ready for bed!
Nice easy sea day! This morning had our second Anne Burrell demo. We sat on the front row today. It was fun. This afternoon we had captain's club celebration. They throw a nice party. It was food and drink for almost 700 people. Other than that we have just hung out, read, enjoyed entertainment, talked to people. Love sea days.
This morning we had tapas class. It was fun, but I can't see going to the trouble of making crust. I'll just use pre-made if I make them! This afternoon we had elite "elegant tea". Another loyalty program benefit - it was very nice. Right after that was the preview showing of the new iron chef that airs at home tonight. Immediately following that we went up for elite happy hour. The wind and rain have picked up. We are rocking again tonight. Had a bite of supper upstairs then watched the end of the Steelers game in Michael's club. They brought food in there that looked a lot better than what we got upstairs, but we weren't hungry. Tomorrow is the special brunch they do. - looking forward to that!
Fun but rocky day at sea. We are far away from the storm to the northeast but having big seas anyway! This morning we had our last food TV class, another wine/food pairings. This one was wines from Italy, Spain and Portugal. After that we met friends for the brunch. We had cruised with these folks on Millie earlier this year. The brunch Celebrity does is really special. All kinds of beautiful food and plenty of it. Early this afternoon was the costume "parade" in the grand foyer. It was fun too - a good many people brought costumes. Now we are resting and getting a bag packed - have to rest up for 5 p.m. elite happy hour! It was another good one, followed by a second one at the food TV Halloween party. "Julia Child and Frugal Gourmet" were big winners, as were the "two fat ladies". "Peas and carrots" came in third. Once again we skipped the dining room, too full and did not want to dress for formal night. We had received an invitation for captain's table with the hotel director, but it conflicted with the food TV party and we had not met Mr. O'Connor - so we had to pass. After a small bite upstairs we headed off to bed.
Tuesday Nov 1
Last food TV event was today - a "chef's cook-off". This was a very enjoyable cruise on the whole, despite some rocky seas. The food TV activities gave us some different things to do. I would do a theme cruise again just for the variety, though we also enjoy regular ship's activities.
Wednesday Nov 2
Debarkation was very slow; this was the first time in US port for this new ship. A bit unorganized, kept getting conflicting reports of who could get off. It was very congested even though we did not try to rush off the ship. Once we were off it was quick and easy, the ground crew did a good job getting us shuttled off to the airport. Be prepared for a slow disembarkation when on a new ship! We will also stick to southerly route from now on for less chance of big seas. Hope to travel again with many of these friends on another cruise!