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aring75

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  1. So...I wrote up an entire end-of-cruise review and I KNOW that I posted it. At least, I'm sure that I saw it posted, but now it's nowhere to be found! I have been having trouble logging in, but I don't know if that has anything to do with it, or if I just messed it all up. I had my impressions of the Key program in with all of that, but I'll give you a quick recap of what I said. The Key on Vision: Boarding the Vision in Barcelona was fast. Super fast. We didn't need the Key (although we were in a Junior Suite so we went through a slightly shorter line - but not much). Baggage drop-off was a confused mess. We asked twice where we could drop ours off but both people said we had to take our things to our staterooms which would be ready at 1:00pm. We tried to just go to the theater and check for ourselves, but we were stopped and told drop off was not available. I could probably have pressed this issue further, but since we only had two bottles of wine chose not to. Chops lunch was great. Loved sitting in a quiet space for lunch on boarding day instead of dealing with the madhouse that is the buffet. Service and food were both good. Internet. Internet speed in our cabin was horrible. In most of the public spaces it was adequate. We generally purchase at least one package to keep in touch with work so we would have spent this money on ourselves anyway. Rock climbing wall hours. The key participants got one, yes one hour for our entire TWELVE DAY CRUISE. Now, I don't know how crowded the rock climbing wall gets, but geez. One hour? The priority tender tickets were the best part of the key program for me. We didn't have to wait in line for tender tickets. We didn't even have to request them. They were waiting for us and we used them to walk right on to the first tender to Santorini. Not only that, but whenever we were ready to go ashore, we went straight to Deck 2 and showed our card with the key symbol on it. For every port. We didn't always go to the head of the line (sometimes they were boarding RCL tours if it was first thing in the morning), but they worked us in between tour groups. This worked out great for our private tours with early hours. Disembarkation. Our disembarkation breakfast was in Chops on our final day. Again. it was quiet and relaxed with great service. When we were finished we could leave at any time. Our luggage was in a special "Key" area. Would I purchase the Key for myself? I guess it depends. On this cruise it was $19.99 per day. For ships like the Vision, personally there is absolutely no way I'd spend more than that. They have a rock climbing wall, but no other amenities like Flowrider or skating rinks, etc. Internet was okay at best. It would all come down to whether or not I had private tours and wanted to be off the ship ASAP in the morning (and would I be willing to pay for that - for this port-intensive, early morning tour cruise the answer would be, "yes"). Plus I do believe the Chops lunch and the internet hold some value. I hope this helps you. If you have any other questions about the Key or anything else, let me know.
  2. Just to let everyone know, I am getting all my info together for tours, the Key feedback, overall impressions, etc. It’s just that we headed right back to work so things are pretty rough during the day. I haven’t forgotten though. Promise!!
  3. ^^ I would agree with this. While you may be able to leave earlier, I’m not sure I’d chance it. That’s excellent that everything went so smoothly for you! Wow, that was quick. They called the first people who were carrying their own luggage at 7:30 for our cruise. And the there were four ships in port, two of which were the Oasis and the NCL Epic. Leaving the port area was slow-going for us. Luckily, we weren’t in a hurry. Our flight didn’t leave until 2pm.
  4. It wasn’t that we didn’t enjoy Pisa. We definitely spent more time in Florence, and I suppose I did kind of gloss over our time in Pisa somewhat. Be aware that Pisa will be a rather short stop. Even if you stop and look at everything (I added a photo of the map of the Square of Miracles which is where the tower, church, baptistry, and museum are all located). We liked it here, and we kind of felt like the tower was one of those “icons” that we really wanted to see at least once. However, I would definitely schedule the bulk of your time in Florence. There is a ton to see there.
  5. Our day in Ajaccio was going to be relatively short. We were scheduled to depart at 1:30pm. We opted for a 3-hr island overview tour that included a walking tour of the city. It was hard getting on a bus with around 40 people after all of our blissfully small tours up til now. We docked in Ajaccio and we were the only ship in port. We started off by driving to Parc du Casone, one of the many monuments to Napoleon Bonaparte on the island. We continued on to Iles Sanguinaires while our guide pointed out sights along the way. Heading back into town, we got some great views and photos of the inner harbor. We started our walking tour of the downtown area. We saw more local monuments and buildings. Plus there were lots of places for lunch and shopping. We loved the little open-air market they had in the square. If we’d had more time, I would’ve loved to have taken one of the more in-depth tours to the countryside. This seemed like a quaint and very beautiful place.
  6. Yep. Today’s heat index was 111 degrees. I stayed indoors.
  7. So remember I said we were scheduled to go to Marseille on our last port day? Then it was changed to Corsica at the last minute due to protests in France? Well, they gave us our Cruise Compass for Ajaccio, Corsica and due to the last-minute nature of the change and our short day in port, we opted for a ship-sponsored tour. Cruise Compass - Last Day - Ajaccio, Corsica
  8. The menu for our evening leaving Livorno. And because I promised drink Menus, I took a photo of the wine list in the Main Dining Room. Mark loves the chilled strawberry soup. To me it has the consistency of puréed food. I’m very glad there’s something for everyone. I on the other hand, love the Vidalia Onion Tart. I get it every time. It’s changed a little over the years, but I still think it’s one of the better apps. However, we both agree on the Caprese. And we shared this one. Mostly. Okay, I ate almost all of it. Gotta be quick Mark. Mark ordered the Jumbo Shrimp. And I got the Prime Rib again. I was tempted by the shrimp, but I just couldn’t do the mushrooms. I was glad I got the Prime Rib this time. It was SO good. For dessert, Mark went with the cheesecake (he’s a fan). But I had to try the Chocolate Molten Cake. So good! I didn’t eat all of (I’m not supposed to do too much dairy as it’s a migraine trigger for me, though I often stretch my limits). Mark finished it up and said he wished he’d ordered it instead.
  9. The Cruise Compass for Livorno (I have looked and looked for Rome and can’t find it. If I do I will post it later.)
  10. Lol, yep. That’s why the pants in our Rome photos. We were visiting the Vatican and we weren’t sure how strict they would be with the dress code. They were definitely enforcing it at the church. I did see one man in shorts turned away. Another was asked to remove his hat. As as far as the heat goes, we are from Florida so we get heat and humidity here too. I just hate it. Always have. Born here. Grew up here. Hate the heat. We will plan our next Rome trip for February or November or something. 😑
  11. Thank you! We loved it too. So much. There wasn’t nearly enough time to enjoy it all, but we certainly did our best in a day. We will definitely be back!
  12. On our way out of Florence, we stopped for a beautiful overview of the city at Piazzale Michelangelo. Then we headed to Pisa. I didn’t realize it was such a small area. It’s very compact and everything is close to everything else. Easy to see it all in a couple of hours. I don’t know why I didn’t realize the tower of Pisa was a bell tower. But it is. Was. And no, we didn’t climb to the top. We just didn’t have the energy left. We had lunch at a small outdoor cafe in Pisa, then headed back to the ship. The Vidalia Onion Tart was on the main dining room menu tonight. One of my favorites. 😊
  13. Livorno was our next port and from here we would visit Florence and Pisa. We disembarked the ship first thing again and we were a few minutes early to meet our driver at our reserved time of 8:00 am. Well, 8:00 am came and went and we started getting a little worried. 8:10 8:15 I sent a message to the tour company, but couldn’t be sure it had gone through. Tour buses were leaving ahead of us now and all I could think of was how crowded everything would be getting. Finally, at almost 8:20am a driver walked up holding a hand-written sign with our last name. Okay. Here we go! (We found out later that the tour company had a last-minute change with our driver. Things got even better.) He introduces himself as Fabrizio as we were driving out of the port area and says, “So where are you supposed to meet the tour guide?” Oh geez. We don’t know that. You’re supposed to know that. At least, someone is supposed to tell you that. It’s kind of what we’re paying for. We were feeling very uneasy because, at this point, we were already driving toward Florence. Luckily, we got everything straightened out. We found our guide (Another Francesco) in Florence and eventually started our tour. We began at the Cathedral of Florence and Duomo and the Baptistry of St. John. We opted for a walking tour of the Uffizi Gallery. I was so thankful for the climate control. During our walk-through, there was a group of teenage/young-adult boys who thought it would be absolutely hilarious to stand right in front of paintings and sculptures for 10-15 minutes at a time during the tours so people were unable to take clear pictures. We did our best to avoid the little cretins, but they just kept popping up. No one in their own tour group (of nearly 25-30 people) would say anything to them. I do not have that kind of self control. We wandered toward the Ponte Vecchio and took pictures of the Arno river. Next. On to Pisa.
  14. Dinner was in the main dining room again. The menu. And, again, because I have such a hard time resisting the basket of assorted breads and rolls. I was boring tonight and had the simple Caesar salad. Mark must've had the same thing because I have no pictures. However, neither of us really likes mushrooms and I have only ever had one pea soup that I have liked. It was homemade with fresh garden peas. It was delicious and all others have been ruined for me now. Mark had the Buttermilk Fried Chicken for his entree. And I had the Linguini with Shrimp. Mark said his was great. Mine was good, but not great. However, I had just had amazing pasta in Rome, so probably not fair to order pasta that same night on the ship. We both ordered the Banana Bread Pudding for dessert. It really needed some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. If you do order this, remember to order some on the side!
  15. We stopped for a look at the Circus Maximus on our way to lunch before our priority ticket appointment at the Colosseum. We asked our guide, Francesco, for a lunch recommendation and he took us to this tiny place at the end of an alleyway. It didn’t even have an actual name that I could tell. It just said “Ristorante” above the door, and when I asked Francesco about it, he just kind of thought about it and said, “Eh...is Mario’s Restaurant, yes?” The owner’s name was Mario. It was his restaurant. So, yes. I guess it was Mario’s Restaurant. And it was very, very good. And I could never in a million, billion years tell you how to get back there again. We rolled ourselves out the door and back in to the car after lunch. We were headed to the Colosseum (wishing we hadn’t eaten so much food). When we arrived we found out they had stopped the stand-by line because of overcrowding inside. The wait was over an hour and a half. I was so glad we did the pre-purchase. We waited less than fifteen minutes and part of that was the security line. It was getting incredibly hot now and it’s only June. I don’t know how hot it feels in August, but it can’t be good. After the Colosseum, it was on to the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica. My one main suggestion for anyone doing any of these tours would be, “Don’t bring a large backpack.” They don’t like that. The Vatican was packed. At least, I thought it was packed. We walked through most areas shoulder-to-shoulder and, I have to honest. I hated it. Don’t get me wrong, I would have loved to walk through when I didn’t feel like a salmon spawning upstream, but most of the time my minor claustrophobia threatened to become a more major issue. THIS was what most of the hallways were like the entire time. And this one wasn’t too bad because you could actually see floor space in front of me. It was truly beautiful though. With exquisite works of art everywhere you looked. And then, of course, there was St. Peter’s Basilica. I would absolutely LOVE to return to Rome. In fact, I’m sure we will. But I think we will plan a trip in the shoulder season. Sometime when the weather is a little cooler and the crowds are a little lighter.
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