Rome – Transatlantic 2009 Day 7 – Boarding the Celebrity Solstice

Yesterday, we began our Transatlantic cruise from Rome (Citavecchia) to Ft Lauderdale back in the States. As much as we enjoyed our stay in Rome, we were still anxious for the cruise to begin as it was the most looked forward to part of the whole vacation.

The morning began with a bell pepper, onion and cheese omelet. Having the apartment and being able to cook breakfast each morning was helpful and a cost savings. Rome is quite expensive from a dining standpoint. Even buying groceries in Rome was significantly more expensive than we are used to. The weak dollar vs Euro just make its worse too.

After breakfast, we had to pack back up and do a quick straightening of the apartment. We had hired a driver to take us to the cruise ship terminal which is about 70 miles from where our apartment was. The fee to get to the terminal was 80 Euros. The driver showed up about 45 minutes early which was fine by us as we were ready. The drive to the cruise ship was uneventful and painless and we arrived about 11:30 am.
Boarding was supposed to start at 12:30, but as usual, they started early and we were onboard the ship in about 15 minutes. Since the room was not yet ready, we proceeded to grab some lunch. After lunch, we went and got the kids checked into the kids club. Looks like a total of 11 kids on this sailing, which is almost double the 6 from the transatlantic last year. Sean is in the teens this year and they have a pretty sweet, private set up. There is only 1 kid in Savannah’s age group, and he is Polish, might not speak English and 3 years younger than Savannah, so she is hopeful of getting moved up to the teens.

After getting the kids checked in, it was announced that the rooms were ready so we went down to ours. The luggage arrived about the same time. Our room is huge! Never thought I would say that about a cruise ship cabin, but it is. We have what is called a family ocean veranda (or something similar). Basically, it’s a ocean veranda room, but its in the very front of the bow of the ship facing forward. Its on the far right side, in the corner if you will, so the balcony is on the side. But, its almost like a suite, coming in at over 550 sq feet. We have two bedrooms, a small one for the kids and then a good sized one for us, and a big living area with three desks, a couch and two oversized seats. We pretty much have more space than we know what to do with. The best part is the price is the same as a standard ocean veranda room. It has two big picture windows, one the living area and one in our bedroom looking forward over the bow of the ship, plus the balcony which is actually on the side of the ship.

We were slightly worried about the size of the Celebrity Solstice. We have typically sailed the smaller class ships of Celebrity. The Solstice holds about 3000 passengers. The ship is significantly bigger than most that we sail on. Its also newer. And it is most definitely very nice. The ship is immaculate. The kids and I took a our private tour of the ship while Suzanne unpacked. We visited the bars and lounges, theater, stores, dining room – basically all the public areas. I was quite impressed. I found what is likely to be my hangout, the cellarmasters lounge.

After the tour, we went back to the room to see Suzanne’s progress (glad it was her unpacking!). When she was done, it was about time for the Muster Drill. In a first for us, the Muster Drill no longer requires you to put on (or even take) your life preserver. Instead, you proceeded to the muster station (the theater in our case) and were presented a talk and video – much nicer than wearing your life preserver and actually going to the muster station.

After the Muster Drill, we dressed for dinner (smart casual) and proceeded down to the Cellarmasters lounge to enjoy a flight of Italian wines before dinner. We once again have late seating (8:30 pm) on this cruise. As a family, we all prefer the late seating.

We have a nice table for four, situated near the Captain’s table and by the 3 store wine cellar prominently displayed in the dining room – its quite impressive. Both our waiter and his assistant are from Turkey and are very nice.

The dinner was quite nice and enjoyable as usual on Celebrity. Me and the kids enjoyed a Spaghetti Carbonara (nope, didn’t get my fill in Rome!). Suzanne had Coq au Vin. We started slowly on this first meal and passed on several of the courses to avoid over stuffing ourselves. We did splurge and have Crème Brule for dessert.

After dinner, the kids and I retired to the room to wind down and prepare for a relatively early turn in time as we need to be up for the thing in the morning for our port of call in Livorno, Italy as we were taking a bus and tour to Pisa. We are scheduled to dock in Livorno at 7:00 am. Suzanne swung up to the Michaels Club for about 45 minutes to check out the piano player and to hang out with a couple of her Cruise Critic Roll Call friends.

We have ordered room service for breakfast and are looking forward to our touring of Pisa, Italy.