Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
KCSungirl

LIVE from the MED with Sungirl - Noordam 5/7/14

Recommended Posts

Greetings from the Sea. It’s been a few years since I have posted live. It’s good to be back. I have covered lots of ground since I saw you last, but mostly on land. If any old-timers are still around from the Celebrity or Princess forums, you might remember my Princess “Seinfeld” cruise or my Celebrity NZ/Australia cruise when I took a nice little fall that almost sent me home.

 

I am a HAL Virgin. Can’t believe it has taken me more than thirty cruises to finally meet HAL. All I can say is WOW. Disclaimer: Food/Entertainment/Life is subjective. My idea of heaven might be someone else’s nightmare. You can use this info as a resource, not Gospel. I tend to be more of a luxury traveler. I haven’t shopped at Target all my life for nothin’! I am not a foodie. I spend the least amount of time possible eating. However, you would not know that by looking at me. I have way too many other things I enjoy (like writing this!) when I travel, to spend lots of time in restaurants. I peruse upscale tour group websites (A&K, Tauck) to get itinerary and hotel ideas. I am not adventurous when it comes to lodging. I prefer large upscale hotel chains. I have also started making stupid videos and posting photos on my FB travel page - Fungirl Across America and Beyond - Feel free to check it out if you are desperate for cheap entertainment. On with the show…….

 

I booked the Noordam four weeks ahead of sailing. That is typical for me. HAL had some great offers. A SZ suite for the same price as a balcony cabin for around $1,800/pp. I did not take this deal. I wanted an aft facing balcony Luckily there were still a few available. First clue this cruise was meant to be, as these cabins sell out first. They were also offering the free drink package and $50 beverage cards/pp. This was a great promo. No drink expense at all. WOW! I secured the cabin, booked air with United, my preferred perk airline, and made pre-cruise hotel arrangements. I had very little time to research every possible pre-cruise option, but I prefer a plan as you go approach. I reserved our first two night in Florence at the Westin Excelsior. I left my other nights open. I don’t want to commit to something in advance in case something better presents itself or I want to stay longer, leave early. I am pretty safe this time of year with last minute reservations.

 

We are off to Florence. The Renaissance capital of the world. One of the best walking cities in Europe. I flew via ORD and FRA. God smiled, upgrade to the 747 hump. We took a little detour on the way to Florence. Bad weather forced us to land in Pisa. Took a few hours off the day, but we got a wonderful tour of Tuscany from the air while we circled. Lufthansa provided a free shuttle to Florence. We opted to take a bus on our own to the city center instead of wasting time on a shuttle to the airport 25 min. out of town. Nice comfy ride on a coach bus - 6euro each. We arrived at the hotel on the Arno River a few hours later than planned, but we were greeted with a lovely room and view. All we could manage due to exhaustion was a nice dinner around the corner I research restaurants on Trip Advisor and use the hotel concierge to confirm or suggest. We are way more about atmosphere than we are about food. We like casual, rustic, local type places. You would not find us in the W restaurant or some modern chic trendy hangout. The concierge booked Trattoria Gargani. I told him I needed something 5 steps or less. It wasn’t 5 steps, but super easy to find. A traditional Italian Trattoria - pasta and veal scallopine. I did not pre-book any tours in Florence as I never know what my level of energy will be. After dinner I decided a full day tour was a go. Went online and booked with Art Viva for a full day of three different walking tours - The Original Florence Walk, Masterpieces of the Uffizi Gallery and The Original David-Accademia Tour. They can book an unlimited number of people. They split into groups of 18 people and they have enough guides on call to accommodate everyone. After some much needed sleep, we ate the buffet breakfast and raced out the door to the meeting place for the tour - The Odeon theater in Piazza Davanzati. The weather was terrible. Cold and on/off rain. We were prepared, however. Raincoats and umbrellas. Our first tour guide, an Aussie, was excellent, but talked way too fast. He gave us a fairly comprehensive tour to all of the famous landmarks and piazzas We didn’t spend a lot of time at any one place. We had an hour break between tours so we sat in the Piazza della Repubblica and had a quick lunch at an old famous restaurant - Café Donnini. Gnoochi, my favorite. Met back in the Piazza Davanzati for the second tour - Uffizi.Gallery. We saw the top 10 masterpieces - Botticelli, da Vinci, Michelangelo, Giotto, Caravaggio. If you are seriously interested in Renaissance art, do not book this tour. It is an overview that hits the highlights. Book tickets in advance online and take the audio tour.

Also leave extra time as the tickets don’t always run on time. We stood in line an extra 45 minutes past our time slot. On to the Accademia and my date with Michelangelo’s David. He rocks my world. He is made of stone as my friend reminded me. Spent over an hour just sitting with him. We didn’t talk, but he knew I was there. The greatest masterpiece ever sculpted IMHO. My feet were done, so I taxied back to the hotel instead of walking. GREAT DAY. Dined across the river from the hotel at another rustic, Mama’s kitchen type place - Antica Trattoria Angiolino - Caprese salad, Gnocchi, Lemon chicken. Gelato completed my evening at Gelateria la Carraia. Very romantic to stroll the Arno River. We had conquered Florence in a day and it was time to move on. Our feet were sore and I had been there previously. Where should I go? Let’s go to the Riviera!

 

Booked a fabulous hotel in the village of Monterosso, part of the Cinque Terra. A Unesco world heritage site comprised of five villages built into the mountainside. Taxied from hotel to the Firenze Santa Novella train station. Train from Firenze to La Spezia, connect to Monterosso. The gypsy gangs are out in full force at the Florence train station, but not near as bad as Rome. More aggressive in Rome and Barcelona. They want to help you with buying tickets at the kiosks, or carry your luggage for tips. They turn all the tips over to the ****. They are also looking for easy pickpocket opportunities. One word - PACSAFE. I invested in four pieces of this luggage/travel bags before the trip. Best money I ever spent. One 21” rollaboard, two backpacks - one bigger, one smaller, more feminine, and one cross body small purse. small ring. We were prepared and heads up and we had no problems. We were a little confused on the trains out of Florence as you can hop any train to Pisa/Livorno, it is not assigned. The board lists Livorno as the destination. Go by the train number, not the destination and keep track of the stops. You can preprint these schedules at home or have your concierge print for you. I had never navigated trains in Italy previously, so I was a little anxious. We got the hang of it after the first purchase/ride. I do have to confess that I let a gypsy lady help me at the ticket kiosk. I would have tipped her, but I had no coins. I felt bad and thought she was going to stick some thugs on me. I was crazy nervous! It’s funny now, but at the time I was freaked by the gangs. We loved the trains tho!

 

Arrived Monterosso 2 and ½ hours after leaving Florence. Our hotel, Hotel Porto Roca, offered free pick up from the train station. Luigi picked us up. Funniest taxi driver ever. I post the pics on my FB page. We checked in and ran to the ferry boat pier for the village tour. We stopped at each village, but only got off the ferry in Riomaggiore, as the ferry service stops at 6pm. The villages are small and can be toured quickly for an overview. Some people make a day of visiting every village. We didn’t have the time, but got the feel for the area. We had a nice meal in the restaurant at our hotel. Beautiful view of the Ligurian Sea.

 

Do we or don’t we? Should we pack everything up and schlep our bags to Portofino or stay put and take a day trip? We decide to stay put and save our $$$ and backs. Lifting our luggage on and off the trains is not easy. Had we not been cruising, we could have traveled with carry-on. Especially in the summer. I did manage to share one checked bag which is an improvement for me. Portofino is a very easy day trip from Monterosso. 45 minutes north on a regional train. Get off the train at Santa Margherita and take a bus or ferry 15 minutes to Portofino. We took the bus because it was waiting outside the train station. Took the ferry on the return. Portofino - Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Had lunch at the $1200/nt Belmond Splendido Hotel. This is part of the Orient Express chain of hotels. Lunch was ridiculous - $100/pp. I loved it, however. I did spend $1200 to stay at the OE Sanctuary Hotel in Machu Picchu, but the Splendido didn’t speak to my heart. I thought Portofino was overrated. It was all cruise ship tours from Genoa and Savona. The façade is fake. I enjoyed the Loews Portofino Hotel at Universal in Orlando more than I enjoyed the real thing. It’s worth a day trip, but not overly interesting unless you like the yachting/snob appeal of the rich. That’s boring to me. Rick Steves gives a funny editorial on Portofino. He is not a fan. Santa Margherita, however, is great. More spread out and real. We caught the train back to Monterosso. Walked around town, picked up a bottle of local wine, and picked a random restaurant. All of the restaurants have the same menu - lots of fresh seafood and pasta. We had a feast at Ristorante Amoretto - Calamari, swordfish, caprese, pasta. One more night on our fabulous terrace at Hotel Porto Roca. Definitely the nicest hotel on the Cinque Terra. The rooms are nothing to speak of, but you pay for the view. Fine with me. I am all about the view.

 

What should we do next? Should we stay another night on the sea? Should we explore another Tuscan town? Let’s go to Lucca. Gets us an hour closer to Civitavecchia and a walled Tuscan town looks fun. Biking is the favorite pastime of Tuscany. I thought we could rent bikes and cruise around. Made a reservation at maybe the second nicest hotel in Lucca - Hotel Nobelesse. A French palace in the center of the city. I found our cab driver Luigi at a gelato café and asked him to pick us up at the hotel at 8:30am. We took the regional train to Pisa Centrale, transferred to the fast train to Lucca. Always 1st classe if available. Took taxi a mile or so to the hotel from the train station. After we checked in and assessed the situation, we decided to walk the city and the wall instead of riding bikes for the sake of time. Locking and unlocking the bikes seemed like a time buster. We found a nice café in a Piazza - Trattoria Da Nonna Clara - more Caprese, pasta, veggie soup. We walked inside the walls back and forth. Really fun. I did do a little shopping even though I am not much of a shopper. Trying to get rid of things at my age, not collect more stuff. But, I needed that Italian leather hand bag and another Swatch watch for my collection. Scored on both. I do my souvenir video on FB at the end of the trip.. Ended a great day with a walk on the wall at sunset and a fabulous dinner at Trattoria de Leo. I am not sure whose list this is on - Rick Steves, Food Channel, etc, but it is a hot spot. Packed with Americans and locals. We were lucky to get in. Cash only. Highly recommend. The Dutch woman who sold me my pocketbook told me about the restaurant. I always chat everyone up to get opinions on restaurants. I seem to meet the right people over and over. My bag purchase was another one of those stories of being in the right place. Another tourist told me the store I was looking in had another location a block away. I went to the other location and found a great bag for my ipad. We attended two funeral processions today and they use Mercedes hearse autos. I am making sure I get a Mercedes hearse

 

It was a very short stay in Lucca, but a day is usually enough for me. I am of the school that I want to know a little bit about a lot of things. Quantity. Helps my trivia skills. Taxied to the Lucca train station. Regional train to Pisa Centrale, Connecting to the fast train to Civitavecchia We had armed guards in the 1st class car on the way to Civitavecchia. AWESOME.

 

Before we leave the land portion of my Italian adventure I will editorialize!

 

BATHROOMS - When asking say Toilette, you sound more worldly and sophisticated. You usually have two choices - go buy a gelato, coke or coffee at a cafe and use the toilette for free, or pay 1 Euro to use a public/café toilette. Get used to it and don’t complain. It’s the way it is. I over heard a woman refuse to pay 1 euro for the public toilette at the Pisa Train station. She went to McDonalds for 60 cents. First of all, the Pisa Train station bathroom was the nicest of any bathroom I saw. Secondly, what is an extra 40 cents when traveling in Europe? If you have the money to go to Europe, you certainly have the money to spend on a decent toilette. Remember to check out that Pisa public toilette if you need one!

 

SHOES- Please, I am begging you, throw away your white sneakers. Nike Free is for all ages. Old and young. Find a fun color you like and buy them. Most comfortable shoes ever. Or get some Mephisto, Merrell, Clark, Privo, Helle, Born, Me Too, or some stylish comfort flat, sandal, or boot. Leave the heels at home. I promise you there is no way to do what I did in heels.

 

CLOTHES - Please, I am begging you, leave the logo t-shirts at home. Nothing screams tourist more than a Budweiser or Georgia Bull Dog shirt. Solid color polo shirts are good. Or the solid v-neck t-shirts in different colors. Denim is the main dress. Lots of skinny jeans, ankle jeans, capris. Also black, white, and khaki. Burberry khaki always makes a nice statement. It’s all about the scarves. They are the outfit. Limit the clothes and change the look with scarves. We are not stupid Americans. Let’s dress like it.

 

DESIGNER PURSES/BACKPACKS/JEWELRY - Please, I am begging you, leave the fanny packs at home. It is not a good look and a target for thieves. Cross body purses, low profile backpacks are best Don’t bring the oversized North Face backpack. One word PACSAFE. Don’t keep your money in a wallet. Keep it lose and spread it out in different slots/compartments. I panicked every time I went to pay for something because I could not find my money and cards buried in my purse. No thief is going to get anything if I can’t get it unless they have bolt cutters! Leave the Rolexes, Tags, and diamonds at home. The savviest travelers would not wear jewelry or showy clothing /designer purses. I met a girl in Capri who had a fake designer bag and got picked at the market in Rome. She made so many mistakes it was sad. Don’t try to impress, safety first. We know they are home in the safe deposit box. I leave my wedding rings at home and wear a small ring.

 

MONEY - Get a few Euros before you leave the states. Either order from your bank or use the Exchange booth at the airport. I would say 50 Euros. Enough to take care of transportation or emergencies in route. Second step - hit the ATM at your first stop in Europe, even in the connecting airport. I stopped in FRA, so I used the Deutsche Bank ATM. Perfect. Start with 100 Euro. If you are traveling with a partner you might want to start with more. I got 300 euros at my first ATM stop. I would avoid the ATM at Rome airport or train station. Too many thieves and scams. Barcelona also. Use credit cards for every purchase possible and save your receipts in an envelope. Use the ATM as needed. I also carry $500 in AMEX traveler’s checks for emergencies. One time in Naples the ATM machine would not work and I owed a driver $400. Those traveler checks saved my ass. I could cash them on the ship.

 

We are going on a cruise! Halleluiah.

 

The Princess Fairy Tale - Chapter 2

 

Fast summary of Chapter 1 - Three years ago the Princess had booked her first suite on a Celebrity NZ/Australia cruise. A few days before sailing, Celebrity called and asked her to downgrade with an offer she couldn’t refuse. She is a practical Princess and genius with money, so she took the deal. She sulked for a day, but knew she made the prudent decision. The weather was not great and the balcony went unused. Great decision.

 

Chapter 2 - The Princess was so happy to secure an aft balcony 4 weeks prior to cruising. She had to pay quite a premium for that balcony. But she remembered all the money she saved previously in her downgrade, so it was ok. A few days before sailing that Magic Genie appeared again. But this time, the Genie wanted to reward the Princess for her patience and willingness to help someone else fulfill their dream of a suite cabin on Celebrity. He offered the Princess the Corner Neptune Suite on Deck 6 for a pittance. Her life is complete Her first full suite cabin in almost 30 cruises. PC knew none of this was going on. The Princess asked for self control so she would not spoil a huge surprise for PC. His jaw is not off the floor yet and we have never had a better cruise experience. These will be the best 11 days of our lives. Thank you to the HAL Genie.

 

Shared a cab with another couple at the Civitavecchia train station to the port. Very close to the port, 5euro/pp. There is also a bus for 1euro or so. We could not lift the luggage one more time! Taxi please. Check-in has never been easier. No crowding, no lines. PC didn’t notice I had gone to the suite check -in line. Thank God men are so clueless. ;-) In our suite in an hour from the time we left the train station.

 

The Reveal! PC walks in the suite and says what is this? Sungirl, you are in the wrong cabin. SURPRISE! I can’t believe I kept my mouth shut and he couldn’t believe it either. We had to postpone our 25th wedding anniversary trip on the same itinerary two years, so the second chance is oh so suite. We are in a Palace as cruise ship cabins go We can’t stop crying and laughing all at once. PC definitely deserves a few breaks with the demands of his real life.

 

We love the ship. Not too big, not too small. Perfect. 2000 passenger. The décor is a little weird and scary in places, but we don’t care cuz we got the suite! If I had to guess the demographics of this sailing, I would say 50% European/UK, 50% Canadian, US, Aussie, Asian. A handful of little kids. Mostly seniors, but more diverse than I expected. Captain - Bart Vaartjes Cruise Director - Kieron

 

 

07 May Wednesday - Civatavecchia

Embarkation. We were pretty exhausted by the time we got unpacked and settled. We bought the thermal/hydrotherapy pool couples promotion - $249. I had signed up for a couples massage, but after my experience in Laos with PC, I am not going to risk it. In Laos PC started snoring and I started laughing, then the therapist started massaging my boobs and stomach, I was laughing harder. It was not funny cuz I could not relax. The suite concierge lounge is fantastic. The concierge took care of everything - restaurant reservations, excursions, spa appts, etc. We ate in the Lido buffet. The menu is exactly the same in the Lido as the main dining room. I skipped the Welcome Show, which has never happened. I am not leaving my suite! This may never happen again. Free laundry! I had three bags of laundry walking on the ship. Done in 24 hours.

 

08 May Thursday - Naples

I have visited previously. If you a first time visitor I recommend Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast - Sorrento, Positano, etc. We took the ferry to Capri. Very easy to do on your own. Walk thru the parking lot of the port to the street. You can’t miss the ferry terminal. The hydrofoil fast ferries run often. The ride is 40 minutes. Very comfortable and nice ferries. Print the ferry schedule online if you are considering this excursion. Check the boards, as there are tow different companies running ferries. When we arrived at the ferry dock in Capri we went straight to the tour kiosk for the Blue Grotto. This was the funniest, most ridiculous, most over priced proposition that everyone needs to do once. We laughed so hard. It is so much easier to do these things at Disney World. I about fell into the water transferring from the speed boat to the row boat. 60 Euros poorer, but at least I can say I did it. High seas prevent the boats from entering the grotto on many days. After the Blue Grotto ride, we rode the Funicular up the mountain side for a quick lunch and photo op. Gorgeous views. We ferried back to the ship. The ship’s organized tour was on our ferry return. They paid $200/pp. We paid $186 total for 2 people which included the Blue Grotto. Ship excursions are so over priced. There are times, however, when they are a good idea.

 

Yes, I am sorry to ruin my Princess reputation, but I am a Buffet person. I want to eat what I want with no waiting or pomp and circumstance. The menu is the same in the Lido and Main dining room. I eat out every night at home, the restaurant service thing is tedious for me. I want to build my own salad at the salad bar. Chose the fruit I like, get two desserts without anyone knowing! PC loves the food. He said the grill had the best burgers he has ever eaten at sea. The pizza is a weak link. I love the deli bar and soft serve ice cream.

 

We skipped the comedy show tonight - Tom Sutton. Need to get back to the Palace.

 

09 May Friday - Palermo, Sicily

I am the hop on hop off bus Queen. I love to ride and get an orientation to the city. Palermo offers a HOHO bus, which is an great tour if you do it correctly. I did not. I got way too late of a start and there was some kind of protest that blocked the streets for hours. I think Italians strike and protest on a weekly basis. My suggestion to you is buy your HOHO ticket at the port. There is a desk selling tickets at the dock. Walk to stop 1. Take the first bus of the morning and get off at stop 7. Take the first bus to Monreale, the Norman Cathedral 6 miles out of town. Join the bus again at stop 1 or 7. Take the blue line bus back to the ship. The blue line has no traffic and it is the upscale neighborhoods/shopping/markets. When you get off the blue line at the port, turn immediately toward the city and walk to the café called “Bristol” This is a Gelateria/Bakery. Don’t leave Palermo without going here. I had cannolis to die for. I will dream of them forever. The Gelato is great. The biscuits, cookies, etc. all yummy. Free wifi also. Perfect end to a not so perfect tour because of my laziness. I am having a hard time leaving the suite. On the bus we met a couple who were disappointed in the cruise because they didn’t feel like the Welcome on Board was robust enough. OMG. People are so funny. They wanted red carpet, horns, and a Queens entrance. You have got to be kidding. Who cares?

 

Another night, another buffet. We are happy. We went to the Elton John impersonator show. PC hates the shows on the ships. I always feel pressure to leave because he hates them. He looks at me and says “Can we stay”? WHAT? He likes a show? OMG. It was a great show. So then we go the BB King Blues Club. They play 3 sets for an hour each night. We stayed for a few minutes and I was waiting for PC to say let’s go. He wants to STAY! WHAT? He is a guitar freak and loved the guitars of the seven or so piece band. The performed Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jimi Hendrix, Etta James, Morris Day, Chuck Berry, etc. Back to the Palace in a king size bed for the well fed Princess.

 

Stay tuned...........Everyone on the boards are so helpful, hoping I can pay it forward

Edited by KCSungirl

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

...I have already copied several of your notes for our Oct 8 Noordam Med cruise. Your travel advice is bang on and i second everything you said.

Having had the pleasure of staying in The Palace myself, I really enjoyed the PC's reaction.

I can hardly wait for the next instalment. Thanks again!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fantastic review, looking forward to future installments! :D :D

Edited by localady

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey Sungirl!

 

Love your blog! And now I remember from our cruise on the Crown Princess that you love the buffet....and I think HAL has very good buffets! We loved the BB King Blues club on the Eurodam last fall...best band we have seen at sea! Your cabin sounds wonderful...you two deserve it! :D

 

Keep the updates coming...are the Seinfelds on board??!!

 

Carole

Edited by sunsetbeachgal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm really enjoying your "live from" - incredibly descriptive. I've been trying to figure out . . . PC? DH, DS, DW, DD, I got, but PC? :confused:

 

Smooth Sailing! :) :) :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sorry about that! My name for the DH. ;-)

 

Ah, got it! Thanks for the explanation!!

 

Smooth Sailing! :) :) :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great report and your travel advice is right on. LOVE my pacsafe bag.:)

 

Looking forward to more - this is definitely going to be a 'must read' for me

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm really enjoying your report. A friend is traveling on your cruise. I know she is also in a Neptune suite so you may cross paths. I hope she is enjoying the cruise as much as you and your PC seem to be. I sailed on the Noordam in the Caribbean last fall and love the ship and her crew.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Can't wait for your next installment. Dh and I will be on the Noordam in June, so I'm absorbing every word!! Thanks for the great advice and for sharing your adventure!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am going on the Noordam for the Oct.8 trip. I didn't think I could get more excited, but you have me ready to go. thanks so much, can't wait for the next installment.

Terri aka Augie's mom

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Seriously, the best day of our life. Gorgeous sunny skies, enjoying the Palace, tanning on the balcony, lunch on the balcony, drinks on the balcony. Please don’t let this day end. Formal night. We don’t dress up in formal wear, but I sure enjoy watching the parade of those who do. Seniors in sequins and SAS shoes. The song and dance production show was excellent. This ship has some of the strongest entertainment I have ever experienced. The B.B. King All Star Band is incredible. Very talented. Where is my sexy Ron the Piano Man from Carnival when I need him? The Piano Bar entertainer, Michael, is a sweet, stocky Don Ho type with more hair. The Hawaiian shirts are not my idea of style. The seniors flock to the Piano bar to sing Dion, Bobby Darin, Bobby Vinton, etc. The music is a little before my time. He needs to move into the 70’s for me to start a relationship with him.

 

Starbucks! We love the Exploration Lounge, we refer to it as Starbucks. It is the computer center, library, game/card rooms. Comfortable leather sofas/chairs. We start and end our day with lattes. It is a wonderful area. The coffee drinks are included in our drink card package. It doesn’t get any better than this. Great coffee to start my day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tunisia was scratched from the itinerary. Not sure if it was the political situation or not as I heard someone from a Costa ship say they stopped in Tunisia. Olbia was the replacement port. I loved this plan. I have always wanted to see the islands Italians spend their summer holidays on. The water and beaches are beautiful on the Costa Smeralda. The ship scrambled to put together three tours. That wasn’t near enough space. We are not getting an early start, so our tours have been short and sweet. We walked through the main town, then hopped on the HOHO bus at the port for a ride to the beach - Pittulongu. We spent almost three hours eating lunch and enjoying the view. PC was enjoying the boobs on the beach. Lots of cruisers enjoying the beach, but the water had to be cold.

 

The Prime Rib was delicious tonight. PC has been eating mostly pork and chicken. I am eating mostly beef. The fish selections are pretty good also. The French fries are the best we have had at sea. I love the soft serve ice cream. The buffet hours are weird - 5:30 - 8:30pm. Reopens 10:30 - 11:30pm. I think it should stay open 5:30 - 11:30pm, with a switch to the bistro menu at 9pm. We always want desert/snacks between 8:30 and 10:30pm. No food available except pizza and pasta., the weakest link IMHO. We get Starbucks instead.

 

The BB King Blues Band played in the Vista theater tonight. They were AWESOME. It is Memphis blues, but all songs everyone knows - Tina Turner, Aretha, Smoky, Otis, etc. We are not getting our money’s worth on the Hydrotherapy pool. We don’t want to leave the Palace. My hair is looking pitiful. I need to make time for an appt in the salon. The British girls always do a great job on my hair.

 

I have just posted several videos on my Facebook travel page if you are interested.

 

Thanks for the nice comments. Glad you are coming with me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sardinia looks amazing in the photos online. We're taking the next Noordam cruise on May 18th. When did they tell you Tunisia was scratched? Was it at the beginning of the cruise? Thank you for doing this! I would not have known to look up Sardinia as a 'just in case.'

 

Did the crew give any indication if they would stop at Tunisia in the future. Keep up the good reporting and the videos!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the updates. Good to know that Sardinia is a possibility. I'll need to do some research! ;) Keep the posts coming! Enjoying every detail.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

KC Sungirl,

 

So glad that you told me about your "Live From" as I would have missed it. I always enjoy reading your reports as the humour is so great but also anyone travelling to Italy should read and print out your first post as it covers so much wonderful advice for someone who has never visited Europe before.

 

Continue to enjoy your wonderful Suite. So glad that this trip has worked out so well for you and P.C.

 

Jennie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We are doing the 22 nights embarking on 9th June, and would also like to know if Tunisia is likely to be cancelled?

 

Also can you please find out in Michael will still be in the Piano Bar then? We have been on a cruise with him before, and really loved the atmosphere when he was on.

 

Paul and Sheila

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Livorno is the port for Florence/Pisa/Tuscany. The majority of cruisers will take excursions to Florence. There are several ways to go about this - ship tour, ship transfer, independent tour, or on your own. It’s a very long day. If you can swing it on the front or back end of a cruise, I highly recommend spending one night in Florence. It’s an easy train ride from Venice or Rome. We toured Florence, Cinque Terra, and Lucca pre-cruise. All of those destinations are offered as shore excursions. My plan was to make an easy trek to Pisa. I had planned on taking the city bus or train, but my plan changed when I went the TI office in the main square (TI= Tourist Info, there are offices all over Italy). If you are going on your own, the first step is a 5euro shuttle bus ride from the port to central Livorno. The bus station is here, but the train station is another 20 minutes down the road. You have to take a bus to the train station. The train ride is short, less than 20 min. At the TI office they offered a RT bus ride to Pisa for 15euro/pp. Leaves office at 11am and returns at 2:45pm. Two hours in Pisa. That was perfect. You have to be able to walk up to a ½ hour to and from the bus station to the Leaning Tower. Upon our return to Livorno, the HOHO bus representative got on the bus and offered us a 6euro one hour tour of Livorno from 3-4pm. The deal of the day. Livorno is a nice coastal city. The weather was cool today. Actually too cool for the open air bus. We enjoyed a leisurely day for 26euro/pp. The Lido buffet was having an Italian themed dinner this evening. It was standing room only. All of the cruisers who toured Florence all day were too tired to go to the dining room and the menu was fantastic. We got a table early and watched people. The chicken parm was excellent. This was our favorite meal so far. After dinner we went to the spa to spend the evening. We love the heat beads.

 

Italy hasn’t received the memo that smoking is bad for your lungs, skin, and teeth. So many people smoke. We also have smokers smoking on a balcony nearby. I don’t care if someone smokes, I just don’t want to smell it or inhale it. Smoking on the balcony would be the same as me blasting Bon Jovi on my iPod for everyone to hear. It’s rude. I bet the smoker would immediately complain about my music. HAL needs to go non-smoking on the verandas. It’s inconsiderate to impose smoke or loud music on anyone anywhere.

 

I did post a cabin tour on my FB page. I don’t take my self too seriously, so don’t expect much.

 

We have been finding nice free toilettes at McDonald’s and Burger Kings. We do usually buy a soda or coffee, however.

 

Our last day in Italy. A wonderful country. Ciao Cannoli’s, Bonjour Crepes!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok...you are too stinkin' cute. Loving your posts and wishing we were on your cruise with you! Oh, and I like you....well, your FB page anyway! Enjoy!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fabulous review so far and oh so right about your travel tips. We will be on Celebrity for the June 1st sailing so taking it all in right now. So glad you are enjoying your fab suite...hoping the gods will shine down with one of those deals for us one day. Cheers!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • 2019 Cruisers' Choice Awards
      • NCL Sail-Away Giveaway Sweepstakes - Win a 7-Day Cruise on Norwegian Joy!
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Community Contests
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...