We have been on 28 cruises over the past 15 years and recently completed a two week cruise/trip to Italy, Greece, and Turkey. Upon arrival at Leonardo Di Vinci airport ( which is located some 30 to 45 minutes drive from Rome, depending on traffic and 1 hour or more from the port) we were met by our hotel shuttle driver. Rather than stay in Rome, we elected to stay one night at the Hotel Bramante, located near our departure port at Civitavecchia. The Hotel Bramante is a nice, moderately priced (E150.00 per night) clean hotel. The beds were really hard but we were only staying one night and after our long flight from the southwestern USA, they were a welcome sight. The cost of the hotel's shuttle service was E140.00 and well worth it. This was far cheaper than a taxi and because we were a group of six adults the actual cost was a mere E47.00 per couple (E23.50 per person) and the shuttle was able to hold all 12 pieces of our luggage as well. Try putting that in a European Taxi! Once we had rested for a few hours we walked into Civitavecchia for dinner. We had pre-arranged to meet (for the first time) a group of up to twenty of our "Cruise Critic" friends at a wonderful ristorante and pizzeria called "Aqua". We were greeted by the owner and escorted to his large outside covered terrace which was a lovely setting. Aqua had a wonderful Italian wine list (we took 2 bottles on-board ship with us), outdoor dining, and an authentic 350 year old wood burning brick oven. If you like thin crust pizza, you will LOVE this pizza. Our cruise aboard Celebrity Solstice was everything a cruise should be and more. The cabins, the food, the service, the entertainment, the spa, and the public areas were all superlative. We stayed in the aqua class which gave us an upgraded shower and upgraded bath products in our cabin. We also had our own private dining room called Blu and unlimited access to the Persian garden, fitness area and relaxation room. Personally we did not feel that this class was really an upgrade from Celebrity's concierge class and we would not pay extra for this class in the future. Our dining room, Blu, had its' own menu (different from the ship's main dining menu) which offered a leaner menu with smaller portions which were sometimes quite exotic. This forced us to try some things that we probably would not have otherwise tried. Although the food was good, it really didn't suit us, especially my 'meat and potatoes" husband. The specialty dining venues were exceptionally good and really worth the extra charge. I would recommend the Silk Harvest and the Tuscan Grill especially. The ship sponsored tours were, with one exception, excellent and really worth the money. The very best were the Messina (Sicily) Wine and Mt. Etna tour (MY08), the Athens & Cape Sounion with lunch tour (PR03), the Best of Epheses tour (KD04) and the Amalfi Drive and Pompeii tour (NP04). we do not recommend the Village of Oia and Santorini Island tour (SO01) as it was just a bus trip to Oia and a gondola ride ticket back down to the port. These things you could do on your own for a lot less. The village of Oia is worth seeing, however. At the end of our cruise we planned an extra day and night in Italy so that we could see Rome. After researching all of our options for hotels in Rome or near the airport, transportation from the port in Civitavecchia to the hotel and transportation to the airport for a 10:00am flight the following day, meals, and sightseeing in Rome we made the best vacation decision we have ever made. We hired a private tour operator, www.rome-tours.org. Filippo (the owner of the company) picked all six of us up in a nice Mercedes van at the dock in Civitavecchia on the morning of our arrival. He then transported us and all of our luggage to our hotel, the Hotel Club Isola Sacra in Fiumicino which is near the airport. This hotel was clean, moderately priced at E132.00 per night which included the price of the shuttle to the airport the next morning and we would recommend it for a short one or two night stay. The beds and pillows were like bricks and the staff was not very helpful or welcoming and only understood English when it suited them. Filippo, our tour guide, waited while we checked in and deposited all of our luggage. At 11:00am we were all on our way to Rome, which is about a 30 to 45 minute drive depending on traffic from our hotel in Fiumicino. Because of a special Roman Tour Operators license that allows small vehicles to enter the city of Rome, Filippo was able to drive us right up to "the entrance" of many of the magnificent sights of Rome. Our guide was both very knowledgeable and very personable and he spoke excellent English. In one day we toured the Colosseum (with no waiting in line for tickets), th Forum, The Trevi Fountain (both in the day and again at night), ate some really good pizza, toured the Pantheon, Navona and St Peter's Square, The villa Borgase Gardens, The Spanish Steps, the highest spot in Rome (which gave you a fabulous view of the entire city), and lastly ate a fabulous 4 course Italian dinner at Cesare's Ristorante before being returned to our hotel in Fiumincino at 10:00pm. To say the very least, our day and night in Rome was the highlight of our entire trip and would you believe??? It only cost E100.00 each plus the cost of our meals and entry tickets. If you are traveling with a small group of 2 to 8 people "rome-tours.org" is absolutely the way to see Rome. They are also an excellent dock to airport or dock to hotel option from Civitavecchia. This is especially true if you are traveling with a small group as most taxi services (if you are able to find any) are much more expensive and can not accommodate more than 3 people per vehicle (plus the driver) and a very small amount of luggage. If you are interested I believe that "rome-tours.org" also offers excursions to other parts of Italy as well. If you want to have a great Eastern Mediterranean cruise this is the one!
Lovely cabin with very comfortable soft-top bed and soft pillows. Nice bedding, soft colors and tasteful room decor. Ample closet and storage space. Nice size balcony with comfortable lounge chairs. Aqua Class shower and bath products were wonderful. Hallway noise was very bad and the cabin doors slam loudly when they close shaking your cabin. Our cabin (1545) was located one deck below some sort of kitchen area where there was dishwasher noise all night long and a lot of furniture movement all day and night. This was really bothersome and complaints to guest services did no good at all.
The port city of Naples was very large and crowded but the Amalfi Drive and Pompeii Tour was fabulous and we highly recommend it.
Athen is such a feast for the senses. If you like ancient history then you will love Athens and a must see is the Acropolis and if you have time Cape Sounion.
Great history, lot of ruins and wonderful shopping.
Just loved this small island. Very picturesque with nice people, great food and lots of neat little shops.