After arriving in Rome and dropping off our bags in our hotel apartment, we found a pizzeria across the street for our first meal in Italy. We then headed to “Gladiator school,” where we first learned about and saw a collection of ancient Roman armor and weapons, then were taught gladiator fighting tactics and practiced them with mock swords and shields. Sweaty and sore, we returned to our apartment to rest for a couple hours before leaving for a golf cart tour of Rome. We zipped through the tiny cobble-stone streets and saw many of Rome’s iconic attractions such as the Altare de la Patria, Coliseum, Roman forums, and Fontana di Trevi, which we were all very impressed by.
This morning we made and enjoyed breakfast in the apartment, then headed off to a tour of the Coliseum. We walked through the ancient amphitheater and our archaeologist guide explained a lot about its fascinating history, as well as of the Roman arches surrounding it. We also walked through the Palatine Forums and saw several Roman building ruins, such as a temple, Senate House, and Julius Caesar’s tomb at the location he was stabbed. We ate lunch in the Jewish Quarter and walked to Rome’s oldest synagogue, where we saw its beautiful Roman-inspired interior and learned about Rome’s Jewish history. Then we rested in our apartment before an exciting dinner where we learned to make our own ravioli and fettuccine, which was fun and turned out delicious. After stopping at the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps, we walked back to our apartment for bed.
This morning we took the high speed train to Florence, and most of us spent the 1.5 hour ride catching up on sleep. We arrived and grabbed gelato before meeting up with our tour guide. Walking through the streets, we saw a medieval cathedral, the Duomo cathedral, the Ponto Vecchio bridge, and several old statues and monuments. Then we walked into the Academia Gallery, where we saw several of Michelangelo’s sculptures, including the David, as well as other Renaissance paintings, which were all very impressive. Then we walked around Florence more on our own, and shopped at the market as well as other stores for a while. After a rushed dinner we had to sprint to the train station to make it on time, and had a very slow ride because of train delays, before arriving back in Rome for our last night.
For our last morning in Rome, we visited the Vatican City. On our tour we walked through the Sistine chapel, Pope Julius II’s apartment, and St. Peter’s Basilica where we saw many incredible sculptures and paintings and learned about their history. Although it was very hot and there was a lot of walking involved, it was very interesting and seeing the art was definitely worth the trip. We then went back to our hotel to check out and drive to the Civitavecchia port to get on our cruise ship. We went to our room and unpacked our things, then headed to the pool and went on the water slides before dinner. After dinner we walked around the ship a little more, then went to our rooms for bed.
As we got off the ship, we met our driver, who brought us to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. After taking in the view we all took lots of pictures in front of it, then drove to Cinque Terre. We walked through 4 similar coastal villages, and went swimming in the warm and clear water of a few of them. The last island had a nice beach where we stopped for lunch and a swim. Cinque Terre was crowded but a fun and cute place to visit. Then we drove back to our ship and relaxed at the pool for a bit before going to dinner. We ate at the ship’s Brazilian restaurant which was good, but very slow. Then we checked out the jogging track, and went to bed.
Today, we got off our ship on a tender boat (a smaller submarine-like ferry) because the port was too small for the ship. Driving into Cannes, France, we saw the Cannes Film Festival steps and took photos on them. Then we drove to Nice - pronounced “niece” - and stopped for crepes. We walked through Eze, a small medieval village with many shops and cool walkways. Then we drove to a food truck for lunch, and there was a really nice view of the Nice port and cliffs. We continued into Monaco, a city-state inside France. We drove to the capital, Monte Carlo, where we walked around a little and saw one of the fancy casinos. We had dinner in The Manhattan Room, and went off to bed.
Today we spent the morning on the ship since we would be docking at Palma de Mallorca at noon. We stayed by the pool for most of the time, and I went to the fitness center and jogging track for a bit. Then, we left to the beach. The water was amazing and we all swam, played, chased tiny fish nearby, and rented a pedal boat with a slide on top and paddle boards. Then we came back to the ship for dinner, and went off to sleep.
We started our day in Barcelona at the Columbus Monument where we got on a hop-on hop-off bus to the Sagrada Familia church. Before starting the tour we stopped in a souvenir shop where Liam and I got Barcelona soccer jerseys, with our names on the back. We took a tour of the Church, and learned about its long and interesting construction, and saw its beautiful architecture on both the exterior and interior. We took another hop on bus to Camp Nou, which I had been looking forward to for the entire trip. First we walked through the soccer club’s museum, where we saw Barcelona’s many trophies, several players’ jerseys and cleats, photos and mementos from the club’s history. Then, we stepped into the stadium. It looked incredible, and I was amazed to really be standing where Messi, Neymar, Iniesta, Suarez, and many other legends had played soccer. We walked into the bleachers, then went down to the players benches and the edge of the field. I saw the guest changing room and the press room too, and was amazed. We took photos on the field, with a trophy replica, and “with Messi” (through a green screen). After walking through the stadium we went to the huge gift shop, and I got a Barcelona sweater. We then took another bus to La Rambla, a famous street with many shops and restaurants. We walked down La Rambla and stopped for lunch before driving back to our ship. We had dinner at The Noodle Bar then watched a dance performance in the ship theatre before going to bed.
Today was a day at sea, so we spent most of it at the pool relaxing. My friend and I also played cards and dominos, looked at the ship’s control center, and walked through a couple of shops. Before dinner we had to take family pictures on the deck, and showed up late to the restaurant. We went to a hibachi restaurant, which was nice and our chef was very entertaining. Then we went to sleep, knowing tomorrow was our last full day.
This morning we drove through Naples to Pompeii, where we explored the ruins and learned about the ancient Roman town. Although it was very similar to Rome, the ruins were more intact and we were able to see everything from back then, and it was still very interesting. After walking through Pompeii for a couple of hours, we drove to Mount Vesuvius, where we were dropped off 500 meters from the top. After 30 minutes of walking, we reached the top and saw the caldera crater, was pretty cool. A guide explained the history of Vesuvius and how it changed shape throughout the eruptions. Then we walked back down and drove towards the port. We stopped at the Galleria Umberto square, where we bought a couple souvenirs and shopped a bit before walking back to the ship. We went to the pool for about half an hour then went rock climbing. We went to dinner and packed our suitcases before going to bed for the last time on the ship.