Accio Jacksons!

An 11-inch holly blog with a phoenix feather core

November 14: Exploring Rome and our ship

by Rebecca on 2008-11-29

Someone called Rebeccaʼs phone at 1:15 in the morning. That woke William up, and he couldnʼt get back to sleep because it was so hot in the room. The heater was very effective. He turned on the air conditioner and went back to sleep.

We ate a quick breakfast at our hotel, and then went to see the Colosseum. Our ride on the Metro was uneventful; it is not hard to become a pro at following signs. Unlike our adventure at the Borghese Gardens, our seeing the Colosseum was unavoidable when we stepped out of the Metro station. As we approached the Colosseum, we were first accosted by buff Italian men dressed as gladiators who tried to convince us to take a picture with them. I think, “Hey guys take a picture,” was the extent of their grasp of the English language.

After we declined the gladiators — William thought they might be mafia and would break or knees if we didnʼt take a picture — we walked all the way around the outside of the Colosseum looking for the entrance. When we got back to where we started, we found out that we started near the entrance, it just wasnʼt open yet. The place opened at 8:30, but our tickets said they were good at 8:15.

Still, we passed the long line because Rebecca had already bought our tickets online. We spent a good hour walking around the Colosseum. It rained a very little while we were there. After the Colosseum, we went to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. The weather and timing were perfect. It was such a good time of the year and such a good time of the day that we were the only people there for a long time! William just couldnʼt get enough of the columns and took a lot of pictures of them. Rebecca harbored a secret hope that just maybe something happened and the Forum would be restored to its former glory, but was not meant to be. So, we just looked at the ruins and tried to imagine as best as we could how impressive it might have once been.

After seeing these sights, we grabbed some lunch at a “snack bar” on the way back to our hotel. I think that counts as the One Bad Meal that weʼre allotted for the trip. But it was food. We packed up, checked out of our hotel, and went to the train station to meet some other people, Jerry and Wanda, which were going on our cruise to share a shuttle out to the port. We found them and our van driver at the McDonaldʼs restaurant in the Termini train station. While we were dragging our luggage from the hotel to the station, we noticed some kind of crowd shouting and singing a few blocks away.

As it turns out, the crowd was a bunch of students protesting something about the school system. Our driver Tony told us that he had to park the van a long way away in the middle of the road because the traffic was so bad. None of the cars could get through the protest! It turned out well that he parked so far away, because he could take the first side street and get away from the train station as fast as he could. But we still sat there for about 20 minutes before we could actually move.

In what seemed like forever, we drove across Rome, passing the Colosseum, a pyramid, and the Tiber River, on our way to pick up another couple, Tony and Amy, who were riding to Civitavecchia with us. I donʼt know what took us so long, since the hotel was just over by St. Peterʼs. Once we had them, we drove out to the port at Civitavecchia. The drive was through beautiful countryside and took about an hour.

Once at the port, we gave our luggage to the porters and zipped through registration and boarding. We got to our room and discovered that we had been given a bottle of wine as part of our “Concierge Class” room. Rebecca had told our travel agent to tell the cruise that we didnʼt drink alcohol, but I guess that message didnʼt get through. But other benefits of our room: terrycloth bathrobes, appetizers every afternoon, a bowl of fruit every day, fresh flowers every day, a tote bag that has come in handy as a laundry bag, and a wallet. Iʼm not sure what the deal is with the wallet, but I guess itʼs a good thing to have. We have a really nice balcony on the 10th deck, which puts us way up above the water and gives us a great view of the port.

We spent some time exploring the ship, since there are so many places to get lost. One of the first things that we did was take a tour of the spa and sign up for passes to the salt water pool. Apparently salt water bathing cures all ills, so we should be like new by the end of the cruise. Rebecca also signed up for a pedicure for our first sea day. We had made arrangements to meet our Cruise Critic friends in the café at 4, and when we got there, we found the people that we had shared a shuttle with. The café is much larger than I thought it would be so we didnʼt have a good way of finding others that we wouldnʼt recognize. Oh, well. But those of us who found each other had a nice visit. There are certainly some friendly people on this ship!

The lifeboat drill was at 5:15, and the captain made at least three announcements about it. Our first glitch was that our lifejackets were hidden away where we couldnʼt see them. Our room attendant found them under the bed for us. Whoops. We left our room at 5:15 and realized that we were just about the last people off of our deck, save for the crew. And then we tried to exit down the crew staircase, much to the distress of our room attendant. But with all of our mistakes corrected, we met at our muster station in the theater. And then we went out to the deck and lined up for our lifeboats. It was all very exciting.

The ship sailed away at 6. Or rather, began making preparations to sail away at 6. We tried to watch some of it, but it was too cold, so we just went back inside where it was warmer. We signed up for the late dinner (which starts at 8:45) and that was probably a mistake. We tried looking for some snacks to keep us going until then, but there was no food to be had. I donʼt know what the deal was. Next we went to the salt water pool to take advantage of our passes. It was very relaxing. But by the time dinner came around, we were starving!

When we registered for the cruise, we had requested a table for just the two of us. So, imagine our surprise when we were seated next to another young couple, even though the dining room had quite a few empty tables. But they are pretty good table companions. Theyʼre from Long Island and have really great accents. So, I think weʼll be OK eating with them.

And by the time we got out of dinner, it was late, so we just crawled into bed, thankful for warm, soft beds.