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Nicole721

Hello Vista! A Full PICTORIAL Trip Report of Carnival's Newest Ship

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After we were fully caffeinated, we set out to find the Spanish Steps. The Spanish Steps were built in the 1720’s to connect the Trinità dei Monti to the Spanish square sitting below the church. 138 steps bridge the church to the square, designed in the traditional Roman Baroque style by architect Francesco de Sanctis. The Spanish Steps are the widest stairway in all of Europe and have become a gathering place for Romans and tourists alike to sit and people watch, grab a snack or enjoy a beautiful day. We didn’t get to see the Spanish Steps the year before and we didn’t get a chance to sit on them this year because they’re under restoration, but we did get to sit at the fountain just across from the steps, taking everything in. We definitely felt the Spanish influence in the architecture and color of the buildings. It almost had a Cuban vibe. The area is ripe with high-end shopping and tons of busy restaurants and cafes and I could have easily spent the entire day just sitting there, taking it all in and exploring every place I could find along the narrow streets that feed out from the square.

 

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Spending an entire day at the Spanish Steps would only really work if I had more than one day to spend, and in this case, we didn’t, so we tore ourselves away and headed back towards the Hop On Hop Off stop a few blocks away, stopping for some gelato on our way.

 

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We rode the Hop On Hop Off bus for a couple of hours, just enjoying the weather and taking in the city as we passed it by, marveling in the beauty of everything we saw, appreciating every small detail. Rome is a modern city built around ancient artifacts and sites. It’s such a fascinating juxtaposition. And despite Matt’s morning weather forecast of showers, no rain fell from the time we left the port in the morning until late in the afternoon. The temperatures were in the upper 60s, but felt like they were in the upper 70s. A perfect day for riding around an open air bus.

 

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The bus took us past all of the sites: we saw the gorgeous Altare della Patria, we rode past Circus Maximus, the Pantheon and Vatican City. Each corner we turned brought something more beautiful into view than the last. But the moment when the Colosseum came into view…that’s always something special. The sloping arches, the intricate façade…it’s a marvel in every sense of the word.

 

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The afternoon was passing us by quicker than we were prepared for, and we did one last loop to take in every bit of Rome that we could.

 

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Our meeting time was 5:00 pm and we hopped off the bus back at the Teatro Marcello around 4:40 pm. Multiple tour groups were using the Teatro Marcello as a meeting spot and it took us some time to find people from our group to ensure we were in the right place at the right time. Amidst all of the chaos, we found our tour bus before our guide found our group.

 

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The ride back to Civitavecchia took around an hour and a half and I probably slept for most of it. These early morning wakeups followed by full days of touring had been completely exhausting, but the long bus rides back were the perfect opportunity to catch a quick nap.

 

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After a quick stop at the room to drop off our souvenirs and change into some fresh clothes, we headed off to dinner. Our room steward had quickly acclimated to our schedule, and our room had already been turned down before we even got back in from port.

 

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Because we hold Platinum status, instead of going to Ocean Plaza to check in for dinner and wait for a table, we were able to go straight to the dining room for preferred seating. I think we would have been seated immediately either way regardless of status – the dining room never seemed even half full throughout our trip. Service in the main dining room was fantastic, even as we switched service teams nightly. We hadn’t eaten since our gelato break earlier in the afternoon, so we appreciated the quick service.

 

American Table setting

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American Navy Bean Soup

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Polpette di Bollito

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Greek Salad

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Vegetable Spring Rolls

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Veal Parmesan

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Chicken Saltimbocca a la Romana

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Crisp Portobello Mushrooms

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Pie a la Mode

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Passion Fruit Flan

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There weren’t any Playlist shows, which meant we had an open night to do whatever we wanted. The sun was starting to set as we pulled out of Civitavecchia and our Havana Patio was the perfect place to enjoy it from.

 

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We strolled around the ship for a couple of hours, browsing the shops, enjoying some live music at the Red Frog Pub (which, sidenote, features the first brewery at sea – cool, huh?!) and enjoying some fresh air up on the Lido deck.

 

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Stephanie and I wanted to get a round or two in at the Piano Bar, but we had a 6:00 am wakeup in Naples and another full day planned, so we headed back to the room and scrolled through the On Demand movie list until we found one we could all agree on and watched movies until we passed out. We had two wonderful days in Italy behind us, but our next (and final) day on the Italian coast was the one we were anticipating the most.

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Enjoyed your Rome review. Have fond memories of places in your photos that we visited too just last May. A very nice place and full of history.

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Amazing review! Thanks for taking the time to do this. We were on a Med cruise in 2012 and I want to go back!! Your pictures and commentary bring back my wonderful memories.

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You had me at unlimit d PTO 🌴

 

Seriously where do you work, I need to work there :)

 

 

Regarding the review, I'm loving it! Very entertaining and informative and I love all the photos! Can't wait to read the rest

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Thoroughly enjoyed your Rome installments! I have a similar day where we hop-on-hop-off all day on my upcoming trip, the insight was great! :D

 

Best way to see the city on a nice day :) We love Hop On Hop Off buses!

 

Enjoyed your Rome review. Have fond memories of places in your photos that we visited too just last May. A very nice place and full of history.

 

Thank you!

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absolutely loving this review. thanks for sharing.

 

Thanks for reading along!

 

Amazing review! Thanks for taking the time to do this. We were on a Med cruise in 2012 and I want to go back!! Your pictures and commentary bring back my wonderful memories.

 

I'm glad you're enjoying it! What was your favorite Med port?

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You had me at unlimit d PTO 🌴

 

Seriously where do you work, I need to work there :)

 

 

Regarding the review, I'm loving it! Very entertaining and informative and I love all the photos! Can't wait to read the rest

 

Haha I work at a dot com :) The unlimited vacation days are a pretty nice perk. Well, that and the free Vitamin Water and La Croix :P

 

Thanks for reading along!

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Day 8: Naples, Italy

 

La dolce vita.

 

Our first two days in Italy were all about the rich history and stunning architecture of the cities we were visiting. Our third day in Italy? That was our day to enjoy the Italian culture and lifestyle. La dolce vita. The sweet life. And there was no better way to enjoy that than with a day on the Amalfi Coast.

 

Our last day in Italy on this itinerary would bring us to Naples, which is the gateway to the Amalfi Coast. Colorful villas stretching sky high from pristine, white sand beaches, charming fishing villages, winding roads – seeing the Amalfi Coast in person is like staring into a life-sized postcard.

 

We docked in nearby Salerno the year before, visiting Capri, Sorrento and touring the ruins at Pompeii on our last visit. On the plus, having already seen Pompeii opened up a full half a day to explore something new, but on the minus, nearly every tour stops at Pompeii because it is the marquee attraction of the region.

 

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Most tours the ship offered visited Capri or Sorrento or Amalfi. We wanted to visit all of them. Just as we were looking into if and how we could DIY it, Carnival listed a new excursion, one that visited Amalfi, Positano and Sorrento with plenty of free time in each. We booked it immediately.

 

An itinerary like that needs a full day – so full, we needed to be up with the sun to be ready for our early meeting time. Mom tried to make the early wakeup better by bringing arepas to the room for a breakfast on the patio, but we were up before the arepa man and the Blue Iguana wasn’t even open yet. We grabbed a quick breakfast in Ocean Plaza instead, before heading to the Liquid Lounge for our 7:30 am meeting time.

 

Our tour group was small, maybe 20 or 30 people, and we were escorted off the ship, where we met our guide for the day, Tony. What can I say about Tony? Tony is born and raised on the Amalfi Coast. He wore a sassy scarf, called us his babies (which was completely endearing in his heavy Italian accent) and asked us to dive into the culture of the villages we visited. He called our tour group his family for the day, and somehow, that’s exactly how it felt. I’ve been on a lot of cruises and even more tours. I’ve never had a tour guide who loved sharing his country and its culture or who took as much pride in it as Tony.

 

We pulled out of Naples and set off for our first stop of the day, Amalfi. Tony was giving us a run down of the day’s itinerary before telling us about the history of the region, but my eyes were plastered out the window. The drive to Amalfi isn’t for the faint of heart – if you are inclined towards any kind of motion sickness, the steep, winding curves leading to Amalfi could make you all kinds of miserable. A few ladies on our tour ran straight for the restroom when we got off the bus in Amalfi – the drive was no joke. But for me, the drive was exhilarating, each turn bringing us higher, each curve revealing a landscape more captivating than the last.

 

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Edited by Nicole721

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Our tour bus parked a few yards from Amalfi’s main entry point, and we had a couple of minutes to use the restrooms before Tony guided us inside. We stepped off the bus and the landscape in front of us was like a postcard – the kind of beauty that is so magnificent that no words could ever do it justice. It just didn’t seem real. I didn’t think anything could top the sleek beauty we found in Capri the year before, but I admired these colorful villas stacked atop each other, perched above pristine beaches and stunning turquoise waters and I just thought to myself, the world is filled with some crazy beautiful places, but the Amalfi Coast has to be amongst the most spectacular.

 

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I didn’t have too much time to admire the seascape, though – our group was reconvening at the entrance and we were all ready to see what Amalfi had to offer.

 

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Tony led us through the entrance and into the main square, before setting us free for an hour of free time to grab a coffee, do some shopping or tour the Amalfi Cathedral, a 9th century Roman Catholic cathedral. We wasted no time, stopping first for some cappuccinos at Andrea Pansa, a Pasticceria that has been in business since 1830. Our cappuccinos were delivered with a complimentary plate of cookies, and as I sat there, with my Italian espresso, a plate of Italian cookies, in one of the most peaceful and picturesque towns I’ve ever visited, I just kept thinking. This is it. This is la dolce vita. The sweet life. The morning passes by at a different pace in Amalfi. Nothing is rushed. Everything is done with purpose and enjoyed to the full extent possible. Life moves slower and the air is lighter. The good life, in every sense possible.

 

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We left ourselves with just over a half hour to do some shopping, and there were plenty of shops for us to browse. The shopping along the Amalfi Coast is some of the best in Italy, specializing in art, ceramics and textiles. I stocked up on pasta, seasonings and sauce mixes and anything lemon flavored and scented (we were in the birthplace of Limoncello, after all!) while Stephanie purchased decorative ceramic tiles.

 

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Our time was up before any of us were ready for, and we made our way back to our meeting spot at the fountain in between the entryway and the boat launch, taking our time to admire the small details we found along the way.

 

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Tony was the last to join the group – he had stopped to grab some lemons on the way out. The scent of lemons, he said, would help with the motion sickness some of our travelmates were experiencing on the drive over. Thankfully for them, we weren’t driving from Amalfi to our next stop in Positano. Instead, we were taking the more scenic route, traveling by boat.

 

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The best way to tour the Amalfi Coast is by boat. Not only is it usually the quickest transit between towns, but the landscape is absolutely spectacular. Last year, we traveled from the cruise ship in Salerno to our stop in Capri by hydrofoil, a ride we shared with the hundreds of other cruisers who were beginning their tours in Capri. When we traveled from Capri to Sorrento, it was on the public ferry. I think we were all pleasantly surprised to find out that not only was our trip from Amalfi to Positano would be on the water, but our small tour group had our own boat all to ourselves.

 

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We set sail for Positano, leaving the colorful buildings of Amalfi behind our wake, as Tony took the mic to narrate our ride. He pointed out the luxury hotels, the celebrity vacation homes (ahem, Sophia Loren), the Fjord of Furore, the Conca dei Marini…everything. Prosecco was poured and served with some snacks while Tony sang the hits of Frank Sinatra and it was perfect. All of it. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. Tony had us all take a big group selfie, the prosecco kept flowing and it was like being on a classy Italian party boat.

 

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Much like our other port stops last year, our day in Naples was jam packed. Our priority was visiting Pompeii, which came at the expense of visiting Positano. We started our day in Capri, had lunch in Sorrento and then spent the afternoon touring the ruins at Pompeii. I was so excited to have the opportunity to visit Positano on this trip because Positano is often considered one of the most photogenic towns on the Amalfi Coast, with narrow streets lined with some of the best shopping and dining in the region. As our boat approached the dock and Positano took form in front of us, I knew we were in for something special. Positano was bigger than Amalfi…taller somehow. And more colorful. The villas spanned from the beach to the sky. It is truly spectacular.

 

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Tony led us to our meeting spot and then set us loose for another hour of free time. There were at least a dozen beachfront cafes and restaurants steps from our meeting point that looked amazing and smelled even better, but lunch was included on our tour and scheduled in our next stop in Sorrento. There were artists scattered around the beach, selling unique pieces they’d worked on that day. But I had two priorities: shopping and gelato. In that order. Though the forecast had showed temperatures in the upper 60s, it felt at least ten degrees warmer in the sun. I needed some reinforcements in the direct sunlight and, being our last day in Italy, one last gelato was a must. The shopping in Positano was a little different than the shopping in Amalfi. A little more upscale, with less ceramics and more leather and textiles. We stocked up on some gorgeous scarves.

 

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When we met back up with our tour group, Tony mentioned that we’d be taking the bus to our final stop in Sorrento, but that the bus would be meeting us near the Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta, an ornate church that sits at the top of Positano. We had a little bit of a hike to get there. Tony had arranged for a golf cart for anyone who couldn’t (or didn’t want to) walk up for a couple of Euros a person. We opted to walk off the gelato and enjoy as much of Positano as we could take in on the walk up.

 

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There was one more short hike from the church to the spot where the bus would meet us. There were even more shops up at the top, but we wouldn’t have time to browse them – Tony had warned us that we’d need to be speedy in getting on the bus since there wasn’t a proper place for the bus to stop.

 

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