Cruise Ship: Carnival Liberty
Cruise Destination: Mediterranean Cruise Embarking from Rome
Cruise Date: August 25, 2005
Guest Contributor: John and Pat Hunt
This is going to be a very long review covering my 12-day cruise on Carnival's new ship-the Liberty-as well as pre-cruise and post-cruise time in Rome, Italy. I'll be highlighting each day's activities from the time my wife and I departed for the Atlanta airport on August 22, 2005, until we returned home on September 7, 2005.
My wife and I were part of an eight couple group going on this cruise. Three couples were from Georgia, three from Florida, and one each from North Carolina and Tennessee. Most of the couples had cruised together previously.
Flight from Atlanta to Rome and First Full Day in Rome
On August 22, we took MARTA (the local subway) to the airport and arrived at 2:50pm; breezed through check in and security; and were at the gate at 3:30pm for the 5:20pm Delta #70 flight to Rome.
This was a direct flight. We were flying with two other couples from the Atlanta area. We flew on a Boeing 767 and each of the couples was able to reserve the two seat (window and aisle) combination. Our flight left about ½ hour late and took about 9 hours. Some of us were able to sleep more than others on the plane. We arrived at Rome's FCO airport at 8:50am on August 23 about 5 minutes ahead of schedule. Rome is 6 hours ahead of Easter Daylight Time. It was a sunny day in Rome. We then taxied for what seemed like 15 minutes before arriving at the gate. We had no problems at the Rome airport. After getting off the plane and taking the rail system and walking to baggage claim, our luggage showed up within a couple of minutes.
After getting our luggage, we hit the ATM (called Bancomat in Italy) in the baggage claim area. Two of us were easily able to get 500 euros with no problem, but one of my friends-Mick-couldn't get his ATM card to work. He was able to borrow some euros until he could call his bank to figure out what was wrong (ultimately, he couldn't figure out what happened because he was able to later use the same ATM card at many other machines; in fact, he seemed to use it so much that someone in our group started calling him "Mickomat"). You need to make sure that you have a four digit pin for your ATM card, and it's also a good idea to notify your bank about the period of time that you'll be using your ATM card. If you don't notify your bank, they could put a hold on your account because of unusual activity involving overseas transactions. We also found that if any of the Bancomats don't want to dispense a large amount of euros, such as 300 euros, just change the amount to something smaller, such as 240 euros, and the machine will probably work.
We caught the hotel shuttle (6 euros per person) and arrived at our hotel (Marriott Courtyard at the Rome Airport) at about 10:45am. Two of the three couples were able to get their rooms early. I was the unlucky one so I put my luggage in one of the other rooms. The three guys then went to a local grocery store (a short walk from the hotel) to buy some water. To our surprise, this store also sold wine, and the wine was very inexpensive. Our best buy was a red table wine at 1.89 euros for a 1.5 liter bottle. Each of us bought at least one 1.5 liter bottle.
About 45 minutes after we arrived at our hotel, two of the other couples in our eight couple group arrived. They were flying Northwest Airlines out of Detroit and were very worried about flying Northwest because the Northwest mechanics had gone out on strike on August 20. As it turned out, the two couples arrived about 45 minutes ahead of schedule and Northwest served complimentary alcoholic beverages during the flight.
I had previously arranged with all five couples to try to pack as much as we could into this first full day in Rome to help us with the potential consequences of jet lag. I had e-mailed Roma Shuttle (firstname.lastname@example.org) to have a van pick the 10 of us up at the hotel at 12:30pm to take us to the Vatican (100 euros for the group). Another person in our group had arranged via fax and e-mail for a 2:00pm reserved Vatican tour of the museums and the Sistine Chapel (21.5 euros per person). We had a Vatican guide for the 20 or so people in our tour group. We didn't have to wait in any lines. Our confirmation had told us to go in the exit door at 1:45pm to show it to the guard. We were then allowed to enter through a side corridor to purchase our tickets and begin the tour. The Vatican was unbelievable and breathtaking in the enormity of the art treasures and history contained in it. The Sistine Chapel was our last stop. You are awestruck by its beauty and just thinking about how it was created.