This was a trip of a lifetime for us, especially since it was our first time to Europe. We were 43 and 58. Unfortunately, I am writing this one year later. We saw 11 ports in 12 days and this is a great way to experience Europe for the first time. I will give tips on exploring these ports independently. We found this much more flexible and cheaper than going on a ship excursion. We took only two ship excursions - Florence & Ephesus. Part of the reason we were able to do most of this on our own is because the ship's port guide was EXCELLENT! If you didn't attend his daily talk about the next day's port, it was televised on your room TV that evening repeatedly. This gave us a good preview and idea of how to get to public transportation, etc. First, the ship and staff were great. We also loved the fact that there was a laundry room on each floor, especially with us away from home for so many days. I need to note that with 3,000 passengers, I never really felt crowded.
Embarkation: We arrived at about 1:30 and were on the ship in 15 minutes. The port is about a 30 minute ride from Rome. We shared a shuttle van with others that we connected with on the CC boards.
Food: It was good, but we prefer more flavor. We chose anytime dining and ate most nights in the main dining room. We also ate in the buffet restaurant a few nights and that was equally good. The dining staff wasn't keen on giving us a table for two when we requested this and some nights we just wanted to be alone so we chose the buffet restaurant. Also, you can each bring a bottle of wine on board at each port. We enjoyed our own wine on our balcony each night.