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We chose to spend 4 days in Barcelona prior to embarkation. We wanted a chance to get to know the city and to get adjusted to the time zone. It worked. Barcelona is a great walkable city with fabulous public transportation and something for everyone. Embarkation was very smooth and quick. The only snag we had was that our taxi driver dropped us off at the wrong pier and we had to walk basically 4 cruise ship lengths back to Royal Caribbean's terminal. There was another couple that this happened to so we laughed and dragged our luggage the half mile or so. It wasn't hot so it wasn't a horrible problem, but be aware and make sure your taxi driver drops you off at the right place. I was a bit surprised at the laxness here about bringing on bottled water and alcohol. Basically, you went through screening and then there was shopping where you could buy wine, water, and hard alcohol and just carry it straight on! We always bring the allowed two bottles of wine on, but we had purchased a bottle of a highly recommended liqueur so I was concerned, but it was not a problem. Basically, one of the shortest embarkation processes I've done, except for having to show our passports multiple times to multiple people. I booked cabin 9078 which is a Superior OV Balcony which has a huge balcony because it is right on the "hump". It is also the first cabin from the Centrum and can be noisy if the fire door is left open (as it was late one night). We're not light sleepers so it didn't bother us except for the one night when hubby called and it was fixed quickly. We actually loved the location, being right by the library (and the daily sudoku) and near the elevators. It's a great location with easy access to the stairs and elevators. It's only two floors up to the pool and windjammer and down to the bars and main dining rooms and came with a huge balcony and only one neighbor plus there was no noise from above since it's a cabin and not the pool deck. The only thing that we didn't like was that the bathroom had a shower curtain instead of a door and that just ends up with water everywhere. We did buy a 3-night specialty dining package and went to Chops twice and Giovanni's once. I much preferred Giovanni's. The filet was good at Chops, but I'm not a huge fan of steak. We did have a mishap the 2nd time dining there that still gives me pause. Hubby accidentally knocked off a champagne glass which hit just right and shattered. No one moved to clean it up! It took me a bit to realize how badly and just how much glass there was near my sandaled feet. We moved immediately. And they STILL did not clean up the glass. Odd behavior. The MDR had a glitch the second night (the first night we ate at Chops) and there was a huge line for the My Time Dining with reservations. After standing in line for half an hour we near the desk and I overhear that they have no tables for two. Well, we'd been chatting with the people in line with us and we opted for a table for eight and FINALLY got seated, long after all of our reservations. I'm not sure what happened but that was the only night like that. After that they always had our table ready for us (and it often ended up being a four top for just the two of us). The service was prompt and efficient, but not the best I've had on RCCL. I must comment that this is my fifth cruise and the upselling has gotten very bad. I realize that RC wants to make as much money as it can, but I really find people approaching me as I'm walking into the Windjammer very annoying. Luckily, no one pushed it, but still not something I enjoy. I would have much preferred if they just stayed at their tables like the ladies from the spa did. This is my second sailing on a Radiance class vessel and so far, they're our favorite class of ship. I love the Centrum and the way the music drifts up through it. Speaking of the music, they had quite the talent on this cruise. There was a violin & piano trio who were amazing. I wished we could have listened to everything they played everytime they were playing, but things to do! There was also a classical guitarist that I thoroughly enjoyed, though hubby compared him to the two guitarists at the Flamenco show in Barcelona and he didn't quite measure up. I have to say I did not enjoy the woman piano player/singer in the Schooner bar. She was just not appealing to us at all, but the guitarist in the pub was fun as well as the two other groups who entertained in lots of venues, especially the band members who played a Big Band concert. We only saw two of the production shows because most nights we were pretty tired from our port adventures and preferred the smaller venues for music. I enjoyed the comedian/magician. He was very good with slight of hand. And the pianist was astoundingly good on the piano. The only beef I have with the Solarium is that the jacuzzi needs to be larger, or they need another one. Even though the weather was not great, if you planned it right, you could snag a couple of chairs in the Solarium pretty easy. I didn't spend much time by the outside pool because of the wind and/or rain, but we only had three sea days and the Solarium was available. We did take the 'all access' or behind the scenes tour and that was well worth it. It was fascinating the effort they put into recycling and reusing and just being as environmentally sound as a moving city can be. When speaking about the ship, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that this is one of the happiest crews I've seen. Our cabin steward, Camilla, was an utter joy and always so attentive. My favorite bartender was at the Solarium bar and he remembered me after my first order and made the best drinks with a bright smile. One barista always had a ready smile (and two bottles of water) every time I showed up. But it wasn't just them. The people at Guest Services, Next Cruise, and on and on. Yes, there was upselling, like being offered products after my pedicure the first day, but all that I encountered were quick to back off, so it wasn't a hard sell, thank goodness! (I'd prefer *no* sell, but it could have been worse.) We selected this cruise because of the ports and we were not disappointed. Everything was an adventure, some were more adventure than is probably good for us! We started in Villefranche (Nice, France) and opted to do it ourselves. I wasn't in the mood for Monaco or Monte Carlo so we planned to head up into Provence to St. Paul de Vence. Well worth the effort! (It wouldn't have been as much effort if I'd taken better notes.) I bought the train ticket (and that's a short walk from the pier) to the right destination and then we got off a stop too early. Oops! Instead of waiting an hour for another train, we wandered the area a bit, marveled at a street market that might as well have been a mall for the variety it sold and then defaulted to call Uber. Our driver was prompt, took us through gorgeous countryside and tiny, winding roads (some so small that he had to back up to make room for oncoming traffic) and got us to St. Paul in short order (much faster than the bus would have). I highly recommend this town. It's a medieval walled city on a hill overlooking the Provence countryside in all directions. We shopped, took a ton of pictures, had a wonderful lunch on La Tilleul's patio until a storm starting coming in, bringing much colder temperatures and gray skies. We had coffee and dessert inside. Then caught the bus back into Nice proper. It was a long bus ride that deposited us in the middle of Nice nowhere near the train station, not that we necessarily had time for the train. Uber to the rescue again, except I picked the wrong Villefranche port. Luckily, hubby took a picture and a local at the pier directed our driver to the right pier. We arrived back with 20 minutes to spare before the last tender. Whew. Of course, the weather had blown in and the tender ride was a rollercoaster with water bashing the front of the little boat. The pilot was a hero for navigating us safely through that. Needless to say, it took a couple of glasses of wine before I was calm from all the excitement! The next port was Livorno, Italy. We hired a private driver from EnjoyTuscany by Linker and this day was spectacular. Not only did we get to see everything in Florence and shop and eat, we also had time for a tour and wine tasting in a Tuscan villa. And, yes, Tuscany is every bit as beautiful as the photos. This was the way to see Florence. It didn't cost us that much more than a ship tour and it was just the two of us so you can imagine we got to do and see exactly what we wanted all while being back to the ship in plenty of time. In Rome, we used the same company as in Florence and once again had an incredible day. Dave whisked us away from the ship and begin telling us about Rome and the countryside. We were in Rome and saw everything except the inside of the Vatican which was our choice. We toured the Coliseum, saw all the vistas, the Circus Maximus, the Trevi Fountain, and on and on. We had a wonderful lunch, an incredible coffee, saw one last view of the city from the heights and then were confronted with a major traffic jam on the highway. His company alerted him and Dave took the back roads and still managed to get us back to the ship on time, earlier than most of the buses. A heroic effort. For the Amalfi Coast (Salerno), Italy we did a ship tour to Sorrento and Pompeii. We chose the small group which was as large as we'd want to have in all honesty. We visited a lemon farm, had a snack, learned how they make mozzarella, and tasted many varieties of limoncello. Delicious. In Sorrento we visited an inlaid wood store and had pizza. I still marvel at our bus driver making it through those tiny, winding roads. I cannot imagine the traffic once high season truly hits! Pompeii was incredible, enhanced with a new VR experience that was interesting and informative. It was a good tour, but we probably could have done it all on our own if I'd worked it out, though I did meet a couple who tried that and had to spend an exorbitant amount to get back to the ship on time when they missed their return boat (it was still cheaper than our excursion, though). Then we had a day at sea and I needed the break! Because the next stop was Venice. Overnight in Venice. We didn't schedule anything for Venice because we wanted to do it ourselves. We did end up touring the Doges Palace and took so many pictures I thought I was going to get carpal tunnel in my shutter finger! We didn't go up the Campanile because it was so foggy the next morning and it wouldn't have done any good. Instead we walked along the canals, through alley ways, shopped, ate at a little family run Trattoria and just wandered to our heart's content. We didn't spring for a gondola ride because the weather wasn't great and they are ridiculously overpriced. It was a great time to be here because there were hordes, but they died down after sunset and then you could find places all to yourself, yet there was no flooding. Ravenna was the next port where we, again, did it on our own. It was pouring rain that day and I was tired from walking about twenty miles in Venice over the two days, but hubby talked me into going anyway and I'm glad I did. The Byzantine mosaics are incredible and Ravenna's easy to walk. It's definitely more modern than Venice, but still charming. Last port was Kotor, Montenegro and the approach was amazing. It literally took us an hour and a half to navigate the waterway to Kotor. Again, another lovely town. Hubby opted to climb to the fort at the top of the mountain. I decided that sitting in a cafe and drinking and eating was a better choice. If it'd been warmer, I think I would have enjoyed a boat tour where you could sun and sight see. The tendering here was a problem. We were all assigned numbers but the stopped calling them after #4 and then we waited and waited and waited. I realize the problem was that a Princess ship had the "berth" ahead of us and I don't think that was planned for because the tender ride was much longer to get to shore. We purchased the airport transfer since our flight left at 10am, but I wish I'd just gotten a taxi. Getting off the ship was a bit disorganized with too many folks piled into the theater and leaving all at once. Getting the luggage was like picking it up at the airport and that wasn't bad at all, but being told to put it on a truck and then told that the truck was full and having to explain to the bus driver that it should go under the bus was a hassle. Plus they had us sitting there forever without the A/C on and it was very hot in the bus (and we were the second to last couple on the bus). It wasn't worth the money. All in all this was a vacation that we will always remember and I can't imagine doing all of these places by land in one two-week trip.

Port intensive, but still a great onboard experience!

Brilliance of the Seas Cruise Review by SAFloresLyon

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
We chose to spend 4 days in Barcelona prior to embarkation. We wanted a chance to get to know the city and to get adjusted to the time zone. It worked. Barcelona is a great walkable city with fabulous public transportation and something for everyone.

Embarkation was very smooth and quick. The only snag we had was that our taxi driver dropped us off at the wrong pier and we had to walk basically 4 cruise ship lengths back to Royal Caribbean's terminal. There was another couple that this happened to so we laughed and dragged our luggage the half mile or so. It wasn't hot so it wasn't a horrible problem, but be aware and make sure your taxi driver drops you off at the right place.

I was a bit surprised at the laxness here about bringing on bottled water and alcohol. Basically, you went through screening and then there was shopping where you could buy wine, water, and hard alcohol and just carry it straight on! We always bring the allowed two bottles of wine on, but we had purchased a bottle of a highly recommended liqueur so I was concerned, but it was not a problem.

Basically, one of the shortest embarkation processes I've done, except for having to show our passports multiple times to multiple people.

I booked cabin 9078 which is a Superior OV Balcony which has a huge balcony because it is right on the "hump". It is also the first cabin from the Centrum and can be noisy if the fire door is left open (as it was late one night). We're not light sleepers so it didn't bother us except for the one night when hubby called and it was fixed quickly. We actually loved the location, being right by the library (and the daily sudoku) and near the elevators. It's a great location with easy access to the stairs and elevators. It's only two floors up to the pool and windjammer and down to the bars and main dining rooms and came with a huge balcony and only one neighbor plus there was no noise from above since it's a cabin and not the pool deck. The only thing that we didn't like was that the bathroom had a shower curtain instead of a door and that just ends up with water everywhere.

We did buy a 3-night specialty dining package and went to Chops twice and Giovanni's once. I much preferred Giovanni's. The filet was good at Chops, but I'm not a huge fan of steak. We did have a mishap the 2nd time dining there that still gives me pause. Hubby accidentally knocked off a champagne glass which hit just right and shattered. No one moved to clean it up! It took me a bit to realize how badly and just how much glass there was near my sandaled feet. We moved immediately. And they STILL did not clean up the glass. Odd behavior.

The MDR had a glitch the second night (the first night we ate at Chops) and there was a huge line for the My Time Dining with reservations. After standing in line for half an hour we near the desk and I overhear that they have no tables for two. Well, we'd been chatting with the people in line with us and we opted for a table for eight and FINALLY got seated, long after all of our reservations. I'm not sure what happened but that was the only night like that. After that they always had our table ready for us (and it often ended up being a four top for just the two of us). The service was prompt and efficient, but not the best I've had on RCCL.

I must comment that this is my fifth cruise and the upselling has gotten very bad. I realize that RC wants to make as much money as it can, but I really find people approaching me as I'm walking into the Windjammer very annoying. Luckily, no one pushed it, but still not something I enjoy. I would have much preferred if they just stayed at their tables like the ladies from the spa did.

This is my second sailing on a Radiance class vessel and so far, they're our favorite class of ship. I love the Centrum and the way the music drifts up through it. Speaking of the music, they had quite the talent on this cruise. There was a violin & piano trio who were amazing. I wished we could have listened to everything they played everytime they were playing, but things to do! There was also a classical guitarist that I thoroughly enjoyed, though hubby compared him to the two guitarists at the Flamenco show in Barcelona and he didn't quite measure up. I have to say I did not enjoy the woman piano player/singer in the Schooner bar. She was just not appealing to us at all, but the guitarist in the pub was fun as well as the two other groups who entertained in lots of venues, especially the band members who played a Big Band concert. We only saw two of the production shows because most nights we were pretty tired from our port adventures and preferred the smaller venues for music. I enjoyed the comedian/magician. He was very good with slight of hand. And the pianist was astoundingly good on the piano.

The only beef I have with the Solarium is that the jacuzzi needs to be larger, or they need another one. Even though the weather was not great, if you planned it right, you could snag a couple of chairs in the Solarium pretty easy. I didn't spend much time by the outside pool because of the wind and/or rain, but we only had three sea days and the Solarium was available.

We did take the 'all access' or behind the scenes tour and that was well worth it. It was fascinating the effort they put into recycling and reusing and just being as environmentally sound as a moving city can be.

When speaking about the ship, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that this is one of the happiest crews I've seen. Our cabin steward, Camilla, was an utter joy and always so attentive. My favorite bartender was at the Solarium bar and he remembered me after my first order and made the best drinks with a bright smile. One barista always had a ready smile (and two bottles of water) every time I showed up. But it wasn't just them. The people at Guest Services, Next Cruise, and on and on. Yes, there was upselling, like being offered products after my pedicure the first day, but all that I encountered were quick to back off, so it wasn't a hard sell, thank goodness! (I'd prefer *no* sell, but it could have been worse.)

We selected this cruise because of the ports and we were not disappointed. Everything was an adventure, some were more adventure than is probably good for us!

We started in Villefranche (Nice, France) and opted to do it ourselves. I wasn't in the mood for Monaco or Monte Carlo so we planned to head up into Provence to St. Paul de Vence. Well worth the effort! (It wouldn't have been as much effort if I'd taken better notes.) I bought the train ticket (and that's a short walk from the pier) to the right destination and then we got off a stop too early. Oops! Instead of waiting an hour for another train, we wandered the area a bit, marveled at a street market that might as well have been a mall for the variety it sold and then defaulted to call Uber. Our driver was prompt, took us through gorgeous countryside and tiny, winding roads (some so small that he had to back up to make room for oncoming traffic) and got us to St. Paul in short order (much faster than the bus would have). I highly recommend this town. It's a medieval walled city on a hill overlooking the Provence countryside in all directions. We shopped, took a ton of pictures, had a wonderful lunch on La Tilleul's patio until a storm starting coming in, bringing much colder temperatures and gray skies. We had coffee and dessert inside. Then caught the bus back into Nice proper. It was a long bus ride that deposited us in the middle of Nice nowhere near the train station, not that we necessarily had time for the train. Uber to the rescue again, except I picked the wrong Villefranche port. Luckily, hubby took a picture and a local at the pier directed our driver to the right pier. We arrived back with 20 minutes to spare before the last tender. Whew. Of course, the weather had blown in and the tender ride was a rollercoaster with water bashing the front of the little boat. The pilot was a hero for navigating us safely through that. Needless to say, it took a couple of glasses of wine before I was calm from all the excitement!

The next port was Livorno, Italy. We hired a private driver from EnjoyTuscany by Linker and this day was spectacular. Not only did we get to see everything in Florence and shop and eat, we also had time for a tour and wine tasting in a Tuscan villa. And, yes, Tuscany is every bit as beautiful as the photos. This was the way to see Florence. It didn't cost us that much more than a ship tour and it was just the two of us so you can imagine we got to do and see exactly what we wanted all while being back to the ship in plenty of time.

In Rome, we used the same company as in Florence and once again had an incredible day. Dave whisked us away from the ship and begin telling us about Rome and the countryside. We were in Rome and saw everything except the inside of the Vatican which was our choice. We toured the Coliseum, saw all the vistas, the Circus Maximus, the Trevi Fountain, and on and on. We had a wonderful lunch, an incredible coffee, saw one last view of the city from the heights and then were confronted with a major traffic jam on the highway. His company alerted him and Dave took the back roads and still managed to get us back to the ship on time, earlier than most of the buses. A heroic effort.

For the Amalfi Coast (Salerno), Italy we did a ship tour to Sorrento and Pompeii. We chose the small group which was as large as we'd want to have in all honesty. We visited a lemon farm, had a snack, learned how they make mozzarella, and tasted many varieties of limoncello. Delicious. In Sorrento we visited an inlaid wood store and had pizza. I still marvel at our bus driver making it through those tiny, winding roads. I cannot imagine the traffic once high season truly hits! Pompeii was incredible, enhanced with a new VR experience that was interesting and informative. It was a good tour, but we probably could have done it all on our own if I'd worked it out, though I did meet a couple who tried that and had to spend an exorbitant amount to get back to the ship on time when they missed their return boat (it was still cheaper than our excursion, though).

Then we had a day at sea and I needed the break!

Because the next stop was Venice. Overnight in Venice. We didn't schedule anything for Venice because we wanted to do it ourselves. We did end up touring the Doges Palace and took so many pictures I thought I was going to get carpal tunnel in my shutter finger! We didn't go up the Campanile because it was so foggy the next morning and it wouldn't have done any good. Instead we walked along the canals, through alley ways, shopped, ate at a little family run Trattoria and just wandered to our heart's content. We didn't spring for a gondola ride because the weather wasn't great and they are ridiculously overpriced. It was a great time to be here because there were hordes, but they died down after sunset and then you could find places all to yourself, yet there was no flooding.

Ravenna was the next port where we, again, did it on our own. It was pouring rain that day and I was tired from walking about twenty miles in Venice over the two days, but hubby talked me into going anyway and I'm glad I did. The Byzantine mosaics are incredible and Ravenna's easy to walk. It's definitely more modern than Venice, but still charming.

Last port was Kotor, Montenegro and the approach was amazing. It literally took us an hour and a half to navigate the waterway to Kotor. Again, another lovely town. Hubby opted to climb to the fort at the top of the mountain. I decided that sitting in a cafe and drinking and eating was a better choice. If it'd been warmer, I think I would have enjoyed a boat tour where you could sun and sight see. The tendering here was a problem. We were all assigned numbers but the stopped calling them after #4 and then we waited and waited and waited. I realize the problem was that a Princess ship had the "berth" ahead of us and I don't think that was planned for because the tender ride was much longer to get to shore.

We purchased the airport transfer since our flight left at 10am, but I wish I'd just gotten a taxi. Getting off the ship was a bit disorganized with too many folks piled into the theater and leaving all at once. Getting the luggage was like picking it up at the airport and that wasn't bad at all, but being told to put it on a truck and then told that the truck was full and having to explain to the bus driver that it should go under the bus was a hassle. Plus they had us sitting there forever without the A/C on and it was very hot in the bus (and we were the second to last couple on the bus). It wasn't worth the money.

All in all this was a vacation that we will always remember and I can't imagine doing all of these places by land in one two-week trip.
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Cabin Review

Cabin 9078
I booked cabin 9078 which is a Superior OV Balcony which has a huge balcony because it is right on the "hump". It is also the first cabin from the Centrum and can be noisy if the fire door is left open (as it was late one night). We're not light sleepers so it didn't bother us except for the one night when hubby called and it was fixed quickly. We actually loved the location, being right by the library (and the daily sudoku) and near the elevators. It's a great location with easy access to the stairs and elevators. It's only two floors up to the pool and windjammer and down to the bars and main dining rooms and came with a huge balcony and only one neighbor plus there was no noise from above since it's a cabin and not the pool deck. The only thing that we didn't like was that the bathroom had a shower curtain instead of a door and that just ends up with water everywhere.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Barcelona
    We chose to spend 4 days in Barcelona prior to embarkation. We wanted a chance to get to know the city and to get adjusted to the time zone. It worked. Barcelona is a great walkable city with fabulous public transportation and something for everyone.

    Having a hotel close to the Plaza Catalunya was the way to go. The location was perfect, close to everything, including the Metro and the tourist buses. Well worth the higher cost.

    We've been to Madrid and southern Spain before and were surprised at the difference between them and Barcelona. The culture is definitely more Catalan and European than the more Moorish influences in the south. Pretty much everyone was at least conversant in English and most signage was in three languages (English, Spanish, and Catalonian), so it is very easy to navigate and communicate.

    Don't see Barcelona without visiting Gaudi's architectural wonders, but take time to explore the old city and get lost in the Gothic Quarter. Don't miss the Mercado de La Boqueria and see a Flamenco show. The hop-on, hop-off buses were a good way to get around and a two-day pass is reasonably priced for the convenience (but I suggest bringing your own earphones).
    View All 2,247 Barcelona Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Barcelona Cruise Port Review
  • Florence (Livorno)
    The next port was Livorno, Italy. We hired a private driver from EnjoyTuscany by Linker and this day was spectacular. Not only did we get to see everything in Florence and shop (buy leather here! So many beautiful leather goods!) and eat, we also had time for a tour and wine tasting in a Tuscan villa. And, yes, Tuscany is every bit as beautiful as the photos. This was the way to see Florence. It didn't cost us that much more than a ship tour and it was just the two of us so you can imagine we got to do and see exactly what we wanted all while being back to the ship in plenty of time.
    View All 1,089 Florence (Livorno) Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Kotor
    Last port was Kotor, Montenegro and the approach was amazing. It literally took us an hour and a half to navigate the waterway between mountains to Kotor. Again, another lovely, walled town.

    Hubby opted to climb to the fort at the top of the mountain. I decided that sitting in a cafe and drinking and eating was a better choice. If it'd been warmer, I think I would have enjoyed a boat tour where you could bask in the sun and sight see.

    I'm not going to blame the port for a RC issue, but I should mention that tendering here was a problem. We were all assigned numbers but they stopped calling them after #4 and then we waited and waited and waited. I realize the problem was that a Princess ship had the "berth" ahead of us and I don't think that was planned for because the tender ride was much longer to get to shore so it limited the actual amount of time we had to spend ashore.

    Also, while I was relaxing in the cafe, I met a couple from our ship. They didn't use the RC excursions, either. Instead they took up one of the many offerings at the end of the pier. They had a private taxi take them around to a vista point and back and still had time for a drink and snack in the cafe (as well as shopping time). It sounded like a great way to see Kotor and it, again, was far, far cheaper than RC's excursions.

    Honestly, RCCL needs to up their game on excursions or work with more local vendors to provide smaller groups and more variety. I know that's hard and they don't want to be held liable, but with their clout, they should be able to do it.
    View All 726 Kotor Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Nice
    We actually started in Villefranche, not Nice and opted to do it ourselves. None of the ship excursions appealed so we planned to head up into Provence to St. Paul de Vence. Well worth the effort! (It wouldn't have been as much effort if I'd taken better notes.) I bought the train ticket (and that's a short walk from the pier) to the Cagnes-sur-Mer and then we got off a stop too early (Cros de Cagnes). Oops! Instead of waiting an hour for another train, we wandered the area a bit, marveled at a street market that might as well have been a mall for the variety it sold and then defaulted to calling Uber. Our driver was prompt, took us through gorgeous countryside and tiny, winding roads (some so small that he had to back up to make room for oncoming traffic) and got us to St. Paul in short order (much faster than the bus would have).

    I highly recommend this town. It's a medieval walled city on a hill overlooking the Provence countryside in all directions filled with art galleries and cafes. We shopped, took a ton of pictures, had a wonderful lunch on La Tilleul's patio until a storm started coming in, bringing much colder temperatures and gray skies. We had coffee and dessert inside. Then caught the bus back into Nice proper.

    It was a long bus ride that deposited us in the middle of Nice nowhere near the train station (which, again, was my fault for not researching the proper route to get back), not that we necessarily had time for the train at that point. Uber to the rescue again, except I picked the wrong Villefranche port. Luckily, hubby took a picture and a local at the pier directed our driver to the right pier. We arrived back with 20 minutes to spare before the last tender. Whew.

    Of course, the weather had blown in and the tender ride was a rollercoaster with water bashing the front of the little boat. The pilot was a hero for navigating us safely through that. Needless to say, it took a couple of glasses of wine before I was calm from all the excitement!
    View All 143 Nice Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Nice Cruise Port Review
  • Rome (Civitavecchia)
    In Rome, we used the same company as in Florence (EnjoyTuscany by Linker) and once again had an incredible day. Dave whisked us away from the ship and begin telling us about Rome and the countryside. It was quite clear that he loved Rome and seeing it through his eyes was marvelous.

    We toured Rome and saw everything except the inside of the Vatican which was our choice. We toured the Coliseum, saw all the vistas, the Circus Maximus, the Trevi Fountain, and on and on and on. We had a wonderful lunch, an incredible coffee, saw one last view of the city from the heights and then were confronted with a major traffic jam on the highway. His company alerted him before we got stuck in it and Dave took the back roads and still managed to get us back to the ship on time, earlier than most of the buses. A heroic effort.
    View All 2,185 Rome (Civitavecchia) Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Sorrento
    The pier was actually at Salerno and required a bus ride to Sorrento and Pompeii. We chose the small group which was as large as we'd want to have in all honesty. We visited a lemon farm, had a snack, learned how they make mozzarella, and tasted many varieties of limoncello. Delicious. And I bought way too much in their gift shop, but they had lovely ceramics as well as those many varieties of limoncello (what is chocolate "cello" called?)

    In Sorrento proper they took us to an inlaid wood store and we couldn't resist making a purchase. Then we wandered the streets a bit and found the pizza place recommended by the tour guide. Honestly? I was unimpressed. Not that I didn't expect the difference in the style of pizza, but more that the place didn't allow you to share a pizza. I think we'd have been better off ignoring the "reccomendation" and going elsewhere, like to one of the many little places we passed while wandering the main street.

    I will commend our bus driver for making it through those tiny, winding roads and navigating around the scooters. I cannot what the roads would be like once high season truly hits! Pompeii was incredible, enhanced with a new VR experience that was interesting and informative. It was a pretty good tour, but felt rushed, especially with the stop at the cameo store (which was interesting, but not to our taste, though their bathrooms were very nice). We probably could have done it all on our own if I'd worked it out, though I did meet a couple who tried that and they had to spend an exorbitant amount to get back to the ship on time when they missed their return boat (it was still cheaper than our excursion, though).
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  • Venice
    Overnight in Venice. We didn't schedule anything for Venice because we wanted to do it ourselves. We did end up touring the Doges Palace and took so many pictures I thought I was going to get carpal tunnel of my shutter finger!

    We didn't go up the Campanile because it was late the first day and so foggy the next morning that it wouldn't have done any good. Instead we walked along the canals, through alley ways, shopped (buy Murano glass), ate the best, freshest seafood I've ever had for dinner and then ate lunch the next day at a little family run Trattoria and just wandered to our heart's content.

    We didn't spring for a gondola ride because the weather wasn't great and they are ridiculously overpriced. It was a great time to be here because there were hordes of people, but the weather kept them down and staying overnight meant we got to see Venice when most tourists had left. After sunset you could find places all to yourself and just wander, taking in the lights sparkling along the canals.

    I do understand why people might not like Venice. It can flood and get crazy crowded and I suspect that later in the warmer months it could get smelly as well. We might not have seen it with full sunlight sparkling across the water, but that was a trade-off I was happy to make.
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