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Review: Carnival Mediterranean 12-Night Cruise

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We recently completed the 12-night Mediterranean itinerary on the Carnival Breeze. Because CruiseCritic was such a huge help for me in planning our trip, I wanted to write a review of our vacation in case it might be of help to others. :)

 

I'm planning on showing several photos of the Breeze and am happy to answer any questions about my experience on this ship. I realize it is no longer sailing in Europe, but the Caribbean, but I believe Carnival's new Sunshine ship as well as the Legend will be doing a similar itinerary to what I did. So I'll also try to touch on each of the ports and how we chose to spend our time there.

 

Our cruise itinerary was as follows:

 

1 Barcelona, Spain --- 5:00 p.m.

2 Monte Carlo, Monaco 9:00 a.m. 8:00 p.m.

3 Livorno (Florence & Pisa), Italy 7:00 a.m. 7:00 p.m.

4 Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy 7:00 a.m. 9:00 p.m.

5 Olbia, Sardinia 7:00 a.m. 4:00 p.m.

6 At Sea --- ---

7 Dubrovnik, Croatia 7:00 a.m. 7:00 p.m.

8 Venice, Italy 2:00 p.m. ---

9 Venice, Italy --- 7:00 p.m.

10 At Sea --- ---

11 Messina, Sicily 7:00 a.m. 4:00 p.m.

12 At Sea --- ---

13 Barcelona, Spain

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We chose to fly into Barcelona 5 days prior to the cruise. We found an apartment online to rent for all of us.

 

It was my husband and I (both in our early 30's) and our 3-year old son traveling, as well as my mom and dad. We all love traveling and cruising!

 

We stayed in the Gothic Quarter in an apartment which proved to be in good walking distance to almost anywhere in the city! If you have any specific questions on Barcelona that I can help answer, please let me know! I've been to Spain a few times before, but this was my first time visiting Barcelona. It is definitely a very special city as you can see below:

 

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Can you tell me if the photos are working? This is the first time I've ever tried writing a review or uploading photos to CruiseCritic...

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I like that Itinerary hope it will b around in 2 years

 

look forward to your review

 

ANd Barcelona looks great we will be there in 9 months

Edited by jonbgd

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While in Barcelona pre-cruise, a highlight for me on this trip was definitely La Boqueria Market off of Las Ramblas.

 

I love taking photos, and I really enjoy cooking (and eating!), so this was a feast for the senses!

 

I definitely recommend doing a walking tour of this market. You don't need a guide or anything - just set aside an hour or two to wander through it. There are a couple of small bars within the market where you can order coffee, wine and small snacks in case you get hungry.

 

You'll find a variety of sweets, fruits, nuts, spices, fish, meats and also some random kitchenware for purchase.

 

For me, it was a highlight of Barcelona! I bought mainly cooking spices to make authentic paella at home!

 

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I like that Itinerary hope it will b around in 2 years

 

look forward to your review

 

ANd Barcelona looks great we will be there in 9 months

 

I'm sure Carnival will keep the itinerary around for a couple of years - it is a great one! And you'll love Barcelona!! Have fun!

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Can you tell me if the photos are working? This is the first time I've ever tried writing a review or uploading photos to CruiseCritic...

Yes they are - and they look good.

(I love Barcelona - and cruising - so post plenty :) ).

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I know you're probably anxious to see the ship and hear about the actual cruise, but I wanted to share one last thing we did in Barcelona prior to boarding our ship...

 

I booked a tour of the Penedes Wine Region through Viator. I've only traveled with them once prior, and it was a winery tour of the Yarra Valley in Australia. I had such a great experience, I thought I'd give it another try.

 

It was approximately $75 each, and included tastings and three wineries as well as light snacks and round-trip transportation. It was one of the best days of our trip, and we all loved it!

 

A few pictures in case you're interested:

 

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We boarded the beautiful Carnival Breeze on September 19th. I felt so bad for people who were flying in that day and planning to do a bit of sightseeing in Barcelona prior to boarding. It started downpouring!

 

We always like to get to the ship and board as early as possible. In the past, we've been on board between 11am - 12:30pm , in plenty of time to have lunch on the Lido deck.

 

However, due to the downpour, our taxi took an extra hour, so we had quite a wait when we arrived at the terminal.

 

Since we had done quite a bit of wine tasting (see prior post), we had a few bottles of wine. I know Carnival allows one bottle per person in your check-in luggage, but I must say, they were not stringent about enforcing this AT ALL! In fact, we bought a bottle of wine in nearly every port and never made any effort to hide it. We got through security with no problems. I will say that this was definitely NOT my experience in Mexico or the Caribbean - they are on the lookout for alcohol like a bunch of hawks!

 

We probably waited an hour to get through security, wait in line for our sail & sign cards, and then wait with our boarding group number. Not too bad. We were very excited and the waiting area in the terminal had clean bathrooms - what more can you ask for?

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My initial reaction to the Breeze was that it was very very nice! I actually always enjoyed the garish designs of Farcus on previous Carnival ships, but this had a "classy" feel to it.

 

The Lido/buffet area was much nicer than any other Carnival ship I have been on. The atrium was very pretty, and we loved our cabin! We were in PortHole Cabin 1214.

 

Here are some photos of the ship:

 

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One concern I've heard from many people was with regards to crowds and long lines on the ship.

 

For us, it wasn't an issue. I felt the ship was very very large, and could easily accommodate all of the passengers without feeling too crowded and busy. I'm pretty claustrophobic and hate crowds, so I was pretty aware of this.

 

However, there are a couple of exceptions:

 

Guy's Burgers: I only tried this once (and loved it, but alas, it's quite a gut buster and definitely not healthy so I tried to stay away). I grabbed my burger around 11:45am or so. I passed back by about 45 minutes later, and there was quite a long queue. So, I'd recommend eating there in the "off hours".

 

Another crowded situation was during formal night (if I remember correctly). The watch and jewelry store outside the casino had some kind of promotion that drove people crazy! I mean people went nuts. I think it was $19.99 for a watch and matching bracelet or earrings. Anyhow, it didn't start until 7pm or something and people were lined up crowding the halls, desperate to get their $20 watch! You would have thought Bradley Cooper himself was there, people were so excited! Anyway, yeah, that made walking around very difficult and was a bit of an annoyance. But if you're in desperate need of a good deal, I guess it was worth it!

 

Lastly, waiting for the excursions in the morning. I rarely take cruiseline excursions, but we did two on this trip. The lines to get into the theater were pretty nuts, and it was very chaotic waiting to get out.

 

Other than that, we had no problems with crowds. We had "your time dining" and required a table for 5. We were immediately seated every night in the MDR.

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After boarding, we went to eat on the Lido deck.

 

This ship has so many more options for food than any other Carnival Cruise I've been on. We ate the typical buffet food for lunch, but later realized there was pizza, Indian food, BBQ, Mexican and Italian also available! Oh well, we were so hungry, we went straight for it.

 

One important note: The Carnival Breeze has an Italian restaurant called Cucina del Capitano. Reservations are recommended for dinner and the costs are $12 per adult and $5 per child. HOWEVER, they have a pasta bar at lunchtime which is FREE. You choose the types of noodles and sauce, meat, etc., that you want, and it is custom made for you at no charge! It takes a little bit of time to wait, but I'd definitely recommend it!

 

That evening we ate in the MDR. It was fun because the hostess at the front, Yvonne, had been our hostess on the Carnival Victory back in 2011! What a small world it is for cruise junkies!

 

Anyhow, we go on vacation to enjoy and have fun, and aren't looking for problems or things to complain about. That being said, I have to admit our service the first night was less than stellar. It took AGES to get our waiters attention, place our orders, and finally get our appetizers. A good 2.5 hours to eat. Yikes! Our 3-year old does great in restaurants, but after the first hour (mostly without food!), we let him start doing puzzles on the iPad!

 

The second night we had the same wait staff, and they were a bit better, but not much. They put us on a "quick" ticket because they thought we wanted to rush. And that being said, we ate and ordered at a more normal pace! Being American, I know we rush our meals and waitresses often bring us the bill while we're still in the middle of our main course. I do enjoy taking my time over a leisurely meal - but in this instance - leisure took way too long!

 

This was the first cruise for our assistant waiter though, so I didn't want to complain and get him in trouble. You could see they were still figuring out how to work as a team.

 

All in all, we were pleased with the food and the food quality, and the service just improved from there on out...

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Our first port on this itinerary was Monaco. I had been there once before, as had my parents, but it was a first for my husband and our 3-year old.

 

My mom and I planned to take the Eze & Menton tour through Carnival. At $49.99 per person, we thought it was a good deal, and a great way to visit some of the smaller hilltowns since we'd been to Monaco and Nice before.

 

The men all stayed on the ship, sleeping in, ordering room service, and playing on the water slides! Somehow the small villages and French markets didn't interest them (probably because they knew we'd be buying tablecloths, lavender sachets, and spices! :) Later that day, they ventured out to the Casino, losing around 50E or so each before deciding they had better return to the ship!

 

Our guide was a British woman who had moved to the Italian/French border (with her Italian husband) around 25 years ago. So, she knew the area well! She was very informative!

 

We had an hour or so to shop in the small village of Menton, walking through the market and taking photos. Below are some pictures from this village. It was along a beautiful corniche on the sea. The drive there was a bit windy, so if you get car sick, I'd recommend trying to board your coach first and sit in the very front (if those seats aren't needed for passengers with mobility issues). Pics from Menton:

 

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Next up: Photos of Eze and the scenery around the port of Monaco!

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Thanks so much for such an informative review, as well as the BEAUTIFUL pictures! I'm anxiously awaiting more. I'll be on the Carnival Sunshine June 16th!!

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After Menton, we journeyed to the small hilltown of Eze. It is a stone village overlooking the sea, and absolutely beautiful!

 

Unfortunately, it's quite commercialized and there were probably at least 6 - 8 other Carnival Coaches there when we arrived. Oh well, we still had an enjoyable time!

 

As soon as you exit the coach parking lot, there are restrooms available to the public for 50 cents. This is probably your best bet if you need the bathroom!

 

I spent a lot of time looking at the spice market before heading up into the village. Overall, it was full of pretty pricey souvenirs, many of which are most likely NOT made in France! But, it was so fun to see, and the old stone architecture was lovely!

 

I'd recommend this tour, not only for the 2 villages you visit, but the drive throughout. We saw Nice, Villefrance-sur-Mer, and many small hamlets in between. It was a beautiful morning! Pics below from the ship in Port as well as Eze and Villefrance-sur-Mer:

 

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Your photos are absolutely wonderful! We're not doing a Med cruise - we're booked on Legend for a Baltic cruise this summer - but I'm really enjoying your review. Thanks for sharing.

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fThanks so much for such an informative review, as well as the BEAUTIFUL pictures! I'm anxiously awaiting more. I'll be on the Carnival Sunshine June 16th!!

 

Glad you're enjoying it! You'll have a wonderful time on the Sunshine! I'm trying to convince my husband to book another one on that ship too! :p

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The pictures you took are amazing! Very professional looking and vivid with color.:)

 

Enjoying your review... liking the details of the Breeze as we will be sailing on her soon. :D

 

BTW, your little boy is adorable!

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Great review so far! I'm on the August 30th sailing of the Sunshine with a similar itinerary. I will also be flying into Barcelona a few days before. Did you do any other tours while in Barcelona? Any recommendations for good restaurants?

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Right now i am I Eze with you and 20 instead of 53...and in heaven, your pictures capture the eternal beauty of there..i love Europe...thank you..I have to take a Europe and Hawaii cruise...and Carnival still has great intineraries and prices..thanks so much..sarah

Edited by sjn911

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The pictures you took are amazing! Very professional looking and vivid with color.:)

 

Enjoying your review... liking the details of the Breeze as we will be sailing on her soon. :D

 

BTW, your little boy is adorable!

 

He is..so happy when kids get a chance to go to Europe and all can do what they want with a group like this...so great..Sarah

Edited by sjn911

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Oh, thanks everyone for reading up to this point and for your compliments on my pics! :)

 

I'm really hoping I can make this review helpful for anyone cruising on the Breeze or doing a similar European itinerary!

 

In terms of restaurant recommendations in Barcelona...I'm afraid I don't really have any. Since we were in a self-catering apartment for the 5 days we stayed, we did a lot of cooking in. We did have a few meals out (paella and such), but the restaurants weren't anything to write home about. I had my Frommer's Barcelona book with me, and I recall they have lots of good recommendations. The problem is that I always get sucked into the ambiance...

 

So, we found a little square (seen below) and decided that's where we wanted to eat! Unfortunately, they only had toasted sandwiches and wine. But the ambiance was so nice, we just went for it!

 

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After our tour of Eze and Menton, I returned to the ship to hang out with my little guy, while the men went to the casino...

 

If you're going to spend some time on the ship while it's in port, Monaco is a beautiful port to look at from the decks.

 

Lots of yachts moving in and out of their slips around you.

 

We headed to deck 5 for a bit of reading and playing on the iPad to relax....

 

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As you can see in the pic above, deck 5 has lovely chairs and umbrellas! It's also right around the corner from Fat Jimmy's C-Side BBQ (open only on Sea Days). You can easily get your food and sit out here for a relaxing afternoon!

 

Next up: Florence! (Or in our case, Pisa & Lucca on our own)...

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Today our ship docked in Livorno. Since we had done Florence a couple of times in the past, we decided to venture out to Lucca & Pisa.

 

I had studied in Italy in college, so I had visited the Leaning Tower twice before, but my husband and son had never been and I really wanted them to see it!

 

I planned our rail journeys ahead of time using Rail Europe online. I was happy I did this because it saved us a lot of time of waiting in lines, figuring out journeys in the station, however I have two warnings about this:

 

1. When booking your tickets online, you're made to believe you're booking for the actual journey - at a specific time - in a specific seat. In fact, you're just getting a first or second-class ticket good for any journey on that same line. There are no "reserved" seats.

 

2. I got charged $18 for express 2 day delivery of our tickets. I thought that was a bit cha-ching, but I was happy I had my tickets in advance.

 

If you watch your time and don't make a serious mistake (like we did), you'd be perfectly fine doing this outing on your own!

 

If it helps anyone, here's the trains I booked below. The total cost for tickets (including the $18 delivery surcharge) was $52. Considering the cost of Carnival excursions from Livorno, I thought that was a great deal! [You'll see all the trains to Lucca stop in Pisa, so you could actually do that stop first. I decided to do Lucca first and end in Pisa, in case we had an emergency or something went wrong with the trains, it wouldn't be too far from the port to take a taxi...

 

The specifics of our train tix:

 

Livorno-Lucca Trip

 

From:

Livorno Centrale

Departs:

Sep 21, 2012 - 8:29AM

Train

#11874

 

To:

Pisa Centrale

Arrives:

Sep 21, 2012 - 8:50AM

Class of Service:

Comfort

 

From:

Pisa Centrale

Departs:

Sep 21, 2012 - 9:00AM

Train

#6733

 

To:

Lucca

Arrives:

Sep 21, 2012 - 9:36AM

Class of Service:

Comfort

 

We spent the morning in Lucca, wandering around and eating lunch at a lovely little family run hole in the wall. Pictures to follow soon....

 

From Lucca we ended our day in Pisa:

 

From:

Lucca

Departs:

Sep 21, 2012 - 1:12PM

Train

#6736

 

To:

Pisa Centrale

Arrives:

Sep 21, 2012 - 1:41PM

Class of Service:

Comfort

 

You can actually stop at the Pisa stop prior to Centrale which gets you much closer to the Tower. Not all trains stop there, but ours happened to, so we jumped off.

 

Now, for the Pisa to Livorno portion....I assumed if we got on at the station nearest the tower, we'd catch a train on it's way to Pisa Centrale. Not so. In fact, we had PLENTY of time for this little excursion, but we made the brutal error of waiting for a train at the station near the tower, instead of going straight to Pisa Centrale. Don't do this! There were other Carnival passengers we met up with that decided to wait for the later train (arriving 29 minutes before back on board time). But for us, it wasn't worth the stress - especially with a 3 year old. So, below is the journey I had booked, but in the end we decided to splurge 40e on a private taxi back to the ship - just for some peace of mind, and also to have time to freshen up before dinner...

 

Pisa-Livorno Trip

 

 

Trip #1

From:

Pisa Centrale

Departs:

Sep 21, 2012 - 4:33PM

Train

#3115

 

To:

Livorno Centrale

Arrives:

Sep 21, 2012 - 4:48PM

Class of Service:

Comfort

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I am loving your review. Will be on the Legend May 4th. Some of the same ports. Loving your pictures. What kind of camera did you use? Are you a professional? Keep it coming.

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Lucca was a lovely city to walk around...As soon as we got to the train station, we were about a 5 minute walk from the entrance through the walls into the town.

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Be warned: If you need the bathroom at the station in Lucca, it is only the squat type - with foot pads - and a hole in the floor. :)

 

This is the lovely restaurant we ate at. Seriously, a hole in the wall, but AMAZING! They had pizza stuffed with Nutella for dessert!

 

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I should add, the glasses of wine at this joint were 1E each! :p

 

If you need to check email (or you know, tempt your friends with Facebook mobile upload pics), I found lots of free wi-fi places in Lucca. If you had a coffee or ice cream anywhere, they'd give you the password, no problem!

 

Next up, Pisa!

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Your little guy is adorable, your pics are great, and I love the details you include in your review (train info!) We have been on one Med cruise but plan on going back this year and I've bookmarked your review for future reference. Great job so far :)

 

~Denise

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I am loving your review. Will be on the Legend May 4th. Some of the same ports. Loving your pictures. What kind of camera did you use? Are you a professional? Keep it coming.

 

Thanks so much! Not really a professional - I have a shop online selling travel photography and I've had a couple of things featured in Budget Travel magazine. It's definitely a goal of mine though - someday! ;)

 

I use a Canon T2i and a tiny Canon digital elph 1000. LOVE them both!!

 

(You can get amazing deals right now on the T2i since they dropped the price on the T3i and the T4i is coming out soon)!

 

Have a wonderful time on the Legend!!

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Your little guy is adorable, your pics are great, and I love the details you include in your review (train info!) We have been on one Med cruise but plan on going back this year and I've bookmarked your review for future reference. Great job so far

 

Thanks Denise! I was wondering if the train info was too much detail, but I'm glad it (might) be helpful! I just want to illustrate that there often is enough time to see ports on your own at a reasonable cost!

 

Ok...pausing to cook dinner while my son plays with his dinosaurs, and then it's onto Pisa! :)

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After a great morning in Lucca, we made the short train journey to Pisa.

 

Like I mentioned earlier, when booking tickets online, the only option I could find was to Pisa Centrale. However, these small regional trains also [sometimes] stop at Pisa S. Rossore (you can actually see the tower from the train). Ours happened to stop there, so we jumped off and walked straight to the tower. It's an easy 5 minute walk.

 

These are some glimpses as you approach the Tower:

 

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And a couple from inside the tower:

 

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And a word of advice: The stairs are EXTREMELY slippery - they've been worn down along one side the entire way up...It really wasn't a good decision to wear my shiny gold flip flops (which my husband had warned me against)...

 

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I had booked our tickets to the tower in advance, online. You have to have a set timed appointment, and they are available every 15 minutes. Young children under age 8 aren't permitted, so my husband and I had to take turns going up separately.

 

The ticket was 17E and I had my print out with me. When I took it across the street to the office to get the "actual ticket" they told me it wasn't necessary - apparently the printout confirmation is enough.

 

Here are some specifics:

 

SALE INFORMATION

For security reasons, children under 8 years old are not allowed to access the Leaning Tower.

In order to collect the ticket BY AVOIDING THE CUE, please provide this form to the cash desk no. 2 located inside the “Sinopie Museum” or cash desk n. 2 at the “Central Ticket Office” at least 30 minutes before the visiting time scheduled.

Once the tourist hands in the voucher, the cashier gives him the ticket for the visit. The ticket is valid only for the time shown on the ticket and the voucher

The tourist must show the cashier the same document that appears in the voucher..

The tourist has to go to the proper left-luggage office to hand in bags/luggage before starting the visit.

The visit will last about 30 minutes on the whole and the tourists will be led by the staff of Opera della Primaziale Pisana.

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After we got back from Pisa, we rested a bit before heading out to the MDR for dinner.

 

In the evenings we spent some time wandering around the shops and playing a bit in the casino...We didn't really do the shows, since they usually don't interest us. At that time they had "The Brits" playing, and we peeked in for a portion of it, but thought it was really cheesy...

 

The next day we docked in Civitavecchia in order to make our way to Rome. We've spent a good amount of time in Rome on previous trips and felt comfortable doing it on our own.

 

When the ship docks in Civitavecchia, Carnival provides a free shuttle to the top of the port - along the town's main street. From there, it is a very short walk to the train station.

 

We purchased one-way tickets for 5E each and the journey took 1 hours and 5 minutes. Not bad at all! We got into Termini station, and from there walked downhill to the ancient Forum area. This was the neighborhood I stayed and studied in during college, and not a lot changes around Rome, so I still had a vague idea where we were. :)

 

I knew we'd be in time to catch the beautiful market in Campo di Fiori, so we headed straight there on the bus. Pretty much any bus going towards Plaza Argentina (I believe it's called) is right near the Campo di Fiori square. I had purchased our bus tickets for 1.80E at the Termini station before exiting...

 

If you want to "see Rome" but still have a leisurely day, I'd definitely recommend Campo di Fiori in addition to a walk through Piazza Navona, the Forum, the Trevi Fountain and the Colosseum. They are all in relative close distance, and we journeyed between all of them on foot after that initial bus ride. And we had a 3-year old in a stroller!

 

Back to Campo di Fiori...It's beautiful. They have a daily market until around 1:30pm each afternoon where you can find olive oils, truffle oil, vegetables and fruits, t-shirts, scarves, hats and kitchen ware. There are several restaurants lining the market which have daily deals - approximately 8E for a plate of pasta, glass of wine and a cappuccino. That's what we opted to do.

 

Some pics from the market and our yummy lunch:

 

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Thank you for your review so far. I am absolutely loving it. And as others have said, your pictures are AMAZING!!!! (professional quality). I am glad that you decided to do this review. As soon as they come out with the Summer 2014 Med cruise schedule, we are booking for our 30th anniversary. I can't wait. Subscribing to your thread. :):):)

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Before I continue on about our journey through Rome (which I hope will be helpful for people planning to sail on the Legend or the Sunshine), I know the Breeze is now in the Caribbean with many people anxious to know more about her.

 

I've been focusing a lot on the ports up to this point, so if you have any specific questions about the ship I might be able to help answer, please ask away! :)

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Thank you for your review so far. I am absolutely loving it. And as others have said, your pictures are AMAZING!!!! (professional quality). I am glad that you decided to do this review. As soon as they come out with the Summer 2014 Med cruise schedule, we are booking for our 30th anniversary. I can't wait. Subscribing to your thread.

 

Thank you so much! I'm glad you're enjoying it!

 

Darn, I just checked and you're right - the summer Med schedule isn't out! I'm already wanting to plan another trip for 2014 too! That'll be a great anniversary trip for you! Congrats!

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thanks for posting the great pics.. we are going on the sunshine in june to some of the same ports. we are so excited! looking forward to reading more about yalls trip! :)

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