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gbntmom

Review of the Jade (Western Med) 11/16-11/27

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Hello, everyone. I wanted to take a minute to introduce myself - I'm Janet, a daughter, a wife, and a mother to 4, who enjoys adventures! I am a travel planner (to the dismay of my family) who enjoys the planning part just as much as the traveling part. This is my first time posting a review - it will be part story, part planning, part pictures and always adventures! I'm happy to answer any questions you have (if I know the answer!)

 

My husband of 20 years has been encouraging me to go on a vacation with some friends (as he gets to travel for business & pleasure several times a year without me.). Of course, finding other "mom" friends who could take time away from their families is like finding a needle in a haystack, so I took a different approach. You see, my Dad, is a man who has everything he needs (and even some that he doesn't!). We never know what to buy him for the holidays, his birthday, etc. As I was poking around trying to find something that interested me, I found a great fare on the NCL Jade for the Western Med. right before Thanksgiving. My husband & I figured that this would be a great "everything" gift for my Dad, plus give me a traveling partner. And, the icing on the cake was that we would be back for Thanksgiving (which Dad was due to spend with us anyways!).

 

So... my planning began. I booked directly with NCL for an inside cabin back in June. I quickly jumped on board here - both for help & information and to join in our Roll Call. My plan was to do all independent tours in our ports of call and find others to share the costs (and fun!). To say that the planning of this adventure was easy is not true, but it was certainly worth every minute I put into it. The friends who I made from our Roll Call made my trip all the better.

 

So, if you're still with me, let's get started in Rome! :)

 

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We began our trip leaving the US on Thursday, Nov. 14th and arriving in Rome on Friday, Nov. 15th. at 9am. Upon disembarking the plane, we passed through Passport Verification (easy - and a quick stamp!) and then to the baggage claim. After retrieving our bags (of course, mine was one of the last ones off the plane), we then figured we had a wait ahead of us in customs. We couldn't have been more incorrect, since when we followed the signs for those with nothing to declare, we ended up outside of security!

 

Now I had pre-booked a hotel room at the Hilton Garden Inn Airport for a couple of reasons. One, it was close by with a free shuttle, two, another couple who we had made arrangements with for transport to the dock were staying there, and three, my husband is a Hilton Honors member, so he got the points!

 

Anyhow, following the directions, we proceeded to the shuttle area outside of Terminal T3 to the bus stop #11. Little did we know, that the bus stop had changed to #23 - so, we waited just a little but longer than we needed to, but hey, we're on vacation, right?

 

The shuttle driver was very pleasant and quickly took us to the hotel. I was figuring that we would drop our bags with the front desk, and then head back to the airport to catch the bus to downtown Rome. It was quite the pleasant surprise that our room was already available! We dropped our luggage in the room, freshened up & then headed back to catch the shuttle to the airport.

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The room was very clean and comfortable and quiet!

 

 

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Our Room

 

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Our Bathroom

 

Now you may be wondering why we were headed back to the airport if we just got here! The reason was simple - I needed to find us a way to downtown Rome that was inexpensive. I found that the Terravision buses ran from Terminal T3 at the airport to the Termini in Rome. From the Terravision website....

"The shuttle bus service is fast and non-stop from Rome Fiumicino international airport to Rome Termini Station, which is Rome’s public transport hub, right in the city centre and a great spot to start exploring the Eternal City!

 

Book Online and Save! Online tickets cost €4 one way/€8 return trip instead of €6/€11.

 

Available routes: Non-stop bus from Fiumicino Airport to Rome Termini Station.

 

Journey time: 55 min"

 

I did prebook our tickets, but knew from their website that if we missed our scheduled time or needed to get an earlier or later bus, there would be no problem.

 

It was a comfortable ride to Rome - weather and traffic not withstanding. No one can control the rain or the traffic - at least, that's how I look at it! ;)

 

We got to the Termini after 1pm (I don't remember the exact time) - and we were hungry & in need of exchanging dollars to euros. We saw a bank that was affiliated with mine at the corner, so made a quick stop to the ATM and then just headed into the Termini for a quick bite at a fast food place as we were starving by then.

Once our bellies were full, the plan was to catch the HOHO bus from CitySightseeing Roma. When I went to the kiosk for tickets, I was sold bus tickets for the Yellow bus (RomaChistiana). When I went back to inquire, I was told that the red buses were having trouble that day (whether true or not, I don't know, but after being tired and in the rain, I was not in a mood to argue). It was 20 euros for a 24 hour pass. They had headphones that gave you information about what you were seeing in Italian, Spanish, English, French, Japanese, Russian, and a few others. They were double decker buses that the upper deck was covered so even though it was raining, I could still sit "outside" to take pictures!

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Thanks to all of you for the positive feedback! As I had mentioned, this was my first time on the Jade & when searching for info, it seemed few & far between. I promised myself that I would come back & write a review (and I have menus & dailies, too!).

 

But back to Rome -

 

I was thoroughly amused by the driving in Rome - brakes are rarely used, stop signs are optional, coming within an inch of another vehicle is the norm. At least drivers DO use turn signals - albeit while trying to run you over, but they do use them!

 

From our Yellow HOHO bus (Termini stop was #5) we rode the circuit until stop #1 which was the Vatican. We passed many of the popular sights of Rome -

 

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We hopped off the bus at Vatican stop #1 and figured that we would have a look around. While I already knew that we wouldn't have time to see the Vatican Museum & Sistine Chapel, my plan was to see the inside of St. Peter's Basilica. While I had read that there were generally no lines to get into the Basilica (especially in November), I hadn't counted on it being closed from 12-3pm due to the ordination of a Bishop.

 

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While the lines were long (and it was rainy) (and the last HOHO bus left at 6pm), we decided to walk around outside for a while

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At this point, we decided to walk back & catch the next HOHO bus and finish our tour back to the Termini. Since there were not many crowds at the Colosseum when we passed, we thought we would continue on another loop of the HOHO bus and perhaps get off there. As luck would have it, time was not on our side (we would not have been able to see anything before needing to catch the last bus of the day), so we stayed on board for a final spin around the city. It's truly beautiful how the sights change as darkness begins to fall.

 

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We got back to the Termini station to catch the Terravision bus back to the airport. Due to the rain and heavy traffic, it seemed that the buses were running late (which meant tempers were flaring all around us). My thought was that for 4 euros for the ride, I had no place to complain. The route back took us a different way, where we drove through a large Chinese section of Rome. I was surprised to see the large population of Asian people who live in Rome - I don't know why it surprised me, but it just did.

 

We waited for the shuttle back to the hotel and before long were on our way back to the Hilton Garden Inn. It amazed me that in taking the shuttle 3 times today, not once did we follow the same route! Each drive, we could see the hotel, but somehow got a scenic tour of the outlying airport area (Big Ben, Parliment - to quote Chevy Chase!)

 

We dropped our things in the room and headed to the hotel restaurant for a quick meal. I know, I know - you're in Italy and you're eating at a hotel restaurant?!?! Figuring that at this point I didn't know what time it was, where I was or how I got there, this was the safest bet!

 

Headed back to the room after using the business center for a last check of my email (I may go into withdrawal!). Went to sleep around 11pm & slept soundly until our wake-up call of 8am.

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Where did you pick up the Terravision bus at T#? Was it outside baggage pickup? Thanks

 

The Terravision bus was at the shuttle bus area outside of Terminal T3. As you leave baggage claim and walk outside, you'll proceed down toward your right. Also, if you stay inside the terminal outside of baggage claim and head toward the right, you'll find the Terravision kiosk. You really can't miss either - they are well marked with signage and the Terravision colors of magenta & blue!

 

Good luck!

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So glad you and your dad had a great time.

Was Gary the CD on the Jade? Still trying to figure out which months he's on vacation as he adds so much to the cruise experience.

Thanks for the review.

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So glad you and your dad had a great time.

Was Gary the CD on the Jade? Still trying to figure out which months he's on vacation as he adds so much to the cruise experience.

Thanks for the review.

 

Our CD was JC Sanchez. He announced at the end of the cruise that this was his last cruise (for now) as he was heading on vacation. Hope this helps :)

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After a good night's sleep, we met up with the couple who we would be sharing a ride to the port. Enjoyed a buffet breakfast at the hotel (for Hilton Honors members, this was included. If not, it was 18 euros per person).

 

We were lucky to have joined 2 other couples (8 people total) to share a ride to Civitavecchia. They were staying at the Hilton Claridge in Rome, so they were picked up first, then came to get the 4 of us, then onto the port. We used Rome Shuttle Limousine and it was 195 euros for the trip (normally 165 euros, but an additional 30 for the Rome to airport stop). On a side note, we used the same company (with the same group of us) for transport from the ship to the airport after the cruise (165 euros). The first pickup was to be at 11am, then us at 11:45am to be at the port by 12:30pm. Surprisingly, they were at the airport hotel much earlier (no traffic on a Saturday), so we were on our way by 11:30am. Enjoyed the drive getting to know others who we would be spending the next 11 days with! The driver was very polite and professional (as well as a pro in fitting all of our luggage in the back of the van!). Time flew by and we were at the port by 12:20pm.

 

We began the check-in process, starting with leaving our luggage with the porters who met us at the van. It was so nice not having to take it along with us! At that time, the lines were minimal, and after checking in, getting our room keys/passes, having the obligatory picture taken - we were on board before 1pm.

 

We found our cabin easily, left our carry-on items there, and headed to the Grand Pacific dining room for lunch. We had a nice, leisurely meal as it is true that not many people head there for lunch on the first day.

 

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The lunch menu from embarkation day.

 

After lunch, we decided to explore the ship, starting from the top down. One thing that I found to be very helpful from the NCL website, was the ability to print out the "Mini-Guide" for the ship before we left. This is the pocket size guide with the ship map , highlights & phone #s. I believe I found it after completing the online check-in.

 

We started on Deck 14 and the sun deck, which gave beautiful views.

 

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Deck 13 took us to the sports area, the walking track, the chapel & the Spinnaker lounge.

 

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Deck 12 includes the Great Outdoors, La Cucina, the Garden Cafe, Kids Clubs, the pools, the Library & Card rooms, the Spa & the Fitness Center.

 

On Deck 11, we found the Bridge Viewing Room -

 

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Deck 8 was the location of the Blue Lagoon -

 

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Just a note....the Chocolate Brownie Sundae is only offered at lunch time (up until 3pm) - for those who are interested!

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Continuing on, Deck 7 was the Internet Cafe, the Atrium, Guest Services, Gift Shops, the Medusa Lounge, Teppanyaki and the Photo Gallery.

 

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Deck 6 was the Grand Pacific and Alizar Main Dining Rooms, the Casino, The Stardust Theater, the Meeting Rooms, Le Bistro & a variety of bars.

 

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After this walk about, we headed back to our cabin, and to our surprise, our luggage had already arrived! We spent time unpacking and settling in to our "home away from home" and then wandered around the outside decks until Muster Drill at 4pm. The Muster station is printed on the room key (as a letter & number - ie: G2). Any of the staff were more than willing to help us in locating where we needed to be. Upon entering the room, we checked in and then were seated. We did not need to bring our life vests. We sat at our location and listened to the announcements & watched the demonstrations.

 

After this was over, we headed up to Deck 13 & 14 to watch sail away at 5pm.

 

 

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GBNTMOM, I am enjoying your review. my wife and I will be on the jade for the april 12 sailing. I am curious, you did a lot of touring after arriving, did you have a long flight to rome. I am also staying at the Hilton garden inn after the cruise and 2 days in rome before the cruise. keep posting, thanks

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Regarding our cabin.... When I booked the cruise, I booked an inside cabin - category IA. While keeping an eye on the NCL website (as I learned from others here), I saw that the price of an obstructed oceanview was the same that I paid for the inside. One quick phone call, and I was upgraded to category OK. Further watching got me to a Oceanview Porthole (OG) and finally to a Ocean View Picture Window (OC). Even after the final move, the prices dropped, and I called, knowing that I had a slim chance. While there were no further room upgrades available, NCL did give me $50 onboard credit. I must say, that I never did expect anything other than what I paid for. I do operate under the philosophy that it never hurts to ask as well as the saying "you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar".

 

Back to my cabin - we were in cabin 5598 - very easy to access from the stairs and elevators. Also, very quiet. This cabin is under the dining rooms/kitchen area and occasionally my Dad could hear scraping sounds overhead during the night, like they were moving carts. Nothing that was such a bother that caused us to miss sleep. Of course, you must understand that I can sleep through anything (including a hurricane when I lived in Alabama!).

 

Our cabin was comfortable and clean. When you walked in, there was a set of cubbies and the safe on the right hand side. Next came the closet, and then the corner table with the tv. On the left hand side was the bathroom, followed by the desk and chair. We had a twin bed on each side with 2 small tables between under the window. This room did have 1 bunk bed from the wall on the right hand side and another pull out bed (trundle type) underneath one of the twins.

 

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The beds set up together - our cabin steward did separate them before we got back for the evening!

 

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My Dad checking out the TV offerings! I'll give you an idea now, he will watch anything, in any language, at any time. He brags that he has now seen The Lone Ranger in German, The Great Gatsby in French, and others that I can't even remember. All I know is that while I was in the shower one day, I thought the ship had come under attack, as the sound of gunfire permeated the room. Nope, all was safe. Just Dad watching some movie with the volume turned up. Needless to say, relaxing and shower no longer were used in the same sentence! (Not unless I took the TV remote into the bathroom with me!)

 

There was plenty of room to store everything we had. Our suitcases fit under the bed (both under 1 bed, as the other bed had the trundle under it). There were 3 drawers on each side by the desk and table along with 4 cubbies under the safe. Plenty of hangers were in the closet. There was an electrical outlet on the desk (hiding behind my Dad's maroon bag). I did bring a multi outlet strip as I knew I would need to charge my kindle, phone, camera batteries, etc. The hair dryer is the black thing hanging on the wall to the left of the maroon bag. Fine for me, but then again, I rarely use a hairdryer. There was one outlet in the bathroom labelled "Razor only" over the sink. I did bring some of those collapsing boxes (from the Dollar Store) and used them to "collect" things on the 2 shelves over the hairdryer. They were handy to have and took up no room at all! I had brought 2 (one for each of us) and probably could have used another - but then again, I like keeping things organized so I can find them!

 

I had organized an "Unofficial Meet & Greet" for our Roll Call for 5:30pm in the Library. Many of us from Roll Call had planned excursions together and thought that getting to know each other ahead of time might help. Also, with this being such a port-intensive itinerary, our "Official Meet & Greet" sponsored by NCL was to be held on our first sea day which was scheduled for 11/22 (Friday) and today was 11/16 (Saturday).

 

I was shocked and thrilled that over 50 (!) people came to meet each other. We all introduced ourselves, met new friends and shared information. It was a great event and so nice to finally be able to put faces with names! Everyone in our Roll Call had been so helpful, it didn't surprise me. There were cruisers who were on their second leg of a back to back, there were first time cruisers, honeymooners, veteran cruisers and everyone else in between! Even those who did not join in groups for tours on the Roll Call were able to connect with others looking to do similar activities. Of course, I have no pictures from this event, as I was too busy (and nervous) to think of bringing my camera.

 

As my Dad & I were the last to leave (with another couple who we were talking to), we all decided to head to Alizar for dinner together. Tonight was the Surf & Turf (aka lobster) dinner!

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After an enjoyable meal, we headed off to the 930pm show - the Welcome Aboard Variety Show. It was a great way to end the day and gave us a taste of the entertainment we could expect for the next 10 days. After this, I decided it was time to take a quick shower & head to bed as a 630am wake up call was going to come pretty early!

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GBNTMOM, I am enjoying your review. my wife and I will be on the jade for the april 12 sailing. I am curious, you did a lot of touring after arriving, did you have a long flight to rome. I am also staying at the Hilton garden inn after the cruise and 2 days in rome before the cruise. keep posting, thanks

 

Our flight to Rome was out of Philadelphia. We left at 620pm & arrived in Rome around 915am (local time). We had dinner on the plane (not bad for airplane food) and then shortly after they dimmed the lights. I am able to sleep most anywhere/anytime (according to my Husband I must have been a cat in a former life - all I need is warmth - preferably a sun-spot - and I'm out like a light!). I did sleep on and off during the flight. I think I was so excited about the trip and seeing the sights, that I was going on adrenaline. What worked for me was keeping going that first day, then heading to bed at a reasonable time & sleeping in the following morning. That seemed to get me on local time very quickly and did not experience any severe jet lag.

Glad you're enjoying.

Janet

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I am enjoying your review so far! We will be on the Spirit in June and will visit a lot of the same ports, so I appreciate all of your information. Can't wait to read the rest!

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I also am following this review. We will be traveling to Europe this year and are thinking of a cruise while there. We have a wedding to attend and as soon as we know the date (!) we will be able to decide. This review will help immensely in deciding. Thanks!

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I am enjoying your review so far! We will be on the Spirit in June and will visit a lot of the same ports, so I appreciate all of your information. Can't wait to read the rest!

 

Jennifer -

 

I'll be on the Spirit with you! I'm taking my daughter as her High School graduation gift. I haven't been very active on that Roll Call since I was planning for this trip. I'm happy to share any info with you, as I was checking in with those who had already visited Greece, Turkey & Venice on the first part of their back to back cruise.

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Your trip report is AWESOME!! Thank you so much for taking the time to write this! Your entertaining, informational, and personal writing style has me reading every word about the Jade even though we will be cruising with you on the Spirit this summer! I wish I was able to find a trip report this thorough with great pictures and enjoyable writing for the Spirit! I am so glad you were able to take this special cruise with your dad!! What memories you will treasure I'm sure!! Happy New Year! Can't wait to read more!

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LIVORNO (Day 2) 7am-7pm

 

The plans for the day were going to keep us busy! I had made arrangements with Rome In Limo (through Jany) and can't begin to say enough good things about them! Jany, I swear, must sit at her computer, just waiting to respond to any emails sent - honestly, she's that fast! Since we were wanting to see as much as we could, we chose the Pisa & Florence tour. From Rome in Limo's website, the description:

 

"This day excursion is designed for those who wish to enjoy the highlights of PISA and FLORENCE.

 

You will be greeted at the Port of Livorno, and will make your way to the small city of Pisa. Here you will spend a portion of your morning at the Leaning Tower and the main square. Continuing on along the scenic route in the Tuscan countryside, before arriving at the Renaissance city of Florence.

 

Here you will explore the Church of Santa Croce, the Duomo and Baptistery, the Ponte Vecchio, the Pitti Palace, and the Piazza of Michelangelo prior to lunch. Moving on, you will stop at the Accademia*, which houses Michelangelo’s famous sculpture of David. You can also instead of the Accademia conclude the day with the Uffizi Gallery*, after which you will be returned to the Port of Livorno.

 

Please book your tickets for Uffizi or Accademia yourself, best option is to call them and book the tickets directly over the phone: 011 39 055 294883

 

* Please Book the tickets starting from 2 pm, note that the Accademia would take 40 min to visit and Uffizi about 1,5 hours.

** For the clients that form a group, please make sure everyone has the same time for each museum.

*** Because of lack of time you can only visit one of the museums.

 

Please note that the Accademia and the Uffizi museum are closed on Mondays!"

 

This was a 9 hour tour and for a group of 8 was 600 euros. We actually had 15 people (2 vans) and 2 drivers. We were to meet the drivers at 8am, right outside of the ship. They were waiting for us right as we got off the ship, holding a sign with our name on it!

 

I had requested that our group meet before disembarking, and we chose to meet at the Internet Cafe on Deck 7 at 745am. That seemed to be perfect in terms of timing, as well as it was not near as crowded as the Atrium was.

 

My van's driver was Vinny - just an awesome gentleman who was very professional and loves his job!

 

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Me, my Dad & Vinny when he dropped us off at the end of the day!

 

We began the day driving to Pisa first, so that we could get the best pictures without crowds. Honestly, I figured, "yeah, right - no crowds, ha!". I couldn't have been more wrong.

 

Our first stop along the way was to this courtyard which housed the Enrico Fermi school - From what Vinny told us, it is very difficult to get into, but once accepted, the education is free. It is very prestigious and concentrates on Physics & Math.

 

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We then continued a short way to Pisa and the "Field of Miracles" - the Leaning Tower, the Duomo & the Baptistery. Vinny gave us about 40 minutes here, with very clear directions of where to meet him, along with explanations of what there was to see and the ever important information of where the bathroom was!

 

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Really - where are the crowds?!~

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More pictures from Pisa...

 

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The Baptistery

 

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The Duomo

 

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My Dad & I at the base of the Leaning Tower.

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We had plenty of time to see the sights of Pisa and then were on our way to Florence. Along the way, we saw the 2nd leaning tower of Pisa - St. Michael's.

 

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Vinny had asked us if we would like to stop at either a winery or an olive oil plant to see how either operate. We chose the olive oil plant. November is the month for harvesting the olives. Where we stopped, they pick and press the olives in the same day. Talk about fresh olive oil!

 

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The olives gathered for processing.

 

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Being washed.

 

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Being pressed.

 

 

Vinny was a wealth of information during the ride. We learned that Livorno is a newer port city, with most of it being rebuilt after World War II when it was destroyed by the Germans & the US. It is now home to the largest US military base in Italy. He also shared his knowledge of the Chianti area of Tuscany with us and explained how the area wines were made. If there is a round label with a black rooster on it on the neck of a wine bottle, it was produced in the Chianti region.

 

Florence gets it's name from "florencia" or the city of flowers in Latin. This was due to the fact that the Romans who first came to the area arrived in spring when the valley was covered in white lilies. To this day, the lily is the symbol of Florence.

 

While driving to Florence, we stopped at this overlook to get a view of the city.

 

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Thanks for the info re where you actually pick up the Terravision bus from Rome airport to Termini, I will book it tomorrow instead of the Leonardo Express, try something different. I am enjoying your review. I hope I get the cruise director Gary who people rave about. Last Feb on Jade we had Simone.

I am planning to skip a couple of ports I have been to more than once and stay on the ship so thanks for the dailies.

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At the overlook, there was one of the Davids of the city

 

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Next, we headed to Ponte Vecchio

 

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Along the bridge are many jewelers selling their gold & silver.

We then had a bit of time to walk around the shopping areas filled with vendors. We came across this fellow.....

 

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Vinny told us that rubbing the boar's nose brings good luck & a return to Florence!

 

Our next stop was at the Santa Croce Church & square. Santa Croce is the Italian Westminster Abbey, according to Vinny. It houses the tombs of Galileo, Puccini and other famous Italians. There were many street vendors in the square - mostly selling scarves. Heaven help you if you looked interested ~ you would be surrounded by women trying to tell you that their scarf was better!

 

Vinny had arranged a lunch stop for us at a little cafe along Santa Croce square.

 

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I ordered the cheese & spinach cannelloni. While this is not the best picture in the world, I think that I found the best cannelloni in the world! It was TO DIE FOR!!!!

 

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After lunch, we had time to browse around the square until it was time to head over to the Accademia & David.

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Santa Croce

 

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Artwork on the buildings surrounding the square.

 

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Dante's statue by Santa Croce

 

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A bell tower in Santa Croce square.

 

My dad was not interested in going to the Accademia, so he & I walked around the area while the others went and saw David. While it was an overcast day, it was nice to just walk around, especially knowing that we would be sitting in the van for the drive back to Livorno. Now I had figured that the Accademia would be some impressive building that held such a famous piece of art. I'll let you be the judge of that ..... this is the entry for those who already purchased their tickets.

 

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The statue where we needed to meet back up after the Accademia.

 

From here, we headed over to the Duomo. It was only a few minutes away. In which direction, I have no idea as I was so turned around at that point. We only had about 30 minutes here, which was no where near enough. However, the reason Vinny brought us here later in the day was due to the fact that it was Sunday, and church services were being held. If we had come earlier, we would not have gotten to go inside the Duomo.

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Your trip report is AWESOME!! Thank you so much for taking the time to write this! Your entertaining, informational, and personal writing style has me reading every word about the Jade even though we will be cruising with you on the Spirit this summer! I wish I was able to find a trip report this thorough with great pictures and enjoyable writing for the Spirit! I am so glad you were able to take this special cruise with your dad!! What memories you will treasure I'm sure!! Happy New Year! Can't wait to read more!

 

 

Thanks for the kind words. That is what I was trying to do - give a thorough report on all aspects of my trip. I like to live vicariously through others' travels as well. All this means is now we'll need to write up a review of the Spirit after our trip in June!

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Thanks for the info re where you actually pick up the Terravision bus from Rome airport to Termini, I will book it tomorrow instead of the Leonardo Express, try something different. I am enjoying your review. I hope I get the cruise director Gary who people rave about. Last Feb on Jade we had Simone.

I am planning to skip a couple of ports I have been to more than once and stay on the ship so thanks for the dailies.

 

 

Thanks for the feedback - I'm glad that you are enjoying it! For a first timer, I thought that the Terravision bus was easy enough to do. What I wasn't prepared for was the fact that no one really forms a "line" - instead, it's just one mob of people, all trying to get on at the same time.

Our cruise director was JC Sanchez - he was good, but I've never had Gary - all I've read about him seems like he would be great!

I will continue to post the front & back page of the dailies - if you want any more info, let me know & I'll get it to you.

Janet

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Thanks for the review! We just started saving up for a Med. Cruise. Your review inspires me to toss in a few more $ so we can go sooner!

 

Sent from my XT897 using Tapatalk

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Monaco - Day 3 - 8am-5pm

 

Had another early wake up call - 645am as we needed to get our tender tickets & we were planning to have breakfast in the main dining room. At 7am we were able to get tender tickets group #3 (not bad for starting at 630am). We headed off to breakfast figuring that we would hear the announcements for tender groups. That was so not the case - in fact, after breakfast we stopped by the tender ticket table and they were already onto group #7!! No big deal, we just exchanged our tickets and headed on our way.

 

Villefranche was very easy to maneuver with clearly marked signs along with agents helping passengers find their way. We headed to the train station where we got our tickets for a round trip to Monaco (5,60 euros per person) and waited for the train (only about 10 min). The train ride itself was only about 10min.

 

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It was nearing 10am once we arrived in Monaco, so since it was a nice day, we walked our way up to the Jardin Exotique. It was a beautiful morning - balmy with a nice breeze. The views looking down at the city were amazing!

 

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We spent some time taking pictures and enjoying the views and then figured that we should make our way to the palace so that we could see the changing of the guards. Now the dilemma was how to get there! We could see where we needed to go, but the winding streets were another story. We asked a person in the gift shop at the top for directions, and she told us to catch the bus. When we explained that we wanted to walk, she looked at us like we were crazy (which we are!), and then pointed us on our way. We managed to find our way to the old city walls using some of the "hidden elevators" that I had read about. Even with maps that included their locations, the "hidden elevators" have been given that name for a reason - they truly are hidden!

 

We got to the walkway to the old city. It was not a bad walk - gently sloping with wide steps. I was tickled by the signage that said we needed to wear clothing! The joke of the day was it's a good thing we're wearing underwear!

 

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As we headed toward the palace, we ran into new friends from the ship who told us that the changing of the guards was cancelled for today, as it was a state holiday. We went anyways, to check things out, and did see the guards change - while it might not have been the usual ceremony, I would never have known otherwise.

 

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We then followed Rick Steves' walking tour around the square and headed toward the Cathedral. Along the walk, we found a hidden little cafe/street vendor where we stopped and got some ham & cheese crepes. As we sat & ate, it began to drizzle and by the time we were finished, the rain was more steady.

 

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The statue in the square dedicated to Prince Albert I

 

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The statue of Francois Grimaldi who began the dynasty that rules Monaco.

 

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Walkway to the cathedral.

 

Everything was decorated with the red & white banners and flags for the national holiday. We got to the cathedral only to find out that it was closed (from 11/15-11/19) for the state holiday. At least we got to see the outside ~

 

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Since the rain became more steady, the temperatures started dropping and the wind picked up, we decided to forgo heading to the casino and instead passed the Aquarium on our way to catching the train back to Villefranche.

 

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The Cousteau Aquarium

 

A simple train ride back to Villefranche and we were able to catch the tender back to the Jade.

 

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Views in Villefranche

 

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The train station.

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Gbntmom, I didn't recognize your name from our June 23rd Spirit roll call! I'm glad you are sharing this Med cruise "trial run" for us :)

What a great review so far! I love that you were able to go with your Dad.

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