Pre-Cruise Stay in Rome
We were flying into Rome for the beginning of the trip, and since we were fully vaccinated, we did not have to test to fly into Italy. We chose to stay two nights prior to our cruise in Rome. I recommend flying in early to your departure city if you have the time, especially with so many flight cancellations and changes going on in the travel industry lately. Rome was as incredible as you hear, the food, the people and the prices! We found Rome to be very affordable both in hotel costs and food. All the pasta, pizza and pastries (all my favorite P words) we tried ranged from good to incredible. We found quite a few hole-in-the-wall places that were delicious for snacks, coffees and lunch. FYI, most restaurants close in the afternoon around 1 or 2ish, so try and plan around that so you’re not left hungry.
Word to the wise: You’ll be doing lots and lots of walking. We were clocking anywhere between 20 – 25K steps a day. If you have someone in your party with accessibility requirements, I highly recommend working with your travel agent to make the necessary accommodations while still allowing everyone in your group to see the great monuments and museums.
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On boarding day, my fiancé and I opted to take the train from Rome to our departure port of Civitavecchia. From there, a shuttle takes you directly to your ship for $3 Euros per person. The check in process was seamless and took us about 15 mins from beginning to end. We had pre-checked-in online with our passport and vaccine info, so it made it even quicker. We dropped off our luggage (pre-print your luggage tags if you can), passed the security scanners and provided our passports and vaccine cards for inspection. There they took our boarding pictures and sent us on our way in. Your room key cards are waiting for you in an envelope in front of your stateroom door.
To say the ship was stunning is an understatement. It is genuinely a luxury hotel at sea. The rooms are well designed and comfortable. We had an AquaClass stateroom with an Infinite veranda. You could open and close the window whenever you wanted to, and we spent quite a bit of time with it open to enjoy the Mediterranean breeze.
Outside of our room, we had quite a few favorite locations onboard. At the Sunset Bar towards the back of the ship, they had great specialty drink options and the views were stunning and unobstructed. Right behind the Sunset Bar is the Rooftop Garden, where you can lounge with your drinks or watch movies on a big screen under the stars.
The dining was also standout. My fiancé will eat just about everything and anything, but I’m vegan so I’m always apprehensive about what type of food I might be able to eat. The ship really catered to me in every venue from the appetizer to dessert, and the buffet area always had plenty of options for me as well. We had access to the exclusive Blu restaurant which is only accessible to AquaClass guests. The service we received there was second to none, and the quality of the food was impeccable. My fiancé had four lobster tails on one night, and they would’ve brought him more had he been able to still fit into his pants after that.
Inside, my favorite venue was Eden, a three-story space that houses a big bar, food options for lunch and a separate specialty restaurant. In addition, there’s also live entertainment and shows later in the evening. It was such a transformative space, and the shows we saw here were very close to the audience, which made for such a personal experience. But what is standout about this venue is the decoration and design; it truly feels like you are walking into the Garden of Eden.
As for the entertainment, all the shows were Broadway-quality thanks to the large screens and transformative stage that immerse you in the experience. They also have different shows in Eden and the nightclub, which were equally as enjoyable. Besides the main headlining shows, you could always find live music around the ship while you enjoyed a drink.
One final venue I would call out is The Spa. Because of our stateroom type, this gave us access to not only spa-inspired bedding, robes, slippers and shower amenities, but you get non-stop access to their SEA Thermal Suite which has a salt room, a Hammam (Turkish bath), a sauna room, steam room and more. This became our favorite venue to destress after walking all day and pre-dinner.
WHY WORK WITH A TRAVEL AGENT
Our itinerary had two stops in France. It was incredible to ride e-bikes through the heart of Nice and up a mountainous area to a secluded vineyard. We had a small group so it really made for an intimate experience that I will never forget. In Spain, Barcelona was our departure port, where we departed the ship and stayed one night prior to our flight back to the States. Besides the incredible Gaudi buildings, churches and museums, Barcelona has so many interesting markets to explore, plus all the incredible food and nightlife.
Wait, I have to go home?
One of the great things I’ve found of traveling by cruise in Europe (especially if you’ve never been) is getting to experience destinations enough that you get a taste of them, all while having the comforts of a five-star hotel whisking you away to your next destination. We truly could not have asked for a better, more all-inclusive experience.
If you’re ready to book your European vacation, I recommend speaking with one of our travel advisors who knows the ins and outs of traveling around Europe with ease. They can take the headache out of planning the vacation for the whole group, so you don’t have to! Plus, they make understanding Covid travel restrictions and requirements a breeze.