Monday, October 26, 2015

Sunday October 25 – Rome to Civitavecchia


It is nice to sleep in – well sleep in means not have to get up for a tour.  But we are still up relatively early and I get my blog posted and everything caught up to date.  

Check out is at 10 and we are heading to the port today.  So first thing is cleaning up things and organizing things in our bags for the short trip to the port.  

Once packed up we head out.  We are taking the train to the port but first we need to get to the Metro Station about four blocks away.  Since we don’t have too many bags, just one suitcase each and a small roller bag and we can lug them to the Metro.   

We stop at a small coffee shop and sit outside and enjoy two cappuccinos and a pastry each.  It is definitely a Sunday as the church bells ring and the families stroll by.

There was a staircase to the first level of the Metro station and we managed to get thru the gates with no issue.  We only have two stops to the Termini station but when the first train arrives it is packed so we just let it go and catch the next one.  The next one is almost empty and was only 2 minutes later.  So sometimes it is worth waiting for the next train.

We arrive at the station and we were prepared for a maze but it was quite easy to look at the signs above pointing to the train station.  There were escalators everywhere and we manage quite fine.  Once on the level of the train station we are impressed with all the stores and restaurants and facilities.  It really is like a huge mall.  

I need to use the washroom and we see the sign so we head that way and I walk towards it and then get confused, were is it.  Oh there are gates and a turnstile like device where we have to put in one Euro and the door opens and we can use the washroom.  I giggle, see I do learn something new every day.  In fact today I am learning a lot of new things. 

Our train is at 11:57 and we go to the display to see what track to go to.  Note that the track only shows up shortly before the embarkation.  They don’t want a lot of people hanging out on the tracks near the trains so one way to do this is to not post the track number.  Once the track is posted you can enter and two staff were there to check your ticket to make sure you were allowed on.

Our track is announced and we start walking down the track.  Look at the electronic displays on the side of the train that list train number and the carriage number.  We are in first class – carriage #2 – seat 8A and 9A. 



We take our seat and there is room behind each of the seats for our bigger bag and our small roller bags fit easily on the rack above.  The seats are very comfortable, there is a plug for our devices, a large table, food service, washrooms. 

The only reason we went with first class was to have the space for our bags and it was only a few Euros more.  But I think the regular class would have been just fine too.  

There are four men beside us and they notice our Canadian Flag on our bag and say hi and ask if we are Canadian, “yes” and we chat with them.  They are all from Saudi Arabia and are visiting.  At 12:30 when they had the call to prayer they faced Mecca and did their prayers.  I have to admire their dedication to their religion and I would of like to have spoken to them more but we are getting off.  The ride was just over a half hour and quick and smooth and certainly economical.  

If you want to read more about the train and how we booked it check this blog report I did a few months on all the details.

Once in Civitavecchia we have to lug our bags up a flight and then down another to get over the train track but it is quite manageable.  Once on street level we cross the street and then down another flight to a lower road that runs along the water.  First thing we do here is take off our jackets.  It is warm, well actually it is hot, I would say around 23.

Now, hmmm getting to the ship.  We can see some ships not far away and I think I see the Island but it is smaller and hidden by the others.  I see a MSC and Aida ship and a ferry.
There is a shuttle to get you to the port but the line is long and we just decide to keep walking along the water.  We get to the port and they have big busses there. We board and will take us to the ship (note the port is a very industrial port and there are no pedestrians allowed, although later we heard a couple did walk with no issue but it was confusing).  

We have to put our own luggage in the bus and haul it out afterwards.  We get on the bus but it is turned off, and that means the AC is off and it is hot!!!  So we get off the bus and wait as it is cooler outside than in.  We waited about 15 minutes and then we were off to the ship.  

In all taking the train and then walking to the port and then the bus was a bit cumbersome and I don’t recommend it to those who have mobility issues at all, and if you will have trouble with your bags or don’t like to walk then don’t do it.  But to save a lot of money it is a great option and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.  

But there are numerous other options, including Princess Shuttle, private car service and shared service.  Make sure to join the cruise critic roll call and find others to share a shuttle with.  Many of our friends did join a group and the prices varied and you can find savings here too.  
I always say do what is right for you.

We arrive at the ship and we drop our bags off and then go thru the security – absolutely no lines!  The time is 1:15. We get our cruise cards and our photo taken and we walk up the gangway to the beautiful Island Princess.




Our cabin for this voyage is E229 and when we board we are offered an elevator in the Atrium so we take it up the three flights.  We have a giggle cause we board the elevator with six others and the woman in charge of the elevator says “are you all one family” and I respond “oh yeah that is Dad, that is my sister”.  Now I am not sure how they felt but later we met up with our friends Karin and John and they introduced us to their friends and guess who their friends were – the family we joined in the elevator.  See it is a smaller world and even a smaller ship.

We stayed in this cabin quite a few years ago when we did the Panama Canal.  It is a nice cabin and we notice it is a bit bigger than other balcony cabins.  The desk area is definitely longer, now I am not saying it is feet and feet longer but it is about two feet longer.  We have more desk space and more space under the desk where the chair goes.


We are welcomed with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a bottle of champagne from Antonio the Executive Housekeeper.  We met Antonio many years ago on the Diamond Princess when we sailed for two weeks on it.  Then we saw him again last spring on the Crown and we have kept in touch and we are so happy to see him again, and really appreciate the lovely gift.

The bed is so comfortable and the cabin looks very nice.  

There are new lamps/shades on the side tables and everything looks good.  We meet our Cabin Stewart Dendi and we ask for our normal things – top sheet for the bed, two robes, four towels, and to change the shower curtain cause this one smells moldy and is immediately noticeable as soon as we enter the washroom.  Again I am not sure why they don’t change these more often.  All they need is to wash them at the end of each cruise but I would say about 75% of the time when we board the shower curtains are bad. 

We head up to the Horizon Court for lunch.  It is busy but not crazy.  We love the new layout of the buffet and the seating area is more streamlined.  They use to have these heavy iron chairs and now they have lovely tables and chairs. We do notice later that the old chairs are now just outside near the grill/pizzeria and they suit the area as they look like lovely garden chairs/tables. 

Lunch was good and we decide to get Bernie the Ultimate Soda Package cause he loves fresh squeezed orange juice and we often get sparkling water.  I buy the Wine Card – yes they are walking around selling the wine card.  The waiter has a paper with the details of it and we decide to get the 12 Silver bottle package for $240 which gives us 12 bottle of wine for $29 or less.  If you buy a bottle that is more then you just pay the difference.  If you want to learn more about the wine card read my blog all about it here.  

Sitting beside us are two men that we start chatting with – I believe if memory serves me their names are Trevor and Sheldon and they are from Vancouver!  Small world. Sheldon is celebrating this year too it is his 50th and it is their 30th anniversary.  We chat for quite a while.

Back in the cabin we notice that Dendi has taken care of our request so fast that when we come back from lunch they are all done.  Wow that is the fastest service we have ever had.

We decide to wander around a bit and explore the ship, especially since all the new changes.  There are some noticeable changes good and bad.  I will take some pictures and will report back in a separate blog on my thoughts later in the cruise after I have been on board and can give a true feeling of the experience on board.  Here is a link to the blog about our reflection of the ship.

We run into Karin and John up in Horizon Court.  It is so lovely to see them both again, it has been a few years but to get to sit and chat with them both again is great.  We meet their friends (aka our family – see above).  John just retired and their son just got married – they are on board for the 30 days too so we look forward to spending more time with them.  While chatting Antonio sees us and gives us a big hug and kiss and we need to plan some time together on board.

Crissy is the Captain Circle host on board and we pop in to see her and she is shocked to see us.  Big hugs and a quick catch up and a promise of getting together for a drink some time.  It has been such a long time since we have seen her – two years I think.

I notice the table selling the drink packages then and see that the Ultimate Soda Sticker does not include bottled water.  So I ask, does it include fresh squeezed orange juice? I ask “no”, does it include sparkling water? “no”, bottled water? “no”.  Oh no…. this is the only reason Bernie got the sticker.  So we decide to go to the Purser’s desk and cancel the sticker.  We definitely don’t want it then.  See I don’t know all things Princess…. and learned something else today.  Cancelling it was very easy, we took the free plastic glass we got and the card to the Purser’s desk and they refunded it.

We run into Bonnie and Jim from Alaska and catch up with them.  We need to get a few things done before Muster Drill so we are off to the cabin to unpack a bit.

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