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Jewel of the Seas Review (LONG) September 15-24, 2019, with travel pre/post cruise

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We have just returned from an amazing two week adventure which included some time in Florence, Italy, a Greek Isle Cruise on Jewel of the Seas, and a post cruise

night in Italy,  before returning home.

A little back ground on us...we are in our late 50's and have 38 cruises under our belts.  We are loyal to no particular line and have sailed many, but are Elite on

both Princess and Celebrity, the later getting us Diamond Status on Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.  We already had four prior cruises on Royal Caribbean, but were

no where close to Diamond, so very much appreciated having our Celebrity Status recognized on RCCL.

 

 It had been 10 years since our last RCCL cruise, so I was a little worried when I was reading some very "Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad" reviews on

Jewel of the Seas.  Let me just stop there and assure anyone reading this, that we did NOT find anything of the sort!  As a matter of fact, we LOVED this ship

and had a wonderful experience I can hardly wait to tell you about!

 

Our travel was to be 3 nights pre-cruise in Florence, Italy, then the 9 night cruise, followed by one more night in Italy before flying home. 

The following review will tell it all, with pictures of course, and the review comes with a warning that it could take days for me to complete as real life sometimes

gets in the way.  I hope you all come along for the ride!

 

We traveled with dear friends, who suggested this cruise to us, and of course I am one to never say "no" to a cruise.  They spent a week before joining us on the

cruise in Portugal.   

 

So let the adventure begin....On September 11, we started our day with no sleep from excitement and were at the airport very early for our 7:00a.m flight.  We flew

Delta using the Cruise lines Air to Sea program.  Our stops were Minneapolis and Detroit before landing in Rome at 9:30a.m. on the 12th.  We were thrilled with the price of Air to Sea, and I urge anyone cruising Internationally to give it a look.  Our round trip from Spokane, Washington, to Rome was $579 per person in Main Ecomony.  That is not a typo!!! 

 

Here we come Italy!!! 

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Our flight to Minneapolis was perfect.  We had some time to look around this lovely airport.

My dear husband standing in the middle of some floor art.

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A store display I thought was so cute.

 

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Our luck ran out a bit as our flight from here left late and we had to make a dash to our gate in Detroit.  That is

a very long airport and of course out gate was WAY the heck down at the other end.  We hurried, only to find

that the flight coming in from Amsterdam was just getting in and they needed to clean the plane, change flight crew,  and reload food etc. before they would let us board. 

 

My vision of a perfect flight day was quickly diminishing.  Our plan was to get a train direct to Florence from Rome which was at 11:08 and that fit perfectly with a landing time of 9:30 a.m. but not later than that.  There is always plenty of trains, but most of them required a train change connection, and my husband and I can somehow get lost in our own back yard.  The connecting to another train is usually only 14 or 15 minutes so I REALLY didn't want to change

trains with our penchant for getting lost. 

 

There were severe thunderstorms coming in and suddenly they urged us to get a move on to get on the plane so we could get out of there before they hit.  We did manage to beat the storm and though we were very late out, Delta

somehow managed to get us in early to Rome.  HOW do they do that????  I was not going to look a gift horse in the mouth that is for sure.

 

We landed safely and through passport control quickly.  Our luggage even joined us, and we were able to make the 11:08 direct train.  YEAH!!!  I did not buy our train ticket ahead of time as flights can be hit or miss on scheduling something like this, and you lose your money all together if you miss your train, so we bought tickets then.  We had to pay way more than the price online before departure, but in this case it is too risky.  We were on a roll call with folks who did buy this ticket before hand and their plane was late and they lost their money.  I felt so bad for them!

 

The train area

 

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Remember we have had no sleep and been on a plane for hours!!! 

 

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Note:  This scarf is made by my knitter extraordinaire, daughter, and it is well traveled!

I read somewhere that if you keep your neck warm on flights you have a better chance of not getting sick. 

 

Edited by ROWSE

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3 minutes ago, Crazy planning mom said:

Woohoo.  Sailing a 12 day on the Jewel in November 2020.  Looking forward to reading your review.

Thank you for joining me!  You will love the Jewel!   Wish I was back on her! 

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Our train went from the Rome airport direct to Florence Santa Maria Novella Station.  I learned "direct"

does not mean non-stop.  Somehow I thought it would be, and I worried less because of it from all the

pick pockets and luggage snatchers that we all read about.  Turns out the train stopped in both Rome

Termini Station and Rome Tiburtina station. 

 

Of course we take every precaution by wearing money belts and passport holders that go under clothing. The luggage however is rather big to try to keep safe.  We found their to be a luggage hold area right next to our seats and when people were getting off and on we kept an extra eye on it.

The small luggage carryons fit right above our heads in a rack.  Thankfully there was no shenanigans that went on with the luggage.  My sister-in-law reported that in Italy they witnessed someone grabbing someones luggage as the train stopped, but it happened too fast for anyone to do anything.

 

Inside the train the luggage is right behind me.

 

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I am one to ALWAYS have to check out and use the bathrooms.  The trains, I had read,

have really gross bathrooms, but I did not find that to be the case at all.  They were nice.

 

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Our train ride was about 2 hours and 14 minutes. 

 

Edited by ROWSE

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Once in Florence, we were able to walk to our Airbnb.  It was a charming little walk up apartment and we were met by the dearest Italian caretaker for it.  He carried our big bag up for us.  These stairs

were the steepest thing I have ever seen.  It almost felt like we should go down backwards like when on a ladder.  At least it gave us some great leg exercise!

 

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Carlos, our airbnb man, told us all the ins and outs of our new digs and wanted to take us out

for a wine.  Had we not been on such a short visit, I would have loved to take him up on it, but

we were ready to see the sites before places closed for the night, so we thanked him but declined.

 

We headed out as soon as we freshened up slightly.  We walked the beautiful streets of Florence to the Arno river heading toward our destination of the Pitti Palace. 

 

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This is the Ponte Vecchio Bridge.  The little stores built on the bridge are all jewelry stores. 

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woohoo. I came looking for this when I saw your post in Norris' thread. I hope you guys had a wonderful time!

We leave Tuesday for Rome and then board on Thursday. 

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17 hours ago, singinalot said:

woohoo. I came looking for this when I saw your post in Norris' thread. I hope you guys had a wonderful time!

We leave Tuesday for Rome and then board on Thursday. 

 

I also came here after seeing the post in Norris' thread.

 

Judy

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22 hours ago, Jax129 said:

Thank you so much for doing this review!!!

Thank you for coming along for the ride!

 

20 hours ago, singinalot said:

woohoo. I came looking for this when I saw your post in Norris' thread. I hope you guys had a wonderful time!

We leave Tuesday for Rome and then board on Thursday. 

I loved your prior review and am honored you are able to read some of mine before your next adventure!

 

2 hours ago, jlf1 said:

 

I also came here after seeing the post in Norris' thread.

 

Judy

Thank you Judy!  Norris is one of my favorite reviewers! 

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When we arrived at our destination there was a line to buy tickets.  Normally, I like to get tickets ahead online to skip the line, but we did not know if we would be able to get this in on travel day.  There is also the Boboli Gardens directly behind the Place, but we knew we would not be able to do both today so just bought the ticket for the Place.  The price was 16 Euro each for this.

  The Pitti Palace dates from 1458 and in 1549 was bought by the Medici family.  The palace and its contents were donated to the Italian people in 1919.  It holds more paintings, plates, jewelry and luxurious possessions than I have ever seen amassed in one place.  To say it overwhelmed us is an understatement.  Every room is jam packed! 

After buying our tickets we walked over to the front of the building and went in.  Like most things there was a bag check and a metal detector.

This is a picture from the entrance back at the metal detector area.

 

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Up and in to a magic wonderland

 

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This is just an example of how jam packed each room is

 

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Some of the amazing things we saw

 

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More treasures in Pitti Palace...

Caught my husband in mid yawn or maybe it was one of his amazed looks!

 

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Pitti Palace continued...

A view out one of the windows to the Boboli Gardens

 

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and a look out over Florence

 

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More Pitti Palace...

 

We love beautiful doors

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and magnificent lighting

 

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Beauty at every turn

 

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I imagine the Pitti Palace deserves more time than our tired, jet lagged, bodies could give it

but at this point we needed to be done.  We went outside into a huge court yard.

 

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at the back is an archway that is unassuming but this is inside

 

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We were tired, weak, and hungry at this point so we wandered out of Pitti Palace and found a great place to eat.

 

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I tried a new drink to me, but something our friends recommended an Aperol Spritz-YUM!

 

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and a little veggie pizza

 

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Love that they brought olives and bread before the meal

 

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our view was this lovely little church

 

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After our meal, exhaustion overtook us and we wandered back over the bridge to our airbnb

which was located near Santa Maria Novella Piazza and off to sleep looking forward to a huge day  seeing the Uffuzi Gallary and the Duomo. 

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12 hours ago, Coralc said:

WOW! Very impressive! Thanks. :classic_biggrin:

Glad you are reading along!

10 hours ago, singinalot said:

wow now headed to research the palace 

I get some great ideas from you, so hopefully it will help you do some planning!

3 hours ago, Ozarkmills said:

Enjoying your blog! What is I tried a new drink to me, but something our friends recommended an Aperol Spritz-YUM!? 

An Aperol Spritz's main ingredient is Prosecco, and the Aperol, I am reading, is from a secret recipe, but includes some bitter and sweet oranges, rhubarb, and many different herbs and roots.  It is quite refreshing!  It is served as an aperitif, which means it is suppose to increase your appetite.  

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Since we had only lasted to like 6:30p.m. before zonking out, we found ourselves awake at midnight.

Well, if you are awake at midnight and there is pizza leftovers in the refrigerator, what should one do, well have a picnic in bed of course!

 

There were still a lot of people awake and enjoying the bar that was on the street just outside below our room window.  Didn't seem to matter if it was week night or weekend, there was always people awake into the wee morning hours.  Midnight was early hours it seemed.

 

We did manage to sleep again and the alarm on the phone got us moving at 6:45 a.m.  Our timed tickets for the Uffuzi Gallery were for 8:15 a.m. 

 

Our little airbnb met our needs, but had some very interesting attributes.  The bed however was big and comfortable and the air conditioning worked amazing as well as the wifi. 

Here is the glorious bed

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This is a picture from the bed area.  We had a little kitchen area and they thought of everything when it came to supplies. 

 

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The part that was quite comical was watching my husband bend his head to get in the toilet area which was in one closet...The ceiling of the toilet area was the underside of the stairwell in the building.  We realized they use every inch they can find!

 

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The shower was in another closet across the room. 

 

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The window you can barely see in the shower just opened up into the bedroom.  Hmmm....Like I wrote, though, it met our needs and we slept well. 

Edited by ROWSE

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We did not have breakfast included with this airbnb so off we went in the direction of the Uffuzi.  Everything was so walkable!  One of the things I love most about Italy is that little places to eat are just a few steps away and it isn't hard to find.  A place for breakfast was just a little walk away and we had a croissant and cappuccino for 2 Euro each.  What a deal!  I wish I would have taken a picture, but I had a blackberry croissant and was a little bummed that after I was eating they brought out some chocolate filled ones.  Oh well, it was delicious anyway, and later I would seek out a chocolate one.

 

We continued our walk and took a few pictures a long the way.

 

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Once we reached the Uffuzi Gallery we found the line for the timed tickets which was very long

it seemed.

 

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Eventually they opened and we got our entrance tickets and directed to a separate line from

those doing the stand-by line.  We were to the metal detectors very quickly at that point.

 

 

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Wow!!  The Uffuzi Gallery is amazing!  We especially enjoyed that the art is separated more so than the Pitti Palace.  It was not quite as overwhelming.  We especially loved the area with paintings done by Botticelli.  He made the people's faces so beautiful! 

There were rooms to explore off the main hallways.

 

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Some Botticelli's

 

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There are 138 different species of plants in this one...

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When in the Uffuzi, remember to look up the ceilings are incredible.

 

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There are many sculptures as well..

 

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More Botticelli

 

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On 9/27/2019 at 11:10 PM, singinalot said:

woohoo. I came looking for this when I saw your post in Norris' thread. I hope you guys had a wonderful time!

We leave Tuesday for Rome and then board on Thursday. 

Are you doing another GREAT trip review?

 

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