PunkiC Posted October 31, 2013 #1 Share Posted October 31, 2013 (edited) More or less live from the Noordam. 10/31/2013 Journey to the new world. Installment One: Getting to the Ship from Seattle The Noordam sails October 31, 2013, starting out in Civitavecchia (which is close to Rome), with three stops in Spain, one stop in Portugal and then across the Atlantic to Fort Lauderdale. Our personal journey began the 23rd of October with a flight to Dubai. Dubai? We have saved up a lot of airline miles and hotel points for our retirement and as we started looking for flights from Seattle to Italy, the best deal we could find was using Alaska Airlines miles, routing through Dubai. What the heck? Since we are retired we can do pretty much anything we want, so we booked through Dubai in business class on Emirates. We flew to to Dubai, spent three wonderful days at the Sheraton Mall of the Emirates hotel using cash and points and very much enjoying the complimentary limo rides from our home to the airport, and then from the airport in Dubai to our hotel. We did the Hop On Hop Off tour and loved it. Hubby went skiing one morning. I am still recovering from a broken ankle so I had to shop instead. After enjoying Dubai for a few days, the limo picked us up at our hotel and took us back to the airport for a flight to Milan. We had a wonderful time in Milan and serendipitously attended a very special Peruvian Mass in honor of our Lord of the Miracles at the Duomo. It was celebrated by a cardinal, no less, and was attended by over 40,000 people of Peruvian descent, and, of course, us. Very interesting experience. We spent on night in Milan and then headed by train down to Florence where we stayed at the Westin Excelsior, also on cash and points. What a lovely hotel. We had a gorgeous suite overlooking the river and flat out loved it. Hubby hiked up the cupola of the Duomo as well as all 400+ stairs to the top of the Bell Tower. I am still trying to fully recover my ankle so I can start skiing when we get back home so I had to pass on the hikes. One night as we were walking to dinner we heard singing in a nearby church. When we checked it out, they were doing Benediction in Latin so we stayed. How often do you see that? Travel is so amazing. Since we have already spent a fair amount of time in Rome, we decided to take the train from Florence to Livorno and then down the coast to Civitavecchia, and it was a truly charming ride. The train was wide open and we had lots of space and quiet comfort as we watched the water heading south. Nothing at all like the crazy, very over crowded, train ride we took from Rome to Civitavecchia before our last cruise that commenced here. For one night only in Civitavecchia we stayed at the Roses Hotel Mediterraneo. After being spoiled rotten in fabulous suites in 5 star hotels, this is pretty Spartan, but it will make us much more appreciative of our verandah cabin when we board the Noordam tomorrow. The hotel is relatively inexpensive, clean enough, and they did give us 6 hours free internet. Breakfast is included, I wouldn’t recommend it for a longer stay, but the location is perfect. It is a short, easy, walk from the train station, even with cruise luggage, and another short, easy, walk to the port shuttle. It was also very close to the center of the city and lots of stores and restaurants. We walked up to the Todis to get enough wine to last us until we get to Spain and met a lot of fellow cruisers who were doing the same thing. Most of them were not on Cruise Critic and were very surprised to learn that HAL has changed their wine policy effective January 31, 2014. We all agreed that after HAL institutes their new policy, Princess will be a lot better choice. Can’t wait to head down to the ship from where I will post the next installment of this more or less live report. [/b][/b] Edited October 31, 2013 by PunkiC Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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