OK now I am back from the grocery store. Let's see what else was there... We had a great time in Palermo, Sicily. As soon as we got off the ship we were practically accosted by very aggressive cab drivers hawking a cab tour for 120 Euros. All I wanted was for someone to take us up to the Catacombs at the Capucin Monastery so we could take the tour there (very cool by the way for only 2 Euro) so after a few verbal confrontations with the cabbies who would not take no for an answer, I finally found a cab driver who agreed to take us there for a price of 18 Euro, so off we went. We ended up walking all the way back to the ship and stopping at the Cathedral and enjoying a nice lunch at a place called Giada. Palma de Mallorca was a nice place to explore too and we had a great time just walking around.
One thing I forgot to mention earlier is that one thing Costa does the very best of any cruise line is their kid's club hours. It is VERY flexible and convenient. The kids had a great time there and they make it easy to use their services.
We really didn't have anough time or energy when we flew into London from Chicago to do much, and so we used that time to recuperate from our jetlag. Virgin Airlines was nice and treated us very well. The next leg of our trip to Milan then to Rome (Ciampino) on Ryanair, I was pleasantly surprised to find that this no frills carrier, was extremely efficient and we had no problems or delays. Regarding Ciampino airport, it is a tiny airport with only one Bankomat (ATM machine) that does not work, and I needed Euro's but had no way to get any. Also I realized that we are quite spoiled here in North America, that we can use our cards to make purchases just about anywhere. Imagine my surprise when the man rudely turned his nose up at my credit card when I wanted to purchase a few snacks and drinks at the shop in the airport. So I asked the guy at the information desk to phone my hotel and the sent the shuttle to pick me up. We arrived at our hotel, where I had reserved a quad room, and found we only had three beds, but the kids ended up falling asleep and it was too big of a hassle to change rooms, plus the quad room was scary looking. Then we found out our toilet didn't flush, so d/h by this time was a little frustrated and he climbed up on the toilet and ended up getting the tank mounted high on the wall to fill so it would flush.
Our initial plan was to leave our hotel about 9 or 10 a.m. take the train from Ciampino to Rome Termini then on to the port... well that would have worked out beautifully except that we were still more jet lagged than we realized and ended up sleeping until Noon. Well the next train didn't leave Ciampino until 2:30 p.m. and then we still would have had a long train ride from Rome Termini to the port. We did not know at the time that the ship had been delayed because it had been hit by another ship in Palermo the previous day, so all of our rushing was for nothing.
We ended up taking a cab to Termini, which is HUGE. We could not find the ticket counter and was getting very stressed and frustrated because time was ticking away. This guy comes out of nowhere takes us to the ticket/information desk and stayed with us acting as our interpreter. I slipped him 10 Euro for helping us and he left as soon as we got our tickets. The cashier instructed us to get to the train as it was on the other side of the station, very far away and was leaving in just a few minutes. So we ran and made it 1 minute before the train left the station. Then we arrived about an hour and a half later in Civetavecchia. There was one cab in the entire town that had just left and never returned, so we waited a while then a guy came up and said there are no cabs, you have to walk to the port. So we commenced to walk with 4 bags and two kids in tow. about a block later the same guy is standing along the side of the road with a luggage cart offering to carry our bags for 5 Euro, so we did and it was fine. So if any of you ever take the train to the port, look for Mario and he'll handle your bags and help get you to the port. When we got to the port entrance we boarded the shuttle bus to the port building. Embarcation was fairly simple. Just frustrated by the fact hat you ended up having to fill out forms stating everything you had already filled out online with the preboarding registration on Costa's website. I had to say I was very impressed that our bags got to the cabin before we did.
Getting off the ship was very simple. We didnt feel like sticking around til our color was called. So as soon as people started leaving the ship, we just piled in behind them and walked off, then got our bags, hopped on the port shuttle then Mario was waiting on us and carried our bags back to the train station. We took the train back to Rome Termini then the Metro and walked to our hotel. We took the Metro to the Colliseum and enjoyed that very much, there is a huge archeological project in this area, with tons of ruins to be seen. We stayed there until it was nearly dark then went back to the hotel and ate dinner nearby, then to bed. The next morning we woke up got dressed the hotel served breakfast room service and we caught a cab to the airport, and flew to Belfast. We rented a car and drove it to Dublin, spent the night there then flew to Chicago on Aer Lingus, which was every bit as as nice as Virgin. So all in all it was a great trip. While the cruise had some low lights to it, we still managed to maintain our senses of humor, and loved the itinerary, and had great experiences.