Our family of four took a 12 day Mediterranean cruise June 15th, the second voyage on Carnival’s newest ship, the Breeze. This was our second cruise, and first time to Europe. We’ve fallen in love with cruising, and hope you find this information helpful.
For the third port on our cruise, we also chose to find a tour group. Rome is a city that is filled with history, and sites. We were docked in Rome from 7am-9pm. We knew heat would be a huge factor on this day. Since we were traveling with our girls, we wanted to make sure to find a tour group that would maximize an eight hour day.
The group had sixteen people. I found the group via a cruise facebook group. It was a great group, but I think the best size for a tour group would be about eight.
Our first stop was the Vatican Museum. Along the way we saw various sites that our tour guide pointed out. A quick note about our guide, he wanted to take us to see things that weren’t on our priority list. We had to really put our foot down and explain to him that we had tickets, and reservations for both the Vatican and the Colosseum, which we had alerted the tour company prior to our trip. It’s okay, to let your tour guides know what you would like to do, even if they have other ideas. You’re the paying customer.
For us, we just wanted to briefly run through the Vatican Museum, and then pause and gaze at the Sistine Chapel. We found out the rest of our group felt the same. Unfortunately, our guide wanted to teach a lecture at every object in the museum.
One of the best things you can do, is book your tickets online, at a specified time. It helps to have a guide go with you, so you don’t need the audio tour. Be aware, it is extremely crowded. We had to shield our kids from folks who weren’t paying attention. Our girls held our hands the entire time. I am impressed by how good they were, and what troopers they were in the heat, and the long lines, and odor, upon odor of humanity.
Finally! Our girls, and the rest of the group were exhausted, and all we wanted to see was the Sistine Chapel ceiling. When we finally broke through the crush of humanity to enter the room, it was a bit anti-climatic.
First, the throngs of shoulder to over-lapping shoulder of people, then the constant shushing from the security officers. Then, of course, it was very dim in the room. The room was a lot smaller than I imagined.
The highlight was this choir group that broke into flash mob-style singing. It was ethereal. It lifted my spirits, after our trek through the never-ending museum, I even felt a breathe of fresh air waft way the stench of humanity. It was perfect. Well, until the security guys shushed them up.
Below is a short video I quickly captured while we were enjoying the throngs.
If I were queen of the world, I would totally hire a choir to sing, just for me, in the Sistine Chapel. What a place to commune.
St. Peter’s Basilica
After the long tour of the Sistine Chapel. I was done. So were the girls. The last thing I wanted to do was follow our long-winded tour guide in a never-ending trail of lecturing.
However, we got lucky. Next door is St. Peter’s Basilica. I would argue that St. Peter’s is so much more beautiful to gaze at than the Vatican. The Pieta! I was beside myself. I’d seen the Pieta only in slides in my humanities classes. I love the balance of the sculpture, and the emotion. As a mother now, it touches me even more.
As we left the Basilica, we saw the Vatican Guard. It was so exciting to see them in their colorful uniforms. Our crotchety tour guide, actually did something that redeemed his antics from the day. In rapid-fire Italian he asked if our bambinos could take a photo with them. Apparently, the Vatican Guard aren’t usually so accommodating I wouldn’t be either if I had to wear that much fabric, while standing in the relentless heat, and dealing with tourists all day long.
I like to think he couldn’t resist our adorable girls. Whatever it was, my girls have a photo with the Vatican Guard. He even posed with a grimaced, flourish.
On our way to the Colosseum, our tour guide took us on a walk. It was a little bizarre, because he kept saying we wouldn’t have time to go see the Colosseum, but all of a sudden we’re walking in a square.
We were all excited thinking, that since there were fountains, this meant that we were at the Trevi Fountain. Everyone in the group kept asking him and each other, and nobody knew. So this was our fake Trevi Fountain picture.
This is the real Trevi Fountain, which we finally found.
I had never paid much attention to the fountain in movies. Just so you know, the Trevi fountain is huge. It is not in a little square, and you can’t easily walk around it.
Again, book your tickets online, ahead of time. The line, wow. I kind of wanted to tell everyone they should go home, book online and then go back. It’s not worth it to wait in the heat, you end up wasting so much time.
I’m so glad we were able to visit the Colosseum. It is massive. Standing in its shadow, I felt so utterly small, and in awe of the engineering feat that it took to create a structure that has lasted centuries.
You really have to see it to believe it. The Romans could flood the entire stadium, and hold full-on naval battles. This was their reality TV. It was heart-breaking to hear about how the animals, and people held below the stadium, awaiting certain death, would keen, wail, and cry. It made me wonder if we’re really no better than those Romans. We’ve merely dressed up our reality TV, it is no less humiliating, debasing, and morally repugnant.
Render unto Caesar…
The well-worn stones in the floor, were beautiful to me.
I can’t remember where we saw this field of sunflowers, either driving to or from Rome. It still makes me happy.
Pacsafe Metrosafe 200
Italy: Pisa and Florence
ps. I am not being compensated in anyway to post about cruising. I like information, and am sharing information that I would want, if I were considering a Mediterranean cruise.