Italy Journals

Cruising from Venice to Rome

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A May 2007 trip to Italy by Wasatch

Quote: A 10 day cruise around Italy.

Cruising from Venice to Rome

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Overview

Quote:
This was our first ocean cruise, following three European river cruises. There is no comparison between the two. Although Oceania’s ships, 640 passengers, are small by cruising standards, compared to 170 on a river ship, it is much different experience, loaded with amenities. After the stress of 23½ hours without our luggage when the cruise sent it to a hotel instead of to the ship, this turned into a fine vacation, thanks to a well planned itinerary by the cruise line and perfect weather– 6 drops of rain in 14 days, one cloudy day, and 13 days of cloudless skies. Our "10 day cruise" from Venice to Rome made these stops: Venice: A bit of a disappointment. St. Mark’...Read More

Oceania cruise ships

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Story/Tip

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Oceania’s restaurants are reviewed separately. Here, I consider Oceania’s three identical ships as a hotel. At 160 sq. ft., Oceania’s standard cabins are not spacious, but they are sufficient to provide a double bed (or two singles), a small sofa, table, desk, plenty of closet space, and a compact bathroom with shower. The advertised “Tranquility Bed with 700 count Egyptian cotton” was as good as the best hotel beds we have encountered, but nothing to get exited about. As usual in hotels, I found the pillows way too soft, and scored some improvement by asking the cabin steward for an anti-allergy pillow. We ended up with three pillows per person. One of my big complaints a...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 30, 2007

Polo Grill

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Story/Tip

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The Polo Grill is one of the two sit down restaurants (not a buffet) on Oceania’s ships that requires reservations, and space goes fast, within a day or two of boarding. In theory, there is phone number to call for reservations. In practice, it worked better to stop by the restaurant during diner hour to book a table. Polo Grill was an attractive dining room overlooking the sea at the stern. The attentive staff provided full service in the grand manner. Featured are steaks, rack of lamb, and roast chicken. The big difference between the Polo Grill and the buffet was in the menu, pretty much the same from night to night at the Grill, while the buffet changed every day, and that a f...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on July 29, 2007

Buffet

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Story/Tip

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The Regatta and its two identical sister ships in the Oceania fleet have four restaurants for dinner and two for lunch. Oceania’s literature claims more, but the pizzeria, for example, is no more than one stop at the buffet. We ate at all the restaurants. The only difference between the Buffet and the other diner places is some slight differences in the menu and taking a lot longer to eat diner in the three sit down places.After reading several web reviews of cruise buffets, we were expecting worse that what we found on the Regatta. On the whole, the buffet was quiet good, and better than the sit down restaurants. The big disappointment was veal. One night we tried Wiener Schnitzel, a ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 29, 2007

The Pool Side Snack Bar

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Story/Tip

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Oceania offers two options for lunch: the buffet until 2pm, and the pool side snack bar, until 4pm. The snack bar served a very good America style hamburger. The importance of this must be explained. We have found that after a week of eating great European food, we develop a craving for a good American hamburger. They serve burgers in Europe, but European beef comes from different breeds of cattle that are fed differently, and just don’t taste the same. If you desire a hamburger on your trip, neither McDonald’s Europe nor anyplace else will satisfy. The best Euro burger we found was Blimpie’s, but it was a long way from an American burger. The closest approximation to American burgers we found...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 29, 2007

Toscana

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Story/Tip

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Toscana is one of the two sit down restaurants (not a buffet) on Oceania’s ships that requires reservations, and space goes fast, within a day or two of boarding. In theory, there is phone number to call for reservations. In practice, it worked better to stop by the restaurant during diner hour to book a table. Toscana was an attractive dining room overlooking the sea, but I thought the Polo Grill was more attractive. The attentive staff provided full service in the grand manner. Toscana features an Italian menu. Our diner started out in a most promising fashion. The bread basket was by far the most spectacular presentation of pre-diner bread we had ever encountered in a restaurant. A ...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on July 29, 2007

Optional Tours

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Story/Tip

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We selected this trip as our first ocean cruise because, unlike most cruises, there were no days entirely at sea. The ship was a floating hotel that moved us from port to port every night, and every day we had a new place on land to explore. Some passengers spent at least part of the day at the pool. When in port, the options are to go off on your own or to buy one of the offered optional bus tours. Do it yourself, which can sometimes be challenging, saves a lot of money. For example: the 5-hour optional bus tour from Messina to Taormina cost $178 for two. We went to Taormina by train and bus for 5-6 hours for less than $50 for two- cab to the Messina train station, local bus to Taormi...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on July 30, 2007

Katakolon

Attraction | "Katakolon, Greece"

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The tiny port of Katakolon on the west coast of Greece was the gateway to the ancient Olympics, held every four years at nearby Olympia. Travel to Olympia by sea from the rest of Greece was easier than land trips over the mountians, so everybody– athletes, judges, and spectators– came by sea through Katakolon. Rumors are that Ulysses stopped here on his homeward odyssey from the Trojan War. Today, cruise ships stop at Katakolon for visits to Olympia. The Regatta, carrying 640 passengers, looked to be bigger than Katakolon.We took the half-day (plenty of time) bus tour from the ship to Olympia. The tour, including a very informative guide, cost $99 per person. Two couples w...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on August 14, 2007

Katakolon

Katakolon, Greece

Ancient Olympic Games

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Attraction | "Ancient Home of the Olympics"

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Not to be confused with Mt Olympus, Olympia sits a pretty valley near the west coast of Greece and was  home to the Olympics from 734 B.C. until 869 A.D., when the Christian rulers ended the Games because they were considered pagan ritual. The original Olympics were part religious ceremony, part athletics, and part party time, drawing as many as 200,000 visitors. Olympia was also home to the statue of Zeus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. After the end of the Olympics, the site was eventually buried in 13 ft. of mud by floods from the river where swimming competitions were held. Lost in time, Olympia was rediscovered in 1768.The site, still being excavated, was...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 14, 2007

Ancient Olympic Games
Elis
Olympia, Greece

Taormina

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Story/Tip

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Taormina is the reason cruise ships stop at the east end of Scicily.Like the perched villages of France(see Eze), TaorminaSicily was built at the top of a cliff overlooking the sea to help protect the village from ship born raiders. It’s an understatement to call Taormina’s setting spectacular--- a thumb of land 700 ft. above the sea overlooking a bay on one side and the Sicilian coast on the other, with steaming, snow capped Mt Etna, Europe’s tallest and most active volcano, in the background.Originally one of the Greek settlements in Sicily, Taormina most noteworthy sight, after the setting itself, is the Greek Theater, dating back to the third century B.C. The remains of...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 15, 2007