The Professor's Journal

An ongoing series of informational entries looking to engage with travelers, perspective travelers, and learners. 

2019 Mediterranean Cruise  Day 1

September 21, 2019

Good day students! I am The Professor Travel and in this session, I am going to go over a recent vacation I was able to take with a cruise of the Mediterranean Sea onboard the Celebrity Infinity. You can also follow me on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram under The Professor Travel. You can also reach out to me directly at [email protected] .

Overview -

I recently had an opportunity to take a spectacular vacation starting from the picturesque and ancient city of Rome to the romantic city of Venice. This cruise was a scheduled seven-night cruise with ports in Messina (Sicily), Valletta (Malta), Argostoli (Greece), Dubrovnik (Croatia), Koper (Slovenia), with disembarkation in Venice. This holiday spanned twelve days in length with two days transition via flight from LAX to Rome via Stockholm, a pre-cruise day in Rome, and three post days in Venice. Finally, upon return to the United States, I had items to clear-up with Celebrity Cruises. This is a record of events from pre-to-post vacation that I thought as readers, you might find important when planning your next cruise or excursions.

Pre-Cruise –

We left from the LAX Bradley Terminal on Norwegian Airlines using their Premium Class seating. We had made the choice to do so as since the past international flights we had taken were in coach/economy class and we wanted more of an opportunity to stretch out for this ten plus hour flight. So, was it worth it? Let us review the pros and cons:

• CONS –

o Pricing - When we priced coach/economy class, we found prices in the high $700 range while Premium Class came in at around $1400/ person. From a cost perspective, it is not the most inexpensive pricing.

o What is Premium Class? It is not quite Business or First class, but rather an upgraded economy/coach. Therefore, do not go into this with the understanding it is anything more than advanced economy/coach. It is also the highest level seating on Norwegian Airlines which means there is not access to a Business or First class to upgrade.

o Limited Entertainment – I was surprised that there was not a broad selection of movies or television shows compared to other airlines I have been on. The game selections were also limited which made the flight more challenging.

o Buy your own snacks – Even in premium class where the drinks were free, you had to pay for snacks and additional food above and beyond the two meal services provided. On other airlines, I found this was not always the case.

• PROS –

o Plenty of legroom – My spouse is well over six feet tall making comfort on a long-haul flight difficult to say the least. There was absolutely no issues with legroom on this flight. In fact, both my husband and I had ample legroom with plenty to spare. Beyond that, the seats were equipped with leg rests that extended to provide support.

o Windows – For those with window seats, the windows were larger than those I have seen on other flights. Each window was equipped with a dimmer switch which allowed the controller to frost the window over using tinting technology to make it brighter or darker depending upon preference.

o Quality Customer Service – The customer service from the members of the crew was excellent and they did their best to make sure all passengers were comfortable for the trip.

o Overhead space – One feature that is always an issue when I fly is limited overhead space. On this particular flight (at least in Premium Class), this was not an issue. There was plenty of space our carry-on items.

We arrived in Stockholm for a four-hour layover. While this may seem like a lot for those who travel domestically, the wait went by quickly and we were able to get a brief snack, access the internet, and relax between flights.

The next flight still with Norwegian Airlines, took us from Stockholm to Rome. On this flight, they did not have a Premium Class service. This was only a three-hour flight and went by relatively quickly. It was smooth and surprisingly quick. The only detractor from this flight is that they had no Wi-Fi. This make the flight a bit boring.

We then arrived in Rome where after moving through passport control, we arrived to have a private vehicle pick us up from the airport and take us to our hotel in Rome. Since the sun had already set, there was not much to see along the way. This private excursion was book through Viator Tour Bookings and was less expensive than cab service. In fact, my husband wanted to stop just after we left the airport for a smoke and the driver graciously accommodated at a petrol stop just outside the airport. This was unplanned since my husband said he would simply wait for the hotel, but the driver remembering what my husband mentioned in passing, was very accommodating.

We then arrived at our lodgings – The Britannia Hotel. Here is my Pros and Cons breakdown of this hotel:

• Cons –

o Elevator – As is the case with many hotels in Rome, the elevator is exceedingly small. It is so small that only myself and my husband could comfortably get into it. The bell desk needed to send our bags up separately.

o Stairs – If you opted not to use the claustrophobic elevator, stairs were available, but keep in mind this property was built over one hundred years ago. The stairs were not wide and walking up three flights can always be a challenge if you are not in the best shape.

o Beds – Now, this can be a pro or a con depending upon your bedding preference. In this case, we normally sleep on memory foam and the bed was stiff. If you like a harder surface to sleep on, you may not find this a con.

• Pros –

o Location, Location, Location - This four star hotel lies off a main thoroughfare nearby the attractions The Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain. We were able to check into our room, which we upgraded into a suite complete with a separate bedroom, living room, balcony with fountain, and bathroom with Jacuzzi spa tub. After dropping off our bags, we went to both Trevi Fountain and The Spanish Steps both of which were within half a mile and very easy to walk.

o Breakfast – The breakfast furnished by the hotel started at 7AM local time and was a wide spread of cold meats, cheeses, waffles, fruits, eggs, bacon, and sausage. They also catered something I had not tried before – Pana Cotta, which was a small custard in a jar topped with jam and fruit.

o Quality Customer Service – Both the front desk staff and the bell captain were exceptional. The gentleman working the front desk had been there for over twenty years and the bell captain while still young, had been there for years as well. The staff was exceedingly polite, spoke exceptional English, and provided wonderful suggestions. They treated myself and my husband very well.

We then had a pick up scheduled with another car service from our hotel to take us to the port at Civitavecchia about forty-five minutes outside Rome. This was also booked through Viator and while I was impressed with the dispatch calling me while I was in Stockholm to confirm the pickup, I was very unimpressed when I received a call ten minutes prior to pick up indicating that the driver was going to be late because the prior customer had been running late. Thankfully, I scheduled our check-in time for the cruise at 2PM local time while the pick-up was scheduled for 11AM.

***HELPFUL HINT – If you have flexibility to schedule your embarkation check-in time, always plan for a later time. It has been my experience that they will often let you on when you arrive; even if that timeframe is earlier. Also, being proactive and expecting delays will brace you for any possible transportation, computer glitches, or baggage problems upon check-in.

Arriving in Civitavecchia, we saw several cruise ships including two local ferries each decorated with on the outside with the DC Superheroes Superman and Batman. For those of us who are comic book geeks, it was cool to see. We then brought our bags to the embarkation check-in counter, which I had requested luggage tags in advance for from Celebrity Cruises along with an exhibited check-in pass for both my husband and myself. The embarkation process getting through the lines, getting our keys and getting onto the ship and in our stateroom took approximately twenty minutes. Once on the Celebrity Infinity, we had an ocean view room scheduled on the second floor just above embarkation mid-ship. We went to the second deck and found the hallway to our cabin closed. We requested help from a member of the housekeeping staff to open the wall and let us in. This was surprising to us since the ship had been embarking passengers for the past two hours.

Rather than wait for our bags, we decided to tour the ship and scout out the smoking sections for my husband. The Celebrity Infinity has these located on decks four (port side), ten (near the pool), and eleven (near the bar.) We then took in the buffet at the Oceanview Café. A challenge we were encounter through day one of our cruise was the constant upselling we were getting from the crew. It was constant and made the first day agitating. While this was annoying, nothing could had prepared us for what was to come when we received our bags. Upon getting our luggage, we noticed that one of our large bags was severally damaged to the point of non-use. Three of the four wheels were damaged and one had been completely ripped off. The hard shell of the bag had been cracked was no longer in a position we could use it. We immediately contacted guest services who explained what they would do to help with the situation. First, they would get us a new bag of similar size and dimensions so at least we could have a bag to roll through Venice when we arrive. Then, I completed an incident report explaining the issue. I was then informed to contact Celebrity after the cruise to work out the details of reimbursement. On day four, a bag was left in our cabin with similar dimensions to the damaged bag as complimentary for us; we did not get the ability to select a bag from a group as was noted initially by guest services, but at least it was something we could get our items off the ship with. This section of the story has a positive ending where I got back to the states, contacted guest services for Celebrity and spoke with a very nice representative named Janet who was able to get me a partial reimbursement for the lost bag. Until this occurred, I was having some trepidation during the cruise. 

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