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  #1  
Old September 20th, 2005, 04:29 PM
bobbi3 bobbi3 is offline
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Default MY Liberty Review-Sept6th.

Sick of Liberty reviews yet? I'd just like to give mine since the others I had read before my cruise were so helpful. I'll keep mine short. If anyone has any specific questions shoot. So here it goes:
First, this was mine and Bill's first cruise ever. We're from los angeles. I'm 29 and he is 47. We have no children and we traveled alone.
Before the cruise we spent a few days in Rome. We did not book thru Carnival. Our arrival into Rome went smoothly. The first day in Rome we spent in Old Rome at the Colisseum and Palatine Hill. The line looked a little long for the Colisseum and people were saying it would take about 45 min to get in but it actually only took about 10min. The next day we spent at the vatican. Again, the line was long but went quickly. We're good shoes here because you'll be walking ALOT. There is so much to see here. Its absolutely incredible. There are people outside of the colisseum and Vatican offering tours but we always bought the self-guided audio tours, which worked out great. They were about 5Euro extra.
The next day we spend at the trevi fountain, pantheon, spanish steps (not that big a deal) and walking around. Rome is very easy to get around in just get a good street map and you'll be fine.
TO THE SHIP:
We woke early and went over to the train station to get to Civitavecchia. It was very easy and inexpensive. We packed fairly light so carrying our bags were not difficult. I had heard so many bad things about Italian trains but we tooks the trains all throughout our trip and we never ever had a problem with a late train and we never had a long wait.
The ship was a long walk from the train station in Civitavecchia so we took a cab. We joined with another couple and it was $20 Euro total. So 10Euro a couple. Not bad considering we were so excited by now, we would had paid double.
Embarkation was EASY. And we were completely surprised that we were upgraded to a Veranda room when we just booked a windowed room!! I was sure they were going to come and kick us out that I didn't want to unpack ! This was absolutely the best surprise and it really made our trip so much better. We had room 8448, the corner room. I LOVED waking up everymoring and stepping out and seeing another port. WONDERFUL!
The rest of the day we spent exploring the ship (again we're new cruisers).
Day 2: Naples
We hadn't plan on taking any excursions but we decided to take the Pompeii, Amalfi, and Capri tour after the Cruise Director said that all these places were a Must see. Well, I think the whole ship decided to take this tour. It was crazy ! There were about 10 buses on this tour ! While our guide was very knowledgeable and she kept us moving pretty well, we felt like we were rushed through everything. I would have preferred to do Amalfi and Pompeii only. I wasn't really empressed with Capri, however the boat ride was a nice break. Lots of people fell asleep ! This was our only tour. We decided it was way too chaotic. I felt bad for all the older folks who were rushed around in the heat. Some people seriously didn't look to good.
NO more excursions for us....We did all the other ports on our own and let me tell you it was Great ! ( I'll tell you more later).
Day3: at sea.
We didnt' really know what to do. I hadn't booked a spa treatment. So we spent most of the day lounging in the pool or in our room. We didn't like the casino too much, ofcourse after we lost about $80, but mostly because it was really, really smokey in there. We did enjoy the outside evening movie. It was nice and warm out.
Oh, we did get the late dinner sitting, yeah ! We had heard so many people complaining about getting the early one. We even heard that 1/2 the tables were empty, I guess people just didn't bother.
Overall our first impression of the cruise was that it reminded us of camp, but for older folks. All the bars were dead, but again it was the first night, the clubs were quiet too. There were no children at all, I think I saw one 5year old. That was it! We did think the service was excellent everywhere on the ship. And the room was sooooo comfortable (hint: get extra pillows!).

Day 3: continued later

Gotta get back to work........

(sorry If this is a little onorganized. I'm working on 5 hours sleep. But I'm so excited to talk about the ship. If anyone has any questions please respond. I check this thing all the time)
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  #2  
Old September 20th, 2005, 04:51 PM
happy1 happy1 is offline
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Thanks for posting. Those of us awaiting a trip on the Liberty enjoy every word. Please post when you have time about your other ports of call, and any tips on the ship (must do's, etc.)
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HAL Alaska 07
Carnival Liberty Med 06
Carnival Holiday 05
RCCL Enchantment 04
Carnival Fascination 03
NCL Star Hawaii 03
RCCL Enchantment 02
Disney Wonder 02
Celebrity Century 01
Disney Magic 00
Premier Big Red Boat 99
Celebrity Meridian 91
Chandris Galelio 89
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  #3  
Old September 20th, 2005, 05:50 PM
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Still enjoying reading the Liberty reviews. Can't wait for more.
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4/27/2014 NCL Dawn 12 day Carribean Repositioning
9/29/2013 Carnival Sunshine 12 day Western Mediterranean
9/2/2012 Carnival Legend/Exotic Western Carribean
3/16/2012 Carnival Spirit 9 Day Mexico
10/26/2011 NCL Jade to Greece, Turkey, Egypt
4/17/2011 NCL Pearl Panama Canal
9/4/2010 RCCL Vision of the Seas Baltic
4/18/2010 Carnival Victory Southern Caribbean
4/26/2009 Carnival Splendor Swine Flu/Not So Mexican Riviera
4/26/2008 Carnival Freedom Transatlantic
10/2007 Carnival Freedom Transatlantic
5/2006 Carnival Liberty 12 day Mediterranean
4/2005 Carnival Spirit12 day Hawaii
2/2004 Carnival Legend/Exotic Western Carib.
4/2003 HAL Statendam/Sea of Cortez
9/2002 Carnival Holiday/Western Caribbean
4/2001 Carnival Paradise/Western Caribbean
4/2000 Carnival Inspiration/Southern Caribbean
5/1999 RCCL/Alaska
4/1998 NCL/Pacific Coastal
5/1997 Carnival Jubilee/Mexican Riviera
2/1996 Carnival Holiday/ 4 day Baja
11/1995 Carnival Tropicale
6/1992 RCCL Viking Serenade/4 day Baja
11/1991 Carnival Jubilee
6/1981 Pacific Princess/Pacific Coastal
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  #4  
Old September 20th, 2005, 07:14 PM
bobbi3 bobbi3 is offline
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Day 3: Dubrovnik.
This is a very nice city. We loved it. The people were friendly and many spoke English. You don't need a tour here. You can walk easily through the city and up to wall where you can buy a self tour listening device. We also walked over to a museum and with one ticket you can enter in the other museums as well. The maritime museum was interesting. Next, we took a water taxi over to the island and swam in the Adriatic. It was wonderful !! We explored the island longer than went back to Dubrovnik, shopped and found a nice restaurant to have a few drinks. We headed back to the ship with no problems at all. This was a very nice port.
Day 4 & 5: VENICE.
AWESOME, truly. When we cruised in front of St. Marcs square it was absolutely breathtaking. What was especially cool was we passed right by st Marcs square and saw an industrial like area where we assumed were were going to dock with the other cruise ships, well to our surprise , the captiain made a u-turn and passed by st Marcs square again and we docked right there! It was so cool, especially where our room was. We were port side in the back corner of the ship. WE HAD A PERFECT VIEW OF VENICE.
Venice is very easy on your own. Make sure to get a Vaporetto 24hour pass. You can take this to Murano and burano very easily. We went to the Rialto bridge and walked to ...gosh now I forgot the names of these places hmm... someplace near the square its the place that looks like the birthday cake. Anyway, there were lines to get in but we found that they move pretty quickly. VENICE was EXTREMELy crowded, so be prepared to wait a little in lines.
Just a quick note: At NO place/port during our trip did we find it difficult to locate restrooms. Most coffee/sandwich shops had restrooms and they didn't seem to care if you bought anything or not. Oh, and They all surprisingly had toilet paper, toilet seats....well, thats another story.
Again, Venice is a great walkking city. We got lost a few times but its a small city so we didn't ever panic.
When we left Venice i wanted to cry. I loved this place !
We had a veranda party that night and I didn't make it to dinner. I dont' even remember much of that night... sorry....

Day 6: Continued later.
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  #5  
Old September 20th, 2005, 08:03 PM
bobbi3 bobbi3 is offline
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Oh, quickly about the food on the ship. The breakfast is the Same everyday. We got bored really quick. One morning, my boyfriend actualy went and got a pizza for breakfast. The lunch was better, always a good variety, chinese, japanese, deli, pizza, burgers, pasta, you name it.
DINNER: I think it was really all about presentation. The food was okay. But its presented nicely and the service is excellant but honestly the food wasn't too great. We ordered "chateaubriand" one night but it was more like thinly sliced roast. We found also that they ran out of certain wines early in the cruise.
The desserts, however, were very good. No dissapointment here.

We did go to harry's one night and it was well worth the money. ORDER THE PORTERHOUSE , yummm!
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  #6  
Old September 21st, 2005, 11:41 AM
bobbi3 bobbi3 is offline
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Ok, where was I,
Day 6: Day at sea. I booked a spa treatment. I wasn't entirely impressed. The facilities were very nice but it seemed very crowded and unorganized. I didn't like that the spa was also a locker room for the gym. I was sitting in the waiting area waiting for my treatment and 3 girls came in from the gym. They were really loud and they kept slamming the lockers... I guess I'm just use to going to spa's and having quiet! Oh, well. The actual treatment was good, but I hated that they push the products on you. We ate at Harrys this night. It was great. Definitely put this on you list of musts, its worth the money. But make sure to book as soon as you get on the ship. We booked right when we checked in and our date was booked till 9 !
Day 7: MESSINA
Again we off the ship early and we headed straight for the train. It was very easy to find and very close to the dock. We took then next train (8:00 am) to Taormina. Once we got off the train, we had to take the shuttle bus up to the town. It was only a few Euro.
Taormina is a cute little town with a wonderful view of Mt. Etna and the surrounding ocean. We went over to the Greek theater and wasn't impressed here. Although, the view was spectacular, there wasn't much to see at the actual theater. When we left here, we shopped around a little, had a few beers and then we went over to the "garden". This garden is so charming with some wonderful views and picture ops. I highly recommend stoppping here.
Next, after a terrific lunch we found a trail that went all the way down the steep hill to the train station. It was a nice walk but a little hard on the knees, definitely the Unbeaten path.
This night it was announced that we were going to pass by Stromboli. It was really dark and cloudy so it was a little difficult to see. Since we were on the port side of the ship we watched from our balcony as we passed by. To our surpise we actually saw the volcano spit up! I have to say this was honestly one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. Even though it was just a little spout, it was so bright!
Day 8: At sea
Spent the day lounging at the pool and eating tons ~!
Boyfriend spend 4 hours at the Art auction, I think mostly just for the free champagne !
Day 9: continued
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  #7  
Old September 21st, 2005, 11:47 AM
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winewanderer winewanderer is offline
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Thanks for all the information on the "on your own" experience. This is exactly how Dh and I enjoy travelling.

Looking forward to the next installment.
__________________


4/27/2014 NCL Dawn 12 day Carribean Repositioning
9/29/2013 Carnival Sunshine 12 day Western Mediterranean
9/2/2012 Carnival Legend/Exotic Western Carribean
3/16/2012 Carnival Spirit 9 Day Mexico
10/26/2011 NCL Jade to Greece, Turkey, Egypt
4/17/2011 NCL Pearl Panama Canal
9/4/2010 RCCL Vision of the Seas Baltic
4/18/2010 Carnival Victory Southern Caribbean
4/26/2009 Carnival Splendor Swine Flu/Not So Mexican Riviera
4/26/2008 Carnival Freedom Transatlantic
10/2007 Carnival Freedom Transatlantic
5/2006 Carnival Liberty 12 day Mediterranean
4/2005 Carnival Spirit12 day Hawaii
2/2004 Carnival Legend/Exotic Western Carib.
4/2003 HAL Statendam/Sea of Cortez
9/2002 Carnival Holiday/Western Caribbean
4/2001 Carnival Paradise/Western Caribbean
4/2000 Carnival Inspiration/Southern Caribbean
5/1999 RCCL/Alaska
4/1998 NCL/Pacific Coastal
5/1997 Carnival Jubilee/Mexican Riviera
2/1996 Carnival Holiday/ 4 day Baja
11/1995 Carnival Tropicale
6/1992 RCCL Viking Serenade/4 day Baja
11/1991 Carnival Jubilee
6/1981 Pacific Princess/Pacific Coastal
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  #8  
Old September 21st, 2005, 12:19 PM
I Luv Crusin I Luv Crusin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dls
Still enjoying reading the Liberty reviews. Can't wait for more.
ME TOO, Keep the reviews coming!!!
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Lesley
_____________________________________
Cruises taken:

Princess Cruise Lines 85,Fascination 11/01, Sensation 9/02, Conquest 12/5/04
Inspiration 7/4/2005, 4/1/06 HAL Veendam
Liberty 5/19/06 Europe, Glory 11/18/2006
Carnival Freedom 11/30/08 in a Cat. 12!!!!
Carnival Liberty (again) 10/31/09
Fantasy 9/24/2010 upsold to a GS!!!
Pride 10/2/11 to Bermuda!!! (#10!!!)
Cruise ALASKA!!! HAL Westerdam 9/8/12
Dream 4/6/13
Liberty 3/1/14 - yet AGAIN
Future Wish Cruises:
Northern Europe
New England/Canada
Southern Caribbean
Alaska, Bermuda, and Med again?
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  #9  
Old September 22nd, 2005, 11:47 AM
bobbi3 bobbi3 is offline
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Continued:

Day 9: Barcelona

We truly didn't have anything planned at this port. We had heard that its a pretty metropolitan city and transportation is easy. When we got off the ship we headed straight for the Metro. The subway was very easy and very cheap. We took the sub to the Sagrada Familia church. The subway leaves you right infront. There was no extra walking. The church is amazing, alittle creepy but a definite must see. Next we jumped back on the metro and went back down to the gothic quarter. There is a church in the middle of it, sorry, I can't remember the name, but this church is a must see. It is truly very gothic, much different then the churches in Rome. There is an elevator to the roof and once you get up there you'll see stunning views of all of Barcelona. It was a beautiful clear sunny day. We got some great pics up there.

When we left the church we headed for some tapas bars. This where we ran into a little trouble. First, I do speak some spanish and it was fairly easy for me to communicate with people. But our experience in the tapas bars were that the servers seemed rude and unwiling to help you. We felt really bad for a couple who sat next to us, who spoke No Spanish at all and they got no service at all. The waiter literally ignored them. They finally left after much fustration. We left for another Tapas bar and got the same result. The tapas we did try were awesome ! They have lots of fish ones too, not my favorite but my BF loved them.
We were even in the touristy areas so we couldn't figure why people were so rude. I guess this was just OUR bad day. Others we talked to back on the ship loved Barcelona and definitely felt they definitely would go back. Sorry, I didn't like it all that much
After the tapas bars we headed to the hArd Rock to buy some shirts. People were much friendlier here. It was located in the Gothic quarter so it was a short walk.
We enjoyed the rest of our day on and off the Metro. We saw the "house of bones", which was OKAy. We did want to make it over to the Olympic area, but we had no time. So we shopped and stopped for beer .
We made it back to the ship on time. We were so exhausted we skipped dinner and went straight to bed!
Day10 & Day 11: My two favorite days... To be continued.............
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  #10  
Old September 23rd, 2005, 04:46 PM
bobbi3 bobbi3 is offline
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Continued...sorry this is so long:

Day 10: Cannes

This was truly one of my favorite days. We woke up early, had breakfast, then loitered around the Venetian Room where all the excursion people meet. After we figured out that they don't check you before you get on the tender, we snuck on. (Remember the early tenders are for people with excursions.) The whole tender system seem to run smoothly and I believe non excursion people were able to get off the ship earlier than they had anticipated. When we got off the tender, again, we headed straight for the trains. It took us some time to figure out the schedule but eventually got it. The train station here seemed alot more crowded than any we had been in Italy. But the train arrived within minutes and soon we were on our way.

We bought 2 one-way tickets to Eze. One way only because we didn't know if we were going to try to go somewhere else later in the day. We arrived in Eze about 30 min. later after a quick change over in Nice. We had originally wanted to visit Nice first but talking to other tourists on the train, found out that the streets in Nice were being worked on and it wasn't very pretty.

When we arrived at Eze sur Mer we had to take a shuttle for a few Euro up to Eze the town. I absolutely loved Eze. There were some of the best views we'd seen on the whole trip. There is a lovely "exotic" or cactus (not so exotic for us Californians) garden at the top of the hill. After exploring the garden we headed down for lunch and ate at a wonderful cliff side restaurant. The service was excellant, much better than Barcelona, but not knowing any french made it difficult to order. I mistakingly ordered a salad with Tuna and I hate Tuna! But, oh well, I scraped it off and ate the rest.

After lunch we headed down the hill to the perfumery. This was not my BF's favorite stop, but I loved it ! I bought all sort of gifts for sisters and ofcourse myself. We then, shopped a little more and headed finally for the bus stop.

This is where it got interesting. We caught the 3:20 bus to try to make the 3:45 train...well, we had barely made it down the hill in time. We ran fast, we meaning, the two of us and about 5 others on the Liberty. Well, the 3:40 train didn't show up untll 4:20 and when it did, it was jamm packed !! There was absolutely no place to get in. We knew we were in a real dilema so my BF's quickly pushed me up into the train and he jummed in right behind me. The doors barely closed. We felt really bad for the 5 or 6 people who we saw still standing on the platform. So here I am squashed between my BF and some man who was breathing down my neck... ugh. Oh, and people smell over there too , NOT NICE ! But after a few stops the train emptied a bit and we made it to Cannes at about 5:00. When we got off the train we headed straight for a bar.

I heard bad things about Cannes but I didn't think it was THAT bad. Sure, there are a bunch of ritzy shops but it definitely is a people watching town. We set up camp at a harbor side bar and began drinking. It kinda reminded me of Miami.

We shopped and ate a little more before heading back to the tender. I think we were on the last one, 7:00pm. Have your camera out, it was the most beautiful sunset I had seen yet !

Oh and about those people left on the platform, we ran into them before dinner the next evening. They said that the next train was just as packed but in desperation they did what we did. Nevertheless, they made it to the ship in time. We had a few laughs about the whole thing. And they say Italian trains are bad !!!!

Day 11: FLORENCE TO BE CONTINUED>>
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  #11  
Old September 23rd, 2005, 10:22 PM
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Learning the ropes Learning the ropes is offline
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Keep it coming Bobbi! Never get tired of reading Liberty reviews. Especially nice to hear how easy the trains were to take as that is what we have planned. Thank you.
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  #12  
Old September 24th, 2005, 11:53 AM
happy1 happy1 is offline
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I'm copying these so please keep posting. Your trip sounded great, and your advice is priceless.
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HAL Alaska 07
Carnival Liberty Med 06
Carnival Holiday 05
RCCL Enchantment 04
Carnival Fascination 03
NCL Star Hawaii 03
RCCL Enchantment 02
Disney Wonder 02
Celebrity Century 01
Disney Magic 00
Premier Big Red Boat 99
Celebrity Meridian 91
Chandris Galelio 89
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  #13  
Old September 26th, 2005, 07:23 PM
bobbi3 bobbi3 is offline
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Day 11: Florence- The best for last !

On this day we woke up really early. We wanted to be off the ship and on our way to Florence as soon as possible. We were honestly the first two people off the ship, it was 7:00am. We took a cab to the train station. It would have been a long walk and thru a not so nice area. We easily got on the 7:30 train to Florence. It was nice and sunny out and the train was near empty.

We arrived in Florence at about 9:00am. It was extremely crowded, even more so than Venice. We walked across the street to the train station to see the Santa Maria Novella church (the train station is named after it).
After that we headed over to the Il Duomo. Wow! The church is huge. We didn't get to go inside. It was closed. SOmething was going on inside and it wouldn't open till later on that day. This is where we had a Cardinal sighting. A motorcade had drove by with a couple of red robed men inside. Their were crowds of people trying to get pictures. I had no idea what was going on. But it was exciting!
After the Duomo we quickly headed over to Santa Croce ! Again, another amazing church. this is a must see as Michael Angelo's Body is here. It was about 11:45 when we left (oh, I forgot to mention that on our way to the church we stopped and saw Neptune's fountain--very cool!). I had made an appt on line before we left to see David at the Accademia at 12noon. The reservations said to be there on time. Since it was 11:45, I thought there would be no way we could make it. But my BF saw a cab and we were on our way. When our driver pointed out the Accademia, my jaw dropped. The line was around the building ! Since I had a reserv. I walked up to the door and a man came out, looked at my papers and escorted us in. It was Perfect ! WE went straight over to David, he is magnificent by the way, I couldn't stop staring at him. After a few pics, we were on our way.
We had lunch at a wonderful restaurant near the Ponte Vecchio. I read about this one in Frommers and I'm glad I did. It was Fabulous and what huge portions ! We had a bottle of wine and had two courses. I had Chicken with spinach and potatos and a small plate of meat pasta, YumM!
Well, after our 1-1/2 plus lunch, I looked at clock and realized that we had to rush. I had planned for us to catch the 3:15 train over to Pisa. I JUST HAD TO SEE PISA !!
We walked over to the train station, bought our ticket, again with no problems and got on the first train to Pisa. We arrived in Pisa at 4:20 and I had another reservation to go up in Pisa at 4:40. I'm telling you, I couldn't have planned it more perfectly! BUT, this is when it starting to Rain, not sprinkle, rain. We had taken 2 umbrella's with us on this trip, but do you think we had just one on us!? nO! So we caught a cab over to Pisa. I showed my papers at the counter and the women asked for I.D. I was surprised, but luckily I had my California I.D. She analyzed it for a minute then gave us our tickets. We walked right over to the line in front of the Tower, waited about 5 min. then we walking up the tower.
The tower has narrow marble steps leading to the top. It was quite scary with the rain water coming down the steps. It was extremely slippers. I'm actually surprised we didn't slip. After reaching the top and taking a few pics we quickly headed down to take some pictures out in front of the tower.
This was challenging considering we it was really coming down by now. We were both soaked. We took the typical pictures, you know, like we were trying to hold up the tower with our hands. We noticed it was 5:15 by now so we had no time to shop or visit the museum.
We tried to get a cab but we didn't see one and about 10min had gone by so we saw a city bus and we jumped on. We didn't even know if it was going to the train but our gamble paid off. We arrived at the train station at 5:30 and were on the train on our way to the ship 10 min later.
We just made it back to the ship by 6:10, 20 min. time to spare.
It was a great day ! We did lots of running around but we saw lots too. All my planning really paid off !!


Day 12: Disembarking.
This was my least favorite day. They want you off early !! We got up really early, we were sooooo tired. It was a little messy, trying to find our bags but I guess it could have been worse. Their number system for disembarking seemed to work well. We took a shuttle, we thought was going to take us to the train station, but it actually just took us out of the port area. They dumped us off right outside the gates to the port and we walked the rest of the way. It wasn't too far but with our luggage it sucked. I think I would have paide the 10 euro for the cab.
Anyway, we left Civitavecchia back to Rome. We spend another day here before we headed home.

Overall, it was a wonderful trip !!
If anyone has any questions, I"m happy to answer them !!
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  #14  
Old September 29th, 2005, 01:22 PM
bobbi3 bobbi3 is offline
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Sorry, it turned out to be such a long review.
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  #15  
Old September 29th, 2005, 01:51 PM
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Europebound Europebound is offline
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Bobbi3:

So enjoyed your review and all the others I've read on the Liberty sailings. Our good friends had the cabin right next to you (8450) and we were three down from you on the Verandah aft. I remember that you told our group about swimming in the Adriatic on the Dubrovnik day.

It truly was a great cruise and I'm sure other readers will get good hints from your review. I'm almost exhausted again just from reading all that you guys did. So cool.
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Old September 29th, 2005, 02:21 PM
bobbi3 bobbi3 is offline
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Oh cool ! I couldn't find anyone on the ship who I had previously spoke to on Cruise critic.

Wasn't it a gret cruise ?!
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  #17  
Old September 29th, 2005, 11:09 PM
jeno jeno is offline
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Does anyone happen to remember when you got off the ship in Cannes? We have booked a private tour and the driver says that if we get in at 9 he will pick us up at 10. I would prefer to do it earlier. What do you think? Thanks!
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  #18  
Old October 3rd, 2005, 01:57 PM
bobbi3 bobbi3 is offline
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Just tell them at the Excursion desk that you have a private tour. They will make sure you get off early. You must have proof of the tour.
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  #19  
Old October 6th, 2005, 08:00 PM
margeo margeo is offline
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Where is the subway in relationship to the ship's pier? You said you walked to it.
Thanks
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Old October 7th, 2005, 02:41 AM
AKcruzer AKcruzer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by margeo
Where is the subway in relationship to the ship's pier? You said you walked to it.
Thanks
I'll answer this one, since ironically I happened to be on the same ship (Sept. 6th sailing) and followed roughly the same route in Barcelona.

We waited until they allowed general debarkation (about 8:00 a.m.) and then headed for the subway closest to the World Trade Center. This was the Drassanes station about 2-3 blocks north of the Placa Del Portal De La Pau (Christopher Columbus Monument). If you have a good map of the downtown area you should be able to find it pretty easily. Taking the subway was a piece of cake. We also headed straight for La Sagrada Familia. It's really quite impressive. Then we followed roughly the same route back to the city center as BillnBobby posted several weeks ago on this site. We walked west along Carrer de Provenca and then headed south on Passeig de Gracia through the Gothic District. We ended up at the same church as Bobbi3, which is the Cathedral de Barcelona. It is well worth checking out. We also paid the 2 euros to take the elevator up to the roof where you can get a great view of the city. Then we headed for the Mercat (market) and did more shopping in the Gothic District before heading back to the ship.

We also utilized trains a lot on this trip, before, during and after our cruise. We took the train from Messina up to Taormina. In fact, we must have been on the same train there because we also left the station about 8:00 a.m.

We also used the train to get from Rome to Civitavecchia and back without any problems. We walked from the train station to the dock, about a ten minute walk. Just make sure your luggage has good rollers or it could be a little bothersome as some of the sidewalks are cobblestone. Once you're at the gate to the dock there is a free Carnival shuttle bus which takes you the rest of the way to the ship (about another 1/2 mile). We saw people walking to the ship along the way. They obviously didn't know about the bus, but it's really hard to miss if you're looking for it.

We only did two tours on the cruise. One to Pompeii (in Naples) and one to Pisa (in Livorno). All the other ports we did our own thing. I had done a fair amount of research ahead of time regarding each port, including reading and taking the advice of some of the posters on this board (thanks BillnBobby). Your advice and tips were invaluable!

We stayed in Rome for two days before the cruise and did pretty much the same itinerary as Bobbi3. I swear we must have walked by this couple several times as we seemed to do a lot of the same things. Get to the Vatican Museum early (8:00 a.m. to 8:15 a.m.) and you should get in shortly after 9:00 a.m. when it opens. You can tour St. Peter's Basilica afterward as there is hardly any line at all. There was a pretty good line to climb to the top of the Dome however. It's 4 euros if you walk all the way up and 7 euros if you opt to take the elevator the first half. I walked and my wife rode and I arrived at the halfway point about 2 minutes after her. The toughest part of the climb is the second half and there's no elevator for that. Don't do it if you are claustrophobic; the stairs get very narrow towards the top. The views are spectacular at the top! I can't imagine finding a better view of the city and St. Peter's Square below.

After the cruise, we took a train to Florence (through Rome). One mistake we made was to get on a regional train by accident, after we had paid for a direct Aerostar ticket. The regional train stopped in every village/town along the way and turned a 2-hour ride into a 4-hour trip. Luckily this was one of the few times on our trip when it didn't matter that we were late. BTW, if you're ever looking for a great hotel in Florence, try the Hotel David. You can look up the reviews on Venere.com, but you won't find a better value anywhere in the city. We paid 75 euros a night for a five night stay. I can't say enough good things about this hotel. It exceeded our expectations in every regard, and our expectations were pretty high after reading all the reviews. Large rooms, large bathrooms, fantastic breakfast (and that's hard to find in Italy), complimentary wine and appetizers in the evening, free internet; do I need to go on...

Anyway, from Florence, we took two day trips. The first to Lucca by train and the second to Siena by bus. The bus station is right next to the train station in Florence and the bonus is that the bus takes you right into the center of Siena and is actually a more pleasant ride, a little faster and roughly the same price. The train to Lucca drops you off right by the entrance to the ancient walled city. Both towns are really quaint. If I had to choose one over the other, I'd choose Siena because the main church or Duomo is probably the most impressive church I've ever seen, and believe me, I saw a lot of churches on this trip, including all the churches we saw in London on our way back. If you ever get a chance to go to Siena, it has a lot of pretty cool places to check out - Piazza Del Campo, Torre del Mangia (Campanile), etc. The highlight is the Siena Cathedral or Duomo, however, and if you ever get a chance to see it you will not be disappointed.

We left Florence for Rome very early in the morning, again by train. This time I asked the guy at the ticket window when I didn't see our 6:40 a.m. Aerostar train on the board. He explained that's because our train was listed as the one going to Napoli (Naples). Silly me, I should have known that the train to Napoli would go through Rome. This must have been how we missed our first Aerostar train to Florence. It probably said Milan or Venice. Anyway, if you have problems locating your train on the board, go by the departure time and then ask someone to make sure you're getting on the right train. Also, do not take a cab in Florence unless you have a really strong constitution. We took one from the train station to our hotel and back again. Each time it took several minutes for the blood to return to my hands after the death grip I had on the seat and door. I've taken taxis in New York City and Dublin, but they don't even come close to the taxis in Italy. The only thing that could possibly be worse is trying to navigate those narrow streets on a moped or scooter with all the traffic on the road. That said, we had a great time in Florence and would go back in a heartbeat. There is so much to see and do, especially if you appreciate art and history as we do.

We stopped in London for three days on our way back home to the States. It was a nice transition (big cars, big roads and drivers that really pay attention to traffic laws, even if they do drive on the wrong side of the road). Along with all the fantastic sightseeing (this was my second trip to London), we saw a great play at the Prince of Wales Theatre, "Mamma Mia." If you ever get the chance, you ought to take it in. It's touring several cities in the U.S. now. Anyway, this was the trip of a lifetime for us, as it was for many others that have posted on this board.

P.S. Our cruise director, John Heald, hinted that he was trying to get Carnival to add Greece to the itinerary for next year. I don't know if he was really serious, but that is about the only way I can imagine improving this particular cruise. We had a fabulous time at every port of call. We even liked "Big Brother" (the big TV screen on the ship) ;-)

Steve & Sharon (Cabin 8390)
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