Tuesday 19th April 2016 Rome
I normally have early morning flights from Bristol but todays EasyJet flight wasn’t leaving until 12.30 so I decided to try the bus. In Bristol there is an airport shuttle bus which is £7 one way or £11 return, it is free for people who have a concession card. It was straight forward to get, I picked it up at the train station it drops off on the left and then goes to the right side of the carpark to pick up so make sure you are stood at the correct stop. They are every 10 minutes it took just over 20 minutes and I would definitely recommend, it saved me £37 in a taxi. I only did it as I had a rucksack, if you have luggage its more of a hassle but still easy and it drops you right outside the departure door.
In Rome I stayed at the Argentina hotel it was OK I chose it as it was close to the Termini station as this is where I would be getting off the train from the airport and also where I would need to get the train tomorrow to the port, so the location was perfect. But it did take me a while to find it as it was inside another building with no signage on the front of the building. Luckily once I crossed the road and walked past again I was being nosey into all the buildings as my sat nav said I was right by it. It was a kind of strange set up, with other offices, apartment and hotels. You get the lift to the fourth floor to reception, they need to buzz you into the corridor that had about 10 rooms. The room in itself was nice. It was a single bed and the bathroom was actually bigger than the bedroom but it was only one night and it was quite cheap for Rome (£60). It had a green décor that I liked the wallpaper as it was glittery. It was clean and the bed was comfortable. It also had a TV but no English Channels, an air conditioning unit that I could not get to work and a fridge. It was quiet until about 7am when the cleaners started banging and shouting so I got up early and went to explore.
I arrived at my hotel about 5pm and looked at Viator for an evening tour. I booked with Greenline and it was simple to do online and the pick-up point was outside their shop which was a couple of streets from my hotel. We went to see the Trevi fountain which was nice all lit up it was so busy just like it is during the day, I still didn’t throw my coin in but I’m now crossing it off my bucket list, as I have now been there twice and I don’t think I am ever going to throw a coin in. Its just as busy at night as it is during the day.
We drove past the colosseum we didn’t stop which was a shame and past some other nice looking buildings. We were taken to the Piazza Navona, where if you had the dinner option you were taken to the restaurant but we had to wait 20 mins and I’ve been here during the day and there isn’t anything to see apart from these vendors who are selling selfie sticks and keep coming up to you, it’s really annoying. This actually put me off the tour and therefore I wouldn’t actually recommend it to anyone. The whole group just sat on a bench I think this should be removed from the tour and maybe have a stop at the coliseum instead.
Wednesday 20th April 2016 Rome Embark
I did the hop on bus round Rome this morning, I wanted to get over to the Vatican and thought that this was the best way. I picked the bus up outside the Termini station, it was 20euros for 24 hours.
I got to the Vatican about 10.10am it’s a 10-minute walk from the bus stop but it is sign posted so is easy to find. Basically get off at stop No6 turn around and come back the way the bus has just come and you will see a large bridge walk over it and then go to the left and you will see the Vatican City in the distance.
The Pope was still giving his speech so even though he was only very small I can now say that I have seen the Pope. They do search you going in and because I had my backpack with my 7 days’ worth of clothes they wanted me to get everything out as they were making some other ladies do that I said its only got clothes in if I try and get something out all my knickers will fall out, she actually laughed and said ok what’s in this pocket, what’s in this pocket and then said ok you can go in. I must look quite safe or maybe she just didn’t want to see my knickers though they were clean. I really wanted to go into the Sistine chapel but again I wasn’t allowed to take in my huge rucksack so will have to do that another time.
Rome is such a beautiful city and having more time to explore it has given me more of an insight into it and the weather was gorgeous. There are a few things I didn’t know about Rome, that it has a zoo, there are so many mopeds and there are over 2000 drinking fountains supplying fresh spring water. I even saw a backpacking nun.
I got the train to the port of Civitavecchia, I got a ticket from the ticket machine it cost me 5euros. The station is huge I needed the toilet which happened to be right at the other end and it costs 1euro and when your busting for a wee trying to find a euro in the bottom of your bag can be quite a stressful experience but I made it.
I kept checking the board for which platform my train was leaving from but it still wasn’t showing and it was only 10 minutes until it departed so I decided to go through the gates and then check on that side I’m glad I did as it was showing there. You have to have your card validated at the gate and I think you have about 90 minutes to get on a train. So it was showing platform 25 which was right at the other end typical. I however didn’t make it in time as it was a 15-minute walk that is how big the station is. Luckily there were another train due 20 minutes later and I made sure I got on that one.
They announce the stations as you approach them in Italian and English so it was quite an easy journey. The journey takes about an hour and the train is busy I was on a train that went to Pisa and not many people got off at the port stop. Once you get off the train in Civitavecchia there is a shuttle bus outside and to the right of the exit there is a little office where you can buy a ticket for the bus for 2euros.
It felt a bit strange as I didn’t see anyone else with suitcases I kept questioning myself was I supposed to be getting on in Rome. Once you get to the port this bus drops you off and then you get on another bus that takes you to the ship. Once I got here there were two entrances one for check in and one for returning passengers. Check in was really quick which I was worried about as it’s such a big ship but it turns out more people embark in Barcelona, there was one other solo passenger who got on in Rome.
They have a studio lounge which is for all solo passengers. They have a meet up at 6pm every evening with free prosecco so I’m happy straight away. The lounge also has tea and coffee, water, cookies, a bar 5-7pm, a vending machine, tvs, magazines, games and the host will put up what restaurant or show is on and you can put your name down.
Thursday 21st April 2016 Livorno
I had a trip organised with crusingexcursions for £77 to Pisa and Florence. Pisa was just how I imagined it with everyone taking pictures of them holding up the tower it was really funny just watching people, though it wasn’t a busy as I thought it would be.
You can go up the tower but it’s a lot of steps so I didn’t bother. There was also a cathedral, a baptistry and a monumental cemetery.
There is a market, which is selling the usual souvenirs. I got two leather handbags quite reasonably priced and if I didn’t only have a rucksack as my luggage I would have got more so maybe it’s a good thing I don’t. Florence also had a market but as I had no room left I decided not to look around it as I would have been upset if I wanted to buy something so if I was to return I would make sure I had some money and room as I love handbags.
Our guide was called Mariana she was quite good. There is a lot of walking involved in this tour, even though she walks slowly I was very achy the next day.
The next stop Florence which was about 1 hour’s drive, it is quite a walk from the bus drop off about 15 minutes there and 20 minutes back as you get picked up from a different place. It was so hot walking around Florence and after a stodgy lunch of pasta that I got in a taxi with some others and it only came to about 8 euros so not bad. One of the ladies was kind and paid it and would take any money from me so if your reading this thank you!!
When you approach the square with the cathedral you walk round the corner and the sight is beautiful I even went “wow” out loud. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. I went inside to light a candle for my dad and apparently most of the furniture has been taken to the museum but the stained glassed windows are still really impressive so definitely worth a trip inside, and it’s free.
We had a guided tour around the town, saw the replica of David, went by the river Fiume Arno which was beautiful the whole of Florence is such an amazing sight I would like to come back one day and explore more.
Mariana recommended a restaurant called Ristorante Buca Poldo, (its address is chiasso degli Armagnati, 2R – 50122 Firenze) where we wouldn’t get ripped off and it was actually quite tasty. It was a set menu for 15euros including wine or beer, water, bread and service charge. It was bruschetta with pesto and one with tomatoes, and three type of pasta well worth the 15euros especially in that area.
Tonight I went to see the West End show Pricilla Queen of the desert in the Epic theatre. The theatre is quite spectacular, large comfy seats on a tiered floor so everyone gets to see the show. I didn’t think I was going to like the show as I didn’t like the film but it was amazing. From start to finish a really good funny show. It was quite rude in parts but there were still kids watching it I’m sure they wouldn’t understand the innuendoes. The costumes were great and the sound and the whole performance was top notch it’s one of the things that would convince me to go on another NCL ship.
Friday 22nd April 2016 Cannes
This was a tender operation and it was so much easier than on the little ships. It had a huge platform and you just walk into the tender rather than having to climb in also the stairs down to the tender were a lot sturdier than what I have experienced before. You had to book a tender if you wanted to go early but I waiting until after 11 and then you just went down and I got on straight away. It was only a few minutes in the tender and you got to see the beautiful port as you came in. This is definitely I place that I could live unfortunately I didn’t meet any of the millionaires in their yachts so I might have to go back.
Once you get off the tender there is an information office free Wi-Fi and maps. Walk to the right on the main road and by the helicopter ordering kiosk (I wish I was going there) is the little train that goes round the town. The Petits Train Touristiques De Cannes costs 10euros and lasted about an hour. It had commentary though a lot of it was focusing on the movie side of the area like the film festival. Unfortunately, I didn’t spot anyone famous though a black Cadillac did drive past with what looked like three rap stars in but I don’t know if they were but it did have a van following it with a camera so you never know.
This place was full of Louis Vuitton shops and the yachts were expensive looking, you could spend a day just looking at them. You could promenade along the waterfront or there was a beach if you wanted to sunbathe or have a paddle.
In the evening I went to the solo gathering had a few free procescos and a couple of cocktails which are very pricy once you have added the gratuities (18%) that are compulsory the VAT (10%) it’s about $15. We all went to diner in the Taste restaurant and then on to shakers martini bar. I had a few more cocktails they are delicious but so pricy but I suppose that is good as it stops me drinking so many. A lot of people are saying if you book in advance you get the drinks package included which is $79 per day but I booked last minute and got a really good deal on the room so need to think what is more important yes I would like the drinks package but it would also encourage me to drink a lot more.
Saturday 23rd April 2016 Marseilles
Marseilles town is a little way from the port so you need to get a shuttle bus or a taxi. Though we were not told any of this information until you get off the ship and also they charge $15 for a return shuttle. A lot of passengers were annoyed by this I think if they had informed people first hand there might not have been so many disgruntled passengers.
I did a little train around the town there 2 circuits I did the Notre-dame De La Garde No.1 for 8euros. There is a compulsory 20 minutes stop at the Notre-Dame De La Garde but to be honest most people were looking at the view then getting in the queue for the next train which was about 20 minutes.
I wasn’t that impressed with Marseille I suppose it was cloudy and not so warm but I think Cannes spoilt me as that was so beautiful.
All of the solo apart from me and two others leave today so we go for the last meal together. It one of the guy’s birthday and we all get prosecco with dinner and birthday cake. They have been a great bunch so guys if your reading this, thanks for the company and the laughs you have provided me over the last few days (see I told you I would write down what was actually said, what happens on ship stays on ship!!!)
Sunday 24th April 2016 Barcelona
I have been to Barcelona before so decided to stay on the ship and explore. It was quite a surreal experience today as most people disembark and embark in Barcelona so all morning I was hearing announcement about getting everyone off the ship. Then it was a fifteen-minute countdown to passengers coming aboard, crew members were told to go to their stations and room stewards were told to turn the TVs to channel 10.
The new passengers could get to their rooms until 1.30 and they actually closed off the entrance to the studio lounge I was like “I’m locked in hello I’m still here” but I walked to the other end and managed to get out.
There seems to be more solos at the gathering tonight not sure if this is just because it’s the first night. There is a new hostess a lady this time she said right I want everyone to introduce themselves so I left as I hate things like that.
Monday 25th April 2016 sea day
Oh my god last night was so rough, the cabin was rocking a lot the doors on the wardrobes kept sliding open or banging, the cabin creaks and things were falling off the shelves. I did get a bit scared at one point as I have hardly felt any movement on the ship in fact most days I’ve not even realised we are moving to then go to this extreme I kept having visions of the ship capazing. At about 3am when it was particular rough I even got dressed in case something did happen and I didn’t have to escape in my pjs.
The captain came on the tanoy this morning to say well done for everyone getting through last night no reports of accidents or anyone being really sick. He said the swells for 60-80ft.
I went for breakfast for the first time in the garden café. There is so much to choose they even had English bacon and everything was hot and cooked well. It was really busy and people were banging into me they have no manners, and it was really difficult to find a table.
I went to see a dance show tonight called Burn the floor there are two showing on alternative nights 7pm and 9.30pm. I really enjoyed the show the music was great and the dancers were amazing I decided I wanted to be able to dance like the girls especially being in the arms of the hunky men, wow a bit of eye candy for a change so it was nice to see half naked men flexing their muscles.
I keep finding these little black bead things on me at first I thought I was having some strange outbreak of black growths and then a realised they were the eyes from the animal towels they make at night. It’s kind of a cute thing.
Tuesday 26th April 2016 Naples
Today I did the hop on bus around Naples I had planned to go to the archaeological museum but someone said that it was closed on a Tuesday and anyway it was too cold to get off the bus so I did both the blue and red lines then went back to get warm. The red line was 61 minutes and concentrated on the centre both were slightly different so I can’t comment which was better as the blue which lasted 72 minutes, goes more out of town so you can see the coastline
Naples is beautiful I love the buildings you have to look up a lot in Napoli to see all the beautiful details on the buildings and down the side streets where all the apartments are hanging out their washing it is a nice sight to see.
You pick up the hop on bus on the other side of the castle which is about a ten-minute walk or there is a stop for the blue line by the entrance to the port but I was told you can only get on their if you have purchased your ticket.
You will see the castle when you get to the port entrance, cross the road and follow the wooden pathway. There were lots of vendors on here selling handbags and sunglasses. There were also lots of vendors near the bus stop selling selfie sticks, I think about 30 must have come up to me asking if I wanted a selfie stick. The police were there and moved them on if they stayed for too long but then more just arrived.
If I were to return to Naples, I would look at doing the Capri ferry as some of the others did that and said it was good. It’s about 30euros and takes 40 minutes and you pick it up right outside the port. One of the guys showed me his pictures and it looks beautiful. When I was in Naples 5 months ago I did a tour of Pompeii.
Wednesday 27th April 2016 Rome Disembark
Before I got on the ship I contacted NCL to explain I was a blogger and asked if I could talk to any of the staff to write a feature but to be honest I don’t think I had enough followers for them as after asking for these details they never replied. Also I didn’t feel that any of the staff were approachable to even ask any questions you are defiantly just a cabin number on this ship which I didn’t really like I think I prefer the good old British ships. From the very first moment I got on the ship and asked a member of staff how I could get to my cabin his reply was look at the map I felt a bit let down to be honest. All the other ships I have got on someone has taken me to my cabin and to be fair only a minority of passengers were getting on in Rome so I think this could have been handled better.
There are still lots of the ship that I have not seen and I have only tried a few of the bars and restaurants but if I was to return I think I would like to have someone with me.
I decided to get the train to the airport as my flight wasn’t until 4.20pm so plenty of time. It’s one of the most stressful experiences ever I’m now sat in the airport trying to calm down.
Firstly, everyone seemed to disembark the ship at 9am this is the latest you can get off so that’s probably why. Getting off was pretty straight forward but the shuttle bus to get to the car park was every 20 minutes they didn’t think to put more on as there were lots of people waiting. When the first shuttle arrived there was no queue but everyone ran to the bus and barged and pushed, I had no chance getting on, a steward was like its ok ones right behind it, 20 minutes later that one arrived and the same this started to happen but I wasn’t being pushed around again so I went to the other side of the bus put my bag on then just pushed in like everyone else no room for manners it seems in Rome. Then we get off the bus to have to get another shuttle to the train station and the same thing started to happen but its abit more organised with queuing barriers but people were ignoring these and saving spaces for families so that seemed to take ages I managed to get on the third bus. Just as that went around the corner I noticed there was a desk offering shuttles to the airport for 30euros and to Rome and back for 17euros I think these were the prices as the bus did go past it quite quick but I would definitely do that next time. Then it was the train to Rome and then I decided to try the bus to the airport. This was quite straight forward you pick it up from outside the termini and pay the driver it was 4euros took about 1 hour.
You would think the stress would now be over no it was to get worse. I saw EasyJet were terminal 2 after being dropped off at the bus station (very last bay typically) I walked about 5 minutes to terminal 2 which doesn’t sound that far but in the crowds and heat and with a heavy bag it was. Plus, no one walked in an orderly fashion it was a free for all and I’m lucky to be alive basically.
As I had no bags to check I’m told I can go straight to the gate in terminal 3 so had to walk back. I did find an email when I got home informing me off this though.
Then going through security the machine beeped. I think it was because I forgot to take my watch off but this woman shouted stand there, called over a man who started swabbing my hands and feet. He then said do not touch anything I will get your bag and he carried my bag over to a table and told me to carry the tray with my electronics in but not to touch anything. I’m about to poop myself. He then swabs my bag, opens it up after it took my half an hour to get it closed this morning and swabs inside. Thoughts are going through my head that whilst my bag was in the bus storage unit someone’s put drugs in it and I’m going to be carted off to prison. Then he takes them over to a machine and comes back and says goodbye. I was like F$£%sake he just left me standing there quite relieved but it’s so rude I know they have to do these checks but at least explain to people what they are doing. This is why I now hate airports at least at cruise terminals they are friendly and welcome you. I think I might just cruise from England from now on.
By this point it 2pm I haven’t eaten or drunk anything all day so about to collapse I decide to get a sandwich this is just as bad people pushing in front of me I don’t like it here.
I went to pick up some duty free cigarettes but they don’t do English brands apart from Marlboro or Winston or camel. On the way to my gate I come across a spa so go and have a foot massage. I think it calmed me down abit. It was quite pricy cost 64euros for half an hour but made me relaxed for the flight and I slept all the way home.