Monday, November 18, 2013

Celebrity Equinox Mediterranean Cruise and Rome: last port and the short goodbye

Check labels for additional Celebrity posts on this blog.

By Jane Feehan

Rome was our last and for some, the most spectacular of places we visited. We docked at Civitavecchia and took an hour-long bus ride into the Eternal City.

We wanted to see as much of this historic city as possible, which precluded standing in lines at museums or at the Sistine Chapel. Often the lines are so long at the chapel there is no time for anything else. For us, this will come another day, another trip. Our excursion, “Taste of Rome,” was just that and it was a good one for $100 each. Excursions to Rome from the ship run about $75 to $350 per person.

Our bus with guide took us to St. Peter’s Square where we set out independently for more than two hours
with a map of old Rome to see some places on foot: the Spanish Steps, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Vatican City, and Piazza Navona.  Our walking tour along the narrow streets of the oldest part of Rome, not far from the Tiber River, ended with lunch outdoors at Ristorante Panzirone on the Piazza Navona … delicious pasta in a clean, picturesque setting.

Afterward, we met up with our guide and continued on foot and by bus to see the Colosseum, Circus , the Aurelian Walls and other landmarks, including the spectacular National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II (see photo above). Our only interior visit was to the Church of St. Peter in Chains where Michelangelo's stunning sculpture of  Moses sits. Rome was a much larger empire than Greece (though ancient Greece established the foundation of Western civilization); antiquities abound throughout the Eternal City, more so than in Athens.
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

A visit to the Eternal City was a wonderful way to end the itinerary. The Equinox sailed one more day before returning to Barcelona, giving us time to decompress and reflect upon the past two weeks before heading home.

Baggage tags with a time for disembarking are delivered by your room attendant. Bags are left outside staterooms by 11 p.m.for pickup. 

If you are given a very early time to disembark, you may go to Guest Relations and arrange another time up until 9 a.m. There is time for breakfast in any event – and don’t forget, you paid for it.

Tip your tour guides. Some are less subtle than others in hinting for tips. Most of the guides we had were exceptional and we showed our appreciation

Tip your room attendants well; they work the hardest. Some tips are prepaid but tip additionally.

If you opt for select dining and visit the specialty restaurants: 
Tuscan Grill was a favorite, justifiably so. Murano, the French restaurant, was excellent but without a view (in the dark this may not matter to most). If you are Aqua Class, the Blu restaurant serves breakfast and dinner and it’s quite good. The biggest culinary disappointment of the whole trip, both on board and off – was the third specialty restaurant, Silk Harvest.

Before embarking and throughout the trip, dining staff will continuously try to sell the specialty restaurants. There is a cover charge for them, from about $30 to $45. (Hint: One can ask to get in for half price, especially toward the end of the cruise).The food is already included in your cruise ticket; liquor is not.  

Silhouette, the main dining room, serves excellent food and for the most part, offers impeccable service. We enjoyed the meals and interesting people we met (we chose "anytime dining").

With the exception of an excellent jazz quartet from New Zealand, entertainment was mediocre. Given a choice of food or entertainment, I’d take the food any day. The Equinox excels in offering a top-notch dining experience.

Single ladies of any age: you will not find many or any single men on board. A bit disappointed about that, I enjoyed meeting many wonderful couples from around the world.

Weather: Though summer is the most popular time for cruises, a caveat for those who don't like heat: wait until October or November. We went Nov. 1-13 and most of our cruise was warm, well into the 70s and even 80 in Malta. Rome was the coolest place, in the 50s with light rain for part of the day. Oppressively hot summer temps will make it very uncomfortable to walk around or stand in line.

The Equinox cleared us out quickly, easily and set sail again the same day for the northern Mediterranean and Adriatic seas. It’s easy to understand why so many arranged (ahead of time) to continue with the Celebrity on that voyage.

We will return.   Check labels for additional Celebrity posts on this blog.

Tags: Celebrity Equinox Mediterranean cruise, Rome tours, singles on cruises, Jane Feehan

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