We began our holiday with 24hrs in Barcelona, which is a favourite city of mine.....Stayed at the Hotel Jazz which has a great location, few minutes walk from Catalunya Square with all its transport links...The fountains of Montjuic with their light and music show (from 9.00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays) were fantantastic and the next morning we used the funicular and cable car to get back to Montjuic for panoramic views of the city, and to check that the Navigator was waiting for us.
We taxied from hotel to port at 2.30, and only had a short wait before checking in and boarding....We had booked quite late and all the outside cabins had been taken, so had chosen one which overlooked the Royal Parade....It was OK, but I did miss natural light, and forgot a few times to pull the curtains when getting changed, so potentially scared other passengers.
I am not keen on dining particually early or late, so opted for My Time Dining, which was being trialled on the Navigatior. Clearly the staff were struggling a bit with the technology (handy backup of pencil with very large rubber attached to it by a rubber band) but having said that we would like to eat at 8.00 with others, it was a great success, and as the main show was at 9.45, we were always able to catch that too...The food was OK, I had been on the Azamara earlier in the year, where the food had been exceptional, and I guess it is a little unfair to compare the two, although the total cost for the Azamara was only slightly more then the Navigator.
Good to have a choice of Bars...although what has happened to the pre dinner nibbles?...do RCI not realise that nuts and crisps encourage their customers to drink more???
Managed to miss the better shows (Beatles and pseudo Elton John) and managed to sit through a dreadful Magic act (I think he thought he was a comedian...) and a Broadway show with songs I had not heard before.
Good crowd around the Poker table (although it would have been so much better had it been non-smoking all the time rather then just sea days) and good to have a proper dealer unlike the video machine on Azamara.
Spa OK - thought treatments had increased in price considerably, didn't seem very busy, so perhaps a correlation there.
Biggest whinge - disembarcation - We had planned to get port shuttle, then catch train into Rome...however the queue for the shuttle was enormous, and only seemingly served by 2 busses...Waited for 30 minutes without moving, then found a bus going to central Rome so paid 50 Euros each for the trip.....there was meant to be a RCI rep at the stop to help passengers with onward transportation...didn't see anyone. As Civatecchia is home port for RCI they really do need to use more influence to ensure smoother transportation.
Shuttle bus to drop off point near Cathedral....wandered about, got lost, regained bearings...visited cathedral...returned to ship
Went on trip to Luberon Villages....Great tour of beautiful countryside (would have been even better in July when Sunflowers and Lavender on flower) 3 stops of around a hour each...the best being Roussilon...where the ochre coloured rocks are quite astounding, walked the path around the quarry (better then it sounds) then time for a quick drink before heading back to bus...really needed another hour here...The guide read her notes with little feeling, so used my ipod for great background music to the great scenery
Nice art exhibition in town, coffee and croissants, bit of a wander then back to ship for pampering session
Booked the Florence on your own trip....Great guide who actually interacted with his customers rather then sitting at front with microphone and notes. Hour and a half to Michael Angelo square (where only busses from Florence can stop) for panoramic view of city....then onto bus drop off point for 10 minute walk to meeting place (inside Leather shop with dubious discounting system - shop elsewhere - it will be a lot cheaper)
We had already bought tickets for the Uffize, which was handy as there was a very long queue, and after an hour and a half in there walked to the Duomo for our assault on the cupola....463 steps to the top on a hot day is pretty tiring but well worth it for the view....Do allow yourselves plenty of time for this, as once at the top, we were kept from going down for 40 minutes or so by the official letting more people come up.
Lunch and shopping (Florence is shoe and handbag capital of the world...) then back to bus for return trip...nice touch by guide by playing cd of local lad Andre Bocelli
Very very hot in Rome.....used HOHO bus to get around....Stayed at Hotel Dioclenziano near main railway station...great hotel...staff extremely charming and helpful and suggested great place round the corner for dinner.....Booked taxi to take us to Ciampiano airport next evening...allegedly should take 30 minutes...allow 50..the traffic was at gridlock.
Flight home delayed by 90 minutes as there had been bad weather in Stansted in afternoon and flights were backed up - no announcements about this, which was a shame as am sure most passengers would rather know bad news instead of nothing.