We just returned from the Barcelona to Venice cruise aboard the Celebrity Summit and I have to say, all my homework paid off! Thanks especially to Cruise Critic!! They provided me with wonderful information that helped our vacation go very smoothly. I knew exactly what to expect and was neither unpleasantly surprised or disappointed.I started my homework a year ago beginning with the cruise line that best fit our needs. We have cruised before and we were not excited to go aboard the new "mega" ships with thousands of passengers. We were looking for something smaller yet still catered to you and made you feel special. Because of the smaller numbers, you actually felt more involved and it was a more intimate setting. We didn't need the rock walls, giant movie screens and mini malls. We were more interested in comfort and a great itinerary. Summit satisfied that perfectly. Summit is by no means a "glitzy" ship with a dramatic foyer. Instead, it is warm and welcoming. Our cabin with the balcony was perfect. We were fortunate to have a starboard side cabin when coming into Venice so we had our own private arrival into Venice! It is everything they say it is! The room itself was great and the beds were very comfortable. That was important since this is a very intensive itinerary and you come back exhausted! Late dinner seating is the best!The best advice I want to pass along to those planning a trip to this area is to consider hiring your own private taxi. We did this and it was the BEST thing we did and WELL WORTH THE MONEY!!! I hired Mariano firstname.lastname@example.org I cannot say enough... what a stress reliever!!! He was amazing! I hired Mariano for Florence, Rome and Naples. I had read so many different things I was somewhat nervous but in the end decided this would be best. It was amazing to have someone waiting at every port for us (my husband, myself, son and daughter-in-law) and we could turn over all the driving responsibilities to someone local. Don't even THINK of renting or driving on your own...traffic is insane! The thought of loading on to buses with a crowd following a numbered paddle all day in the heat, did not appeal to me and when you figured the cost of a cruise tour versus a private, the cost was the same or cheaper! The very best part was seeing things you would not have seen if you were tied into a cruise directed tour. We actually had Pisa to ourselves since our driver knew exactly what time to arrive and drop off. In Florence, we had an agenda that went flawlessly. Rome, our driver was amazing and very knowledgeable. I was somewhat disappointed that I was unable to get some Vatican stamps because it was Sunday but I gave him a postcard at the end of our tour and he went to the extra work of going back later for stamps and mailing it from the Vatican to me along with some extra stamps for souvenirs! Finally, Mariano was our driver in Naples. After reading everything about Naples and listening to Mariano, we opted to do Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast! The BEST decision! What an amazing journey! Forget Capri! Mariano took us to his own home to meet with his wife and see his farm. It was beautiful and something you would not experience on a cruise ship tour! He later took us along the coast and then to an amazing local restaurant in Ravello! We finished our day at Pompeii and went back to the ship tired but happy! In Athens we hired Georges Taxi. Another very good decision. Athens is a very big overwhelming city and George knew exactly where to go and he too took us to places that were more "local" versus where the cruise ship and other tourists flock. He too took us to a wonderful Greek restaurant for lunch that let us try so many different dishes! Santorini, Dubrovnik, Venice we did on our own and it worked out just fine. They are all very "doable." Finally, take the time to experience Villefranche. It was one of my favorite ports! Everyone races to Nice or Monaco but to me, Villefranche is a perfect!Hopefully this will help you make your decisions when you plan your cruise! As with all travel, we did have some "glitches" but everything worked out. Celebrity delivered and we would consider going on another Celebrity cruise. Bottom line, do your homework and read cruise critic and listen to the people who have been there, done that!
Lots of storage for your things! Go for the balcony! It is well worth the extra money!