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 Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance

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PostSubject: Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance   Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance Icon_minitimeThu Jun 19, 2008 9:44 am

June 19, 2008

Greetings from London Heathrow Airport.

I departed Los Angeles yesterday afternoon on British Airways and sit for the obligatory 4 ½ hour layover at London Heathrow on my way to Barcelona.

This was the first time in almost 15 yrs that I’ve flown BA and the reason I chose them was because of their new Club World Business Class seats which not only turn into a truly lie-flat horizontal bed, but are also very private as each seat is basically a self contained “capsule”. More on this later.

As we begin our peak summer travel season, I arrived at LAX a good 3 ½ hrs before my flight was scheduled to depart. Check in with BA was a breeze. They have dedicated lines for those in First Class, Club World (Business) Class, World Traveler Plus (Premium Economy) and World Traveler (Economy). I was literally the only person in the Business Class check in line and within minutes I had my boarding pass in hand and invitation to the departure lounge which is shared with Qantas Airlines and the other One World Alliance Members. What I found odd was, I was not given a boarding pass for my connecting flight from London to Barcelona until I asked for it. Why the connecting boarding pass wouldn’t be automatic is beyond me. After checking in, I was directed to take my bag to the TSA Screening area-this is where I hit my first snag. As smooth and stress free the check in process was with BA, the opposite was true here. The line to drop off your bags with the TSA was literally the entire width of the terminal building, doubled back on itself three times!! From the time I got in this line until the time I cleared security to gate area was over 2 hours! Please make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to allow for the added lines and security procedures if you are traveling this summer.

After clearing security I went to the Business Class Lounge which BA and the other One World Alliance airlines share with Qantas. The lounge has just completed a major remodel and expansion and has a very “hip”, clubby feel, almost a bit Austin Powers.
At the far end is a huge bar/lounge with several plasma TV’s, there are at least 20 computer terminals with free access and a small self serve buffet and bar area. As it too so long to clear TSA and Security I only had 30 mins in which to enjoy the lounge and spent that entire time on the computer checking my work email.

The flight was showing on-time/boarding so I made my way to the departure gate only to
Find it jam-packed with people all hovering around the check in counter but nobody was boarding. This a pet peeve of mine-Why do people push their way through the boarding line and hover around the jetway door?? I had no less than 3 people practically knock me down to inch their way toward the front of a line that wasn’t moving! Don’t these people realize that we ALL arrive into London at the same time?? They actually started boarding about 20 mins before our departure time so I knew we wouldn’t be on-time.

Once onboard we were advised that there was a problem with getting one of the cargo doors closed and we would be delayed for about 20 mins. The actual delay was a little over 1 hour but the crew kept everyone comfortable and it wasn’t too bothersome.

Onboard, I quickly settled into my little “capsule” at the window (seat 20A) and had fun playing with all the controls for the seat, video system etc. One thing different with BA’s Business Class section is all of the window seats face aft, while the aisle seats face forward. Flying backwards didn’t bother me at all, but it’s a bit strange to be sitting face to face with the stranger in the aisle seat. Fortunately there’s a built in privacy screen that can be raised in between the seats which worked very well. As for the seat itself, I must say that it was the most comfortable Business Class seat I’ve ever sat in. The seat could be adjusted in any position imaginable and when fully extended to the lie flat position, converted into a 6’6” horizontal bed that fit my 6’3” frame very well. The seat was also wide enough to make it possible to sleep on your side quite comfortably. The provided cotton comforter and pillow were nice touches. Each seat has a 8” personal entertainment system with 200 channels of audio and video on demand. The options included first run and older movies, TV shows, concerts, games and several music channels. I enjoyed having video on demand since I nodded off several times during my movie and had to rewind back a few times to see what I missed. The service onboard was friendly and attentive without being obtrusive. The food was decent as far as airline food goes. First and Business class passengers have access to the Club Kitchen- which is a self service galley containing hot and cold food, snacks, beverages etc in case you wanted something additional in-flight.

Our arrival at Heathrow was into BA’s new terminal T-5 which had much bad publicity after it’s grand opening in April when the baggage delivery system failed to properly route the luggage to the connecting flights causing thousands of travelers to arrive without their luggage and consequently causing BA to discontinue service through this terminal until the problems were worked out. Since April they’ve slowly been phasing flights back into terminal T-5 and I must say, from what little I saw of it, it is a beautiful, state of the art facility. As my connecting flight is operating from terminal T-1, I opted to make the long trek directly to T-1 and spend my 4 hours here.

It’s just about time for me to make my way to the gate for the BCN flight… stay tuned for more……
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PostSubject: Re: Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance   Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance Icon_minitimeThu Jun 19, 2008 12:29 pm

Bob, I love all the detail! Very Happy I write travelogues like this when I travel, too, and I REALLY appreciate reading them from others. Looking forward to ship details, fellow passengers, land excursions, menus, entertainment, activities... everything!! Thanks so much for taking the time to do this.

-Denise
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PostSubject: Re: Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance   Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance Icon_minitimeSat Jun 21, 2008 7:11 pm

Hi Denise-

Glad you're enjoying the posts.. I'll do my best to give as much detail as possible, but starting tomorrow when we board the Brilliance it's going to be non-stop and I apologize if my brain starts to slow down :-)

Feel free to ask any questions and I'll do my best to answer as fast as possible.
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PostSubject: Re: Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance   Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance Icon_minitimeSat Jun 21, 2008 9:21 pm

Barcelona- June 20th.


I arrived into Barcelona on-time last night, however my luggage did not! To the credit of British Airways, they knew exactly where the bag was and what time it could be expected to arrive. The bag was delivered to my hotel around 10pm and with 3 days pre-cruise here in Barcelona I wasn’t quite as worried as I would have been if I were going directly to the ship.

Clearing Passport Control and Baggage Claim was a breeze and I was in a taxi and on my way to the hotel within minutes. I flew into Barcelona the night before my group and reserved the Hotel Rialto on Priceline for $125.00. This 3-star hotel was located 1 block off Las Ramblas and while nothing fancy was clean and comfortable for 1 night. The hotel is going through a renovation and the room, while very small (think inside cabin on the Monarch of the Seas) was very clean.

After a restful nights sleep, I took a taxi from the Hotel Rialto to the Atrium Palace hotel where I was to meet my group. The group flew in from Tampa on USAirways via Philadelphia and were about an hour late, but at least everyone had their luggage.
RCCL had a special for this sailing that included cruise air for $1000.00 per person which was a savings of almost $900.00 per person over booking air independently. I also booked our 2 night pre-cruise stay through RCCL and while the cost of the rooms were a little more expensive this way, it proved to be a good value as all transfers from the airport, hotel and ship were included as was a daily buffet breakfast each morning at the hotel.

The Atrium Palace is a beautiful 4-star hotel located on the Grand Via, one of the main streets through the city and only a short walk to Placa Catalunya and Las Ramblas. All guests who book through RCCL are automatically given rooms in the front of the hotel that have small balconies overlooking the Gran Via. The rooms are very clean, quite large by European standards and very quiet. The hotel also has a spa, indoor pool and Jacuzzi, restaurant and bar, free wireless service and 2 computers with internet access.. RCCL also has a hospitality desk in the lobby that is manned from 9am-12pm each day. The staff here could not be more wonderful and did the best they could to get rooms ready for my group as fast as possible.

Once into our rooms most of the group took showers and a brief nap. Kath and I walked down to Las Ramblas and found a little bar and had a few drinks before returning to meet the group in the hotel’s lobby. I made reservations for the group a friends restaurant. This restaurant was formerly called La Villa and is located right off Las Ramblas behind the Hotel Cittadines. The name of the restaurant now is “Restaurant” but other than the less than original name change, nothing else was different. Everything is cooked to order and very fresh. The menu while not large has something to appeal to everyone. The group dined on salad, seafood paella, grilled fish and of course several pitchers of sangria which the Manager gave us with his compliments. After a nice dinner we wandered around Las Ramblas before returning to the hotel for a much needed sleep.

Barcelona- June 21st

The weather thus far has been hot, but not unbearably so. Temps. were in the mid 80’s with not much humidity and a nice breeze. Nights have also been very comfortable and seeing as how it had been raining on and off here for the past 3 weeks, we are very fortunate to have dry, sunny skies.

As mentioned when booking the hotel through RCCL, daily breakfast at the hotel is included. Normally this would cost 16 Euro per person and while it was a very extensive buffet, with both hot and cold items, it wasn’t worth this price. If you book the hotel direct and have to pay for breakfast, I recommend going to one of the many nearby cafes instead.

After breakfast the I put the group on the HOHO bus for the day. Tickets can be purchased at the hotel’s front desk for 21 Euro per person. After getting the group off on their bus, Kath and I walked the entire length of Las Ramblas to the port area and decided to take a 1.5 hr harbor cruise for 11.50 Euro each. While this harbor cruise was nothing more than a boat ride without any narration, it was a beautiful day and we enjoyed ourselves. As we left the harbor we passed by the Navigator and Voyager docked end to end. Upon the return to the harbor, there was some sort of parade happening so we watch as the marching bands and large “puppets” passed by. Then it was on to a Tapas Bar for a quick bite and back to the hotel for a little nap until the group returned from their day on the HOHO bus.

I arrange for the group to dine tonight at a Tapas Restaurant near the hotel called Ciutal Contral which was just a short walk down the Grand Via. The food and service was excellent and prices were very reasonable. After dinner I guided everyone around the city with the obligatory gelato stop on the way back to the hotel.

Tomorrow we’re being picked up at 1030am for the short transfer to the Brilliance and the beginning of our cruise….
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PostSubject: Re: Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance   Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance Icon_minitimeSat Jun 21, 2008 9:23 pm

Just a note, Bob is going to post photo links on webshots after he gets them upload!
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PostSubject: Re: Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance   Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance Icon_minitimeSat Jun 21, 2008 11:20 pm

Hi Bob,

Been watching for your reports and enjoy the information you are posting. Thank you. Wish I was there. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance   Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance Icon_minitimeSun Jun 22, 2008 10:53 pm

Hi Virginia-

Wish you were here too!! Glad you're enjoying the posts and as usual when I'm with a group sleep is something I won't be enjoying until the flight home :-)

At least we'll be on the Monarch together for the Oct. group if not before!!
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PostSubject: Re: Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance   Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance Icon_minitimeMon Jun 23, 2008 12:15 am

So Bob how did things go today? It is 8:14 PM PST here. Will be watching for tomorrows report. Smile Enjoyed the photos! Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance   Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance Icon_minitimeMon Jun 23, 2008 9:08 am

June 22nd- Brilliance Embarkation


This morning we were able to sleep in and enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the hotel before RCCL send our bus to transfer to the Brilliance at 1030am. The busses arrived on time and departed the hotel at 1045am for the short trip to the pier. We arrived at the Barcelona Cruise Terminal around 1130am after making a brief stop at another hotel to pick up a few more cruise passengers.

Upon arrival at the pier, we were surprised to see quite a few people in line to check in at such an early hour. There were no less than 30 designated check in positions for those not Diamond/Diamond Plus or in Suites and 6 dedicated desks for those that were Diamond/D+, Suites. Those in the group eligible to check in at the Priority desks had SeaPass cards in hand within minutes. Those not eligible waited in line no more than 10-15 mins to be checked in. Boarding began promptly at 1145am and we were on the ship within minutes.

Cabins were not ready until 1pm, but lunch was readily available in the Windjammer.

After giving my group members a brief tour of the ship, everyone was able to settle into their cabins before heading to the lunch buffet.

Today sent by extremely fast and all too soon it was time for dinner. Tonight’s Welcome Aboard show was for everyone at 8pm. It’s also important to know that the Brilliance has My Time Dining available from 6pm-10pm on Deck 4 as well as Traditional dining with main seating at 6pm and second seating at 9pm on Deck 5. We chose the 9pm second seating as we much prefer having the same wait staff each night which is much more pleasant when traveling with a group. Per my email to RCCL in Miami, I was given the tables I requested and we have a fabulous staff-Waiter- Ahmet from Turkey and Asst. Waiter Leonardo from Philippines. Headwaiter not seen tonight, but that’s expected on the busy first night.

Tonight’s dinner was excellent with the exception of the filet of cod. With the exception of 1 person, 4 of us had to send it back it not only smelled foul but tasted very fishy and old. We exchanged it for the medallions of pork which were excellent. Others in the group had the prime rib and chicken and were also happy with their choices as was the one person who had the only edible piece of cod served to our table.

After dinner the group split up and wandered around the ship enjoying the various musicians all of which have been excellent. The few that attended the Welcome Aboard show enjoyed that as well.

Kath and I decided to pay a visit to the casino and after 2 spins on a 25 cent machine I hit a jackpot that paid me $300.00, so all in all, I’ve had a wonderful first day onboard!!

It’s now 4am I’ve just returned to the cabin to type today’s review. We wound up staying in the Starquest disco well after it’s 230am closing having drinks and chatting with our crew member friends and staff whom we’ve known from other ships.

It’s important to mention that today was another warm, sunny beautiful day, however shortly after dinner we sailed into a fog bank that has been with us ever since. You could not see the Pool Bar from the Viking Crown Lounge and the ships fog horn as been sounding every 30 seconds.

Captain has said we can expect 82 degrees and a sunny day tomorrow in Cannes.

We’re due to arrive and drop anchor in Cannes at 10am and I’ve arranged a private guide and driver for my group to take us into Aix-en-Provence for a full 9 hour day of touring the “off the beaten path” Province countryside.

Just to digress a bit, this group I’m escorting is quite diverse. Ages range from 40 to 80 and from Diamond Plus members to first time cruisers. Some members of this group had done this same cruise with me 2 yrs ago and because of that we decided to do the things we didn’t have time to do last time-thus our tour choice in Cannes of heading into Province rather than the popular excursions to Monte Carlo, Eze, Nice and Monaco.

Some in the group have oceanview (Cat.H) cabins on deck 3 and D1 cabins on deck 9.
Kath and I have the coveted aft, corner D1 (cabin 9256). I must say the Brilliance having just completed drydock in April is sparkling clean. Lots of new carpet and upholstery throughout, including the cabins. The paint outside is fresh and there’s an overall newness about the ship. The crew has also been nothing short of phenomenal this first day onboard.

Well everyone, it’s now after 5am and I need to get up in a few hours to ready my group for our excursion. Stay tuned for the next installment of this Virtual Tour…..
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PostSubject: Re: Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance   Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance Icon_minitimeMon Jun 23, 2008 10:50 am

Really enjoying your reports Host Bob! For anyone that needs Bob's photo link here it is: http://travel.webshots.com/album/563872275fMgofJ
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PostSubject: Re: Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance   Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance Icon_minitimeMon Jun 23, 2008 10:59 am

Bob, thank you for the wonderful posts! I almost feel like I'm there (not close enough, though!) Is Angie still in the Viking Crown?

Hope your having an awesome day!

Craig
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PostSubject: Re: Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance   Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance Icon_minitimeMon Jun 23, 2008 11:12 am

Just a reminder that if you're enjoying Host Bob's reports and wish you were traveling with him that Cruise Freek Forums has a wonderful opportunity to travel with Bob on Celebrity Solstice on May 25, 2009. This is an 11 night Mediterranean cruise. For full details, visit:
https://cruisefreekforums.forumotion.com/Group-Cruise-in-Europe-2009-with-Cruise-Freeks-h23.htm
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PostSubject: Re: Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance   Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance Icon_minitimeMon Jun 23, 2008 2:17 pm

I am also developing a website for our Celebrity Solstice cruise on May 25 2009. I literally just started this one so your patience as I continue to build it is appreciated. Keep in mind we have no actual photos of the ship, only artist drawings. Here's the site (bookmark it to visit it often):

http://celebritysolsticemay252009.makeswebsites.com/?cp=1
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PostSubject: Re: Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance   Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance Icon_minitimeMon Jun 23, 2008 5:44 pm

So nice to read your posts Bob and say hello to Kath please. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance   Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance Icon_minitimeMon Jun 23, 2008 9:40 pm

Hi Bob!

I had the Pork Medallions on Monarch lat week, and thought they were very good! We had a great time, but missed you! Take lots of pictures!
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PostSubject: Re: Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance   Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance Icon_minitimeMon Jun 23, 2008 10:30 pm

June 23rd—Cannes, France


After barely putting my head on the pillow at 6am, it was time to rise and prepare for our day in Cannes. We awoke to a beautiful, sunny day—much of the thick fog from last night had burned off and there was a cool breeze making the 88 degree temp much more bearable.

After a quick check of email, and paperwork needed for my group’s excursion it was off to the Windjammer for a quick cup of coffee and some fruit. The ship dropped anchor off the coast around 930am and the tendering process began promptly at 10am. Tender tickets for those not booked on a ship excursion were available at Guest Relations from 9am-1130am and were given on a first come, first served basis. It’s important to note that if you have a private excursion booked, and you need to be off the ship early, you will need to get in line for tender tickets #1 or #2 fairly early. They were extremely strict and did not allow anyone off the ship until their tender number was called and they closely monitored the collection of tickets at the gangway. As I had arranged for my group to take a private excursion, I made arrangements with the onboard Group Coordinator for Priority tender tickets and we were actually the first group off the ship at 10am.

I booked a private driver for the day through Dream Tours (www.dream-tours.com) whom I’ve used several other times and have never been disappointed. The cost for an 8 passenger mini-van for a full day of touring was 720 EURO including a 20% tip. I was fortunate enough to get Fred as our driver again this time and we had a great afternoon.
I had emailed Dream Tours my desired itinerary which was aggressive to say the least and they accommodated my requests. I wanted my group to experience the French countryside of Provence, so we left the dock in Cannes and headed straight out for the 1.5 hour drive to the town of Aix-en-Provence. This is a beautiful town with narrow streets, loads of shops and cafes and beautiful fountains. Upon arrival, we drove through and around the town for a quick tour and then parked the van and set out to explore on foot. The group then split up to find a place to eat lunch, shop or take pictures. After about 1.5 hrs here, we left and went out to a local winery for a tasting of the local vintages and continued on to the town of St. Maximin to visit the Basilica where the grave of Mary Magdalene is located. Back in the van we continued on over the mountains to the town of St. Raphael and St. Tropez before following the coast back into Cannes. Many stops were made along the way for photo ops and anything that looked of interest. We must have put at least 400 miles on the van today and didn’t arrive back into Cannes until 630pm. The last tender departed at 730pm so we had plenty of time and could have actually gotten back sooner, but decided to take a quick tour of Cannes before being dropped off at the pier. One nice thing about Dream Tours and Fred is they are extremely mindful of making sure you’re back to the ship in time and never once did we worry about missing the ship. Unfortunately others weren’t so lucky as we left 8 people behind tonight when we sailed at 8pm sharp!

Back onboard it was time for a quick shower and dinner at 9pm. Tonight’s meal was also very good and the company and humor of our wait staff just added to the night. Tonight’s show was a headliner—I can’t remember his name but he was an Elton John tribute performer and is actually the only one endorsed by Elton John personally. He not only looked and acted like the “real” Elton John he actually sounded like him and did quite songs and had the entire show lounge up dancing in the aisles. After an encore and standing ovation we headed to the casino and won another $300.00 at the slots in a short time.

Of course the night wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Viking Crown a few spins at the Starquest’s rotating bar. The crew was trying to get us to stay later but at 330am I had to call it quits, so here I sit typing today’s journal. With the alarm set for 6am and a departure from the ship at 730am for another all day excursion to the Tuscan countryside- it looks like sleep won’t be something for me to look forward to until my flight home.

Stay tuned for “live from Livorno” tomorrow 


Last edited by RDeagazio on Mon Jun 23, 2008 10:52 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance   Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance Icon_minitimeMon Jun 23, 2008 10:49 pm

Hi Virginia-- glad you're enjoying the pictures.. I'll try to post more tomorrow night when I have more time. I'm on Cyber Cabin (dial up) and it make take forever to get them uploaded.

Craig-- Unfortunately Angela is on vacation. We're having no trouble finding staff and crew friends onboard who have transferred here from other ships.. so no shortage of alcohol here :-). The cabin looks like a wine cellar-- currently we have 6 bottles on the shelf and collectively the group has 18 bottle of wine to drink at dinner! Things just keep showing up in the cabin everytime we return.

Jen-- glad to hear you had fun on the Monarch-- I wished I could have gone with your group again this time, but there will be others :-)

The new menus so far have been very good and well received.. tomorrow night is Portofino so I'll have to starve myself all day to prepare for dinner there.

Well-- the alarm is going to go off in 2 hrs and I better hit the pillow now...
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PostSubject: Re: Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance   Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance Icon_minitimeTue Jun 24, 2008 1:35 am

Excursion sounds wonderful, what a lively group and I don't know how you to can stay awake with all that you are doing. Hope you get some sleep. Lift a glass for me! Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance   Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance Icon_minitimeTue Jun 24, 2008 9:39 am

Sounds like a wonderful time for all! Glad you're enjoying it!
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PostSubject: Re: Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance   Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance Icon_minitimeTue Jun 24, 2008 11:00 am

Bob, I'm curious will you be offering a pre-cruise package in Rome for the Celebrity Solstice cruise in May, 2009?
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PostSubject: Re: Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance   Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance Icon_minitimeTue Jun 24, 2008 10:51 pm

Bob, surprised to hear you are closing down the bars every morning, that is not at all like you Very Happy.

Sounds like you are having a great time - CHEERS!
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PostSubject: Re: Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance   Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance Icon_minitimeWed Jun 25, 2008 12:29 pm

June 24th—Livorno

This morning the group gathered at our usual meeting place/time—Champagne Bar at 730am and were picked up by our private driver for a day of touring the Tuscan Countryside. Our driver Roberto from Papillion Tours was right on time at 8am and within 1.5 hrs of leaving the port we arrived at the town of Siena. We had 2.5 hrs to explore on our own and prior to splitting up, Roberto provided everyone with bottled water, a map of the town and a brief commentary on the history etc.

Siena is quite a large town with several large squares each with a church as the anchor. We were dropped of at the “main square” in front of the Duomo which was modeled after the one in Florence. We enjoyed walking down the many narrow streets and exploring on our own before returning to our van for the short drive to the town of San Gimignano, another quaint, walled medieval town. Roberto had phoned ahead to make us lunch reservations at a small Trattorria which literally had only 8 tables and the best food and prices so low we thought they made an error with the check. 9 of us ate salad, pasta, bread, and dessert with wine, bottled water and coffee for a total of 88.00 EURO. After lunch everyone had a few hours to wander the area and visit the many shops and artist galleries before we continued onto the Castle Montereggione for a brief stop to see the wine vineyards etc.

On the way back to the ship we took the scenic route over the hills of Tuscany passing many wineries and olive orchards as well as several farms. The scenery was beautiful and we pulled off the road more than a few time for picture taking etc.

We returned back to the ship at 600pm, 1 hour before our departure.

Dinner tonight was in Portofino and the food and service were both excellent. We were having such a good time at dinner we totally lost track of the time and before we knew it it was after 11pm and we missed tonight’s show, which really didn’t matter since it was the RCCL Singers and Dancers.

After a brief stop to make a small donation to the casino I was ready to call it a night and head to the cabin to get more than 2 hrs sleep before having to awake for our Rome excursion but that was not going to happen. I ran into an officer friend of mine from the Monarch and was pretty much told I had to stay up and join him for a drink in the Starquest- so as usual we were there until after 3am.

A few unusual things did happen on the ship that are worth mentioning. First, shortly before leaving port tonight, Capt. Hakan made an announcement that we would be stopping in the middle of the Med for about an hour as they had to run some tests on the bow thrusters. Apparently there’s still some fine tuning that needs to be done after the installation of the diesel engines during the last drydock. Nothing major and we would be right on time for Rome tomorrow.

The second interesting thing was—around 1230am, the ship suddenly lurched/rolled hard to starboard—it was a very strange feeling to say the least and the ship righted itself very quickly. We were in the Starquest and looked out the windows to see what was going on and believe it or not, we had to make a sharp turn to avoid a small fishing boat that was right in our patch with no lights!! The wake we left showed how sharp a turn we had to make to avoid plowing over that small boat.
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Love2Hula
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PostSubject: Re: Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance   Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance Icon_minitimeThu Jun 26, 2008 3:05 am

Bob - sounds like you are having SOOOO much fun! Love reading your reports! How scary about that boat. Honestly, they must have been nuts to have not seen the big ship coming their way.

I don't know if I could ever tour with you - I need more than 2 hours of sleep!! Smile

Waiting for next installment. Going to go check out your pics now! You are in MY cabin!!!
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BedrockBoaters
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PostSubject: Re: Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance   Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance Icon_minitimeThu Jun 26, 2008 7:54 pm

Sounds like a grand time is being had by all! So looking forward to booking Solstice with you!
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PostSubject: Re: Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance   Host Bob's LIVE REPORT - Mediterranean on Brilliance Icon_minitimeSat Jun 28, 2008 12:29 am

Okay Bob, it's been three days now. I think you must be having entirely too much fun. We need to read a post.......now!!!!! lol
Pamela in Tucson
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