Embarkation at Barcelona was smooth and we were on the boat at lunchtime. See later for the disembarkation fiasco!
Our first impression was that we were in a great aunt's cluttered living room! The decor is just so busy that it hurts your eyes until you learn to ignore it. I suspect someone was supposed to order 50 grey plastic urns (they look like the European football cup) and accidentally ordered 5000, so they had to stick them to the walls, make banisters out of them, bar stools (with no where to rest your feet) etc. Add to this the dark wood with gold inlay and the many red lights, its all a bit OTT.
The main dining room (served) was not open so we had to make teh first of only 2 visits to the 'canteen'. I would not necessarily criticise Carnival too much for this, as the same on NCL and P&O have both been to the same low standard. The food was OK, but by the time you have queued, found a table, collected a drink etc. it's gone cold and eating off plastic plates is not my idea of Carnival's 'Fun'.
Walked up the hill (not too far) to the castle, interesting place to visit and wander through some of the rooms, wandered the small streets back down to the port, walked the F1 circuit (in process of being dismantled), hung around with the beautiful people outside the Casino for a while. Our second time in Monaco and an enjoyable day.
Expensive Carnival shuttle €14pp to the Vieux Port area. Hilariously got ourselves mixed up with a French organised group and accidentally got a free ride on the small road train to the Basillica! Caught an ordinary bus back to Vieux Port, wandered the streets then stopped for a Pastis (very French, and makes you wonder why we dont drink it at home!) before getting the shuttle back to the boat.
Visited Lucca as we have been to Pisa and Florence before. Sounds complicated, but heres the drill:- - Port shuttle to Livorno Town - Buy bus tickets at newsagent stand and take bus No 1 from the square to the railway station (just over €1 each. - Buy ticket from the machine (English is an option): Livorno to Pisa (€5'ish each) - Change at Pisa, buy another train ticket from the machine to Lucca (€6'ish each). Trains are all quite frequent.Short easy walk from the train station at Lucca into the walled town. Very nice to walk the walls and the central area. Stopped for a coffee and to people watch, plus the street performers. Relaxing lunch at a restaurant and repeat the return journey.Dont forget to validate your bus and train tickets, in the machine when you get on the bus and in the machine before you enter the train.
Disappointed, but maybe as we walked to the church on the hill above the port and then likely took a wrong road and ended up in the suburbs! When we found our way back to the port area and the large square, much nicer place. Coffee and people watched, spent some money in the shops. On the sail away it looked like there was a lot of Lisbon we did not see, so maybe the hop-on-off would have been a better choice.