We began our journey on July 12 2012, when we booked the dream of a med cruise. It seemed forever in the distance. We used Bonnie Buchanan at Cruise one as recommended by Carol Hill from Travel Talk on Line. The cost of the cruise was $5633.38. We booked our own air on American Airlines at a cost of $2273. We were able to use points to upgrade to first class on the trip there. Steve also used points to pay for the Hilton Diagonal in Barcelona and the Hilton Molina Stuckey in Venice. We pre booked all of our tours through Princess.
The reality finally came true, when we boarded the first leg of our flight for Miami at 6:00 AM. We arrived in Miami at 10 and had a 7 hour layover. We watched Gatsby and snacked all day. We boarded the 767 and sat on the plane 75 minutes before we finally departed. We had dinner and were given personal entertainment systems. Steve watched 42 and went to sleep. I watched the big wedding/Mary and Martha/ mud/ and funny girl. We had breakfast and arrived in Barcelona at 10:45 am.
We got our luggage, a taxi and drove to the Hilton diagonal. The cost was $35 euros and he took a credit card. We checked in and were very pleased with our room; we showered, and took the city bus tour. The cost was 25 euros each. We only took the blue line which took us past the la sagrada familia. The tour lasted two hours. We were amazed at the history of the city and the influence of Gaudi everywhere and all the SCOOTERS!!! We did not feel like taking the red and green line tours. It would have required 4 more hours and we were just exhausted. We had dinner at the vibe outside and retired to our room for the night. We got some much needed sleep.
On Tuesday, we got up at 7:30, showered, had breakfast, we went for a walk and Steve worked on the pix from the prior day. We took a taxi to the port to board the ship, The Royal Princess. The taxi driver did not accept a charge card, only euros so I had to go inside to the banker to exchange money. The cost of the ride was 35 euros. We boarded with group 4 and they allowed us to get on board at 11:45 and go straight to our room. Our room M504 is on the 15th floor midship, which is the top floor for cabins. It is quite small but well appointed. The balcony is also small. We toured the ship. It is a very beautiful elegant ship. We had lunch at Alfredo’s pizzeria. We had a calzone and pizza and the house chardonnay. The wine was 6.25 a glass. Note to self…gratuity was added in. We had dinner at 8 at concerto. We are on the dine anytime plan so we have a choice of two full service restaurants…they have the exact same menu. The service by mark was excellent…but the food was mediocre. We had sea bass. We talked to some lovely Jewish ladies form California by way of South Africa much of the evening. We missed the show at 8:30 of course and were too tired to stay up for the 10:30 show. The ship is lovely however so far we have not been impressed with service.
On Wednesday we got up at five and had breakfast on the balcony. We could not get the room safe open. We called service but they did not show up in time for us to get it repaired. We went to the theater to meet our tour group at 7:35. The cost of the tour was $198 for both of us. We disembarked in Toulon and boarded a bus for Provence. We drove 90 minutes through the French countryside. There were lots of vineyards and mountains and some lovely seascapes. Provence is full of history and old architecture. It is amazing how buildings from the fifteenth century are still standing and in use today. We had lunch a le belle epogue. I think my Caesar salad had dandelions in it…lol The tour guide was very knowledgeable but painful to listen to. It was as if he had to translate from French to English for every word. Many people just dropped out of the tour. We got back on the ship at 4:30. We had dinner at symphony.
On Thursday we had breakfast on the balcony and met in the theater for our excursion at 7. The cost of the tour was $398 which included lunch. We boarded the bus in Livorno for the 20 minute drive to Pisa to see the square of miracles. Walking through the gate and seeing the white marble leaning tower of Pisa, was breathtaking. The Church, baptistery and bell tower were pristine. It was amazing! We boarded the bus and drove the 90 minutes to Florence. We did a ton of walking throughout the city. We saw Giotto’s bell tower and baptistery. We saw the piazza Della Signoria, the Ponte Vecchio Bridge, the piazza St. Croce…the final resting place of Machiavelli, Galileo, and Michelangelo. We went to the Uffizi Museum and Gallery and saw the sculpture of David by Michelangelo. We saw the amazing Santa Maria de la Florence basilica which hold 30,000 standing Catholics! It is made of white, green and pink marble and is amazing! We had an authentic Tuscan lunch at trattoria. Steve bought me a Valentino purse and wallet. We got back to the ship at 5:45, hot and exhausted but omg the memories!!! The guide was wonderful! We had dinner at concerto. I had fettuccini alfredo and Steve had red snapper. Once again…it was mediocre at best.
Today we got up at 6 to catch the bus for the 90 minute drive to Rome. The tour cost was $478 , which included lunch. We went to the Colosseum which was simply amazing. We saw the circus maximus, the largest stadium in ancient Rome. We then went to lunch at villa carpegna. Then we went to St. Peters square and Basilica, the Vatican museums, and the Sistine chapel. The guide was wonderful. We got back at 6 pm. We had dinner at symphony and had a table by the window. We had martinis before retiring to bed.
Saturday September 8, 2013, we got up at 5:00. We showered and had our breakfast on the balcony. It is interesting watching the ship come into port. We had to meet in the theater at 6:50. The tour cost was $478 which included lunch. We boarded a catamaran and headed for the beautiful Island of Capri. We took a cable car to the top of the island. The views were simply amazing. We did a little shopping. The people here are famous for perfume making. Many very wealthy people come here to vacation. We took the cable car back down and reboarded the catamaran to go to Sorrento. Sorrento is on the peninsula with spectacular views of the Vesuvius volcano. The people here are famous for their beautiful inland wood artistry and we almost bought a grandfather clock. We had lunch at Ristorante paraucchinio . Each lunch has been wine, water and pasta followed by meat and vegetable and a dessert with coffee. The pastas have been good, but the meat leaves a lot to be desired. We left Sorrento by bus and went to Pompeii. The ruins of this magnificent city destroyed by the volcano in 79 AD are amazing! We watched a cameo demonstration. They used beautiful conch shells. We got back to the ship at 5:30. Our guide was very good. We had dinner at concerto which was surf and turf followed by martinis at crooners.
Sunday was a day of rest. We had to change our clocks forward an hour. We had breakfast on the balcony and then attended a wine tasting at a cost of $25 apiece. Tonight is Formal night. We had dinner at Crown grill at an additional charge of $25 a piece. We both had filet mignon. We had a wonderful chocolate soufflé for dessert.
Monday’s tour was the Greek Island of Mykonos! The cost was $78. We boarded a bus to the beach. The guide was very good. What a beautiful picturesque place!!! White houses all along the cliffs. This was my dream!! To come to Greece! But I will confess, it did not live up to my expectations and I am so glad I came here for a short visit and did not book an entire vacation here. We walked to several beaches and had a drink. We got back on the ship at 1. We attended another wine tasting at a cost of $40 per person and went to Symphony for dinner.
Tuesday September 10 we went to the city of Istanbul Turkey. The tour price was $278. We boarded a bus and went to the hippodrome. We visited the Blue Mosque. We visited the grand bazaar. We visited Orient Handmade Carpet and jewelry for a carpet making demonstration. We saw the Topkapi palace, museum and harem. We saw the Hagia Sophia museum. We had lunch at Reji. It was very good. We had dinner at Concerto.
Wednesday…September 11…We had breakfast at 9:30 in the buffet. YUCK! We docked in Kusadasi Turkey about noon. The tour price was $158 . We boarded a bus to visit the house of the Virgin Mary. We went to the Ephesus Ruins. We went to Basilica of St. John. It was a very hot day with little shade. We were exhausted. We got back to the ship about 7:30. We had dinner at symphony.
Thursday, September 12, we docked in Piraeus, Greece. The tour price was $298. We boarded a bus to travel to Athens. There were 7 other ships in port…one was the legend of the seas, the ship we will sail in January to the Caribbean. We went to the Olympic Stadium. We went to the acropolis which was terribly crowded and the temperature was 91 degrees. It was almost unbearable, but it was amazing to see the Parthenon and Erechtheum. We had lunch at the Radisson Park hotel. We went to the Acropolis National Archeological museum. We shopped in the plaka and had a drink at an outdoor cafe. Our guide named Maria, was very knowledgable, but she was a total Bitch! She refused to carry the lollipop with our group number and instead carried a silver umbrella to shade herself. There were many silver umbrellas, so it made it very difficult to keep track of her in the huge crowd. It was a bit scarey. We got back to the ship about 4:30. We had dinner at concerto.
Friday the thirteenth we slept until 8:30. We had a champagne breakfast on our balcony…a gift from our travel agent Bonnie Buchanan from Cruise one. It was wonderful. We went to a wine tasting at 11 which cost $10 per person. We shopped on the ship for souvenirs for the kids. We had dinner at Sabatini’s. We attended a show.
Saturday sept 14…we had breakfast at concerto. We had lunch at alfredos. We took a vaproetta to St. Marco’s square and toured the doge palace, went to a glass blowing demonstration, had a glass of wine in the square while listening to a band play godfather, and took a gondola ride. The cost of the tour was $159. The guide was very good. We ate dinner at symphony.
Sunday we had breakfast at symphony and disembarked the ship at 8:30. We took a vaporetta to st Marcos square and caught the water taxi to the Hilton Molina Stucky. We had lunch at Harry’s Dolci.
Monday morning we got up at 4. We took a water taxi for $120 euros to the airport dock. Then we took a shuttle for $35 euros to the airport. We waited in line for an hour to check in. Our flight left at 7:30. We flew to Madrid; Then to Dallas. We got home at 10:30 pm.
We were a bit disappointed in the service on this cruise but we would certainly use Princess again.
It was an amazing trip full of memories we will cherish for a lifetime.