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An "Epic" European Adventure -Review of Western Med with pics

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Before I start with my review I would just like to give you an overall view of our experience….One word, amazingl! The ship was awesome, the ports were incredible and the entertainment, for the most part, was great! Blue Man Group and Cirque Dreams were our favorite as far as entertainment went. We highly recommend trying to attend these shows. We also saw Stephen Sorrentino and Legends. We did not do any specialty restaurants, so I will not be giving you an opinion on those.

As far as our shore excursions, we did a mix. RomeInLimo for Livorno and Naples, NCL excursion for Rome and we did Palma on our own.

I would also like to offer a word of advice! DO YOUR HOMEWORK!! Have some idea on what you want to see and how to do things. Cruise Critic was my leading source for information. A special thanks go to all of you who have offered advice and written reviews!!

The language barrier can be a bit of a problem too. People say just about everyone speaks English….NOT true in our experience. Yes there are some that spoke some English, especially those in the tourist “business”, like Hotel desk, Tourist info booths, metro attendants (if you can find them), etc. but for the most part, people off the streets like locals or tourists, venders etc. usually you can get away with only one word of what you are looking for and a lot of pointing. Needless to say this cruise, to me, was the most overwhelming cruise I ever planned! (Almost canceled it a couple of times) But I am so glad I didn’t and I’m glad I did plenty of research. From the research I did, that is why we ended up with the tours we did. Here is a link to a great source of information on Barcelona http://www.barcelona-tourist-guide.com/ . In the end it all turned out awesome, but we did have a few frustrating experiences in particular flights and trying to find some places.

I also suggest having some Euros to start off with, but there are exchange places at the airport and ATM’s there. NOT that we saw any on our way to the baggage claim, but then again we really weren’t looking because we already had some which we ordered from AAA prior to the cruise. I know JFK had a Foreign Exchange booth, too. We got more Euros at an ATM in Barcelona on our second day there, which held us over throughout the cruise, so we didn’t need any more at the ports. (We used a travel credit card that we pre-loaded from AAA to get out our money at the ATM. Worked out great!)

Here is a little bit about ourselves…..it was just DH and myself. We are 49 and 52. This was our 7th cruise, but our first in Europe, well first for me, DH, was in the US Navy, so he had been to some of these ports several years ago. We have done 4 Caribbean cruises, 1 Hawaiian and 1 Alaska cruise. This was our 3rd cruise with NCL, 2 with Carnival and 2 with Royal Caribbean.

OK, so now on to the review!

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Our European adventure finally began……after months and months of planning we finally arrived in Barcelona. Of course not on time, 4 hours later, but that’s OK, better late than never. It seems we never have the perfect day of flights. That’s why I’m always concerned for people who are brave enough to fly in the day of their cruise. We arrived in Barcelona at approx 3:00pm. There is a 6 hour difference between VA and Spain and needless to say I was exhausted after a lousy night’s sleep on the plane. DH didn’t complain of being tired, of course not, I think he can sleep standing up, if he had too!!

We stayed at Hotel Continental, (The Pink Palace as some of you know it), where we stayed for 2 nights. This hotel seemed to be very popular with other Cruise Critic folks and was highly recommended, even though it is nothing like the Ritz! We loved our stay there as well. After reading several posts and options, we decided the The Aerobus would be our means of transportation to and from the airport (There is an A1 and A2, which going to our hotel it didn’t matter, but going back to the airport, it means Terminal 1 and Terminal 2, so make sure you know what terminal you are leaving from and hop on the right bus, but unfortunately we didn’t!! More on that at the end of my review.) It was easy to use and only cost 5.30 Euros per person. Just follow the bus signs out of the airport. You can pay on the bus, but I think you have to go to the front if you are paying cash, but try not to use big bills, I gave the 15 Euros for a 10.60 fee and she asked didn’t I have a 1 Euro, which we did not, but you can also purchase tickets right at the stop with a Credit Card.

The bus takes about 30 min. to get to Plaza Catalunya….there are a few stops in between. Of course our luck was a bunch of protesters all along Plaza Catalunya area, Las Ramblas and Port Columbus…..they were a young crowd, but not out of control and very peaceful. Just a little noisy at times.

We walked to Hotel Continental, from Plaza Catalunya. It was only about a 5 minute walk once we got our bearings as to where Las Ramblas was from Plaza Catalunya. If you are staying there, look for the hotel with the blue awning on the left hand side. We waited for the elevator and thought they were out (because someone had posted, I believe from the previous week, that the elevator was out)….so we waited a couple of minutes and I figured we only have one flight to go. So I say to DH, “We’ll just lug them up, it’s only one flight.” Opps, my bad, it’s not 1 flight, hard to explain, even though it’s on the first floor, it’s like 3 flights to get there. Anyway, we finally made it, thank goodness, I think DH, was about to throw me down the stairs at this point….btw, the elevators weren’t out they just took a long time!! Opps, my bad again! Then it’s the how do we get to reception…oops again, I think we went 1 flight up too many….but that’s OK, DH didn’t know that at the time….otherwise, I think he, REALLY would have killed me…..anyway, we rang the bell and they opened the door and we made it to the reception desk. Normally you would just hit the 1 button to reception….on the elevators.

(FYI, for those of you considering staying there…it’s a very secure hotel and you feel very safe there.)

So we get the key to our room key, it’s the size of a 2x4….ok, a thick ruler, but I knew this because I had read it on CC, but not realizing it was that big??? Anyway, the key also operates the lights, fans, etc. in the room. We had to turn in the key anytime we left the room…..needless to say that is not very convenient, if you left something in your room and needed to run back. But that is really the only downfall…on the bright side they are so friendly and speak English very well and have free beer, wine, soda, food, etc. (Although, the food didn’t look very appetizing to us…besides the breads and croissants and maybe a couple of things here and there. Plus, I was alittle leary about eating there besides the breads, which were very good, but the buffet stuff, you wonder how long it was out there, I did see things that were there the evening before and still there in the morning.) Anyway, I did mention they had free beer and wine, didn’t I????

We got our room with a balcony overlooking Las Ramblas…It’s a small room and balcony but the norm for Europe, so I hear.

 

DH up on the balcony (not the one waving)

 

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View from our room

 

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The Free Beer/wine/soda etc.

 

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Edited by elsplace2

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So, we took showers and freshened up and ventured out to Las Ramblas. What a busy and interesting place. We walked all the way to Port Columbus and looked around the marina (about a mile down Ramblas….but there are shops, booths, artists, live art people etc. everywhere, so it’s an entertaining walk)…..A group of protesters were hanging around Port Columbus and making announcements over a loud speaker . But again, peaceful and we can’t understand a word of what they are saying because it’s all in Spanish. I think it had to do with the economy.

We headed back on Las Ramblas and looked for the infamous La Bouqueria….heard there was some good places to eat in there. Finally found it!! It was just a few blocks down from our hotel, on a side street to the right. I hate to admit I was alittle disappointed with what it offered. We couldn’t find a place to eat that appealed to us. It had fruits, butcher shops, a few places to eat and some specialty items were being sold in there, the fruit drinks did look good, we were suppose to go back and get one but forgot. We ended up at a place on the middle Las Ramblas, that served Tapas at an outdoor eating area. We ordered Sangrias and thought we would share a couple of Tapas seeing we were not that hungry. We got a Chourizo tapa and an egg rolled chicken thingy, tapa (by looking at their pictured menu). Well I hate to admit this, but it was more expensive then it was worth. We ordered them thinking they were American size portions, but they were not. They were only about 2 inches long for 2 and approx 5-6 Euros for each Tapa dish. Oh well, good thing we weren’t very hungry!! But the atmosphere was priceless. Anyway we came back to our hotel….and enjoyed the free wine and beer offered at our hotel…oh and a bottle of champagne was in the fridge….I assume for the mention I made in an email for celebrating our anniversary that week. We enjoyed drinking it on our balcony.

Off to bed around 10:00pm and we had no trouble going to bed for the night even though it was only 4:00pm our time…(Although there were protesters walking up in down Ramblas, so on occasion it got a little noisy.) The bed is REALLY firm, so if you like a firm bed you will LOVE this….DH didn’t mind it….it was a little to firm for me.

Here's a few more photos.....the inside shots are pretty much the same as their webpage. So I didn't post them.

 

Buffet Area at Continental

 

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Outdoor eating area

 

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Here is a shot Las Ramblas.

 

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They have living statues all along the street here is one of them.

 

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Down by the Marina

 

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Lol at the 2*4 key. Yes can see it was your first European trip. They do that to stop you taking the key out the hotel :). Room looks nice!

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We ventured out around 9:00 am. The weather today was Breezy and partly cloudy in the low 70’s. Perfect!! We had a busy day planned. My must see list consisted of Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Casa Botllo, Casa Pedera, the Gothic Area and the Magic Fountain. Yes a lot for one day, but it CAN be done as long as you don’t linger. We used the metro for all these stops. I recommend you buy the T10 tickets for 8.25 Euros….you get to take 10 journeys with it and you can share it. One of us would go through and just hand the card to the other. You can purchase them in the metro stations, cash or charge. You can buy one journey at time as well, I believe it was 1.45 euros per journey.

The metro station is just down the street from us probably less than a block on Las Ramblas to the right. We got a little confused as to how to change colors and did waste 2 journey’s by going out, but once we figured out how to do the metro…it was pretty easy. (Well for my DH, I’m always confused at these things!!)

Our first stop was Sagrada Familia…as soon as you get out of the metro station “Sagrada Familia” (Blue Line, L5) and (Purple Line, L2) …it is right there. You can’t miss it!! It was beautiful!! We walked around for about an hour…..the line was very long if you wanted to go in. We didn't have time too....we had to much on our list to see!

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Went back on the metro to the “Lesseps" (Green Line, L3) stop for Park Guell. Yes it was a bit of a long walk from there about a mile and the final leg is a fairly big hill! Pretty easy to get to…just follow the street signs. The park wasn’t as big as I expected, but it was nice. There is no charge to go into the park. We also had lunch there at the park (a couple of sandwiches). It was not very expensive, average prices of what was offered on Ramblas. We were there for only about an hour or so.

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Then back to the metro for Casa Batllo and La Pedrera…"Passeig de Gràcia" (Green Line, L3). They are next door to each other. We weren’t really sure where it was…so we asked at a vending booth and it was actually, right there across the street….again, not really what I expected, but worth seeing.

Casa Batllo

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La Pedrera

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We had seen a sign saying Plaza Catalunya was 800 m when we got off the metro, so we knew once we were done getting our photos, we would just walk back. Got back to the hotel around 1:30….yes we did all that in less than 5 hours…..but as I said we didn’t really linger at each site. Of course if you go into any of the sites it will take longer.

Went to our room and sat on our balcony and rested a bit….then off we went again to find the Gothic Quarter just off Las Ramblas. I think we found it. If this was it, it was a very interesting place and it was nice walking through its narrow, winding streets, you really got a feel for the place.

(Sorry I thought I uploaded more on photobucket, this was the only one I could find.)

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Keep it coming. I've been checking everyday for reviews and nothing. Two 7-day cruises have been completed.

 

I'm excited to hear about embarkation, your room, sea days, excursions, disembarkation. Pretty much everything!

Edited by AWENINAZ

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Your review and photgraphs are bringing back such great memories... I look forward to reading and seeing more! Now, the only question so far... When can I go again!

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After the Gothic Quarters we headed back to the Port area. I had heard there was a beach in that area, but we didn’t see any place to hang out on a beach…yes there is a marina and it beautiful there….but there was no going in the water….well not from our vantage point. Unless it was over the bridge???

Photo of Marina was posted earlier.

On the way back, we decided to try some pizza and ate at the pizzeria across from our hotel….there was one next door too, which we didn’t notice until after the fact….but the pizza was good. (You get about an 10 inch pizza with very thin crust). I think it was a little expensive, approx 10 to 11 Euros per pizza. We ordered the “special” I think… They don’t do toppings like America, there were 2 black olives (with seeds in them and 2 thin slices of sausage and onions). But as I said, it was very good!

Back to the hotel…we sat on our balcony to relax a bit. Tonight was the finals soccer match for Barcelona vs Manchester United. (It ‘s like our SuperBowl). Needless to say excitement was in the air. We enjoyed watching the people on Las Ramblas gearing up for the night in their capes and costumes!! But we knew we were in for a LONG night when housekeeping knocked on our door to hand out earplugs!! While we were sitting on our balcony one of our balcony “neighbors” was also dressed for the occasion! Or should I say NOT dressed. The woman was sitting out in her bra and underwear. No don’t get too excited guys…..she looked like she was in her late sixty’s and not in the best of shapes. But hey, we were in Europe, so to each their own!!

Later on that evening, we were suppose to meet some Cruise Critic members in our lobby…those on our RomeInLimo tour group and those who were staying at the hotel. We were suppose to meet at 7:30pm with our tour group and the rest at 8pm. We waited around until around 7:50pm -7:55pm, (our tour mates were running late, although we did run into one of the other couples staying at the hotel but they were running out to the store for a bit), but because we wanted to make sure we made it to the Magic Fountain, we decided to head out and hopefully they would all still be meeting upon our return.

So back on the metro to the Placa Espanya (Green Line, L3) and (Red Line, L1)stop. Depending on where you get off, you will see 2 towers so head that way, and you will see the palace in the background. The fountains were BEAUTIFUL and well worth it! They rate up there with the Billagio, maybe even better in our opinion!!

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Back to the hotel by 10pm. We were expecting a mad house on Ramblas, but it was very quiet….unfortunately it didn’t stay that way!! I’ll explain later. Fortunately, some CC people were still there. So we chatted with them for a bit…..our hotel had a camera crew getting ready to film the celebration on Ramblas…the hotel also had a nice set up outside with a big screen TV to watch the game…unfortunately, it appears that Barcelona lost their signal to watch the game. (I guess there was also a large screen TV at Plaza Cataluyna, so that explains why it was quiet when we arrived back in the area.) Anyway, I guess they got the signal back, with just a few minutes left to the game. Needless to say, Barcelona won….off to our balcony to watch the celebration…..WOW, do they celebrate! It was fun to watch the excitement….dancing, fireworks, etc….not our fireworks just LOUD noise, noise boomers and some roman candles, which they held in their hands aiming aimlessly…but around midnight, we had seen enough and tomorrow was cruise day!! We popped the earplugs in…helped a little but still heard some noise and fireworks….fell off and on to sleep…still celebrating at 1:00am…2:30am……4:00am…..….needless to say we didn’t get much sleep!

Here is the crowd that gathered....obviously it was dark, so the photo didn't come out so well.

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The following morning was cruise day! YAY! All was finally quiet on Las Ramblas! We left the hotel around 10:15am. Caught a cab, just a few yards from outside our hotel. (There is a Taxi stand, just to the left…you can’t miss it.) It cost approx 15 E to get to the port. Porters picked up our bags from the cab, went through security, to the reception desk and was on board by 11:10am. Quick and Easy… we headed to the buffet and had lunch. Yum, everything was very good…then out to the pool area on a lounger, to wait for our room… It was initially announced, that rooms would be ready at 2:00pm but the announcement came at 1:00pm that they were ready! Yay!

Pool area

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Spice H2O area

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Buffet

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We found our home away from home, for the week….a mini suite, room 13046. Very nice and more roomy, then expected in our opinion. The shower was great, you can fit 2 people in it 3 if you wanted to get crazy!! LOL.

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Sorry forgot to get a photo of the shower and the infamous bathroom situations.....although, it wasn't an issue for us.

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We went off and to explore the ship. What a beautiful ship…I think it was very nicely decorated. Came back to our room around 3:30pm and luckily our bags were there! Put our things away, then off to the Muster Drill at approx 4:15pm.

After the drill, we headed to O’Sheehans for our Cruise Critic meet and greet, which was planned after the Muster Drill. We had a good turn out and it was great to finally put a face to those names who we have been conversing with for months!! A special thanks to Cindy for making badges and signs for the meeting.

 

Part of O'Sheehan's when empty. It's got 2 sides.

 

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Meet and Greet.....I thought I took more photos of it! Guess I got interrupted with conversation!

 

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Edited by elsplace2

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After the meet and greet, we went back to our balcony to watch the sail away at 6:00pm. Then off to dinner. We decided just to go to the buffet, seeing we were pressed for time and seeing we made reservations for the Ice Bar at 7:30pm. (We made the reservations at Taste earlier in the day) I think there are several places you can make your reservations. We just happened to ask there as to where to go and she said “you can do it right here”. It cost $20 each, but you get 2 drinks from their list of maybe 6 vodka drinks.

So after dinner we headed to the Ice Bar….got our ponchos and gloves and went in to freeze our butts off! I think it was 17 degrees in there. It’s a tiny little place, but cool….yes, pun intended. Some people were in sandals….NOT recommended in my opinion. Although, DH was in shorts and I in my capris! One couple came in and literally was in there for 5 min. They just wanted to experience it and get a photo in there. I took a picture and they gave me 2 of their drink tickets! J They said they don’t drink and I told them there was non alcholoic drinks too…but the didn’t want to stay, so off they went. We chatted with the photographer for a few minutes too, she said she just pops in takes some photos and out she goes, but I think she said they take turns working in the Icebar, where they only have to do it once a week or so. Anyway, after our 2 drinks and our free drink….I was OUTTA there!! I couldn’t take it much longer…I think I lasted about 20 to 25 min. Yes, I drank 3 drinks in 20 min…..but in my defense, they are not that big. My DH, came out with the rest of the group about 10 min later. It was a great experience to be able to say we went to an Ice bar.

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We walked around and headed to Spice H2O (which is a lot smaller than I expected) for the Welcome Aboard show at 9:00pm and the Beatles at 9:30pm. The welcome aboard was just the Cruise Director doing a live broadcast where they were being broadcast in certain areas of the ship…..just basically saying what you can expect from the Epic and the ports…..The Beatles were GREAT! We really enjoyed the show. The show ended around 10:15pm and we went back to our room to look at the Freestyle Daily to see what was happening at that time. So off we go again to Headliners, where Howl at the Moon was doing their thing, they are dualing piano players (actually there is a total of 3 and they switch off to take breaks). They take suggestions of music to play and joke around and include the audience in singing…etc. They were awesome and very entertaining!! Headed back to our room around 12:15am.

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Surprisingly we woke up around 6:30am, OK, I WOKE up and not so surprisingly for me, I try to sleep in, but my brain just won’t turn off once I wake up. I thought for sure we would sleep in this morning. Nope not happening!! Poor DH! Up and out to breakfast by 7:45am I was going to go to the gym with DH, but my feet were too sore from all the walking around we have been doing. So I decided I was going to hang out by the pool after breakfast, but I forgot we are NOT on a Caribbean Cruise and it was to cool out to go out just yet. So while DH went to the gym, I brought my laptop to take some CC notes and some reading material to the Atrium….this way our room steward can clean our room and I can do some people watching while I take notes and read.

DH met up with me at the Atrium at 10:45am…opps, my bad, a bit of miscommunication on my part….I guess I was suppose to him at 10:00 in our room. Anyway, after we met up, we changed into our bathing suits and the adventure of looking for 2 loungers at 11:00am began….nothing around the pool area in the sun. Those lucky towels, books and shoes catching all those rays, YEP, the chair hogs were out.…plenty of loungers in the shade but it was too cool to be in the shade, went to Spice H2O same thing there.

We found a couple of loungers near the sports deck. Only layed out there for about an hour or so. Anyway, we weren’t really hungry but heck, we’re on a cruise and it was noon, lunchtime right??? So before we headed to grab a bite we decided we would go down the tube ride….it was rather a long wait (maybe about 1/2hr total) but worth it. It was lots of fun. I asked the guy who gets us ready to go down, that I was surprised the water was warm and do they heat it and his response was. “No it’s because of all the people who pee in it, so don’t open my mouth on the way down!” LOL.

Had lunch at the pool grill, showered and headed to walk around a bit before heading to the Margarita tasting at 3:00pm. Decided to make a donation to the casino….as usual we didn’t win anything.

After the casino we went to the Maltings Bar where they were holding their Margarita tasting….ran into a cruise critic “peep” who was also doing the tasting, Tosha, we enjoyed chatting while tasting…..the tastings were very good. I decided at the last minute to join, Tosha for the martini tasting….there we ran into, Nancy from our roll call as well….DH did not want to do this, smart choice, because later on I would regret doing both! But it was also fun and we enjoyed the company of our fellow rollcallers.

Tosha and me

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DH and me

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Martini tasting..Me, Nancy and Tosha

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Surprisingly we woke up around 6:30am, OK, I WOKE up and not so surprisingly for me, I try to sleep in, but my brain just won’t turn off once I wake up. I thought for sure we would sleep in this morning. Nope not happening!! Poor DH! Up and out to breakfast by 7:45am I was going to go to the gym with DH, but my feet were too sore from all the walking around we have been doing. So I decided I was going to hang out by the pool after breakfast, but I forgot we are NOT on a Caribbean Cruise and it was to cool out to go out just yet. So while DH went to the gym, I brought my laptop to take some CC notes and some reading material to the Atrium….this way our room steward can clean our room and I can do some people watching while I take notes and read.

DH met up with me at the Atrium at 10:45am…opps, my bad, a bit of miscommunication on my part….I guess I was suppose to him at 10:00 in our room. Anyway, after we met up, we changed into our bathing suits and the adventure of looking for 2 loungers at 11:00am began….nothing around the pool area in the sun. Those lucky towels, books and shoes catching all those rays, YEP, the chair hogs were out.…plenty of loungers in the shade but it was too cool to be in the shade, went to Spice H2O same thing there.

We found a couple of loungers near the sports deck. Only layed out there for about an hour or so. Anyway, we weren’t really hungry but heck, we’re on a cruise and it was noon, lunchtime right??? So before we headed to grab a bite we decided we would go down the tube ride….it was rather a long wait (maybe about 1/2hr total) but worth it. It was lots of fun. I asked the guy who gets us ready to go down, that I was surprised the water was warm and do they heat it and his response was. “No it’s because of all the people who pee in it, so don’t open my mouth on the way down!” LOL.

Had lunch at the pool grill, showered and headed to walk around a bit before heading to the Margarita tasting at 3:00pm. Decided to make a donation to the casino….as usual we didn’t win anything.

After the casino we went to the Maltings Bar where they were holding their Margarita tasting….ran into a cruise critic “peep” who was also doing the tasting, Tosha, we enjoyed chatting while tasting…..the tastings were very good. I decided at the last minute to join, Tosha for the martini tasting….there we ran into, Nancy from our roll call as well….DH did not want to do this, smart choice, because later on I would regret doing both! But it was also fun and we enjoyed the company of our fellow rollcallers.

 

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Martini Tasting

 

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Edited by elsplace2

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After the show, we went to grab a bite to eat in the Buffet. I was hoping it would wake me up, but it didn’t help….so we went back to our room and I just couldn’t stay up any later……so, needless to say I was in bed by 9:30pm….Unfortunately, around 1:00am, I was not feeling well and was up and down all night, visiting the “Porcelain Goddess”, right up until it was time to get up for our RomeInLimo tour today. :(

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Ugh! I was feeling terrible….could barely move. I thought I was going to have to cancel our tour but I just couldn’t give in to this misery…..Plus, all this excitement I had to see Pisa, Florence and Tuscany, which actually they are all part of Tuscany. Anyway, I showered and it felt like it took forever to get ready. DH was such a good sport and he really felt bad. He was kind enough to pick me up some toast and OJ from the buffet…..it helped to a certain degree. I was determined to do this tour, so I popped some ginger pills and prayed it would help!! So off we went to meet our group from roll call in front of the Spiegal Tent at 7:30am. (Our group consisted of 4 couples and we all got along really well together. Which was not hard because they were all such people!) Anyway, our tour was at 8:00am but some ports take quite some time to get off, so we played it safe and met at 7:30am. Getting off the ship was a breeze and we met up with our guide for the day, John…He was wonderful!!

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We got to Pisa just before 8:30am. As I said earlier Pisa is part of Tuscany. We didn’t know that. Anway,I was feeling much better at this point, but not at 100%, yet. Luckily they had a few spots open at 8:30 for us to climb the tower otherwise we would have done the 9:00am. We were told by RomeInLimo, that if we went that early that we wouldn’t need reservations. Fortunately they were right. Anyway, you have to drop off any large purses, totes etc., just behind the tower. It is free and they put it in a locker for you, so we hurried and put our things away and up the tower we went…..panting all the way up, OK, so maybe I was the only one panting, after my rough night, but I was also very dehydrated too and forgot to bring my water from my bag, although I wasn’t sure if you could bring a water bottle, needless to say I was so thirsty that I would have licked a puddle if there was one up there. We got some beautiful pics from up there…..well worth the trek up! Be sure to do it if you can, it cost $15 per person. We were in Pisa for an hour which was just enough time….it was beautiful there, but it’s location surprised me. Then off to Florence or Firenza as the Italians call it.

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Here is our RIL group...for some reason it was not focused??

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Edited by elsplace2

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We arrived in Florence in about 45 min to an hour…again another beautiful city in its own kind of way…I just noticed in our travels that all the famous locations in Italy are small, yet the architecture is grand!! Anyway, Florence is the regional capital of Tuscany….the architecture was beautiful. There was some miscommunication from RIL and John (our driver). He didn’t know we wanted to go to Academia Museum. The Academia is where the original Michelangelo’s, David sculpture is housed. It is best to have reservations to see the museum, but one quick call to the office and they were able to get us a reservation there. It was surprisingly a very small museum….I had heard it was, but to believe it, you must see it. It was in a very unusual part of town, off on a side street, it was not what I was expecting…..anyway, it was amazing to see the statue of David, what detail! We were there for about 45 minutes, which was more than enough for us, as I said it is a very small museum. Photos are not allowed in the Museum.

After the Academia Museum we toured some more of Florence and had lunch there. The group separated for lunch. We just wanted to get a quick sandwich at an outdoor café so we can walk around and enjoy some sites! What a disappointment…..first of all I ordered a Panini chicken cutlet and it came on a hamburger roll….then we ordered some cokes and yes they were in very large glasses, but we didn’t see the price when we ordered it and it cost over 8 Euros each….they were more than our sandwiches!! On top of that, service was very slow; we spent over 45 min. in there and only had about 15 min. now to meet up with everyone.

So we took advantage of the time we had and had just enough time to get a few photos of the area and where the original David use to be. Its replica now resides there. We were also able to pop into an open market type place, where they sold lots of leather goods, jewelry and tee-shirts.

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I believe this is where "David" was before taken to the Academia.

 

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Great photos! Isn't Europe a beautiful place? There is so much history in it! I especially love Barcelona and Florence. I stayed in each city for 4 days awhile ago and it was no where near enough time to see everything. In fact I toured Europe for a month and only made it to the Netherlands, France, Spain, and Italy!

 

Can't wait to read more!

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After Florence we headed to San Gimignano, which is a small medieval town in Siena, Tuscany. Now this was really beautiful. We walked around the quaint little shops and took many photos of the area. John recommended a great place for Gelato which of course we just had to try. Yum! Again we spent an hour there. (Although, there was some miscommunication, again with RIL. We were suppose to go to a winery for a wine tasting. Not sure what happened, but there were no arguments coming from me….the last thing I wanted to do was have some wine! San Gimignono was beautiful so we enjoyed it just the same.)

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What a great day we spent in Tuscany with RomeInLimo. They really get you to the highlights and get into places that a bus could not possibly fit in. I was really pleased with everything we got to squeeze in, in one day!! John, our driver was excellent too!!

It took us an hour and half to get back to the ship. We were there by 5:30pm…went to get a quick dinner in the buffet and after that relaxed for a bit in our room…then headed to see Legends. It was very good, although I was soooo tired from lack of sleep the night before, that I could barely keep my eyes open. We went back to our rooms and were in bed by 9:00pm. Yep, we are quite the party animals!

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Today we were doing our tour with NCL. Rome and the Colosseum. I wanted to go with NCL because I knew they had a guide with you the whole time, telling you about everything you are looking at. And with Rome being so rich with history, I didn’t want to miss a thing….Needless to say it was information overload. The guide was so knowledgeable about each site and barely ever stopped talking. And to top it off, she was about 9 months pregnant! She was wonderful and this was a GREAT tour!! I know a lot of people don’t like Cruise line tours, but we actually enjoy them, (well most of them, that is). One thing for sure is they are so organized.

Anyway, we were up by 6:00am. Enjoyed breakfast in the buffet and off to the meeting room for 8:15am in the Manhatten room.

We started this day at the Trevi fountain. What a beautiful fountain! Although, again it's in an unusal spot. They gave us just enough time to get some photos and throw a coin over our shoulder ensuring us a return to Rome.

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I'm enjoying the review. You are taking me back in time to our cruise on the Jade with the same itinerary. You also make me appreciate our meal in Florence more so than I did. My one complaint with ril was how long that meal took in Florence, but it sounds as though it wasn't much different for you and your 'quick' sandwich. I guess lunch just takes time in Florence.

 

I keep reading this review, and I'll have to go back and find my old one for a bit more reminicing. ;)

 

Someday we are going back to Europe!

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From there we walked to Roman Forum, which is a forum that is surrounded by the ruins of ancient government buildings at the center of the city of Rome. This was a fascinating place to see!

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Then we walked over to the Colosseum. It is considered one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and Roman engineering. It was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles, executions etc. There is lot’s and lot’s of interesting history behind these places.

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After we were done at the Colosseum, we walked over to a restaurant where they would serve us lunch….by this time it was around 1:30pm. This was a bit of a disappointment. We thought we would be having an Authentic Italian meal…..they did serve some pasta I guess as an appetizer, but the main course was a thin slice of turkey and fries, like steak fries and a small salad also on the plate. Dessert was something like pie crust pieces, with a raspberry sauce, and pudding??? Not sure what it was. But that’s OK, they gave a couple of bottles of wine with lunch, which made up for it....It was all pretty good. I believe we were there for about an hour.

 

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wow i am loving your review cant wait for the rest of it im going on the epic med cruise in August and and really enjoying your review

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After lunch we went walked to our bus and headed over to the St. Peter’s Basilica located in Vatican City. This Basilica has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world! The line to enter it was VERY LONG, but we got through it in about a half hour or so. (Actually it was the security line you have to go through, first which causes the backup). While we were in line our tour guide continued to give us some information on the Basilica and Vatican City and we were able to get some pics of the area as well. Again this area was beautiful and everything inside the Basilica were beautiful.

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When we were done, which I believe we were there for about an hour and half, we walked over to a souvienier store, where they gave you just enough time to use the rest rooms or pick up a souvenior . We were only there for about 15 min. or so….so not much time to do both!

The bus picked us up around 5:00pm and we were back at the ship at 6:30pm. This was a very long day! Yet, it was so fascinating and informative. We enjoyed every minute of it!!

 

Back on the ship….we had no reservations for a show today so we went to dinner at Manhattens. It was very good and there was some entertainment on the stage…a piano player and singer. A few couples got up on the dance floor, between their courses. After dinner we were off to the Casino to try our luck…as usual no luck for me, but DH, won about 30 bucks, big whoop, but better than nothing, like me!! We walked around the ship for a bit and just ended up in our room on our balcony for the rest of the evening. It was nice to just be able to relax. We have had some very busy days, so far!!

BTW the seas were pretty rough this evening for the first time….it had been literally smooth sailing until tonight….fortunately I did not get sea sick, but I had heard some people were not feeling so well.

Edited by elsplace2

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We had another Day planned with RomeInLimo. The Amalfi Coastline, Positano, Sorrento and Pompei. We met with Vito our guide for the day at 8:00am. What a great another guy from RIL! He kept calling the woman…”Lady”. “Look at this beautiful site, Lady.” "Hey Lady, let me tell you something....." It was so cute!

Here he is with me.

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We did this tour with the same group as Livorno. Again we were fortunate enough to have another beautiful day….with the exception in the late afternoon, where we got a little rain, but for only about 10 min or so.

Anyway, our first stop was going to be in the town of Positano. We drove through the Amalfi Coastline, what a beautiful coastline. Vito made a few stops for us to get some pictures….words just cannot describe the views.

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Some great pics there El. Looks like those tours paid off!

 

Not sure about the pretty rough sea though! :D:confused: The ship barely moved all week as it was going slow.

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We made it to Positano in what I believe was about an hour. This was my favorite town! Vito gave us about an hour to walk around and enjoy the town and do some shopping if we wanted. It was such a quaint little town, and we enjoyed walking down it’s windy roads and views overlooking the water.

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After Positano we were off to Sorrento….again another beautiful town. We had about an hour to do some shopping and sightseeing.

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