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  1. We were in Rome last summer and used AirBnB (booked with a "Super host" to ensure no problems - we were a family of 4 but found it much more comfortable, affordable and roomy than a hotel (again, no flames for us either please :) we are a bit choosy so the extra rooms and having 3 bedrooms, laundry, etc was good for us). Air BnB has alot of options for even short stays. We pre-purchased high speed train tix (allows you to choose seats, etc) and took the train to port, then a taxi (from the door of the train station) directly to the ship. My understanding is that taxi's from the train station can drive you directly to the ship but some other services may not (not sure if this is true but I can attest that our taxi did literally drive us to the dock/check-in....we seriously didn't walk 500m total, which with 2 cranky teens in the morning and luggage was kind of nice!). I wouldn't hesitate to take the train again - quite affordable and very easy! Enjoy Rome!!! :)
  2. Great questions - I just checked with the kids to see......they said that last summer there were a few times that there were only 2-3 kids at the club and they didn't close. That said I should note my youngest was 12 at the time so a little older (different part of the club?). Not sure if they cut back based on the number of kids on board but I know from Carnival & RC they may just combine some of the age groups, not cut hours. There were later options at the club as well and there were PJ parties, etc (I want to say until midnight but I can't recall for sure).
  3. Canadian schools all start around Labour Day (Sept long weekend) however that said many Canadian schools (my kids included) have a "fall break" that will be around Canadian Thanksgiving. (Which is in October). I haven't been on a cruise around then however some family members have been and noted while there aren't the number of kids seen on spring break cruises there will be other kids and certainly other Canadians that time of year. My older daughter is an introvert so doesn't love kids club - but my younger one?!?!?! We honestly can't pull her out of there...she is there as much as possible! For an idea of kid's club activities I posted some of the kids itineraries in this post:
  4. I honestly am not sure about the taxis at port - but I did see quite a number at the end of the people mover (they park in the same lot as the buses, right at the end of the people mover by the parking garage). I noticed some there and quite a number of express airport buses even at 8am. I think they know when the ships disembark and are used to the rush of people (I think there were 7 ships in the same day as us). We walked off our cruise which started at 7:30 (it was more like 7:40am) but overall was very quick. Not sure of your cruise line however historically when we have walked off it has been very quick and relatively easy to make flights in other ports (although I can't speak to Venice as we spent the day and flew out later).
  5. No unfortunately there are no laundry facilities - just the ship's services. There was a "fill the laundry bag for a flat fee" special about 1/2 way thru the cruise. For our sailing it was $49 to fill the bag.
  6. I had read that as well that there can be a shortage.....we were chatting with another couple who shared our van with us and they mentioned they have found the same shortage previously (sounds like they go out of that port every summer). Not sure if it is because we arrived after the rush or not but there were at least 8 parked there in the little lot and the drivers were lining folks up based on what ship they wanted to go to. Overall it worked great for us! I hope it runs smooth for others as it was fabulous on such a hot day! :)
  7. I thought I would post a little about our experience at Civitavecchia after a friend just asked me for details...I hope this helps someone as much as these boards assisted with our plans! We were on the Celebrity Infinity, departing Civitavecchia July 6th. Here is our experience and what we did - hopefully it provides some insight for others planning: Took high-speed train from Rome to Civitavecchia around 11am (arrived in Civitavecchia around 11:45 I think - we missed the rush of those boarding but in plenty of time before sailing). A note for those who have large luggage or issues with stairs: there are a few stairs down and back up again (you have to get off the train, down stairs, thru a hall which takes you under the tracks and back up stairs to get into the station). There were quite a number of taxi vans lined up. They were grouping people by cruise line and offering 5 Euro per person to take you to port. I can't comment on the shuttle situation as we opted for taxi but one bonus of a cab was convenience. Grab a cab and they drive you right to the ship! (Yes, right to the ship - no transferring, no walking with luggage) We were boarding the ship within 15 min of getting off the train. I had read mixed reviews about the taxis - they would/not take you right to the ship. So I asked our driver - take it for what it is worth but she said that all taxi vans from the station have a permit to drive you right into port. This was of value to us as we had luggage and 2 cranky teens ;) and while we are usually quite active there was something about a 35 degree day, luggage, teens and walking that just didn't appeal to us; taxi was quick and easy!
  8. Kids club (Fun Factory) and teens (X Club) activity schedules
  9. Room 8179 Category 2B Balcony with pull out sofa and pullman bed
  10. A few of the Celebrity Today newsletters - I hope these can help others plan (anyone else an over-planner like me?)
  11. I will finally get the rest of this posted.....forgot to finish this last night 🙂 Here are my final notes about our ports: Snapshot of ports: Messina – I wanted to do a day in Taormina however all of the tours were sold out. Although….when we got off the ship in Messina there were TONS of taxis and service providers offering tours. We decided to stay low-key and skip it. We just walked around and saw the sights in Messina. We were here on a Sunday, there is NOTHING open other than the clock tower, church, Burger King and a few restaurants by the port. We walked around and returned to the ship in about 2 hours. Easy day for us. Valletta – what a beautiful city! I ensured I was on the balcony to see sail-in – absolutely stunning. We got off right at 8am to try to beat the heat (38 degrees Celsius……..). We spent the day walking around to see the sights (War Museum, St Elmo fortress, gardens, Grandmaster’s Palace, etc.) Lots to do right in town – this is definitely somewhere I would like to return to! Argostoli – honestly I had little expectation. I don’t know why, it just didn’t appeal to me so much (although my family LOVES the beach). We walked off right around 7am and walked down the waterfront to look for turtles. We saw a few but when the fishing boats came in around 8-8:30 they really became active. You can watch them come up for the fish the fishermen throw over. Fun little sidetrack attraction. We then caught a cab (again they all emailed back that they were booked for tours but there were TONS available!) and went to Makris Gialos beach. Beautiful!!!!!!!!!! Stunning beach but a few tips: go early. It was full by 10am, meaning all of the umbrellas and chairs were sold out. It was HOT in the sun so not having an umbrella was a big deal. Food right there (although we walked up to Zarbos right by the beach, great Greek food, reasonable price!). Also have rinse showers, change rooms and bathrooms. Convenient tourist beach, very clean and assessible (small ramped walk down from the street). Dubrovnik We have friends from here so it was pretty much laid out for me. I can tell you this little port is everything they say – absolutely stunning. Old town is a must do and the walls were a fabulous walk. My take-aways would be: you must go to the walls as soon as you can! Yes, it is hot up there (and it wasn’t even that hot on our day), it has stairs and it can get pretty busy. Beautiful views. A lot of history here, both ancient and recent – perhaps it is only our perspective as it impacted those we know but it is interesting and worth seeing. Again: for those looking for a taxi there were TONS!!!!! So easy to get from port – 100 kuna to/from port to/from old town. (Celebrity was 12 euro per person for the shuttle so for a family of 4 the taxi was by far the more affordable choice.) Zadar I can’t share too much valuable here as again we have Croatian friends that helped us out here. We did take a taxi to Old Town first thing in the morning – a word of warning (my friends warned me, I didn’t listen). The initial cab drivers who approach you when you walk out of the terminal offer tours (great if that’s what you want) or a 30 Euro fee to go to Old Town….over at the cab parking lot the price drops, and drops and drops. Some said 10 Euro per person (there were 4 of us) and some said 5. We ended up paying 10 Euro. Zadar is a beautiful city and a bit underrated…..nice sights in Old Town, nice waterfront and there are public beaches all around. Warning – the beaches are pebbles (rough coastline, very little sand as it washes away). Venice Last day! We opted for self dis-embarkment – 7:30 walk off. They had us meet in the Rendezvous lounge. It worked out fine as we have done this before but overall I would have to say this was one area of the cruise that could be improved upon. No communication as to when we could actually leave the lounge – everyone just heard on the staff walkie-talkie that the ship was cleared and the stampede for the doors began. It is a little bit like the airport when everyone gets excited to get on the plane but it all worked out. For those wondering about timelines – the ship cleared and was Ok’ed to start dis-embarkment at 7:40, we did walk off and were on the people mover by 8:02am. Quick and easy. I have posted about people mover/luggage storage/transport in Venice over on Italy port boards if anyone wants to know what we did there….. Hope this info helps others!! Feel free to ask questions if anything pops to mind – happy cruising!
  12. Qsine for dinner – added this last minute as the embarkment special was 30% off (regular price was $55). We are new to Celebrity so this was new to us. Fun meal, entertaining and the kids loved it. For those who are new to Celebrity – this is a seated meal which features a little movie on the table/plate before each course. The animations are cute, add some entertainment to the meal but I understand why people say they only go once – after seeing it, it probably isn’t entertaining the second time. Overall food was good and we enjoyed the experience. **Tip: take the 30% off slip from the newsletter. Although we booked dinner at the guest relation desk we had to supply the coupon slip to have the 30% taken off the bill. We said after the last cruise we would take a dining package……but we didn’t. ha – great intentions that we didn’t follow through with! The restaurants didn’t really excite me at the outset and so we passed. This was a little different from our last cruise in that it didn’t really bother us, maybe because we did Qsine the first night but it didn’t seem as monotonous as our last cruise on RC. General notes: The drink package sales drove us crazy the first day. We were asked 7 times prior to dinner – it became a game with us to count how many times we would be approached. There were 2 additional sale pitches as we came out of Qsine and then it died down. If you love the packages, great – no ill will…they just aren’t for us. Room Our room was quite good! We were initially booked on the July 20 sailing in adjoining rooms – work dictated a change a few months ago so we ended up being on this sailing with all 4 of us in 1 room. I was filled with fear but it was fine. We were in 8179 which has a pull out sofa bed and a pullman bed. There is limited space when all the beds are made however it was manageable as we aren’t in the room too much (or if we are, we are enjoying the balcony). Room was clean and had plenty of storage, even for 4 people. Drawers in the closet, full closet section (plus above the drawers), cupboard above the TV and little cubbies beside the desk. 2 drawers in each nightstand. Outlets: 2 European, 2 North American for a total of 4 outlets
  13. Cleanliness The ship was clean and the staff could be seen tidying things up at all times. Staff were always friendly and engaging, even when they had the task of standing at the door of dinner with the hand sanitizer (and forcing people to use it!) As a germ-a-phobe I loved this and can’t get enough of my sanitizer! 😉 Food I hesitate to even type this as I know there are a lot of opinions on this topic. I will preface this by saying that everyone has their own tastes and opinions – and I appreciate all of the feedback I have read on these boards!! I hope that this will help some (while others may disagree, and that’s ok!) We found the food to be good quality. I have heard that there has been a slip in quality over the last few years however being new to Celebrity I can’t comment. I will say that we found the menus had greater variety than Royal Caribbean where the main dining was the same, every single night for 7 nights. That said there was a wide selection every evening and truly something for everyone. We certainly didn’t starve and I don’t think any of us lost weight J ha ha Main dining in Trellis – varied menu, some nice chef specials each evening and they are able to meet most reasonable diet requests. The menu has a legend which notes each item and who it may cater to (gluten free, sugar free, fit fare, etc.). I will note that we thought the desserts were just “meh” – some were amazing, others not-so-much. This was a minor issue for us (again, see comment above, no weight was lost) Breakfast and lunch in Trellis – much better for me than buffet. Varied menu and the ability to order specific requests (i.e. certain omelette items, etc). Service was phenomenal. Buffet – again the germ thing makes buffets really hard for me. My family didn’t mind it, I really try to avoid. I did stop in for some fruit the odd time and was surprised by the cleanliness. There seemed to be greater effort put in to keeping the buffet clean than other cruises we have been on. At lunch we even saw when they closed down the desserts to the public and would take requests and then serve the cakes, etc to people on request. (Much neater than everyone slopping, cutting, dropping cake everywhere) There are also several stations where thye make your pasta, meat, salad, et al on request and serve it to you (vs digging in a communal bowl of salad, you can tell these things bother me ha ha) One note about the buffet…..it is rarely busy. There is a peak around 8am and 6pm but honestly it was never insane. There are plenty of tables and even when it was “busy” it was clean and tidy. If I had to compare this to other lines it is hands-down better than RC (where I think the monotony of the menu drives people to the buffet) and on par with Disney. (Before that comments ruffles any feathers I apologize. I have to give credit where it is due, and Disney does provide excellent quality, great cleanliness and insanely good service. While they cater to differing clientele, there seems to be some overlap based on the demographics of this cruise.) Café al Bacio – we didn’t have a bevy package so we just stopped here for desserts and cookies. I honestly didn’t believe my kids when they said they couldn’t get cookies here because they didn’t have a drink package……..so I tried. Nope, couldn’t get it. Both attempts were on the first day. So…… I had my husband try again a few days later just so I knew if I was losing it or misunderstood…..and viola cookies and desserts are free for all! J Not sure if there was confusion the first day or just a hard sell on the drink package.
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