Millennium is a beautiful ship and we loved our cabin - a concierge class/balcony. We enjoyed the food in the Metropolitan and were lucky enough to be seated next to the floor-to-ceiling windows at the stern on deck 5, with 4 fun table companions from NYC. The staff deserves a lot of credit for the incredible service that they provide. Passengers consisted of 700+ Canadians, slightly fewer number of Americans, British, Australian, Europeans...... And only 6 children in total. We had early dinner, which worked well for us because we were up at the crack of dawn (or before) each day. Only saw 3 shows, which were good, but sleep became more important as the trip progressed. Enjoyed spending time with cruise critic friends that we met through our Roll Call.
The weather was amazing....lots of sunshine, temperatures ranging from 72-77F, and only two very brief rainfalls.
Barcelona: Spent two nights pre-cruise at the Hotel Continental Palacete...great location just 2 blocks from Placa Catalunya. Took the Airport Bus....convenient and a bargain at 3.6E. The subway (10 tickets for 6.3E) was a very easy way to get around. Visited Gaudi’s creations: Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, and Casa Mila (loved all 3 and spent a long time at each) also, Bari Gothic District and the Cathedral (took the elevator to the roof top for spectacular views) , strolled La Rambla and the harbour area, ate at Les Quinz Nitz (highly recommended!) It was a long walk uphill from the subway to Parc Guell, a bus would probably be the better alternative.
Thoroughly enjoyed Barcelona and would have liked more time there to visit museums.
There was a cab stand with several cabs just outside of our hotel; cost to get to the ship was 11.5E plus tip.
Embarkation was extremely fast - two minutes in the Express Pass line. (Left our hotel at noon and in our cabin by 1 p.m.) Departure from Barcelona was at 7 pm (muster was at 5:30 and following that we had a quick gathering of our CC Roll Call members in Cosmos Lounge.) Dinner times were 6:15 and 8:45.
Villefranche - 10am - 11pm
Tendered ashore at 10:15 and walked to the bus stop next to the TI office. Caught the 10:37 bus (#100) to Eze Bord du Mer, then the 11:10 bus (#83) up to Eze Village (#83 only runs from May-Sept.) . The cactus garden was the highlight in Eze - both for the garden itself and the spectacular views.
From Eze Village, took the 12:50 pm bus (#112) to Monaco Walked down to the Casino, around the harbour, up the hill to the palace in the Old Town of Monaco. Again, wonderful views! We really enjoyed our afternoon here - it is a modern, clean city, with beautiful buildings...lots of luxury! They were setting up for the Yacht Show, giving us a chance to drool over the multi-million dollar yachts. From the palace we walked to the train station to catch the 4:29 pm train back to V.F. , and then enjoyed a stroll through some of V.F.’s streets. Travel costs for the day were 1.3 E each for the bus from V.F. to Eze Bord du Mer, used the same ticket for bus #83 to Eze village, 2.2 E each for bus from Eze Village to M.Carlo, and 2.3E each for the train from M.Carlo to V.F. Bus and train schedules proved their worth here as it meant no waiting. We were in awe of the beautiful scenery along the French Rivieria!
Bus schedules: http://www.eze-riviera.com/emotions/...nt/ang/bus.htm and http://www.lignedazur.com/
Train Schedules: sncf.com/dynamic/_SvHomePage?_DLG=SvHomePage&_CMD=cmdHomepageUK&WB= HP
Livorno - 7am - 7 pm
We had planned to take the train in today, but one of Italy’s notorious transportation strikes was scheduled , so instead took Celebrity’s Florence on Your Own bus, at 8:15 and arrived in Florence at approx. 10 (at Santa Croce Church.) The guide provided lots of interesting info on the way there and back. Walked along the Arno to Ponte Vecchio, Baptisty doors, Duomo (long lines, so we waited till the afternoon to go inside.) Had an 11:45 reservation at the Accademia - waited in the “reservation” line for 15 minutes (the non-reservation line was a 2.5 hour wait) . Enjoyed seeing the original statue of David and some of his other works. From there we walked through a long street market & caught the #12 bus up to Piazzale Michelangelo to enjoy great views of Florence. This was a slow bus (40 minutes) - the walk back down took about 20 minutes. Back in town, we spent some time in Uffizi Square and Piazza Signoria with their impressive statues, back to the Duomo (still a long line, but it only took 15 minutes to get inside) then to Santa Croce to meet the bus for 3:45 pm. Florence was extremely crowded - had to move with the flow of people all day, but it was our first visit there and an impressive city to visit - great architecture and art!
Civitavecchia 7 am-7pm
An early start today, in order to catch the 7:30 shuttle out of the port to make the 8:12 train into Rome. An easy 10-15 minute walk to the train station, purchased our tickets (9E ea. which included return trip, plus subways & buses in Rome). Be sure to validate your ticket - fines of 25E were given to people who had not done so!
Arrived in Rome Termini by 9:30 and caught the subway (Line B Colosseo stop) to the Colosseum. We viewed it from the outside (you can see in through the many gates) and a quick stop at the Forum before heading back to the subway to head to the Vatican (Line B to Termini then Line A, Ottaviano or Musei Vaticani stop) for our 12 pm Guided Tour of the museum & Sistine Chapel http://mv.vatican.va/3_EN/pages/z-In...zi_Visite.html We really enjoyed the tour and having the highlights pointed out to us....the treasures in the museum, as well as the buildings themselves, are unbelievably beautiful. From the museum, we continued on through the Sistine Chapel and directly into St. Peter’s Basilica (bypassing the long line outside) and once again, we were in awe of the size and beauty of this church.
It was almost 3 pm and with an hour left, we were able to walk to the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, via Piazza Navona...with very brief stops at each as we wanted to get to Barberini Subway stop by 4 pm. to get back to Termini for our 4:35 pm train to Civitivacchia. We needed about 15 minutes at the terminal to find and walk to the track that our train to Civitivacchia was on (#27) ... be sure to look at Departures and not Arrivals on the board. (It was a long walk within the terminal to get to the gate!)
The trains were very prompt and easy to use - subways were also easy to use, but traffic was extremely heavy, so had to abort using the one bus that we tried after sitting on it through 4 traffic light changes, without moving an inch.
Arrived in Civitavecchia at 5:50 & walked back to port to catch the last shuttle at 6:00 (which waited until 6:15 for late arrivals). Loved Rome and must go back for a longer stay....so much to see!
Train schedules: http://www.trenitalia.it/en/index.html
Naples - 7am - 7 pm.
We (4 couples from our CC roll call) met Salvatore from DriveAmalfi at 8 a.m. The plan was to head to Pompeii first and then the Amalfi coast, however, due to a labour disruption, Pompeii was closed until 10 a.m. so we saved Pompeii for the afternoon. We headed south out of Naples past the volcanic Mount Vesuvius and arrived at the coast for a spectacularly scenic coastal drive of approx. 30 miles, with many stops at viewpoints high up on the cliffs. We bypassed Sorrento, stopping in the coastal towns of Positano and Amalfi, with about 30 minutes in each town to explore and shop. This area is noted for it’s lemon and olive trees and we saw many growing on terraces throughout the drive. Leaving Amalfi, we headed up into the mountain roads and stopped several miles outside of Amalfi at a restaurant (Ristorante-Pizzeria S. Giovanni) in the small town of Pontone . The outdoor patio provided a beautiful view of the surrounding hills and down to the village of Amalfi; the food was delicious (pizza was their specialty) and very reasonably priced. The bottle of Lemoncello at the end of the meal was a highlight! On through the mountain roads, with plans to be in Pompeii by 3 to meet the guide that Salvatore had arranged for us....we were about 20 minutes late, leaving our time in Pompeii somewhat short. Before dropping us off at the ship (at 5:50) Salvatore had time to take us on a short tour through the area of downtown Naples close to the port. Traffic in Naples is chaotic! Had a great day touring with Salvatore and our CC friends!
The following day was a sea day and after 4 busy port days, we were looking forward to this...amazing how quickly a day of doing nothing can pass by! The Cruise Critic party was planned for 10 a.m. that day, but unfortunately Celebrity staff forgot to send out invitations ahead of time, and finally did so at 9:30 the night prior (but then printed invitations from a previous sailing with the wrong date and location, however, they also left voice mail messages with everyone.) With losing an hour to the time change and the late invitations, only about half of our Roll Call group turned up.....for those of us who did get there, it was a nice chance to chat with our CC friends and catch up on the previous week’s activities.
Mykonos - 1 pm - 12am
Off the ship by 1:15, and onto the shuttle into town. Stopped in at the Archeological Museum (free on Sundays)and then walked further into town and to head up the narrow, winding streets to get a view from above. ...back down to the street along the harbour which is lined with outdoor cafes. Continued on through ‘Little Venice’, a shopping/bar district further along the harbour. Stopped at an internet cafe, they are plentiful and cheap on this island (1E for 15 minutes.) Came across the bus stop & took a bus to Paradise Beach. The bus ride in itself was an experience, riding along narrow winding roads ... a great chance to see some of the island. The water felt like it was in the high 70’sF and is crystal clear. Caught the 6 pm bus (standing room only...packed in like sardines!) back into town.
Used http://www.frommers.com/destinations...652010029.html for our guide material
Santorini - 7am - 11pm
Tendered ashore at 7:45 and caught the cable car up to the town of Fira . We had not planned to spend any time in Fira so headed to Tony’s Rent-a-Car for our reserved car. Ancient Akrotiri is closed on Monday but we decided to head in that direction to see the Red Beach. We parked at the end of the road in Akrotiri and then hiked to the beach (made up of red volcanic pebbles and seems to be only accessible on foot or by water) and then to the top of the hill for some spectacular views. Back in the car, we headed to the town of Faros for more spectacular views of the Caldera. On to Emporio for a lunch stop, then Pyrgos (the highest and oldest village on the island)...wonderful views after walking to the top of the village! On to Kamari Beach (black volcanic pebbles) for a swim here and again amazed by how clear the water is.
From Kamari, headed north, back through Fira, towards Oia, but first stopping in Imerovigli for more great views, then down into Ammoudi ....an old fishing village, with buildings made out of red volcanic stones. Ate at Katina’s Taverna and had a delicious Greek seafood dinner , then walked the path along the shore. Back in the car and up to Oia (our plan was to do Oia late in the day once the tour buses had cleared out and this worked well as it was not very busy at 6 p.m.) Parked the car in Oia and found a nice spot to wait to see Oia’s famous sunset. There was still 45 minutes to wait, but people were lining up already. The sunset was a lackluster one but seeing all the people lined up to watch it was a sight in itself. Arrived back in Fira to drop the car off at 7:45 and walked down the 600 steps, dodging donkey droppings along the way (hard to see at times, because it was dark, and the lights didn’t cover the whole stairway.) We actually saw a few people walking up which seemed like quite a feat! It took about 20 minutes to walk down. There was a Greek Buffet on the Pool Deck that night, but we arrived back too late as it ended at 9 p.m.
Athens - 7 am - 11 pm.
We met 4 CC friends at 8 a.m. to walk to the Metro Station.... bought an all day ticket for 3E, validated it before entering the train (green line); took it to Omonia, transferred to the red line and then 3 stops to the Akropoli stop. (Thanks to Putz for the detailed instructions on getting to the Metro Station in Piraeus!)
From the Akropoli stop it is a short walk uphill to the Acropolis.... arrived at approximately 9:15 & crowds were very light then. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that it was National Tourist Day in Greece and admission was free to the sites and museums. (When we arrived at the Acropolis, the 3 couples split up to do Athens on their own.) We toured the Acropolis and museum until 11, by which time it had become quite crowded. On to the Ancient Agora, through the Plaka to the Roman Agora and Tower of Winds, lunch at Monastiraki Square (at a great restaurant recommended by Rick Steves), walked through the National Gardens to the Olympic Stadium, Temple of Zeus, back through the gardens to Syntagma Square & Parliament Building/Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, caught the subway at Syntagma to get to the National Archeological Museum for a quick tour. Needed a caffeine jolt by that time, and found an internet cafe next door to the museum. By this time it was 4:30 and I had one stop left on my list.... Lykavittos Hill. We could see it from the museum, so decided to walk to it, and by the time we reached the base of it, where the buildings stopped, we were half way up. Discovered that the cable car was on the other side of the hill and that it would be faster to walk to the top than to the cable car, so kept on walking. A good workout, with rewarding views from the top. From the museum to the top of the hill, it took us approx. 1 hour. Walking down was much faster and easier! Once down, it was about a 20 minute walk to Evangelismos subway stop to transfer at Monastiraki and back to Piraeus....and on the ship by 7:15. It was a long day, but we thoroughly enjoyed exploring Athens on foot and getting a feel for the city. It was noisy with traffic (esp. the motorcycles), but we quickly got used to it and enjoyed the city for all the treasures that were there to see. Great subway system in Athens!
Guide Material: http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/desti...ens.htm#glance
Our 2nd and last full sea day - and again, some much needed rest!
Dubrovnik - 7 am to 5 pm
Caught the shuttle bus at 8 am, which dropped us off close to the Pile Gate of the Wall surrounding the old town. First stopped at the TI for a map and then the ATM for Kunas (both nearby to where the bus dropped us off.) Arrived at the wall at 8:30 just as it opened The walk around the wall, with stops to admire the views of both the town and the sea, took till 10 a.m. and after that we spent another hour in the town visiting the Museum of the Franciscan Monastery, The Onofrio Fountain, a walk down the Stradun, the main shopping street and down to the harbour. Visited several churches and worked our way back to the Pile Gate to exit the old city by 11 a.m. when tourists were coming in in droves. Getting to the wall early was nice as there were very few people for the first hour. The map provided by the TI was detailed enough for us to figure out how to walk back to the ship. The first part of our walk was through a park near the walled city, on a hill overlooking the ocean with spectacular views. The rest of the walk back wasn’t all that interesting, but we did get to see Dubrovnik outside of the Walled Town. Back on the ship by 2:30.
Venice - 12 pm arrival.
At 10:30 am we headed up onto deck 10 starboard side, to watch the sail in to Venice. The weather was sunny and warm again - a beautiful day to watch the approach to Venice and cruising past St. Mark’s Square. The views were spectacular from that height and it was clear enough to see the Alps off to the east. We docked at Marrittima Terminal by 11:30 and headed off the ship at noon. Decided to scout out Piazzale Roma and find out how to get the airport bus and where the Sofitel was. Both were within easy walking distance from the ship and once we got ourselves oriented, we headed off towards St. Mark’s Square through the maze of streets, stopping to buy Murano Glass jewelry along the way. (Celebrity provided a free shuttle Vaporetta between the pier and St. Marks Square, which ran till 11pm.) We had reservations at the Basilica for 4 p.m. but went in early (as they didn’t look at the time on my reservation form.) There was a fairly long line without reservations, so worthwhile having them (http://www.alata.it/eng/musei/musei.asp) Back outside, we noticed that the line for the Campanile was fairly short, so waited in it for approx. 15 minutes to take the elevator to the top....for more outstanding views of Venice and the surrounding areas. Back to the ship to enjoy a last dinner with our NY friends, and then finish packing.
Disembarkation the following morning went very quickly - our scheduled time was at 7:40 and we were off the ship within 10 minutes, and on our way to the hotel. We were at the Sofitel and into our rooms by 8:45 a.m. (pleasantly surprised that a room was available for us that early.)
We had reservations for 11:35 for the Secret Itinerary Tour at Doge’s Palace so headed off in the direction of St. Mark’s Square, stopping for an hour first at Scuola Grande de San Rocco (amazing paintings by Tintoretto). The Secret Tour was very interesting and following it, we were able to tour the rest of the palace which is immense and filled with beautiful artwork.
Time for lunch...and we found a restaurant recommended in my guidebook. Recharged, we decided to do one of the walks outlined in the guide, from San Marco to the Jewish Quarter, which took up the rest of our afternoon and led us on some quiet and interesting streets off the beaten track and into some churches with wonderful paintings. Back to the hotel to refresh, and then off to dinner at a restaurant that my husband had spotted during our walk. The Sofitel was a wonderful hotel to stay at.
The following morning we took the 7:50 a.m. airport bus from Piazzale Roma to Marco Polo Airport (20 minute ride...3E pp) - P. Roma was only a few minutes walk from the Sofitel and just once bridge to maneuver our suitcases over. A smooth trip home...made our connecting flight in Frankfurt and arrived home on time in Toronto, and luckily our luggage arrived with us both there and back!
What incredible memories and pictures we have of this trip!!!
~~~~Azamara Quest-Ancient Empires 2008~~~~Xpedition-Galapagos 2006~~~~Millennium-Med 2005 (Review)~~~~
~~~~Zenith-Bermuda 2003 & 2005~~~~Radiance-Alaska 2003~~~~Cunard-Baltic 2000~~~~