Traveltalkonline.com Forums


TTOL Sponsors
Forum Statistics
Forums39
Topics25,624
Posts176,761
Members24,740
Most Online1,403
Dec 25th, 2017
Top Posters(30 Days)
RonDon 49
pat 46
jeepers 40
Member Spotlight
Maria_and_Steve
Maria_and_Steve
Colorado and Sailing the World
Posts: 1,072
Joined: March 2001
Show All Member Profiles 
Today's Birthdays
alexa, lilmabes
Who's Online Now
45 registered members (firstcharter, jagmansr, IWIWSE, NCSailor, deputydog1157, BruceU, AnneQ, GregB, tradewinds, 48ref, philthepilot, Uksimonusa, DanS, bailau, RatmansWife, Carialle, Tom, deliveryskipper, weeks5051, PnPinNC, Mikel, JustinB, MamaB, GettinBye, SANFILIP, PML, islandbouy, extreme, Fran, KirkB, bigbobthib, 14 invisible), 179 guests, and 367 spiders.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Rate Thread
Rome and Navigator of the Seas #17751
10/05/2012 07:20 PM
10/05/2012 07:20 PM
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 1,102
Virginia
Snorkeller Offline OP
Traveler
Snorkeller  Offline OP
Traveler
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 1,102
Virginia
Rome and Navigator of the Seas: September 3 to 16, 2012

Afternoon of September 3 – flew USAIr to Rome from Charlotte – on Envoy class – very nice, you get to stretch out really well - about 1.5 hours late out of Charlotte and into Rome (FCO). Raining hard both places. One suitcase got a little wet inside – nothing hurt.

Arrived in Rome on morning of Tuesday September 4. Waited a LONG time for luggage – what a zoo FCO is. Met by Alfredo with Bob’s Limos (good recommendation from Bonnie Buchanan) – Alfredo was a good guy – very efficient. 40 minute drive into Rome, to our hotel which was the Royal Court Hotel at 51 Via Marghera, near Termini. Royal Court is very nice – the staff were very good – we had a king size bed, nice bathroom with great shower and some of the nicest bath towels that I have seen in any but luxury type hotels, flat screen tv (never watched by us), and free breakfast. We got a great value, having got this place for the five nights on priceline for $731 – only added charge was a tax that was 30 euros for the both of us payable on departure.

Tuesday afternoon, we walked to Basilica of St Mary and Angels and Martyrs (or some name close to that). Then to National Museum of Rome. Eat at Trattoria Gemma Alla Lupa on Via Marghera near our hotel. Great place – waitress was a character – felt like a family run place, particularly given the way they yelled at each other. They gave us a little statute thing as souvenir when we left – nice touch.

Wednesday morning – got the complimentary breakfast at hotel. Excellent – better than expected. Eggs and bacon, yogurt, cereals, pastries, juice, all you could want. We took the A line metro to St. Peters stop. There were “helpers” standing at the machines who wanted to help you with buying the tickets and then get a tip – kind of annoying – I wanted nothing to do with them and it was kind of a nuisance. If you can read, you really do not need the help – unless you are being bothered by them and cannot focus on what you are doing. We saw the same two women there several times, it is their regular full-time job apparently. The subways can be extremely crowded and you do have to be careful of pickpockets – I think a two man team was sizing us up on one trip, one of them acted weird in terms of his crowding in front of me with other behind, but I reacted and stared at one of them and they left us alone – we also used money belts for valuables we were carrying when walking around Rome. We had no other experiences of feeling that maybe there were pickpockets around us – but others we met in Rome and on cruise reported seeing pick pockets who were noticed by someone in a crowd and people started yelling at them.

For this Wednesday, we signed up with “Through Eternity” for a tour of Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, and St Peters. Meeting at 10 a.m. Guide was Cinzia – young woman with art degree. Excellent guide. Tour lasted over five hours with short break for lunch. Had lunch in the pizzeria at the Vatican Museum – had two big pieces of pizza, fruit salad, and two drinks for 15,30 euros – good food decent price. Kind of museumed out at end of afternoon, but having guide like Cinzia kept it interesting and kept us awake. Doing some teaching and lecturing myself, I could appreciate how much energy it would take to give a tour to 12 people for a little over 5 hours like she did – handling the logistics and giving the commentary. She must be exhausted after each tour she gives. We ate at Restorante Donati on Via Marghera for dinner. OK, but not as comfortable as the Trattoria of other night.

Thursday morning. Up early, ate breakfast and hustled on B line to Colosseo stop and to entrance to Forum - another tour with Through Eternity, this tour for Forum and Coloseum. Guide was John, who was very good but not as good as Cinzia, in our opinion. Saw and heard the basics of the Forum. We left Forum and went to Coloseum with John. At Coloseum, it appeared to be a mad house with huge numbers of people and we were very glad that all we had to do was follow John. He did a good job of explaining Coloseum and giving a good tour. A good part of group was going to take a tour of Palatine Hill with him after lunch but we were kind of toured out and did not sign up for that. John pointed us to where to find a place for lunch and we found a good place off the main road. Generally, if you stay away from first row of places near the attraction or the plaza, you can find some great spots. After lunch, we did our own tour of Palatine Hill, following which we walked to the Trivia Fountain, stopping at every church along the way, which was a lot. One of the churches was the Pantheon, which is a must see, of course. Trevi was absolutely packed with people, but still an amazing fountain to see. The coins we threw in 1974 worked! As we did not threw the coins this time, that may mean we will not make it back. We were exhausted by the time we made it back to Termini on the metro and we went again to the Trattoria Gemma Alla Lupa – which again was very good.

Friday morning we got up early to get to the Villa Borghese so that we could pick up our tickets for the 9-11 a.m. time slot. We walked the approx. 1.5 miles from Hotel to Villa Borghese and arrived rather early. The website said you had to pick up the tickets before one-half hour before your time (9 for us) – which did not make clear that they did not even open the ticket office until 8:30. But things worked out fine. I got an audio guide which really helped given shortness of time. You only have about one half hour with the paintings on the upper floor and then a little less than 1. 5 hours with the sculpture (both floors have some of other) on the first floor. The collection is absolutely amazing and there is no way that you can do justice to it in 2 hours. There are a number of Bernini’s which alone could take a lot of time – not to mention the Caravaggio’s and all the other great masters. It is an absolute must see, along with all the other must sees of Rome. After getting thrown out a little before 11, we walked around the park grounds. Wandered into the Globe Theater they have – looked great - from which we were thrown out by a security guard who had left a gate open – hey, the gate was open! Wandered down to Piazza Populo. Headed toward the Spanish Steps and stopped for lunch half-way down road at a great place – I had some kind of salmon pasta thing. Walked up Spanish Steps – where did all the flowers go – none on the steps. Then, we strolled down to Ponte Umburto – on to Piazza Navona – which is amazing. Then, we staggered up Capitoline Hill to the Museum. By this time, we were so tired that we really could not do any justice to this museum which has a huge collection and had a special temporary exhibit of papers from the “secret” Vatican Archives, which was very interesting. We made it down the hill to the main drag and walked to the Colosseo metro stop, where we caught the B line back to Termini. At Termini, the wife bought some new Nike shoes, as she had pretty much killed the ones she had brought and they had the size she wanted. I forgot to do the VAT thing – oh well. Don’t tell anyone, I swear it was her idea, but we then bought a dinner at McDonalds before heading back to Hotel. I noticed a Laundromat on the first cross street north of us on Via Marghera when we walked this morning, so I took some stuff there this evening – very cheap and good service for guy there to do it for you.

Saturday – Ostia Antica. We took the B line to Pyrimide and then the local train to Ostia Antica – very easy, all on one ticket. Ostia Antica was very interesting. More ruins than any human needs to see. Nice museum – small but good collection. We had lunch at the café there. After some more wandering among the ruins we took the train back to The Basilica St. Paolo stop to see – yes, the Basilica of St. Paul. Huge place with a lot of great art and very interesting things. Also had very nice restrooms, gift shop, and snack bar. We really needed the snack bar as we were starting to fade fast. Took the B line back to hotel area. Had dinner at a different Trattoria on Via Vincenza tonight, not sure of name other than Trattoria. The guys bringing people in were pretty good. As we strolled by looking like we MIGHT be interested, one of them started offering discounts. Got him to 15% and we wound up eating there. Good pizza and a salad. Stopped for ice cream at another spot.

Sunday. After breakfast, we walked a little around area – saw one more church where service was going on – and then walked back to hotel to meet driver at 11. We used Bob’s Limos for this. It was a woman driver, whose name I forget. It is kind of pricey and the train looks very easy on paper (and is fairly easy in some respects), but we heard from folks on board the ship who endured a luggage toting, standing room only, pick pockets prowling, fairly long train ride from Rome to Cittavechia, the port, where they then had to walk a bit to catch a shuttle bus to ship. We just were not going to be up for that at that point. Our driver could take us right to pier where ship was – very easy.

Boarding ship was quick and easy - at time we arrived, there were not many folks getting on. I later learned that on this cruise there were 2933 pax and 1203 crew for a total of 4,136 on board. I had watched availability of suites on board as time to cruise approached and we upgraded from balcony to junior suite a couple months before with idea that we might get upgraded to a “real” suite. Well, it worked (Bonnie – it’s all skill, Ha!) and we got a free upgrade to the Royal Family Suite. (The reason we got the free upgrade almost certainly had something to do with fact that there were only 7 Diamond Plus pax on this cruise and we were two of them.) This was very unlike the Caribbean when you could easily have over 50 Diamond Plus on a cruise. The Royal Family Suite was huge with an extra bedroom and bathroom and a big balcony. And, we got the coveted gold card. Got to act like we could afford such things. We had joined up with another two couples on Cruise Critic for some private excursions and we invited them to stateroom for drinks this afternoon, so we could meet before an excursion when we got to Messina on Monday. Worked out great. We ate at Chops this night – great food but you eat too much, using the buy one get one free coupon in our coupon book that we get as Diamond Plus. Reunited with Denise, now the Chops Manager, who was our waiter on Jewel back in 2006. I recognized her immediately as someone I had met before, but it was not until that night when I thought about it that I was able to recall which cruise it had been – she had helped by telling me when she had been on Jewel. I went by the next morning and told her exactly what cruise it had been – she was amazed and I think very pleased that I remembered her with such positive memories. She is an amazing upbeat, positive person – always smiling and trying to please the customer. Recognized some other faces without being able to come up with specific memory of prior cruise, except for Ricardo the Concierge, whom we first met on Liberty years ago. Ricardo was not feeling well for most of this cruise I think, although he only had an assistant handle things for one day.

Monday. Messina Sicily. A fellow cruiser, Kim, had made the arrangement for our private excursion for six of us with Mario – owner of Sicily with Mario. Mario was very good and we had a very enjoyable day. First saw Messina and the largest astronomical clock in the world (saw the clock at Noon when all the stuff happens) and then did a Godfather tour, seeing Bar Vitelli and the churches used, before heading to Taormina and walking around that beautiful old town for a couple hours. In particular, if you can get a group, Mario is very reasonable and a good way to go.

Tuesday. At Sea. Did very little of anything. Rested up and relaxed.

Wednesday. Athens. We just had four of us for a private excursion with Vassillio – Kim had arranged this one, as well. Saw all the top sights in Athens, starting with the Acropolis and Parthenon. He got us to Acropolis early, which was good because Athens was packed. There were a LOT of cruise ships in port – more than usual – and on top of that there were various demonstrations going on that blocked traffic in the down town area in the morning. We avoided all of that and never would have known of the demonstrations but for people telling us. From what we had seen on news or read from nervous posters, you would think you might find the streets littered with glass and masked anarchists running around. However, we saw nothing like that, nor did we see any evidence of any kind of unrest or anything other than a big city going about its business – albeit with a LOT of traffic. Athens has an incredible amount to see and we packed as much into this day as possible. By the end of the day we were exhausted – it did not help me that I slipped and fell on some marble when climbing up the Acropolis first thing in the morning – not really hurt but did not help – that stuff is slippery! After that, I was very careful where I stepped. I particularly enjoyed seeing where Paul had preached on Mars Hill and the Areopogus.

Thursday. Kudusia – Ephesus. We had arranged our own private excursion through Shore Excursions which Bonnie’s website Cruise One promotes. It was excellent and a good value at only $44 pp. There were only six of us on a small bus and we had both a driver and a guide. The guide was a young woman whose “English name” was “Rose.” She was very good. On the first part of drive to the ruins at Ephesus, she pulled out her pointer and used a map on the front of the bus to give a little lecture about Turkey and Ephesus. Well done. This is the first time we had used this company (I think) and we were very pleased with the product. One point of interest – at end of this tour and many others, we were dropped off at a rug place where they have a woman give a brief demonstration of how they make the handmade rugs. We were hot and tired so sitting in the air conditioning and being given “apple tea” – cold apple juice in taste – and a pastry type thing was very nice. They were very nice and were good sales people but they had no chance with the 6 they had with our group. At one point, the wife had gone to the restroom and the guy tried to keep up the chatter with me – I told him fairly bluntly that the only possible chance he had was with my wife so he had better save his energy for her. They were very nice but we were not going to be buying a rug for hundreds or thousands of dollars. Interestingly, one of women in our group asked the guy doing the main talk a couple of very pointed questions – it was obvious she knew rugs – the guy deflected the questions and wanted to stay in his own groove. I later chatted with the husband of the two and learned that they were from Iran and knew a lot about Persian rugs, owning many quite valuable ones. He told me they had been in US for 32 years, I did the math and asked if he had come over in ’79 (which you know is the revolution there if you know your history or those of us old enough, your old current events) – he said yes. I was wondering if he would volunteer more but he didn’t and I decided not to quiz him, although I would have liked to. Nice guy – enjoyed talking with him - I could tell that he was someone who had been a high level (for you military types - at least O6 type guy at a minimum).

Friday. Chania, Crete. We had booked nothing for this, hearing that the best thing to do probably was just to catch the easy city bus from the pier to the city. That was what we did – the bus was only 3 euro pp round trip. We walked around the town, visiting the Maritime Museum (which was truly excellent in my opinion – I could have stayed in there many more hours) and taking a one hour boat ride along the coast to a place where people can snorkel. We did not get in the water (first cruise we have taken without bringing the snorkel gear) but several on boat did. There was not a lot to see compared to snorkeling we usually do, but the folks that did it enjoyed it – probably as much for the cooling off as for what they saw – it was a high of 95F and humid on this day. (Although I am not complaining about weather we had, overall, it was great.) Ate at Portofino this night and the food were fantastic – really excellent.

Saturday. At Sea. By this time, we were pretty ruined out, museumed out, and everything else out – a day to do very little. I never went to gym on this cruise except for Monday morning – which is unusual for me on cruise – but with all the walking we were doing, I got all the exercise I could handle.

Sunday. Getting off ship and going home. I had bugged Ricardo on Saturday about details of getting off ship because we had a 11:05 am flight out of FCO and everyone on Cruise Critic seems to freak out at the idea of having such an early departure time. We had arranged for pickup with Bobs at 7 am. Captain had said he thought we could start getting off a little before 7, so being who I am, I was obsessing over details while trying hard to remain in vacation mode. Ricardo just kept telling me that we could walk off ship whenever we wanted and pick up our luggage that was carried off night before for us (so we were not in the carry off your own group) and it would be around 7 and not to worry. Well, he was right. We got up at 6 – got ready to go – I had a little breakfast – and around 6:50, we just took elevator down to deck 1 and walked off ship onto pier and into luggage area. Found luggage and wheeled it hundred feet out of the luggage are and immediately saw Alfredo who was talking to another couple who was already outside and freaking out because they had signed up with Bobs and their driver was not there, yet. Alfredo calmed them down – I think they actually had signed up for 7:30 so their driver simply had not arrived yet – and made a call for them – and then loaded our suitcases into his car and zipped us to FCO in about an hour – maybe a little less. I had read horror stories of the mob scenes at departure at FCO but when we arrived this morning, there were very few people there and we zipped through the first check (whatever that was), the check in and handing over of luggage, and then the security. I sorely tried the security guy’s patience by forgetting my blackberry in my cargo pants pocket after telling him that I was sure I had taken everything out when I kept buzzing. Fortunately, stupidity is a good excuse for such things, apparently. We were done with all that well before 9 and just had to wait for the boarding to begin. Although we were in envoy class, that did not really make any difference in how fast we got through any of process, because there just were not that many people going through it when we did. As envoy, we did get use of “VIP Departure Lounge” which was nice – got some orange juice and a pastry.
Flights home were fine. All I needed to do was schedule a vacation to recover from this one.

Sponsors
Re: Rome and Navigator of the Seas [Re: Snorkeller] #17752
10/08/2012 11:10 AM
10/08/2012 11:10 AM
Joined: Nov 2006
Posts: 1,045
COMMACK, NY
L
LONGISLANDSHARON Offline
Traveler
LONGISLANDSHARON  Offline
Traveler
L
Joined: Nov 2006
Posts: 1,045
COMMACK, NY
Thank you for a FANTASTIC review. It sounds like the trip of a lifetime!

Re: Rome and Navigator of the Seas [Re: LONGISLANDSHARON] #17753
10/08/2012 11:23 AM
10/08/2012 11:23 AM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 66,840
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
Traveler
Carol_Hill  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 66,840
Central Florida!
Sounds really exciting! And tiring! <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/Smile.gif" alt="" /> Can we expect some pictures soon?


Carol Hill
Re: Rome and Navigator of the Seas [Re: Carol_Hill] #17754
10/08/2012 01:55 PM
10/08/2012 01:55 PM
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 1,102
Virginia
Snorkeller Offline OP
Traveler
Snorkeller  Offline OP
Traveler
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 1,102
Virginia
Wow - just read my own review and saw some great typos - btw, it was Trevi fountain, not Trivia fountain.

Carol, yeah, one of these days I may post photos somewhere online - just never gotten into it.

Re: Rome and Navigator of the Seas [Re: Snorkeller] #17755
10/08/2012 03:09 PM
10/08/2012 03:09 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 66,840
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
Traveler
Carol_Hill  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 66,840
Central Florida!
I always compose trip reports offline, which does help with many of the typos. There are a lot of free places to upload photos, and some pay services.


Carol Hill
Re: Rome and Navigator of the Seas [Re: Carol_Hill] #17756
10/10/2012 12:24 PM
10/10/2012 12:24 PM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 208
North Carolina
C
Cats2 Offline
Traveler
Cats2  Offline
Traveler
C
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 208
North Carolina
Wow, wonderful review, sounds like you guys had a great trip. Tom and I hope to see you again in June on Orient.
Keep traveling....and writing those great trip reports.

Re: Rome and Navigator of the Seas [Re: Cats2] #17757
10/10/2012 01:17 PM
10/10/2012 01:17 PM
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 1,102
Virginia
Snorkeller Offline OP
Traveler
Snorkeller  Offline OP
Traveler
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 1,102
Virginia
Hi Cats2 - we are signed up for late January into February this year, in part because we have bunch of other stuff going on in June, so don't think we will see you guys this time around. We do like the early June time though, and probably will show up again some year.

Re: Rome and Navigator of the Seas [Re: Snorkeller] #17758
10/11/2012 06:32 AM
10/11/2012 06:32 AM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 208
North Carolina
C
Cats2 Offline
Traveler
Cats2  Offline
Traveler
C
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 208
North Carolina
Don't think I can talk Tom into Jan/Feb due to his work commitments(at this time). Happy travels and maybe our paths will cross before 2014.

Re: Rome and Navigator of the Seas [Re: Snorkeller] #17759
11/08/2012 12:13 PM
11/08/2012 12:13 PM
Joined: Sep 2000
Posts: 529
Tucson, Arizona
bbuchanan Offline
Sponsor
bbuchanan  Offline
Sponsor
Joined: Sep 2000
Posts: 529
Tucson, Arizona
Gled Bob's worked out for you. European itineraries are grueling. Guess you'll have to take another cruise to rest up from the last one! <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/Wink.gif" alt="" />


Best Regards,
Bonnie Buchanan,
Master Cruise Counselor
CruiseOne Tucson Arizona
www.cruiseone.com/bbuchanan
Re: Rome and Navigator of the Seas [Re: bbuchanan] #17760
11/09/2012 12:06 PM
11/09/2012 12:06 PM
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 1,102
Virginia
Snorkeller Offline OP
Traveler
Snorkeller  Offline OP
Traveler
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 1,102
Virginia
Yeah, I am going to try to set a record of how little done or accomplished on Jewel at end of month.


Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.6.1