Since our first family cruise in 2005, an annual cruise together has been a tradition. This year we are lucky enough to be able to take another cruise vacation.
Last year we took our first Trans-Atlantic cruise on the Celebrity Summit. We loved the elegance and relaxed pace of that voyage that included exotic destinations like Madeira and the Canary Islands. This year when we considered the different options, several cruises similar to that one came into consideration, but ultimately we selected a Celebrity Trans-Atlantic cruise on Celebrity’s newest class of ship, the Solstice. Though we were a bit hesitant to book a cruise on such a large ship, we decided to try this ship on a Trans Atlantic voyage where it is likely to be booked at a lower capacity.
After we made our flight arrangements to Rome we had to select accommodations in Rome for our 4 day pre-cruise stay. Again we considered many different options including using reward points to book a hotel to book a hotel just outside of the old city, booking a hotel using points and cash in the city center, booking local hotel straight out, and a rental apartment. Ultimately, like when we booked for Barcelona, we found that booking an apartment in the city center was the best value for a family. We will be staying close by the Spanish Steps, Pantheon and Trevi Fountian, and in easy walking distance of all the most interesting sites.
Next we had to plan our tour activities. Steve is the expert at getting around Rome as he has visited over 10 times. Suzanne is more of the historian and art scholar, so she is has been researching with books, videos and TV shows, all the sites she wants to not just see, but know more about before she goes. Rome will be our biggest sight seeing activity on the trip. After boarding ship in Civitevecchia, our first port, Livorno, will be our only other big touring city. We have booked a ship’s tour that will take us to Pisa, where we’ll see the leaning tower and the Field of Miracles. Our other option was an all day tour that included 1/2 of the day or a whole day in Florence, and though we know there is plenty to see there, we decided to pace our selves and just do the 1/2 day trip to Pisa. We’ll also visit Villa France, Barcelona, Cartagena, and Madeira, but we have no specific plans for these ports.
Suzanne has also been working hard on our transportation options. The least expensive option is obviously the train from the airport to town and then from town to the cruise ship. However, the idea of traveling for a day and then lugging luggage on a train through the streets doesn’t sound like a vacation. We’ve booked a private minivan to transport us from the airport into town and the town to the cruise port. Suzanne went on line and read reviews of different companies and compared prices. Lets hope she picked a good one and made right decision and we don’t have any hiccups in the transport area. The back up plan is just to use a regular mini van taxi if for some reason our driver doesn’t meet us at the airport.
Finally, we’ve already started getting our “cruise stuff” together. Suzanne has been trying on and altering her dresses. She’s also been making sure all of the guy’s formal wear fits them. Sean needed a little bit of letting out in his pants and a few extra pairs of dress pants. Luckily, the dresses we bought for Savannah last year are quite adjustable and will fit her for several more years.
Everything seems be falling in place for the trip. We are going to try to pack a bit lighter than last year and use our captains club coupon to have some things laundered. So we may have to try the old method of packing a suitcase and then taking half the stuff out and leaving it at home. Hopefully everyone in our party will be more than willing to wear things more than once to save on some packing space.