My wife and I arrived in Barcelona on a Thursday morning, from the ATM at the airport we got Euros, took a taxi to the Hotel Constanza in a nice and safe area of downtown Barcelona (taxi 25 Euros + 2 Euros for every suitcase, no charge for small hand luggage), a very nice and very modern small hotel in a quiet street about 4 blocks away from Plaza Catalunia, the main square in Barcelona. We booked the hotel through www.Eurobookings.com, rooms were 80 Euros, we took the suite for 100/ night not including breakfast 13 Euros.Plaza Catalunia is the heart of Barcelona, start of the famous Rambla walk, the city market, the large department store El Corte Ingles, lots of other shopping and departure of the red tourist buses, probably the best way to see Barcelona. Buy a day pass and get on and off the bus all you want. Bring your Ipod headphones, those provided have poor sound.We had wonderful Mediterranean meals in Barcelona. As always, avoid restaurants with menus with photos or in several languages, look for where the locals go. The seafood is great, try the local wines from Priorat and the bubbly Cava. In Spain, lunch is at 2-3 pm and dinner at 9-10 pm.On Saturday afternoon at 2.30 pm we took a taxi to the port. Provided you don't arrive too early, embarkation is really smooth.At the terminal there was a tax-free shop that sold all kinds of beverages, chocolates, etc to bring with you onboard! I like a sip of good malt whiskey before dinner... just enough to feel I'm on vacation.We had a Concierge Class cabin on the 9th floor. Plenty of space, the suitcases went under the bed. There was champagne, fresh flowers and fruits waiting for us, the ice bucket, cold water, fruits and canapes came every day. The cabin attendand was pleasant and helpful, all was very tidy, the bathroom had a smell of mold, no too bad,not surprising considerin the age of the ship.We had breakfast and lunch from the buffe on the 10th floor, there was always a good selection and something for every taste.Dinner was at 8.45 pm in the main dinning room, we chose a table of 12 and found out that everyone at the table was on Concierge Class cabins. The dinner menu offered a good selection of fish, poultry, meat, pasta and vegetarian. The quality of the food was good, considering the large quantities they cook. The service was very good. We bought a wine package when embarking, the selection of wines available from the package could be better, seven bottles for about $290, wines that retail in the US for about $12 to 15 each. We had dinner at Normandie once, it was excellent.We were lucky to have a group of very nice people at the table. Everyone had always something to tell about the adventures of the day in the different ports, we had a lot of fun together! We did some hand-wash laundry every evening and it weas dry by morning, we had a couple of plastic hangers with us, we also used the efficient laundry service, priced as normal in hotels.We had sunshine every day, enjoyed the relaxing days at sea, it was wonderful!After the cruise, we stayed an extra night in Venice.
Cabin 9110 is in the Concierge Class. Nice and clean, plenty of space, two large suitcases and two hand luggage fit well under the bed. Certain smell and visible black mold in the bathroom.
From the port of Civitavechia we went on the tour "Rome on your own". A bus tour from Celebrity from the port to the Vatican and back. A bit overpriced, but you pay for the convenience. Arrived to St Peters Place on a Wednesday at 10 am, the Pope comes out at 10.30 every Wednesday and we got good photos of him riding on his open Papamobil. On the bus to Rome they sold the daily passes for the Rome Red buses - similar to what they have in Barcelona - and with that and walking around we were busy until time to return to the ship. We saw a lot! Very nice!
We booked a tour through Celebrity but it was canceled, and we did not bother to reschedule to something else. At the port, the "taxi bandits" are waiting for the tourist! The first one to approach us offered a 4 hours tour of Athens for "only" 300 Euros. I said we were just going to the Acropolis. The second offer was 200 Euros for 4 hours, and it kept going down to 120 for 3 hours. We still wanted to go to Acropolis only...we were told all kinds of stories of why we needed to buy the 4 hours service, and we saw many passengers buying. The trip to Acropolis was 25 Euros. From there it is a short walk to the new Acropolis museum that just opened at the end of June. Beautiful and air conditioned!, then another short walk to the old town with hundreds of small stores and restaurants. A short taxi ride to the larger museum, and then back to the ship. Very good!