Monday, July 6, 2009 – Rome, Italy – 84F - Sunny – Embarkation Day
The train ride from Rome to the port city of Civitavecchia takes about an hour – leaving from Termini Station. An early wakeup call, the standard breakfast, and we are on our way to Termini Station at 9:15 AM (to catch the 10:09 train). Tickets are only 4.5 Euros each and bought from a machine. We can’t find any trains to Civitavecchia leaving at 10:09 but there is one leaving at that time for another city. This is indeed our train and it is at the second to last platform at Termini puts us into a sprint (only 8 minutes to get to track 28) with wheelies in tow. It was further to this track than from our hotel to the station. We did make it – the train is OK – AC on but windows open – but the seats are clean.
A few blocks later (through a very nice beach like town) we find the port entrance and the Port Bus (the port is huge and passengers are not allowed to walk to the ships). The Celebrity Solstice is by far the biggest ship at the port – parked alongside the NCL Jade and Reagent Seas Navigator (could be a life boat for the Solstice).
Can’t believe it – arrival to boarding took less than five minutes. The rooms were not ready so we had lunch in the Ocean View Buffet. There were probably 15 stations serving everything from salad to Indian food. We finally get the word that the staterooms are ready so we head to 3111 to check out our room. What a pleasant surprise
I believe that this room is larger than our hotel room in Rome. The bathroom shower is bigger than that at the hotel and two people can actually be in the bathroom at the same time.
We explored the ship which is all decked out in a contemporary style. It has very large windows and sunlight streams in from all sides. The buffet is all glass and chrome. The ship has 15 decks, carries 2,860 passengers and weighs in at 122,000 tons. Yet is is quite and vibration free and the elevators come quickly. One more thing, the public bathrooms are really chic
We had dinner in the Grand Epernay Dining Room. We don’t have a real table assignment like revenue passengers but we did get a table for two eventually. The food was OK but we were a bit rushed since I had to meet with Ian, the Events Coordinator, about my presentations. The meeting with Ian culminated in my filming a promo with Ian for my presentations – all improv all the time.
We finished off the evening by going to the Welcome Aboard Show featuring the ship’s orchestra, dancers, and a comedian. The highlight of the evening was an A Capella group called SoulD Out, who did a dead on medley from the Jersey Boys. It was great.
Losing an hour of sleep tonight as we move the clocks forward.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009 – Messina Straits – 70s – NICE
Our 41st Wedding Anniversary today… You can tell from the beautiful sunrise
Up a 6:45 AM so Ellen can go to her stretch class and I can get a window seat at the buffet. The highlight of the morning is Stromboli, an active volcano – today, the volcano is puffing both white and black smoke. It’s very impressive
My first presentation - “The CSI Phenomenon” – is at 10 AM in Celebrity Central (a small presentation venue – very nice and high tech). The turnout today is modest – 45 or so – but they are very engaged and interested in the topic
The talk took 55 minutes or so and I think most everyone will be back for the series. I wore a tie and dress shirt (had a coat with me) but I might just go smart casual next time (seemed OK with Ian).
We are cruising the Straits of Messina between Italy and Sicily
There is another volcano like mountain at the end of the Sicilian coast and I am not sure if this is Etna or not but here is what it looked like
and here’s what it looks like with us in the picture