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lhawley

Royal caribbean europe med. review 7/2/2004

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Just back from our cruise. Husband and I travelled with two kids 13 and 17 on 6/19/04.

EMARKATION: very easy.transportation met us at baggage claim.

SHIP: nice clean ship. the solerium is beautiful. spa services pretty high. A seaweed massage was $170 and a facial $110. they really push buying very expensive products. I loved my treatment but could have done without the solicitation. Food was great! quality was good but not as much variety as on other lines. Our dining and room staff was helpful and efficient. The shows were the biggest downfall and were awful. we cruise often and this was a shock for us. we stopped going and everyone actually made jokes about them. every other cruise shows are almost broadway like. these shows were not close. Casino was friendly and never packed. younger kids liked the kids program, the older kids had too much down time. nothing going on and even if there was suppose to be an activity the staff did not always do what was on the lists or were even available. left the kids with too much time roaming the ship and looking for there own fun. (not always a good thing).

EXCURSIONS: France-- We uses Sylvie Di Cristo at sylvie.dicristo@wanadoo.fr Our ship could not dock in villefrance because of high winds and we were directed to Cannes instead. emailed Sylvie right away from the ship and got a quick email in return that she would meet us as the cannes port. Syvie is a lovely polite french lady who visited with us and showed us the sights. she took time to speak with the 17 year old who had studied french for 4 years and took us to st. paul de vence, monaco and monte carlo. beautiful day! and very interesting. I would have perhaps changed st. paul de vence for a little town Sylvie says is her favorite because it is a little to touristy with shops nd we like more authentic places off the beaten track. but what ever you do with Sylvie her charm will help you enjoy it all the more.

Florence/Pisa-- we toured with trading places with a driver named simone. He was on time waiting and took us to the leaning tower of pisa which was our highlight and got us in quickly to climb the tower. (others missed climbing it because there is a line to get the tickets for a tour and only so many people per tour). then into Florence to drop us off to shop, have lunch and eat gelato. fun day. Lots of places to tour in florence but last time we were here I think I liked Siena better for being quaint without the really big high dollar designer shops for a lovely lunch in the center.

Rome-- We had another private tour with Daniele from http://www.driveinrome.com This was amazing.. not only was Daniele a very handsome young soccer player looking tour guide, he was beyond efficient. we have toured Rome before and it is usually alot of fun but grulling to get through. Daniele made it so easy, quickly getting us to the sistene chapel with no line, the colliseum, trevi fountain,the pantheon, a lttle spot to try and star spot since the were their filming oceans twelve (no luck :-( lunch at a little outdoor cafe, and more. Not to forget a stop for natural gelato with no preservatives (pistacio was great)!! the kids also thought he was great and my husband and I had a running joke of me and my daughter crushing on him. He does have people working for him that I hear are equally as good but if you can get him. book early enough, you will be lucky! (we had a great little black mercedes for our 4 person private tour.

Mykonosis-Greece- did not take a tour here just got off the boat and walked around. This is one of my favorite spots. very quaint and besides for an interesting trip to the dentist (for my daughter, had a little emergency and the ship made arrangements for their ambulance to pick us up at port and take to there idea of a hospital, now that we are done it was a very funny experience) but after the dentist we left the hospital on foot because they could not get us a taxi and did not spaek english. the nurse just pointed down a road and said tikki-tikki making the walking motion with her hand and off me and my daughter walked straigh down through these wonderful winding streets to find my husband at a pre set location with the 17 year old. Had a beautiful lunch at NIKOS (try the stuffed cabbage.. to die for with a wonderful lemon and dill sauce!!) then walked across town to find a little beach so the kids could say they swam in the med.. some people took the moped vespas that they got for 15 a day at a shop near the place were the shuttle drops you. Easy to find. his was our biggest purchase stop. The taxis do not really want to drive you around to much and so your best bet is to shop, eat, walk and enjoy this fun and characteristic village.

Santorini- went on the Fira and Oia tour with the wine tasting from the boat shore excursions, was nice but I would have liked more time in Oia. Unbelievable views and shops. would have preferred lunch here and then gone back for light browsing and walking in Fira. (the wine tour was pretty much just a tasting and buying thing but was kinda nice) We had lunch in Fira at a very expensive rest. with the most beautiful view I have ever seen but the dishes were running 18-32 euro per plate and a 4 per person sitting charge and drinks at 4 per dring including water food was pretty good but price steep. if you can find another less expensive place in Fira with a view it would be better. (ask to see a menu) then we went down on the cable car!

Athens- took the ship shore excursion acropolis and half day and do not recommend this. very hot to be in a big group and our tour guide took almost 2 hours in the sweltering heat (bring water) to repeat his same talk pointing out the same things. then a quick drive to the stadium and ended up too tired to shop in athens and went straight back to the ship. we did get a picture with the turkish gaurds at the tomb of the unknown soldier but our guide did not tell us that only 2 people could stand next to the gaurd at a time so the gaurd stood there beating his gun on the ground to let us know and scared the %$#@ out of us trying to figure out what he wanted. Recommend hire your own driver IN ADVANCE and a tour guide who speaks good english for a quick but informative tour of the acropolis so that you are not to tired to tour downtown Athens. (this is the most crowded city I have ever seen. apartments on top of apartments)

Sicily- walked out and tried to walk to catch the train but the train only left for taormina at 1pm. we got in a 8 am and had to be back at 5 pm so we grabbed a taxi (for the day 250 euro.. expensive for a taxi with a non english speaking driver but it was kinda fun trying to figure him out and find a common language. Taormina is lovely with great shops and right down from it is mermaid beach.. That would be the place to spend the day if you are a beach lover. never seen anything like it! the view we had looking over it from taormina was unbelievable. then we drove back to messina and had a little lunch in a local pizzaria. all taxis are expensive because you have no choice taormina is an hour away. some people took the taormina and mt etna tour from the ship and loved it.

Naples- Took a private tour with Marcello and had a beautiful day. He arranged for a private english speaking guide to pompeii that was fabulous. was charming and thorough and quick. no problems dragging in the heat for hours. We learned so much and the kids were facinated. DO NOT DO THIS TOUR WITHOUT A GUIDE! IT WILL ONLY LOOK LIKE A BUNCH OF ROCKS. alot of people did not take guide because they did not want to spend the money but what a waste. you only go once and they missed half of the things to see and learn. Marcello took us to sorrento for very quick shopping 30 minutes and then a drive through the real Almafi Coast and then to a private restaraunt on top of the hill with a beautiful view and one of our best meals. private little homestyle place with wine and water included with multiple courses prepared fresh and served family style. with just enough wine to make you giddy. very reasonable priced for what you get and was our best deal. We listened to Marcello all the way there and back as he is a dynamic talker with many opinions about his country which our 17 liked because he is into political science and loves to hear how the locals look at things. If you are the kind that gets car sick you may want to make a different itenereary with Marcello as the coast is very curvy. Marcello pointed out a couple of beautiful swimming beaches for the locals that I would have loved to have gone to for most of the day and then maybe to one of his specialty dining experiences. need more time here to see it all. but pompeii and the meal are a highlight.

Barcelona_ we did not do a pre or post cruise tour. sorry cant help with this port. I will tell you though if you get there late or leave early you will not be able to see barcelona.

DEBARKATION- it went pretty smooth except they lost one of our peices of luggage between putting it out at night and picking it up at the terminal. little confusing but worked out. If you do not leave when your color is called you will miss your number bus (like we did) and have to look around for another bus to take. we did jump on another bus and make it to the airport for our 10:30 departure on Delta. The check in lines were long but we made it with a little time to spare. if you book your flight with the cruise line they make sure you get on.

I hope this helps you... I will check back with this thread to answer any questions or feel free to write me with any questions! Ciao and have a great trip!

Lorraine

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Thanks so much for posting a med. review! Sounds like you had a wonderful time. We are really looking hard at this itenerary for next summer, and can't make up our minds. Part of what we like about cruising is the relaxtion...but with your cruise it is port heavy, and all the ports are places where you need to plan a day. I've never been to Europe and think the cruise would be a great way to "taste" it. What kind of cabin did you have? With as many excursions as you did, is it worth it to also spend $$$ on balcony cabins? Do you think children (ages 11 and 13) would enjoy the cruise? How many days ahead did you fly into Barcelona, or did you? I've been wondering about jet lag...

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Lorraine,

Thanks for the wonderful post! We are on Brilliance July 25 so I have a few questions.

We are booked with Marcello's other driver and want to know about how long lunch took and the price if you can recall. Another poster from several weeks ago ate a "lighter lunch" and we don't know if it is the same restaurant as were in Mike and Carol's review from last summer. There are 6 of us and we really don't care how long it takes as long as it is good! I am getting fat just thinking about it.

Did you just let Danielle plan your itinerary? We are using him also for Florence and Rome. We already have our reservations to climb at Pisa, so hopefully there won't be much of a wait.

What type of pants were appropriate for shore excursions? Capris or long pants. I know our shoulders must be covered.

What was the weather like?

I am sure I will think of other questions, but that is all I can think of for now.

Thanks for all of your help.

Donna

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What about jet lag? When did you arrive in Barcelona and how did you feel?

We are flying from LA non-stop.

What things did you wish you had brought with you and what could you have left at home?

Thanks again

Donna

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Lots of fun questions. First off the kids will LOVE the cruise. I think almost more because of the bonds they develop with the other kids they meet. make sure and sign and search for friends to chat with before the cruise on the meet and mingle. This is a port intensive trip! but if you look at it as quality versus quantity you will get more out of it and a better trip. You will NOT miss what you don't have time to see. pick a couple spots and then plan for some relax time for browsing and shopping. The kids will like this too. As for the weather it was not bad at the time we went except for Athens which was Crazy hot. most other places were great for shorts or capris. nice ocean breeze helped. also dont forget you can bring a trendy little lightweight shawl to cover your shoulders. As for the meal with Marcello it was 18 pp so 20 pp including tip for all the wine, water (very important) and all the food you wanted. I believe we had the lighter fare at a different place. Marcello actually changes places to eat depending on the itenerary but they are all private and well gaurded secrets to keep them private. just trust him on the food! The only place you had to really watch your clothing was in Rome. sistene chapel is very firm on dress code. As for trusting Danielle in Rome I would say without a doubt! he knows his job and again like I said anything you miss is not as important as being worked up about "doing it all" the meals are the most memerable so just make sure you ask them to all take you to a fun, local lunch spot. I do recommend also to see Rome- sistene chapel, trevi fountain to throw a coin and the collesium... Pisa-- climb the tower, it is so unusual.

I will keep checking back to answer any questions if I can help..

Caio, Lorraine

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sorry forgot to comment on jet lag.. We were exhausted the night we got in and dragging a little later the next day. If you can sleep on the flight that might help. (maybe ask for a little flight perscription for Xanax. works wonders) as for what we took... I am glad we had the portable steamer and tylenol and stomach med. (your system gets a little off) I did not need as many socks as I brought and would have likes about 3 light weight nightgowns as you can sweat a little more then norm after running all day. also maybe a shoe holder to put all your on counter stuff in, in the closet to free up your available space. It works well. Just a recomendation, the drink (soda) cards are very high priced and we found them to be only good for the kids who like lots of sodas with their freinds and to put half soda and half free ice cream to make floats at the snack place. for us we were never on the ship long enough to want that much soda and were more dehydrated wanting water and the free ice tea they offered!

caio, Lorraine

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Thank you so much for all of your help. We leave in just over 2 weeks and I can't wait! I am sure we will have a great time no matter what we do or don't do. It will always give us an excuse to go back to see what we've missed.

Donna

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One other question. Did Danielle and Marcello join you for lunch? Did you pay for their lunches if they did join you? How much did you tip them if you did? Was it per person or for the entire group? There are 3 couples going with Marcello and 4 couples with Danielle. What do you suggest? Did you pay by traveler's checks, Euros, or US dollars?

Thanks again!

Donna

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Danielle took travelers cheques and marcello took cash. Daniele sat with us for lunch but only ate an apple so I don't remember if we covered it but I am sure we did. we did pay for most of our guides lunches which were inexpensive. Marcello made sure we all ate and helped serve. i think his lunch was gratis for bringing in tours. As for tipping we did about 15 to 20 percent. they were very happy with that. I forgot to answer about the Balcony question. I personally like the balcony because it is great to get up in the morning and open up the door for the fresh air and to look our over our new port. Also my husband and I like to read so we enjoyed reading in the peaceful night air. but I don't think anything more then the lowest level for a balcony is needed. we had a great room at 7066. no noise and really well situated on the ship. some above us had alot of noise from the windjammer. we could walk out basically to the lifeboat deck but had no problem looking out to the sea. just not directly down.

Lorraine

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Thanks for the great review Lorraine. I will be on the Brilliance the same time as Donna.Lots of tips thanks

 

Laura

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Athens- we did get a picture with the turkish gaurds at the tomb of the unknown soldier

Lorraine

 

They are NOT Turkish guards but GREEK soldiers guarding the tomb!

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UMMMM... Are you sure of this?? we were told that they were Turkish guards that guarded the tomb of their unknown soldiers?? That this was established from the time during the turkish hold on Greece. So are you saying that we were told wrong or are you just normally snippy and arguementative. I guess i should have checked up on the tour guides story. heaven knows he may just make things up to sound good. Sounds like you are much more educated.

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Thanks for a great review thinking of going next summer your information will be very helpful to us if we go.

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OK so here is what I found out... my hubby told me he thinks what our guide told us was that these are the soldiers in the Turkish garb. Thus referring to the clothing not the guard. Sounds to be possible with me being corrected and my limited ability to understand a greek accent very well. May want to look this up yourself as it is really interesting to see with the Pom=Poms (please excuse me if I again use the wrong term) on their shoes. The changing of the guard looked something like a dance. If you can see it, you will enjoy this.

Lorraine

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Reading your review...I think you sailed on Splendour. Right?

 

We were on her in May. :)

 

http://community.webshots.com/photo/146181776/146189825sQwfeG

 

 

Loved this ship, didn't care for the food and specially buffets. (Probably effect of my previous Celebrity cruise)

 

Loved solarium pool, used to go there after 10 - 11 PM!!! Overall beautifull ship.

 

Used Daniele for Florence/Pisa and Rome. IMHO he is great, specially for Rome.

While he was also good in Florence I think this tour is somewhat overpriced and we could've done cheaper on our own.(Florence is fairly small town)

 

For Rome he is a MUST!!! He lives there and LOVES city and knows the best way to show it. He is also very cute (ok he is younger than me by 5 years but still :D .)

 

 

What I liked about Splendour is that even smallest cabins(we had 138 sq.ft) are planned so efficiently and smart it doesn't look too small.

 

I didn't like one thing though . Crew started to clean ship during our last evening. They washed Lido deck...all mirrors in the elevators(some of them they even covered ). Instead of romantic evening I felt that we aren't welcomed guest anymore.

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OK so here is what I found out... my hubby told me he thinks what our guide told us was that these are the soldiers in the Turkish garb. Thus referring to the clothing not the guard. Sounds to be possible with me being corrected and my limited ability to understand a greek accent very well. May want to look this up yourself as it is really interesting to see with the Pom=Poms (please excuse me if I again use the wrong term) on their shoes. The changing of the guard looked something like a dance. If you can see it, you will enjoy this.

Lorraine

My wife and I have seen this changing of the guard several times. We have been to Athens quite a bit and always enjoy walking around Syntagma Square. Besides, we always have to go the the American Express Office to cash travelers checks - the office is on the Square.

 

I was no way attempting to be snippy and argumentative! I was however attempting to correct your erroneous information. The Turks and the Greeks are not the best of friends. It would be like us have Mexican or Canadian soldiers guarding our Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers in Washington! It should be noted that the soldiers in question are called Evzones. They are elite soldiers and also guard the Palace and are chosen for their height and strength. The attire that they wear - the pleated skirt, the foustanela, was worn by the Greek fighters of the 1821 revolution and today serves as the Evzones uniform.

 

Ken and Pene (actually, my wife's name is the very beautiful Greek name of Penelope)

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Thinkins of doing a Europe/Med cruise in a few years w/ older teenagers. How long was your cruise...1 or 2 weeks? And which ship w/ RCCL cruises Europe? I was also curious to know how much more it is for Europe. I know the airfare alone will be high. We are on the West Coast and have only cruised the East/West Caribbean.

 

Thanks...

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Tezbear

We leave in 2 weeks on Brilliance on 12 day Western Mediterranean route our first trip to Europe. We also live in CA and are flying out of LA. I will give you are prices if you e-mail me directly.

dperales@ocsnet.net

Donna

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Just back from our cruise. Husband and I travelled with two kids 13 and 17 on 6/19/04.

Naples- Took a private tour with Marcello and had a beautiful day. He arranged for a private english speaking guide to pompeii that was fabulous. was charming and thorough and quick. no problems dragging in the heat for hours. We learned so much and the kids were facinated. DO NOT DO THIS TOUR WITHOUT A GUIDE! IT WILL ONLY LOOK LIKE A BUNCH OF ROCKS. alot of people did not take guide because they did not want to spend the money but what a waste. you only go once and they missed half of the things to see and learn. Marcello took us to sorrento for very quick shopping 30 minutes and then a drive through the real Almafi Coast and then to a private restaraunt on top of the hill with a beautiful view and one of our best meals. private little homestyle place with wine and water included with multiple courses prepared fresh and served family style. with just enough wine to make you giddy. very reasonable priced for what you get and was our best deal. We listened to Marcello all the way there and back as he is a dynamic talker with many opinions about his country which our 17 liked because he is into political science and loves to hear how the locals look at things. If you are the kind that gets car sick you may want to make a different itenereary with Marcello as the coast is very curvy. Marcello pointed out a couple of beautiful swimming beaches for the locals that I would have loved to have gone to for most of the day and then maybe to one of his specialty dining experiences. need more time here to see it all. but pompeii and the meal are a highlight.

Lorraine

 

Hi Lorraine, what was the name of the restaurant on the hill on the Amalfi Coast?

 

thanks

 

jc

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Thinkins of doing a Europe/Med cruise in a few years w/ older teenagers. How long was your cruise...1 or 2 weeks? And which ship w/ RCCL cruises Europe? I was also curious to know how much more it is for Europe. I know the airfare alone will be high. We are on the West Coast and have only cruised the East/West Caribbean.

 

Thanks...

tezbear... i too am from california and am thinking of doing this cruise with RCI next year...

currently for the med, RCI sails 2 ships, Splendour of the Seas does 7 day itineraries roundtrip out of barcelona, going to france and italy. and for part of the year Brilliance of the Seas does 2 different 12 day itineraries roundtrip out of barcelona as well. i beleive with the 12 day you get a couple of extra sea days as well as stops in athens, corfu, and santorina greece as well as a stop in turkey, and the alternate 12 day itinerary does a stop in coratia as well as an overnight in venice with mykonos being the greek island that is visited.

the prices for the cruises themselves don't very much from the price of a cruise you would find in the caribbean. i have seen the 7 day itinerary priced at $699. however, the difference is that airfare, especially from CA will be higher to get to Barcelona. you probably want to fly in at least one day before sailing to adjust to the time difference and get over jet lag, so there is an extra cost for the hotel. and finally shore excursions in Europe are much more costly than shore excursions in the caribbean. and with the dollar being so weak agains the Euro currently, that doesn't help. :(

hope that answered some of your questions. you can find more info about specific sailing dates and exact itineraries on rci's website.

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Jstducky...thanks very much for the info. I will check the site now that I know which ships go to Europe. We're from No. Calif so I know the airfare alone will be expensive!

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True the airfare is more expensive and you do have the jet lag, but we thougt it worked out just for the experience alone. I agree that the cost is not much different for the actual cruise but the excursions really add up especially with the euro being so much stronger then the us dollar. Believe me the private excursions for the 4 of us worked out to 440 to 500 seuro per day. (so approx 1.26 to the dollar) I'll let you do the math so I don't quote it wrong. As for the place we ate it is a small place up the hill between portefino and ravello off the almafi coast drive. but from what I understand if you do not go there with marcello they will just give you a regular menu and it will be no different then ordering from any of the little places in town. Your best bet is to have your guide take you to his best spot and then you get the best treatment. Sad but true. As for the guards again. I cannot make any further comment as it is evident any questions regarding this is better off left to others.

caio, Lorraine

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We are on Splendour of the Seas out of Barcelona on August 21st. Anyone else on this cruise? Remember to register for a Mingle.

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I am on Splendor on Sept 11th. I have tried to get to the www.driveinrome.com website and it will not come up. Is it a .com site? Help...

It's www.driverinrome.com

 

If you want to use Daniele e-mail him as soon as possible. He is extremely popular. NHL stars like Fedorov and some other used him...Keanu Reeves also hired him once! ;)

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