This was our first cruise and we absolutely LOVED it! I am in my late 40's and my husband is in his early 50's. We never thought we would like this type of vacation. The whole idea of being on a boat with hundreds if not thousands of people definitely did not appeal to us. However, my mother-in-law funded this trip for all of her children and their spouses as a present to herself for her 75th birthday. We tend to like high-end, independent travel and are fairly picky about things like hotel rooms, food, and privacy, so we had low expectations. We were pleasantly surprised!
This cruise sailed from Barcelona and went to Naples, Rome, Florence, Nice, Monaco, and Aix-en-Provence. We flew to Barcelona a day early, spent the night in a hotel, and hired an excellent English-speaking taxi service to take us to the port the next day. Never having cruised before, we were shocked when we saw the ship. It is huge! There were 11 stories and it was like being on a floating hotel. Our experience follows:
A few months before the trip: We registered online to obtain our SetSail Passes. We also signed up for all of our excursions. I called Royal Caribbean a few times with several questions. I asked them what time to arrive at the port and they said definitely no earlier than 2PM. This was not what I had read on the cruise review site so I planned to arrive early anyway.