We recently cruised On Celebrity from Venice to Civitavecchia. Along the way we visited Venice, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro Greece, Naples and Rome.
Getting to Venice should have been easy, it wasn’t. We had tickets to fly from Phoenix to Chicago and then on to Venice. We planned to arrive three days before the cruise ship left port. Let’s face it airline travel can be a crap shoot. In Chicago apparently there were mechanical issues. American Airlines wasn’t exactly honest with us, first we were told there was a “catering issue,” then we were told there was a “minor mechanical issue”, finally we were told due to “multiple mechanical issues“ the flight was going to be cancelled! The airline wanted to give us vouchers for taxis and a hotel. They offered to get us to Venice THREE DAYS LATER after our cruise would have left! Typically we are proactive, so once we suspected the flight might get cancelled I got on the phone with the airlines. I cried and begged then they offered us a flight to London and then twelve hours later a flight to Venice. Sounded good to us. We had to run to another gate to hop on the flight, but that was no problem since we only had carry on luggage. Once in London we were able to wrangle a flight to Vienna and then a flight on to Venice. All of this maneuvering had us arriving in Venice only twelve hours later than originally planned. Basically, I think if you need to do your own research regarding flights. Don’t take no for an answer. In Europe think outside the box, think train, bus or rental car etc. to get you where you need to go.
Venice is beautiful and welcoming and teeming with history and tourists. Each morning we woke up early from our hotel the AC Marriott, just outside the city center. Greg picked the hotel and we were grateful to not lug our bags over all of the bridges and stairs in the city. Venice in the morning is it’s most beautiful. As the city is waking up it is easy to enjoy without crowds.
We toured St.Mark’s and the Doge palace. Great history, artwork and beauty. It is also best enjoyed on a morning tour.
We boarded the Celebrity Infinity and checked into our first suite. I consider myself a relatively low maintenance traveler. But it was really nice to have a larger space to have drinks with friends and enjoy breakfast on the spacious balcony. Our butler, Homer was more than accommodating and happily supplied us with all of the cold beer and fresh iced tea we desired. One perk of staying in a suite is that guests can enjoy Michael’s Club for drinks and lite bites. I would stay in a suite again if the price was right, but it did feel great to have a suite.
Koper, Slovenia was our first stop. We hired a driver with our friends for much less than the cruise line would have charged and and headed to Skocjan Cave, a UNESCO world heritage site.
Split, Croatia was our next stop. We had plans later in the month to spend a few days there. The sixteen hundred year old Diocletian Palace was one of our favorite places to tour.
Kotor, Montenegro was our next port. This lush green paradise was stunning as we approached the port. Our hired guide drove us up the steep mountain road to a family farm and winery. Following a tour of the beautiful farm we all sat down to enjoy a delicious meal in the vineyard. The setting and food were spectacular. Montenegro is a beautiful location and I would love to return and explore further. That is one of the benefits of cruising. You visit a place for several hours and return to the places you fall in love with.
For our next stop Corfu Greece our friends had hired a sailboat to take the six of us along the Adriatic Sea. This was beyond spectacular! The scenery was gorgeous, the water was inviting and the captain and his son were very welcoming hosts. I highly recommend hiring a sailboat if you are traveling with a small group. It was such a nice way to visit the island. I’d love to return and stay on Corfu in the future.
Naples was our last stop before we disembarked for Rome. We decided to do a Secret Food Tour. Marco was our host, a local who provided history of the city and had us partake in a great many of the city’s delicacies, including pastries, cheeses, wine, pizza, pasta, limoncello, more, wine, Italian ice cream, and finally espresso among other treats. We learned that espresso is served with a glass of water that you drink prior to the espresso to cleanse your palate. The espresso was strong and thick and gave me a buzz for the rest of the afternoon. Secret Food Tours are a great way to discover a city.
At the end of our cruise we spent three days in Rome. We were lucky enough to stay again at the very first Airbnb we stayed at. Our host Barry allowed us to check in early and our compact accommodation was perfect as expected. He had some sparkling wine for us and during our stay suggested some places to visit that were off the beaten tourist track. The best part of our Rome Airbnb is the balconies with views of the city and the Vatican. Sunrise was particularly spectacular.
We tried something new with our friends for our first night in Rome. We booked Eatwith at Rocco and Fabio’s place. Eatwith is a cool concept where your book a dinner with a local couple. We were welcomed into their home and fed a multi course dinner with wine, lots of wine and lemoncello and great conversation with our hosts and other guests. It was a fun way to experience Rome like a local. Our taxi ride home was the only hiccup, somehow I left a single shoe in the cab (long story) however, unlike Cinderella no prince brought my shoe back to me!
On subsequent days we walked to many of the tourist sites early in the day before the city was fully awake. We ate at local restaurants where they made the pasta in front of you and where Nonnative made sure you cleaned your plate of whatever she was cooking that night. We also discover that if you want a cappuccino go a little out of the way, see the locals and pay half price.