Celebrity Horizon, Caribbean. Celebrity Mercury, California Coast.
Prior to Cruise, stay in Barcelona.
We stayed at Hotel Splendid at 2 Muntaner in Barcelona. This price, including tax, for a triple (we had 3 adults) was about 160 Euros. The location and proximity to the cruise terminal was great. It was a very clean, modern, hotel with a helpful, friendly staff. It is very close to the La Rambla shopping district. The staff will be able to call a cab for you to get you to the correct cruise terminal. It is about a 15-20 euro fare to the port, and about 20 euros for the fare to the airport. We got a van which was about 30 euros, but was roomy, and we had a lot of luggage.
Flawless. They had assigned us to a 10:00 pm dinner seating, which we thought was too late. It was no problem changing to an earlier time.
This was our first balcony stateroom. We had plenty of room for 3 adults and ample storage. The shower did not have a partition, and water was allowed on the floor. This was different from Celebrity. Decor was nice, but Celebrity had an edge here also. The pull out sofa was arranged so that when it was folded out, there was no room for a person to walk between the two beds. Bathrobes were not provided on Splendour like they were on Celebrity. They provided them when we asked. Iced water is not typically provided in the room on Splendour as it is on Mercury and Horizon. High quality chocolates, plentiful on Celebrity, was noticeably absent on Splendour. Stateroom attendant was good, but lacked the polish we enjoyed on Celebrity.
We thought the food on Splendour was at least equivalent to what we found on Horizon and Mercury, if not better. However, we did not enjoy the coffee on Splendour.
Although Splendour is a beautiful ship with a dazzling open atrium, the decor fell short of what we saw on Celebrity's ships.
The discos seemed a little more lively on Splendour at night. We thought average age on Splendour may be a little younger. The Entertainment was very good, and perhaps a little better than what we saw on Celebrity.
Offered dental whitening, which I did and regret. Around $200, and results didn't really last. Also, got a great deep-tissue massage, but staff will try to get you to purchase expensive products.
This was an amazing itinerary. None of us had visited the Mediterranean before, and the scenery was beautiful. There is so much to see and do, it is impossible to see everything there is to offer on this cruise. Each port reviewed below:
We did not book an excursion from this port. We took a mini-train tour of the Cathedral. There were beautiful views from here. However, our initial impression of Marseilles was that is was "nasty." The water around the port itself was filled with garbage, etc. We found the shops to be closed when we ventured up the street (it was Sunday). We found garbage, grafitti, a large homeless population in the city. I am hoping what we saw was not a true representation of Marseilles.
Very clean, beautiful smaller city. We did not book an excursion, but took a short walk to the train station, and took a train to Nice. We took a cab to the beach area and main shopping district. Nice was beautiful. We enjoyed bruschetta and capuccino, Onion soup at the street cafes. There was an open antique market, which was a lot of fun. We could have gone to Monaco, which was hosting the Gran Prix when we were there. Also, Cannes was a short train ride away, and was hosting the Cannes Film Festival while we were there.
There did not appear to be much to see in Livorno itself, however we did not have time to explore it. We booked an excursion for Florence and Pisa. The drive through the Tuscan country side was great. AFter a brief stop in Pisa, we went on to Florence. This is a beautiful city. The tour took us to the Ufizi museum (important works by Boticelli, etc.) and the Accademia Gallery (Michelanglo's David) and fantastic panoramic views of Florence from Michelangelo square. This was a long tour. Our guide, Giovanni, was great.
Quaint port city. Good place to enjoy a gelato. Not really a great place to shop for souveneirs, but fun to walk through. WE didn't spend much time here, since we took a panoramic bus tour of Rome. Wow. Rome was amazing to see. We had a brief stop in Vatican City, and we lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the Pope.
Again, we didn't have much time to tour Naples, which appeared to be a nice city. (around the cruise terminal not very attractive, but a short walk from shopping areas). We booked a tour of the Amalfi Coast and Sorrento. This was a highlight of the trip. The bus takes you past Mt. Vesuvius (sp?), Europe's only active volcano (?). There is no way to describe driving along the Amalfi coast. So beautiful. Don't sit on the right side of the bus and look down, if you get queasy easily. Very steep. We drove through Positono (see "Under the Tuscan Sun), Sorrento and Amalfi. Great shopping in these towns. Fantastic views, don't miss this. The Isle of Capri is near here, and has the Grotto A Zuro. Next trip.
Great City! Fun, colorful architecture, thanks to Gaudi. La Rambla is a bustling shopping district with great shops, street performers and lots of fun stuff to see. We walked down La Ramblas to Port Vell, had lunch, watched the boats and saw the views of the city from here. We took a taxi to Port Guell. Definitely, do not miss this. Great public park with fun architecture and panoramic views of Barcelona. Crowded with tourists, of course, but worth it. Interestingly, Phillipe, the crown Prince of Spain's wedding was televised from Madrid on the day we spent there.
Food in Barcelona:
Great cappucinos. Try the tortillas in the small cafes. They are sort of like potato quiches, and very good. Good pastries and gelato.
Our cruise departed May 15. This is before high season and less crowded. Lines to museums can be very long in the summer months. Day time temperatures were perfect and around 70. Evenings on the ship, and even some days, were chilly.
Great ship, great cruise (especially for the price if you book early) and itinerary. However, this is a lot of territory to cover in a short time period, so it is very busy, and there isn't enough time to spend in each place!