My husband and I are back from our 10 day eastern Med cruise on the Westerdam. We are in our mid-40s and this was our 8th cruise. Our early cruise experiences were with HAL and this was the first time back in 5 years after trying out other lines (Princess, RCCL and German based Aida). We flew from Germany to the small Ciampino Airport which caters to european charters and discount airlines. Transfer per Taxi to our hotel was 55€. They charge 30€ up to the Aurillian Wall and the taxi meter goes on for the rest of the trip. The driving in Rome is nerve racking, they don't stay in lanes! It is just one big high-speed merge along the roads. I was glad to arrive safely!
Pre-Cruise We stayed in Rome 3 days pre-cruise in the Sofitel Hotel, a bit expensive (250€-/night) but in a good location near the Via Veneto with a wonderful quiet room. We did the hop-on hop-off bus to orient ourselves on the first day. We then used the Metro with a day pass (4€/person) for the rest of our sightseeing. We also used a taxi at the end of a long day touring. We found it easiest to hail taxis close to a bus stop. After the bus pulls out the taxi can pull in easily. We didn't see taxi stands any place other than the train station Termini. I wanted to visit at least one museum so DH and I walked up to the Bourghese Gallery. I was at their web-site pre-cruise to verify opening times. We got there later in the day hoping to avoid crowds and got a big surprise. You need reservations to visit the Gallery! They could fit us in on Thursday at 3pm. Unfortunately we would be in Dubrovnic on Thursday. Tip: Make your reservation for the Bourghese Gallery online in advance! Another Tip: The Coliseum is open til sunset, so visit it after 5 pm and have it (practically) to yourselves. (You do not need a reservation here!) Earlier in the day the ticket line was verrrrry long. We had a private transfer to Civitavecchia with Romana Limo for 125€. They weren't the cheapest but were prompt answering my e-mails. Service was excellent, I would use them again.
Embarkation Pre-boarding begins at 11 am. We arrived at the pier at noon and were onboard in the Lido having lunch at 12:15. It was the fastest check-in that we have ever experienced. The captain made an announcement shortly after 1:00 pm that the cabins were ready. We had SS Stateroom 8082 (upgraded from a SZ guarantee). It was a good size with a large balcony. The bed was very comfortable and the linens were ultra soft. We loved the pillow combination (three different kinds to mix and match). The balcony had two lounge chairs with footrests and a table with two chairs large enough for dining. We had breakfast there almost every morning. Simply wonderful! Sea Day I love a sea day at the beginning of a cruise. We got to know the ship and were able to start touring relaxed. We cruised past Stromboli Volcano while enjoying breakfast on our balcony. What a way to vacation!!!!