My twelve-day itinerary, aboard the Carnival Liberty with Margot, looked something like this and I was very excited to get aboard and experience something different:
28th September – Rome Civitavecchia, Italy
29th – Naples, Italy
30th – sea day
1st October – Dubrovnik, Croatia
2nd – Venice, Italy
3rd – Venice, Italy
4th – sea day
5th – Messina, Sicily
6th – sea day
7th – Barcelona, Spain
8th – Cannes, France
9th – Livorno, Italy
10th – back in Civitavecchia, Italy
Day 1 – Civitavecchia – now say that ten times with the correct pronunciation.
Civitavecchia is Rome’s main port and I was very happy to be there. The Lonely Planet travel guide gives it only two lines, the gist being only go there if you are catching a ferry to Sardinia. I, on the other hand, was going to start my twelve-day cruise with my lovely wife.
Being crew family meant that the check in process was nightmare. Thank goodness I had Margot with me to assist. Everyone we asked had a different idea of what was to be done and when I eventually got on board had to fill in additional paperwork and hand over my passport (No passports for crew family (just in case I escape without paying I suppose)). We were told to come back later to see if there would be a stateroom available otherwise I would be sharing Margot and her roommate, Diana’s, cabin. Her cabin is not very big and certainly not big enough for 3 people. I’d slept once in Margot’s bunk and it is hardly big enough for Margot never mind two people.
We managed to escape during the afternoon to explore the beaches of Civitavecchia and have a bite to eat. Reminded us a little of Sea Point.
Margot was at work taking casual pictures of the guests at her portrait station. This gave me the opportunity to explore all 12 decks and have a few cold beers using Margot’s sail and sign card. This is a plastic type of bankcard, that you can load with cash (or a credit card number), which you use to pay for all purchases onboard. This card gave me crew discount on all drinks (50% off)(Yeh), but the drinks were still about $2.90 as there is always a 15% “gratuity” added on. Expensive compared to the crew bar where the drinks are only $1.
After we set sail all passengers where forced to do a lifeboat drill. This was an absolute nightmare, as I had no life jacket to don. I followed directions and was told by the crew that I had to go into the crew area find Margot’s cabin steward and ask him for a life jacket. Easier said than done, as I had never met the steward (and never met him the whole cruise!). I gave up and sat in the crew bar hiding from everyone till it was all over. Later that evening I met up with Margot and the Chief Purser and we were told that they had a stateroom for us. Hooray. The ship has a crew of 1200 and can cater for 3000 guests – this trip there were only 2978, which means that there were a few staterooms available, but none with windows.
Now these cabins or should I say rooms or as the Americans say “staterooms” are very plush. Nice and big with all the facilities you could imagine including a Cabin Steward, Miguel. Miguel warmly welcomed me as I moved my bag from deck 0 to stateroom 2439 on deck 2. The Purser had given me a card room key, which was also my “sail & sign” card, and this opened the door and mini safe (unfortunately no left over $’s inside). I now had to wait for Margot to finish her shift and join me.