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TLCOhio

Solstice Live/First-Timer Reports/Pix’s: Italy/Croatian June 7-19

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At the top of these boards, it says “write a review”, so here goes, in live, blogging style. Last July we did our third cruise. Lots of great visuals to share along that Norway coast and fjords routing going up to the North Cape. That posting is now over 43,000 views. Appreciate those who tuned in.

 

This year, it was Tuesday, June 8, for our boarding of the Celebrity Solstice from Barcelona. We enjoyed time getting to know the ship, its offerings, lunch on the back Oceanview area, dinner in the main dining room, etc.

 

Today, we just completed tendering in Villefranche, seeing this area and to the east, including Menton and Monaco.

 

There are lots of details, pictures and first-impressions for the ship to share, but first a little background and pictures on Barcelona. It’s a super great city and port that has gotten even better since our first visit there in 1998. There is so much charming history and architecture, both classical and contemporary, in this city that is in Spain, but really its own region and special world. You will see that in some of the pictures below. During our afternoon and evening there, we did two different hop-on, hop-off bus tours of the city. From that top-level view on a wonderfully-nice, super-perfect weather day, I took over 400 pictures. Those have been narrowed-down to just twelve below. More Barcelona pictures will come later from breakfast and touring their super special market located along the famed la Rambla before going to board our ship mid-day.

 

Our party and experiences?: We are traveling with another couple from Central Ohio, Amy and Milt, who have done many, many Celebrity cruises, including two previously on the Solstice. We have connected with many others on this trip previously “connected” through these Cruise Critic boards. On our first day on the ship, we met and talk with a number of these CC board members through a 5 pm sail-away at the Sunset Bar, plus an 8:15 pm private party at the Michael’s Club. The Cruise Director was there playing piano, plus the Hotel Director and some other top ship officials attending.

 

Our past cruising?: We have done just three cruises. Late June 2006 on 204-passenger Seabourn Spirit, Athens to Istanbul, enjoying the Greek Isles over seven days. Then late July 2008 on the 940-passenger Crystal Symphony, Dover to Stockholm, enjoying the Baltics and Russia. And last year’s July 1-16 adventure on the 296-passenger Silver Cloud from Copenhagen seeing the dramatic Norway coast, above the Arctic Circle, Land of the Midnight Sun, etc. All three lines were excellent with great service, fellow passengers, staff, etc. What’s best? The honest answer is . . . “It depends!!!”. Ports, schedules, timing and prices vary much, especially right now with this economy, high airlines costs, challenged dollar values, etc. You need to seek what best fits your exact personal needs, budget and interests. That’s why we are sampling a larger ship, being with good friends, seeing previously-visited places in France, Spain and Italy, plus two highly-desired, first-time stops along the Croatian Coast.

 

OVERALL SCHEDULE/PLAN:

 

June 5, Sunday, depart Columbus, Ohio, through New York’s JFK airport; arrive Barcelona, Monday, June 6 early afternoon. Overnight at Hotel Regencia Colon near the historic Cathedral.

 

June 7, Tuesday, 5 pm, Celebrity Solstice departure from Barcelona.

 

June 8, Wednesday, 10 am to 8 pm, Villefranche, east of Nice, tendered. With private tour guide, visiting Monaco & Menton along the coast to the east.

 

June 9, Thursday, 7 am-7 pm, Laspezia port near Pisa and Florence, personal tour to the terraced coastal villages of Cinque Terre with private guide.

 

June 10,*Friday, 7 am-7 pm, Civitavecchia port near Rome, train into Rome; special Scavi/Necropolis tour under the Papal Basilica of St. Peter, options for other churches and nearby sights.

 

June 11, Saturday, 7 am-7 pm, Naples, private tour for scenic Ravello village overlooking the sea, Amalfi coast drive, historic remains at Herculaneum and Naples’ famed Archeological Museum with Pompeii relics.

 

June 12, Sunday, at sea.

 

June 13, Monday, Kotor, Montenegro, sail-in through fjord-like settings; 7 am-4 pm, tendered; ship tour to Old Royal Capital of Cetinje, various mountain overview areas, coastal walled city, etc.

 

June 14, Tuesday, arrive 2 pm in Venice, over-night there in port, various Venice options, special dinner there at canal-side at Restorante da Raffaele.

 

June 15, Wednesday, depart 2 pm from Venice after early morning sunrise walking in this historic city with its architectural treasures.

 

June 16, Thursday, 8:30 am-6 pm, Dubrovnik, Croatia, on-our-own-walking of walled areas, touring older/historic city areas, lunch at scenic coastal restaurant overlooking historic harbor, cable car ride to the mountain top.

 

June 17, Friday, at sea, sailing back to Barcelona. 39th wedding anniversary dinner at evening speciality Murano dining spot.

 

June 18, Saturday, at sea, sailing back to Barcelona.

 

June 19, Sunday, arrive Barcelona, 6 am; overnight at Hotel Onix Liceo, just off of the la Rambla. depart Monday, June 20 air flight to Columbus.

 

Many more details, ship impressions and pictures to come. There is so much to see and do on the ship, plus an initial, very intense first four port days, that it will take a little time to catch up.

 

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

 

For lots of interesting details, great visuals, etc., from our last July 1-16 Norway Coast/Fjords/Arctic Circle cruise experience from Copenhagen on the Silver Cloud, check out this posting. Don’t be shy and feel free to ask any questions of interest. This posting is now at 43,080 views. Appreciate those who have “tuned in”.

http://www.boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1227923

 

 

For Barcelona, one of the most famous sites is its main and historic Cathedral that is over 700-years old and right around the corner from our hotel.:

 

BarcelMainCathedGreatSky.jpg

 

Overlooking the harbor is this statue/column to Christopher Columbus, plus a couple of government buildings.:

 

BarcelColStatueGovBldg.jpg

 

 

Overlooking the Barcelona harbor is this old warehouse building that is now a museum for this area with many water-front dining places.:

 

BarcelWaterOldWarehouseMus.jpg

 

 

Barcelona has many apartment building with interesting architecture details. Here the iron railings are wonderful with a local lady taking a look as we pass below.:

 

BarcelBalconyIronworkLady.jpg

 

 

Near one of famed architect Gaudi’s most famous building, here is a unique street light design along one of Barcelona’s major boulevards.:

 

BarcelGaudiStreetLight.jpg

 

 

This is a closer look at the top of one of Gaudi’s most famous buildings in Barcelona.:

 

BarcelTightGaudiBldgDetails.jpg

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Here’s more on Barcelona and why it is so interesting, historic and fun! Lots more details on the Solstice, southern France, Italy, etc., to come.

 

Let me know any questions or reactions.

 

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

 

 

For Barcelona’s 1929 World Exposition, many buildings were constructed, including this museum with its classical design touches.:

 

BarcelDomedMuseum1929.jpg

 

 

Our first night in Barcelona, included wonderful tapas and a spectacular paella in a small dining place near our hotel. Here is the lady preparing some of the food.:

 

BarcelFoodPrepTapas.jpg

 

 

Here is one of Barcelona’s many unique architectural treats.:

 

BarcelDomeBuildingTopTrees.jpg

 

 

Gaudi’s new Cathedral is still under construction, making progress toward a potential 2026 completion. The Pope was here last fall for a dedication. This design is “unique”, innovative and in some ways strange. Here is one small sampling what has been done, so far.:

 

BarcelGaudiCathedralCrains.jpg

 

 

Barcelona just won the championship in soccer or football. Here are some of the banners now up in the area next to the stadium where they play their home games.:

 

BarcelSoccerChamps.jpg

 

 

At night, this is one of the famous squares in Barcelona with a welcoming and interesting water fountain.:

 

BarcelNightFountainSquare.jpg

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Thank you for the excellent report on the first days of your cruise. We look forward to hearing - and seeing - more!

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Thank you so much for doing this! We have several sets of friends on this cruise and it will be great fun to follow along as you share your adventures. Barcelona has been one of my favorite cities for years, loved seeing the pictures of so many great spots. Thank you and I will really look forward to your posts! Hope your weather is lovely and the seas smooth... have a marvelous trip.

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Hi TLCOhio !

 

Thanks for the your report, and the beautiful photos. I look foward to your next update. Enjoy your Cruise !

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Hi Terry,

Great photo's. Looking forward to the rest of your report.We join the Ship on the 19th. Have a wonderful time. Getting really excited now. :D

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Hey Terry.. don't know how you find the time to write up sooo much, AND take all the photos... good job:). Whilst you are on board can you report back about average drinks cost (pay as you go).. beer ? average wine ? cocktails etc... do they still do the bucket of beer promo ? how much ?

 

Can't wait for your next update ! Have fun :D

 

Fig.

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TLC this is so great to take us along on your journey! Can't wait to read your impressions of the Solstice and all the ports!

I am sure every one appreciates all your efforts! Can't wait to read more!

Have a wonderful holiday and don't spend all your free time on the puter!!!

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Beautiful photos TLC. I particularly like the tapas bar one with the sun shining on the oranges. Look forward to more. Have a great cruise :D

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Thanks, Terry. What great photos! We are on this cruise in September, and your live report is making me even more excited!

 

I do have a question for you. How did the tenders for Villefranche work? Do you need a ticket, if so when did you get them? Did you have any trouble getting off the ship right away? Thanks!

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Hi Terry,

We are honeymooning on the Solstice Western Med cruise on 5th September and will be following your review.

Hope you enjoy every minute :D

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TLC, thank you so much for the report and pictures. We will be on this same cruise Sept. 29! Can't wait to see/read the next chapter of your voyage.

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Arrived early Wednesday am in the very industrial port town near Pisa. Kind of cloudy, but with some sun breaking through. Going to Cinque Terre on a private tour today. More picture opportunities if it doesn’t rain too much. Appreciate so much all of the nice comments on my reports, so far, and the PICTURES!!! Yes, people do like the visuals and they are fun doing.

 

Wireless Internet service on ship is fairly mixed in quality, but I will keep working away. Beautiful ship!!! The beer, on draft, was $6.15, with tax while in the Barcelona harbor. More later!!!

 

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

 

 

The Solstice is positioned in the port with this beautiful harbor surrounding the area.:

 

VillefrancheSolsticeInHarbor.jpg

 

The charm and beauty of Villefranche is clear in this picture of its harbor area greeting visitors.:

 

VillefranchePortMountains.jpg

 

 

We went through the old areas of Villefranche, seeing the narrow steps, flowers, etc.:

 

VillefrancheFlowersNarrowSteps.jpg

 

 

Villefranche’s walled fortress is the “real thing”. It makes the point of how this town’s history was based in the 1500’s, etc.:

 

VillefrancheFortressWalls.jpg

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With the super wonderful Brigitte as our host, we went east via the local bus, learning lots about the area, seeing her Monaco, then to Menton. We super enjoyed her help and fun adventure for our group of four from Central Ohio.

 

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

 

 

In Monaco, which has been building and booming big time, they just completed the Grand Prix race here and we went by the scenic Casino with the gardens and fountains in front over top of a large parking garage. They are getting ready for the big wedding event with their ruling Prince.:

 

MonacoCasinoWaterFountains.jpg

 

 

Menton is to the east of Monaco and right next to the Italy border. It is a charming seaside town without the crowds and congestion.:

 

MentonStatueBldgsDowntown.jpg

 

 

Menton is known for its citrus products and here’s a example of those wonderful products.:

 

MentonCitrusDisplay.jpg

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What an excellent insight to your cruise. We'll be doing the same cruise in August and can't wait.

 

Does the cruise director have a good supporting activities team?

 

Thanks

Peter

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TLC~

 

Thanks for the great review so far. Amazing photos. We board the ship after you disembark. When is your dining time, and would be curious to know your menu selections each night and how well you liked it!

 

Also, is there a piano bar onboard?

 

Thanks!

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Traveller94: Thanks' date=' Terry. What great photos! We are on this cruise in September, and your live report is making me even more excited! I do have a question for you. How did the tenders for Villefranche work? Do you need a ticket, if so when did you get them? Did you have any trouble getting off the ship right away? Thanks! [/quote']

 

StormyWeatherAtSea: Terry thanks for great review - we will be sailing next few months' date=' would like to know cruise director, hotel director, capt. club host, Capt. thanks [/quote']

 

Torybruno: Thanks for the great review so far. Amazing photos. We board the ship after you disembark. When is your dining time' date=' and would be curious to know your menu selections each night and how well you liked it! [/quote']

 

Espirit: Does the cruise director have a good supporting activities team? Also' date=' is there a piano bar onboard? [/quote']

 

Appreciate the continue interest and nice comments. Plus, questions, too. Great! Here’s some added info, so far, only on the second day into our cruise.

 

1. The tenders worked fine in Villefranche. They had ship tenders being used, plus two large ones from a shore service. Things moved and worked well. No big back-ups. You need a ticket that you get from the fourth floor area near where they do wine demo’s and presentations.

 

2. Paul Baya is our Cruise Director on the Solstice June 7-19. He had been on the Eclipse earlier this year and has been with Celebrity since last year. I understand he spent approximately 14 years with NCL and gets super high marks. Comments from others on these boards include: “interacts so well, is an active participant in activities, sings super well and conducts a very funny Newly Wed game.” CC Celebrity Board Host Andy has said: “He was excellent. He's very personable, visible, and quite talented, too.” So far, we have watch him several times and have been very, very impressed. The Hotel Director is Susan Henderson, as i re-call. She’s from the UK and is extremely sharp from a couple meetings with her. Her assistant is from Chicago and he also seems very focused and skilled. The Captain is Yannis Berdos. As understand, he’s from Greece and his wife just had a young baby. This Captain just took over the ship May 26.

 

3. Our dining time is 8:45 pm. We did that our first night in the main dining room, but did the Oceanview Cafe Wednesday night (to improve our schedule for the early schedule this morning) and did the Tuscan Grille tonight. That Tuscan experience was super wonderful. More on that later.

 

4. The cruise director seems to have a good supporting group. There is a piano bar right outside of the Murano and Michael’s Club. BUT, I’m not sure it is exactly what you might seek in a regular piano bar. There is a piano there, but they seems to rotate around different people playing and performing there.

 

TODAY’S TRAVELS/ADVENTURE:

 

The plan was for Cinque Terre, but we knew the weather might be marginal today. It was in that location of Italy today. For our private tour we have been working RomeinLimo for this tour, plus one in Naples. They have been super wonderful, getting high marks from others. Today that was also the case as they knew that the boats would not be operating along that Cinque Terre coast line and that the weather would be too bad to try and to see that type of great site. Then, our challenge was coming up with other options. We focused on a plan that included the historic walled city of Lucca, then doing a brief stop in Pisa for you know what, then going to San Gimignano. That worked very well, including lots of mostly sunny skies, but not too hot. Below are some visuals from today. Lucca is the town of Puccini, has an interesting Roman outdoor theater, offering lots of great shops and other buildings, etc. Great day in Tuscany!!!

 

THANKS! Keep the good questions and comments rolling. In might take a day or two, but I will try to follow-up and answer, plus any special photo requests. Finally, Sunday, we will have a sea day and I can catch up better. Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

 

 

In Lucca, this is the San Michele church, built in the 11th-14th centuries. It is in the heart of this walled town.:

 

LuccaCentralChurchFront.jpg

 

 

This photo angle for the San Michele church shows its tower.:

 

LuccaChurchTower.jpg

 

 

It was a big “WOW” for our first visit to Pisa. This tower is much taller than I expected. They just completed a major cleaning of it in the past few weeks, making things perfect, except for that little foundation problem with one tower. Also impressive here are the Pisa Baptistry and Duomo (main) church. Pisa has a couple of major universities here. There is another church here that also also a learning (and shorter) tower. We drove by that site. Two leaning towers in Pisa! How many knew that?:

 

PisaLeaningTower.jpg

 

 

PisaTowerChurch.jpg

 

 

We had visited San Gimignano in 1999 with our son, but it is a town that is always impressive in history and architectural styles. We had lunch here. Below is a long-shot of the hill town with its tower from the wonderful countryside below and nearby.

 

SanGimiLongShot.jpg

 

 

Within San Gimignano, here is a view of the main Cathedral Square, etc.:

 

SanGimiMainCathedralSquare-1.jpg

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Thanks for the excellent photos - awakening many happy memories of places visited long ago! Keep up the good work - and do continue to enjoy your trip!

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I was at Pisa less than a month ago. I didn't expect to be impressed but when I saw the tower and other buildings it was pretty amazing. It is seriously wonky isn't it? I thought it all looked clean and fresh. I didn't know it had just been cleaned.

 

Loving your pictures. Thank you :)

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Terry, your photos (and descriptions) of Europe, both here and on other threads, continue to take my breath away. They consistently are the best I've seen, giving us a true sense of "being there." I can't wait for more! Thank you in advance for your continued postings. Hope you enjoy the rest of your cruise

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Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my question about the tenders. I can't wait to see more of your wonderful pictures!

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Thanks, Terry, for great reporting and wonderful pictures. We are on this cruise September 29th and can't wait. We've sailed on the Solstice before and love the "S" class ships.

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Love the review. We are doing the Eastern Med on Solstice but still love the photos. I can remember how surprised I was with Pisa. I thought it would be cheesy but it was lovely.

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Hi! Glad you liked Pisa. We will be in Florence for Thanksgiving and want to do a sidetrip. (hope you got the balconies you wanted)

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We are on the balcony now at 6:35 am as the ship is docking in the port for Rome. It is super bright and sunny, even at this early hour, getting ready for what should be a wonderfully-beautiful day in one of the world’s most historic cities. We have previously visited Rome, in 1999, staying four days during a land trip. I was also here in December of 1970 for the wedding of friends. Fortunately, we have already seen most all of the “basics” here. That’s good news as for a first-timer to Rome, here on on a cruising stop and the distance from this port into the heart of large and confusing Rome make it impossible to see that much in a city with so many great sites and sights. We will take the ship’s rail option into Rome, getting off at the station near the Vatican.

 

Through a key Catholic leader in Central Ohio, we arranged in advance a private tour to the Vatican Necropolis, known as the*Scavi, under St. Peter’s Basilica. The Vatican-sponsored archeological excavations under Saint Peter's in the years 1940-1949 revealed the burial location of Peter and others dating to back*Imperial times. This historical-archaeological site allows only about*200*visitors per day in small groups of 10-15 people each. A late March History Channel special program focused on this "Secret Access: The Vatican" tour under the Vatican and how it dates back to the time of famed Emperor Constantine during the 4th Century.

 

At depths varying between 16 and 39 feet below the basilica, this secret work was undertaken at the request of*Pope Pius XI*who wished to be buried as close as possible to*Peter the Apostle. Peter is said to be buried there due to its proximity to the*Circus of Nero*where he was*martyred. Lots of early Church history down there based what I have seen and read. There has been a church on this site since the 4th century. Construction of the present basilica, over the old, original Constantinian basilica, began in 1506 and was completed in 1626. St. Peter's is famous as a place of pilgrimage, its liturgical functions and for its history. It is not only associated with the Pope, but with numerous artists, most significantly Michelangelo, who redesigned the dome in 1547. Michelangelo is noted for his work on the Sistine Chapel and the Pieta, a depiction of the body of Jesus on the lap of his mother Mary after the Crucifixion. That art piece inside St. Peter's was carved in 1499, when the sculptor was just 24-years-old. If you are visiting St. Peter's for the first time, it would be good to read up on this history and background to better appreciate ALL that it is there and around this famed location.

 

Lots more pictures to be coming from Rome and previous, earlier stop, plus on the ship.

 

THANKS for traveling along with us! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

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Another excellent instalment Terry

 

If you come across Valentina (a pretty young English girl) in the activities team say "hello" please from her number 1 fan.

 

Peter

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Wow Terry you've done it again! Amazing coverage from the Solstice. I thoroughly enjoyed your reports from the Cloud and due to your postings and photos, that voyage is now on my bucket list.

Thank you so much, it is wonderful to be travelling alongside you as your photos make me believe I'm there.

I nearly was taking your itinerary on Solstice and would have if we had to take our kids, but luckily we have managed to go solo on Silver Spirit instead.

We sail from Cannes to Rome in a few weeks and I'm super excited as a first time Silversea sailor.

We sailed on Solstice last July to E Caribbean. She is stunning and I'm sure you will have an amazing voyage. Prepare to be blown away by Murano.

Silk Harvest is amazing too.

I look forward to your updates. As you say "enjoy"

 

Regards,

Sakaara

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It is a little after 6 am as the Solstice is preparing enter the port of Naples. We had a super great day in Rome, both for weather and what all we saw in this large and historic city.

 

Below are a few more pictures. I tried to upload lots more pictures, but there continues to be some technical issues with the wireless operations on this ship. Will try to get more of those solved in the coming days. We are doing a private tour for our group of eight through Romeinlimo. They worked very well for the Pisa-Lucca area and we are hoping for the same great experience here. We will be picked up from the port at 8 am. We are being driven to scenic Ravello overlooking the Mediterranean, seeing certain portions of Amalfi Coast drive, stopping in or around Sorrento for lunch, going at the historic area of Herculaneum, then back to Naples, with, time permitting, a brief sampling at the famed National Archaeological Museum there and seeing a little more of Naples as we go back to the ship. Previously when visiting this area for four days on a land trip, we had seen Positano, Sorrento, Pompeii, Capri, etc. Some rain is predicted today, but we will see if our “good weather luck” continues today.

 

Yesterday in Rome, we had in port the MSC Fantasia with 3,900 passengers and a crew of 1,300, the 208-passenger Seabourn Legend and the 1,918-passenger Holland America Noordam with a crew of 800. Since that Rome port is so big, it didn’t create any problems in that way. The Rome port, like near Pisa, is very industrial and super large, making some sort of shuttle very needed. In the Naples port with Solstice will be the Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam with 2,100 passengers and a crew of 929. No other cruise ships are scheduled at Sorrento, Capri, Amalfi, etc.

 

To correct one earlier item, the Hotel Director is Susan Richardson, not Henderson. She has been with Celebrity for about two years. Her assistant is Thomas Brady from the Chicago area with his wife and family in the Napersville area there. Those top staffers work a four months on and two months off schedule. Both are very visible, approachable and active around the ship. Both very impressive as you talk with them!

 

Tomorrow is a sea day, allowing more time to catch-up, rest, do more pictures, solve the ship IT problem, etc.

 

Last night, we dine at the Silk Harvest speciality dining place. Really, super enjoyed that experience. Will have more details, pictures from there and the Tuscan Grille at a later time. Will do Murano on June 17 for our 39th wedding anniversary.

 

THANKS for the continued comments and interest in this posting! Don’t be shy. Let know any questions. Will try to say “HI” to that one staffer mentioned by Peter/Espirit. Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

 

 

This is the dramatic front view of St. Peters and the Square with the beautiful sky over this historic setting.:

 

RomeStPetersFrontView.jpg

 

 

Inside St. Peters, this is a portion of the main floor where the body of the late Pope John Paul II has been moved. Just recently they completed this move as he moves towards Sainthood. Crowds were big and busy inside this huge Cathedral.:

 

RomePopeJPIINewSiteMainFloor.jpg

 

 

In the large square outside of St. Peters, they still have this large visual of John Paul II from the massive public ceremony in April that attracted more than a million people to this Square.:

 

RomeJPIIPixOutsidePlaza.jpg

 

 

When the sun was setting as the Solstice sailed from Rome to Venice, here was the visual on the back lawn on the ship’s top, back level. Dramatic and beautiful!!:

 

SolsticeSunsetBackLawn.jpg

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Terry

 

When you touch land in Naples, how close are you to the ferry terminal? I was thinking of getting the hydrofoil to Sorrento on our day there in September, so am interested to know how far it is to the terminal.

 

 

Cheers

 

Mike

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Hillsprint in N. Ireland: Terry' date=' When you touch land in Naples, how close are you to the ferry terminal? I was thinking of getting the hydrofoil to Sorrento on our day there in September, so am interested to know how far it is to the terminal. Cheers. Mike[/quote']

 

It’s 6:40 am and I’m on the back of the ship seeing a large volcano-type mountain peak in the distance. Around 4:30 am, the Solstice was to have passed through the Straights of Messina between Sicily and the Italian mainland. I did not get up to see that sighting at night, but woke up early and am now jotting some notes while on the back of the ship, enjoying the views, the sun, etc.

 

For the first time in seven days, the alarm clock was not set and there was no forced schedule of “go-go”. This is our first sea day and we really need this time to rest up, re-charge, relax, explore the ship, etc.

 

From yesterday, Saturday, July 11, the big news was . . . WOW!!, what a fabulous day. It was arriving in Naples and meeting our guide-driver from Romeinlimo, Carmine! Our group of eight experienced a totally wonderful day. First, it was driving through the mountains south of Naples that they call “the little Switzerland” as we moved towards Ravello. Carmine told us about his love of Naples and this whole area. There were great Italian songs on the CD as we went through the mountains. Carmine stopped for some fresh fruit and told us a few jokes, including what Italians view as what the letters in the name of their car company, FIAT, mean. He said that car name means “Fix It Again, Tony”. We were riding in a nice Mercedes van. Such fun and beauty to enjoy as we traveled and saw the many sights!

 

When in the Naples-Amalfi area in 1999, we had not seen this part of the region and it was wonderful. Ravello overlooks the Gulf of Salerno and the Mediterranean. We had a few drops of rain while in Ravello, but it all worked fine without any problems. Ravello is famed as a place where Wagner composed many music pieces, the famous lived and others visited. Then we went through several of the charming towns along this coast, including Atrani and Amalfi, traveling narrow, twisted routes with steep terraces above and below us. I was sure glad, my wife more so, that I didn’t have to do the driving. We wanted to have lunch in a smaller, less tourist place and Carmine came up with the perfect, super scenic location.

 

Pictures? Yes, there are plenty. Yesterday, I took over 500 pictures. But it takes time to go through all of those views. That will come later today. Our lunch location was right above Positano as the sun came out in full force to offer the best views one could ever hope for or seek. Lunch? What a super treat, family-style, plus views, wine, drinks, etc.!!! Lots of pictures from there. Then, we drove to the Bay of Naples side, through parts of Sorrento on the way to the historic area of Herculaneum. Our guide there was also named Carmine and he was wonderful in his details and background for this seaside resort dating back to the 4th century BC. The city was thought to have been founded by or named for the legendary Hercules. This elite Roman resort was devastated by the same volcanic eruption that buried Pompeii in 79 AD. Unlike the ash and lava that devastated Pompeii, Herculaneum was covered by a torrent of mud, which protected the ruins from atmospheric agents and illegal excavators. The site was discovered by accident in the early 1700's when a well was being dug and workmen struck a stone pavement, the stage of the city's theater. Serious excavations began under Mussolini but only about eight blocks have been excavated. The rest is covered not only by rock but also by a dense, modern neighborhood. Since we had earlier seen Pompeii, this was a nice, less crowded options. Which is better? There is more to see in Pompeii as it was a larger, more commercial city. When I post the pictures, you can better see the differences. On a typical day, Pompeii will have 12,000 visitors, while Herculaneum will have 800-1200 a day. We got some rain at the very end of our visit here, but it all worked out fine. Then back to Naples. We had planned, time permitting, a brief sampling at the famed National Archaeological Museum, but it was getting late and we had had a totally wonderful day seeing and do so much.

 

For the above question from our friend in Northern Ireland, the Naples’ port is so big and huge, I didn’t see where you get on the ferry to Capri or other locations. Naples is the second largest port in Italy and it is big, big. In fact, all three of these ports are so much more industrial than what many might expect. Don’t expect to just walk off of the ship and have it right there. That situation was also the case at the ports for Pisa and Rome. These are confusing areas where having those logistics taken care of makes it so much easier. I would suggest doing more research on those exact locations and distances. It might be possible, but these three ports are different than what some might expect. And, security has been tightened on all of of these ports since 9-11.

 

THANKS for those who have visited here! And, made many nice comments. Don’t be shy and feel free to ask any questions of interest about the ship or these areas we are visiting. Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

 

For lots of interesting details, great visuals, etc., from our last July 1-16 Norway Coast/Fjords/Arctic Circle cruise experience from Copenhagen on the Silver Cloud, check out this posting. This posting is now at 43,421 views. Appreciate those who have “tuned in”.

http://www.boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1227923

 

 

From St. Peter’s in Rome, this is the view of the heart of this great Basilica and its Magnificent Dome by Michelangelo.:

 

RomeStPetersMainDome.jpg

 

 

After our super historic private tour of the Scavi under the Basilica (where no pictures were allowed), we saw some of crypts and this chapel below the main area.:

 

RomeLowerChapelUnder.jpg

 

 

The art work in and around St. Peter’s is spectacular. Here might be the most famous, the Pieta by Michelangelo. I first saw this in 1970 here, but now it is protected behind a large glass surface. The detail and beauty are impossible to describe or show.:

 

RomeStPetersPieta.jpg

 

 

As we walked from St. Peter’s, we crossed the Tiberi River and saw this view of Castel Sant’Angelo. This castle has great history, starting as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian in 139 AD. It later provided security for Popes in times of attack.:

 

RomeTiberRiverBridgeCastle.jpg

 

 

Near Piazza Navona, here is a busy outdoor dining place with its pizza options displayed and people enjoying the day, location and fun of Rome.:

 

RomeOutdoorDiningPizza2a.jpg

Edited by TLCOhio

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Here is a little more from Rome and a night view on the ship. Now to start looking at all of the pictures from the Amalfi Coast area, etc. Lots of exciting “work”.

 

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio

 

 

The Pantheon was built between 118-125 AD and is so large and amazing in its size, construction and classic style. We had seen it before, but it is always amazing and impressive as you round the corner and “there it is!”.:

 

RomePanthonaFrontPlaza.jpg

 

 

Inside the Pantheon, this photo with my wide angle lens shows what is regarded as the best preserved of the ancient buildings in Rome. It is based on the classical Greek temple design and has a hole in the middle of the domed ceiling. It was the Roman “temple of all the gods”. You can see the light shining through the roof to part of interior on the left side.:

 

RomePanthonInterior2.jpg

 

 

As you walk out of the Pantheon, this is the view of plaza area in front of this famed part of Rome.:

 

RomePanthonOutside2.jpg

 

 

Piazza Navona was built above an ancient stadium with the great fountains by Bernini.:

 

RomePlazaNavonaFountain.jpg

 

 

On the Solstice, here is a view of the outdoor pools as the sun is setting.:

 

SolsticeOutdoorPoolNight.jpg

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Super excellent photos Terry. We haven't been to Rome for a few cruise seasons now and your pictures make me want to return!

 

Have a relaxing day onboard the beautiful Solstice.

 

Debbie:)

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