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denmanja

Just Back from Brilliance 5/15 - Barcelona to Rome

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The trip was amazing!! Still overwhelmed with all the unpacking and getting back to real life. In summary: we spent two days in Barcelona. Stayed in the Hotel Atlantis - good price, great location. We had an interior room (#3545) which didn't matter at all to us. The ship was beautiful. Thought the service was great, the food was good. Better in the dining room than the Windjammer. Dining times were 6, 6:30, 8:30 and 9. We did private excursions in Villefranche (Revelation Tours with Michel - excellent), Livorno (Driver in Rome with someone whose name we never caught (we were supposed to have Daniele but it was NOT him) - good), and Naples (Drive Amalfi with Salvatore - excellent). Stayed two days after in Rome at the Hotel Italia, also a good price and location.

 

Happy to answer any questions!!

 

Jennifer

 

P.S. Amber and Lisa, sorry I did not get to say a proper goodbye to you. But I had an amazing time! I really hope to see you again!!

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When did they hold the Meet and Mingle party?

how was the entertainment on sea days?

 

We are also using Revelation tours in Nice and Driver in Rome in Rome and Naples, can't wait!!

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I have several questions:

 

1. Did you get Euros out of ATMs during your trip? Any problems?

 

2. What all did you see during your tour in Rome? What did you do for lunch?

 

3. Were US dollars used in the casino?

 

4. What time did you board in Barcelona?

 

5. Any restaurant recommendations in Barcelona?

 

Thanks!

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Floridacruisers, there was no Meet & Mingle for this cruise - could not get enough people signed up. Entertainment was good, although not great. This was my first cruise, so I have nothing to compare to, but it was nothing to rave about.

 

Ollie, I'll answer yours in order.

 

1. We used ATMs to get euros the entire trip. The only problem I had was that I forgot to transfer money to my checking account - duh :eek: - because European ATMs do not give you the choice of choosing checking or savings like some banks do here in the states. And for some reason that we still don't know, my boyfriend's card did not work at the ATM in Sicily, although mine did so we were still able to withdraw money. The only tip I can give you here is to withdraw the maximum as few times as possible to pay the least amount of fees.

 

2. We didn't do any particular "tour" in Rome. The first afternoon, we walked from our hotel to the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Piazza Venezia. Later that evening we walked to the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain. The next day we saw the Pantheon and Piazza Navona, then walked to the Tiber River. That afternoon we took the metro to the Vatican, where did toured the Museums and the Sistine Chapel, then took in St Peters Basilica. Two very exhausting days!

 

3. The casino is US dollar based, although they do accept euros, but I'm not sure of the exchange rate. You are able to use your seapass card to withdraw money, I think the minimum was $20.

 

4. We checked out of our hotel around noon, I believe, and took a taxi straight to the pier. We were definitely not the first to arrive! The entire process only took about 20 minutes though, it was very efficient. We were on the ship before 1pm, which is when they allowed you to enter your staterooms.

 

5. I don't remember any specific names of restaurants in Barcelona. My best suggestion would be to stay off Las Ramblas. We ate there one night and it was too touristy, not very good food. Try walking the opposite directions off Placa Catalunya. We ate there the other night, better tapas, cheaper food, although a little harder to communicate.

 

Hope this helps!

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Thanks so much for the quick reply and for the hints regarding the ATMs. I'll be certain to have enough funds in our checking account before we leave!

 

Sorry about the mix-up regarding your tour in Rome. When I saw Driver In Rome, I immediately thought "Rome" and failed to see you used them from Livorno.

 

One last question: what time was the muster drill? I assume you were scheduled to depart around 7 p.m., as we are.

 

Karen

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I have several questions:

 

1. Did you get Euros out of ATMs during your trip? Any problems?

2. What all did you see during your tour in Rome? What did you do for lunch?

3. Were US dollars used in the casino?

4. What time did you board in Barcelona?

5. Any restaurant recommendations in Barcelona?

Thanks!

 

Karen,

Though I wasn't on this cruise, I can answer some of the questions.

 

1. ATM's in Europe are all over the place. Try to find one that has the same system as your home ATM and you won't have fee's to pay. IOW, on our bank card, it says Cirrus/NYCE, so when we travel abroad we look for ATM's that display that same logo. There are usually plenty. We usually get some money at the airport ATM when we land. Make sure you have a 4 digit PIN code.

 

2. Can't remember where we ate in Rome. But hey, it's Italy....it's hard to find a bad meal! <g>

 

3. All US based cruiseships use US Dollars on board.

 

5. In Barcelona, we like 4GATS restaurant. It's within walking distance of Las Ramblas. It's a moderately priced, casual place where artists like Picasso and Miro used to hang out in the 1930's. We had a pre-cruise dinner at a place called Set Portes (7 doors). It's a big place that can accomodate groups, so it can be touristy - however, there are plenty of locals dining there as well and they make wonderful paella.

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Thanks for all the info. We are doing this trip next year and are already gathering as much information as we can. Ron, would you email me your more detailed report? itsanita@msn.com

 

thanks

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Karen, I believe muster was at 5:30, but I will have to check. I will let you know if it is different. The whole thing lasted about 20 minutes - not a huge inconvenience. More than enough time to get back up on deck with a drink in hand for sailaway!

 

Also, to followup more on the ATM questions, your card will likely only work if it has the logos featured on the back of your card (Plus, Cirrus, etc). We had no problems finding these. However, there were still fees charged by my bank - make sure you check before you leave! We were charged 75 cents each time for using an extended network ATM, plus a "conversion fee" which was generally in the $3 range. Nothing big, but this is why I suggest withdrawing the maximum amount of money the least amount of times. I only needed to hit the ATM twice - on arrival and again halfway through the journey. Best suggestion is to check with your bank!!

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denmanja, thanks again! I had a feeling muster would be around that time. We have an informal get together scheduled for 4 p.m. on embarkation day and I just wanted to get an idea of whether or not we would be rushed. Sounds like we'll have plenty of time.

 

I knew about the ATM logos and also knew there would be a fee. I'm just getting that pre-travel anxiety where I plan to get the money we need while we're traveling and then worry that I won't actually be able to get our money out of the ATM. :o

 

I will doublecheck with my bank about the fees, but they haven't given much accurate information thus far, so I may just have to see what I get hit with once we get home.

 

Karen

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I just picked up a nice little piece of info on the Britain board. Call your bank and find out if it has an agreement with any banks in Europe (i.e. Bank of America does with Barclays), so you don't have to pay the ATM fee. Good advice.

 

We are going back in October for our second Med cruise: 12 days on the Brilliance. We were on the Splendour's 7 day Med cruise 3 years ago, and are really excited to go back.

 

We, also, used an ATM once on the trip and took out the maximum to avoid extra fees. We got 400 Euros in Florence and used them throughout the cruise, since the other countries accepted Euros, too. Then we gave the remaining to our dining and room stewards as extra tip money.

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Sorry Pcur, Just saw when you are cruising. I guess you will be getting off as we get on. Would love to hear from you about what type of tours you have scheduled. We have private tours set for Naples, Rome and Florence. We are staying in Barcelona after the cruise.

 

Janice

 

JKBPM@hotmail.com

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Aword of caution for everyone planning to use their ATM card in Europe. Make sure you call your bank before leaving and let them know you'll be using it out of the country. I work as a manager of a help desk at a bank and we get calls from disgruntled customers stating their cards didn't work. Because of the high incidences of fraud, banks are very cautious now. If you bank with more than one institution, check to see which one doesn't charge an out of the country fee or which one charges the lowest. My bank just implemented a 3% fee effective 7/1/05 (we leave on the Brilliance on 6/29) so I'm using my other account.

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Sellwingri,

 

Please share, which bank doesn't charge a fee. :D

 

Thanks,

Carole

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Dear Mimi, sorry I guess my finger slipped. Unfortunately we are on the Oct 29th cruise. I shall wave to you as you get off! Leave some of the good weather for us please. If you need a nice moderatly priced place to stay in Barcelona let me know as I have booked an apartment before and after the cruise so that we can see a bit of the city. We then will be going on to Egypt for two weeks. Have a nice trip with your family. Jackie

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Karen,

Though I wasn't on this cruise, I can answer some of the questions.

 

1. ATM's in Europe are all over the place. Try to find one that has the same system as your home ATM and you won't have fee's to pay. IOW, on our bank card, it says Cirrus/NYCE, so when we travel abroad we look for ATM's that display that same logo. There are usually plenty. We usually get some money at the airport ATM when we land. Make sure you have a 4 digit PIN code.

 

2. Can't remember where we ate in Rome. But hey, it's Italy....it's hard to find a bad meal! <g>

 

3. All US based cruiseships use US Dollars on board.

 

5. In Barcelona, we like 4GATS restaurant. It's within walking distance of Las Ramblas. It's a moderately priced, casual place where artists like Picasso and Miro used to hang out in the 1930's. We had a pre-cruise dinner at a place called Set Portes (7 doors). It's a big place that can accomodate groups, so it can be touristy - however, there are plenty of locals dining there as well and they make wonderful paella.

Is a 4-digit PIN number the minimum number of digits to use in?ATM's abroad? Will my 6-digit code work or do I have to change it to a 4-digit. Thanks for any help.

 

Pam

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Pam, it does need to be a 4 digit - most European ATMs won't accept anything else. You should change your PIN before you leave.

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Thank you so much for clarification......might have not had the $$$$ that could buy thoses special wines or special Italian shoes....My DH is shaking his head as I WRITE THIS...

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We were on the May 15 and May 29 Brilliance in the Med. I am still preparing a more detailed report, but in response to your ATM question:

 

ATMs are everywhere in Italy, however I wouldn't leave my withdrawal to the last minute since we encountered several machines that did not accept our card and others that were out of service. Also, we tried to use the machines early in the morning when there were few crowds around - pickpocketing is a real problem in Europe and you want to be as low key as possible. We had several experiences with attempted pickpocketing in Barcelona - so be aware.

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The point for using the ATMs is to get Euros, and the onboard casinos usually give you US dollars. Check your bank, because ours (Bank of America) allowed us $400 Euros per day.

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