Unedited from iPhone notes: Mediterranean cruise 2014
6/19 arrived by train from Firenze at 1235. No instructions on getting to the ship unless you are with a group. Went to the left out of the train station over the bridge. Not that way. Back over the bridge. Find another bridge to the west of the train station cross it and there is this tiny sign for People mover pointing right but people mover is straight ahead thru construction zone. Ticket = 1,30 euro. Could not get Visa to work. Took 30 min just to get this far. People mover trip can't be more than 500 yds long. Very short. After exiting it is still another 15 minute walk to the terminal if you have luggage. If not 12 minutes. Useless people mover. Then the usual chaos at registration. Your $25 shuttle into Venice is automatic. No one asked if we are going into town. Once we got the room keys no instruction on what to do next. Found security scan. Then another walk down to dock level where you are shuffled into front or rear of ship depending on room assignment. Found room and patter. Nice. Went to the Horizon for a quick bite. Very open and improved layout. Food very good. Servers trying to sell you various packages. I bought 12 day all inclusive drink package for $626 and 2 coffee cards for around $25 each. Offering a wine tasting package too at Sabatinis for $40. Saw all the nice shops and stops in our initial inspection of the ship. Luggage made it. Steven is our cabin Steward. Waiting to shuttle into St Marcos Square. Le soleal ship??? Went into Venice via shuttle, 20 minute ride. So many people. Very loud on the outside perimeter with the motor boats so we tucked away into some of the side streets where it was a lot quieter. Had a seafood pasta dinner and. A bottle Cab. Returned to the ship by 8. Watched half of World Cup game and drank. Not interesting but people were. Quite mix of nationalities on the ship. Walked around most of the second half and talked to bartenders. Never saw the final score.
6/20 up early this morning for a Cappuccino and will head out for a walk shortly. Took the people Mover into town simple and walked around the different cities without any crowds! About 9 the crowds start moving in and I head away from the "coastal" streets to avoid people. By 9:30 am it's time head back on the Princess shuttle from San Marcos area. Get back for a 10:30 breakfast. Setting sail at 1300. So sun time in the afternoon. Lounges were a little tough to get but crew was setting up more. Movie under the stars was Pavorotti, not right for the setting. That even nice dinner and the welcome show in the main theater. Comedian Carlos Oscar doing the show. Some Indonesian band in the piazza had crowd dancing and enjoying themselves.
6/21 Tied up in Dubrovnik Croatia around 9 AM. Buses are available to shuttle people into town, $15/ per. 30 minute ride into town and it is packed! Three cruise ships in town. Clean city but just too many people. Did manage to get inside the walled city on the second attempt. Lot of eateries and shops inside. Rode the gondola to the top overlooking the city, $18 ea. beautiful view of the walled city
6/22/ 6th floor restroom out of order by concerto dining room, second night. Did not expect that today. Just very relaxing day at sea as we head to Athens. Slot tournament. Formal night and pictures tonight. Dinner service was very slow tonight. I believe we spent well over 2.5 hours that night in the Concerto dining room. This caused us to have to wait until 2300 to hear comedian Carlos Oscar in the Vista Lounge. Good show.
6/23 Piraeus/Athens, up early to eat and get off the ship. We booked a independent tour thru Share A Shore Excursions. We were grouped with another family of six. Tour called best of Athens. Our host had a nice air conditioned mini bus. We got to the acropolis earlier than most so limited crowds. As we left hoards of people arrived! And that was true the rest if the day. Traffic is horribly jammed after 1100. We did five stops and learn a lot about the people as well as the history of Greece. One stop allowed enough time for a nice lunch. Temps close to 90-95 degrees. Set sail at 1830. A very busy harbor. Tried the Ocean Seafood sushi and was very good. No one has been using this venue. It cost a small fee but not bad, and plenty. There were some pricey items on the menu. Had a sundae later at the gelato bar. There were some male acrobats performing in the piazza. Hot Latin night going on in the pool deck. Lots of people and crew enjoying music and dancing. Not into macarina and the slide/line dancing. Too funny.
6/24 arrived in Kusadasi. Will catch a cab for a side trip to Ephesus. Gas is 4.45/ liter. Cost 70 to take a cab to Ephesus. The driver drops you off at one end and you walk down to ruins to meet him in 1:15 minutes or so. The place is amazing but there is so much work to be done. Austria govt is funding it. Truly a site to behold. Buds loads of people keep arriving and it gets warmer. We left by 1130 and back in Kusadasi by noon. The taxi driver stops on the way back at a leather outlet store where Janet buys a $450 jacket. Very nice Baggio Rolini. Back in town by noon and the street vendor are aggressive trying to get you into their shops. Very impressed with all the fruit trees in the vicinity. Had a nice lunch and wi-fi connection. Back to the ship and hit the bar and adults only pool. Lots of reading too. Scheduled to pull out of port at 4:30. Beautiful sunset. Did Horizon Court for dinner just to be simple. DO NOT ever serve tri tip roast that has been slow cooked. Ever! Just wrong. Garlic soup nothing more than a gravy. Other than that, some good seafood and desserts. Headed to Mykonos Island, Greece. $10 shuttle ticket to get to Mykonos in the morning.
6/25 docked in Mykonas. Rode the shuttle into town about a 5 minute ride. Very narrow rode so suggested you catch the bus. Bus terminal is the trans hub for the island, so with a second ship in port NCL, crowded. Narrow streets is an understatement. You share the road with little cars and pickups and many times this force you to take refuge in one of the many tourist shops. Every house and business is white. Cobblestone roads, gentle inclined and stray cats everywhere. Not a lot to see. We did not go to the beach. Two things. Plan on no potty stops and consider yourself lucky to find a WC. Secondly if you have any difficulty walking, this entire trip IS NOT for you. Large folks, those with canes, walkers or other mobility devices should skip any Med trip. ADA does not figure in Europe. Very hard to get around. Back on the ship and some sun time. Dinner tonight was prime rib and I must admit I have never seen it sliced that thin, maybe 1/4" thick. Flavor was missing but the gravy tried to add something. Yes it was gravy not au jus. The filet my wife had looked good. That evening saw the show, Beatles Maniacs. Very good and they get the crowd into it.
6/26 sea day. Room service this morning and then went down for morning walk. Cloudy day today with a breeze. Pub lunch today was chicken curry. Good but the British beer was horrible. Stopped by the slot tournament to drop a quick $20. No luck. Slot tournaments do not seem as exciting as other cruises where you had lines waiting to use the slots, people cheering etc. just to automated and uneventful and no skill at all. Nice formal dinner with lobster plus an extra tail. Went to the Marriage Match a takeoff of the Newlywed Game in the TV studio on boat, very funny. Took in the song and dance show in the Princess theater and very enjoyable. Some new techno effects and well-polished routines. Wife 2nd bout with diarrhea.
6/27 Wife still sick and I have touch of sore throat. We were late getting into the dock. Traffic jam as we are the 5th aqcruise ship this morning. Expected to be hot today 31C. We are on a tour with Princess group. Pompeii, Sorrento & Capri. We are doing the tour in reverse, starting with a boat trip to Capri, 50 minutes. About 350-400 people the boat. Island is a destination for those with money for shopping, designer brands etc. Didn’t see many cruisers with bags of clothing, perfume or jewelry. Population swells by 5000 people each day, April thru October. Then off to Sorrento and lunch was provided. Went to Pompeii and simply a fantastic spot. Got back after a 10 hour tour. Beat and just enough time to get back on the ship. whew. Missed to chance to eat a Napoli pizza. Ships pizza will have to do.
6/28 up to catch a private tour (8 people) to Rome. 70km drive to Rome. We had booked a private tour through shore excursion dot com. Eight of us. A little pricey but a good reputation and worthy. Marcos John the beekeeper was our tour guide. First stop the Coliseum of Rome. Amazing and you can take as much time as us needed. There was a little confusion on when and where to meet our guide but in the end it worked out. Then off to see other ruins and a quick lunch. After lunch it was the Vatican Museum tour. We had front of the line privileges if that meant anything, and we joined the hoards of people!!!!! Never have I unliked a tour more than this one. Was not a tour, it was a cattle drive. Once in a line you were herded in a continuous line from the museum to the Sistine Chapel to the Bacilica chapel. Absolutely no time to enjoy the once in a lifetime trip. Lots of pictures to remember but that is about it. 15,000 people too many for me. I am glad I did it but I would never go back or recommend the 130 euros I spent. The tour guide had a little difficulty translating English questions but was informative otherwise. It was a 9 hour trip with 2 hours plus during to and from. There has got to be a better time of the year to visit Rome. Wife got a head cold that morning so I hope she enjoyed the trip. Got back and tried free Alfredo restaurant and was very good. They will not let you take leftovers to the room, no boxes to go. Had a cigar at Churchills. Tuscany in the morning.
6/29 Livorno. Caught the shuttle to the train station and then the train to Pisa. Hopefully this won't be an all day excursion. A great day in Pisa. Train then a bus within a block of the tower. Got to climb tower for 18€. Cathedral was holding mass. Lots of shops in the area and we had lunch and wifi. We managed to get back to the train station again using public bus. So fun. In Livorno getting back to the ship is a challenge. We jumped on bus # 1 and then you have to chance to a ship's shuttle. Opps, 8 of us got on a Celebrity shuttle. And they won't let you walk around the port for safety and security reasons. A taxi driver voluntarily took us to the ship for free but we all tipped him very well. Did dinner solo in the Horizon. Very good jumbo prawn. Biggest I have ever seen! And the prime rib was tasty but still cut thin. Only down fall was the gravy for the mashed potatoes was very sweet. Opps sugar and not salt??? Rained and lightening as we pulled out of port. Did some wine drinking and some good selections. Why the irregular glass? Red wine needs to be served in a glass of a round bottom. I saw three different styles of stem ware in which red wine was served. The Latin band was good. Show in the Princess Theater was Bravo and OK if you like that type of show and singing. Stage productions have come a long way for Princess. The piano guy Tom Franek, in Crooners is really getting old! Four nights of the same stuff. Fun once. We are headed to Toulon, France for a Monday morning docking. Bartender was telling me he thought the teenage kids were smoking on the top as he was up there a found lite cigarette on the wooden hand rail. When we reach Barcelona in Tuesday we have been warned if an impending taxi strike that personally I don't think will affect us.
6/30 Toulon, France. Very rough ride last night as high winds and swells made for a restless night. The door leaked wind all night so the whistle of the wind was bothersome. I even felt a breeze coming out of the bathroom door jam! Princess goy us again. If you want to leave the dock you must shuttle and you must pay $20 each. Where the ship is docked, not Toulon, there is nothing there. So went into town on the shuttle boat. Town was just waking up, the gondola sky train was not working today as it's too windy. Walked a little. Junky neighborhoods u3-4 blocks around the port. Nice areas beyond. Found a pharmacy to get the wife some decongestant pills. Really not much shopping or sites. Had lunch and an unreliable wifi connection. I have come to the conclusion that the days or a good free internet connection at each port are gone. It's a good marketing idea to get you into a little cafe, but so hit or miss. The terminals have had sporadic wi-fi service too. And don't ever buy a slow internet package on the ship. Waiting for technology to catch up. Caught the shuttle back at 1300. Packing this afternoon. Sail away at 1700 was very windy to get out of the harbor. Up on deck 17 it was batten down the hatches. Jack, Banny and Joanna great hosts at the Retreat. Anthony in the coffee bar in Horizon was always there in the Horizon Dessert area. And thanks Jojo at Crooners. Dinner in the Horizon was good and good use of the leftovers. But for crying out loud, the gravy for the mashed potatoes is NOT suppose to be sweet. Two night in a row. The variety show wasn't very good. The ventriloquist acts all seem the same. Had fun at Majority Rules game with Deputy Dan. He's a crack up and very good for Princess. Smooth sailing three hours out of Toulon.
7/1 Arrived around 6:30 into the port of Barcelona. Bags were put out last night so this will be easy. Scheduled to disembark at 8:30. Went to the Princess theater and before we could get to the door, we were release to the gangway. Luggage retrieval was easy. Only problem, everyone loitering in outside in front of the doors making for a real cluster out front for people doing post tour trips and trying to get to the airport. We opted for two days in Barcelona with an excellent tour arranged through Barcelona Day Tours.
Ample size, Wind sounds howl thru the doors sometime