Celebrity Equinox: Day 2- Amalfi Coast


This is one of my favorite photos from the ship. The Amalfi Coast is absolutely beautiful, thus far, it is one of my favorite places in the world to visit.This was our 2nd time to the Amalfi Coast, as mentioned in our previous post. We were so excited to get the opportunity to visit the Amalfi Coast for the second time and in further detail. Our tour went off without a hitch. Salerno was a very easy port, we met our tour guide Nuncio from Joe Banana Limos right off the gangway. We were a group of 8, 2 from Ireland, 2 from Canada and 4 of us from the U.S. Our age range is 27-31, and later in our trip, we are referred to as “youngins” by an Australian woman. (Not in a nice way either..LOL)

We started off our tour by driving up the Amalfi Coast. Our goal was to stop at a few places on the way and end in Positano. Whenever we are on tours, and I like the area I always make note of interesting hotels along the way. That way, if or when we decide to return, I have an idea of spots that I would like to say. While we were driving up the coast I took note of a really interesting hotel built into the cliffside, Hotel Cetus. The prices are VERY reasonable for the area, with rooms between 100-160 euros nightly.


Picture courtesy of Hotel Cetus web-site


Our tour guide mentioned that most Italians living in America are from the southern parts of Italy. He also mentioned that many locals do not live in town and that rentals suffer in the area. He accredited this lack of rentals/apartments to the roads. Many tourists find it difficult to navigate the roads (we saw this in action, tourists were white knuckling the steering wheel) The locals do not have many Apartments or VRBO type places due to this. However, tourism is the main industry of the Amalfi Coast.

Our guide also mentioned that a famous restaurant for the area is Torre Normanna. It is famous, because it is inside of a 13th century Norman Tower, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.


Photo courtesy of Torre Normanna web-site


We stopped at Sal De Riso for some “breakfast pastries” I have to put that in quotes because we obviously do not normally eat cake for breakfast. Joey and I enjoyed a slice of “Sweet Passione Cilenta” a passion fruit cake. It was very good! I highly recommend stopping in to grab a sweet treat, if you find yourself in the area.

When you drive along the coast, you will see lemon and olive trees everywhere. The trees are built terrace style into the sides of the mountains (referred to as the Milky Mountains, by our guide) Our driver pointed out several points of interest, such as the Emerald Grotto, he mentioned that it is an alternative to the famous Blue Grotto in Capri. It is much easier to see and get to as well. Many tourists are unable to get to the Blue Grotto due to tides and weather. He also mentioned stopping in ceramic factories along the coast, versus in the city centers for a better deal, unique and higher quality product. We all voted not to stop in a ceramic factory, it didn’t seem of interest to our group of 8. What we found interesting is that many of the church domes along the coast are made from ceramic. They are beautiful.

We saw a few fishing boats off the coast, so naturally, we asked what they catch. In the area, the main fish is what they call Pezzogna (Pagrus Caeruleostictus/ Blue Spotted Seabream) or baby Anchovies.

We made our way to Ravello, where we walked to the top of the city to check out the Gardens of Villa Cimbrone. If you are in Ravello, you have to check out these gardens. They are absolutely beautiful. The cost to tour is 7 Euros, and they provide a map of the grounds. We confused on our original hike up and almost missed them altogether, luckily we ran into a nun who directed us the right way. If you are walking up alone, without a guide, you should be aware that you will walk around the Monastery of Santa Chiara. This is where we messed up. It looks like the walkway ends in the Monastery, but if you keep walking you will see it loop around.

The walk to Villa Cimbrone is breathtaking, there are flowers and vines crawling up the walls, and there is a tower greeting you upon arrival.


Also, commercial photography/videography and drones are NOT ALLOWED. Good thing I am not a professional! I will flood you with photos captured from the gardens.

Here are a few images of the building when you first walk in. There is a restroom in the building (for free) and is located next to the “crypt” which isn’t creepy like I was expecting. It is actually the picture below of all the arches.

We attempted to follow the map so we could capture as much of Villa Cimbrone as we could. Our first goal was to see the water from up high. The main pathway takes you directly to the coastal view.

We loved the vine-covered walkways and the rose gardens. We also found a helipad for those wealthier guests.


Here are a few close-ups of the rose gardens


Rose Garden Panoramic


Once we had our fill of the garden of Villa Cimbrone, we began our walk back down to the main city area of Ravello. Along the way we saw another Villa, Villa Eva. We were unsure if we were allowed to go in, but we walked into the gardens. It is a beautiful wedding venue! If anyone is contemplating an Italy wedding, check out Villa Eva. I hope my photos below do it justice!

We made our way back down to wait for our driver to come pick us up. We took the time to take a group photo. I also grabbed a few photos of our surroundings.

Such a good looking group of travelers, eh? (that’s for the Canadians)


We hopped back into our van and made our way to the actual city of Amalfi. There we wandered the main road, admired the large church, and ran up the steps “Rocky” style.



Panoramic of Amalfi, from the city center


We only spent 15 minutes in Amalfi. We were quite hungry and wanted to make our way to Positano. Our guide took us to a restaurant overlooking Positano. It is Ristorante Da Costantino. The restaurant is unique because only family members work there. The food was fantastic. We did a set menu to get a sampling of all the food. I believe it was around 20 euros per person. You can see in the pictures the expansive views.

Once we finished dining, we were driven to the top of the main walkway of Positano, we walked down and window shopped along the way.

Something you should know about traveling around Europe. There are selfie stick salesmen everywhere. They will even put their selfie sticks into your shots when you are attempting to capture panoramics. We were getting pretty annoyed about this, and Geoff decided it would be funny to mess with the salesman a bit. The convo went like this:

Geoff (to selfie stick salesperson): Will you take a photo with me?

SS Salesperson: Sure

Geoff: Perfect (holds camera at arms length) YEP! My arms work just fine!

Nicole has a collage of photos from this incident. It was funny, and needless to say, we didn’t have a selfie salesman in our additional photos.


The ferry pier in Positano


As I mentioned previously, we tailored our itinerary to include a ferry on the water back to Salerno. We thought this would be a way better view, versus the winding roads. What we didn’t take into account was the cold. Due to the rainfall during lunch, the temperature dropped quickly. It was freezing! Make sure to bring a light jacket or scarf if you are traveling in May. The ferry was through Travelmar and was 12 euros per person. We sat on the open air portion of the ferry for about 20 minutes, we then became too chilled and moved inside. The coast is absolutely beautiful from the water. I would have loved to see it from a sunnier position.

So this is where our day gets really interesting. We arrived in Positano at 5:20, or a little thereafter. When we were exiting the gangway of the ship that morning, it had a sign that mentioned we needed to be back onboard by 6pm. This was something we were not concerned about, we gave ourselves an hour to get back. The ferry was a little delayed, but we still had 40 minutes or so once we arrived. We were told by Celebrity that there was a shuttle in Salerno that we could grab on our way back. We exited the ferry drop off (which was 2 miles up the port from our ship) We couldn’t find the shuttle so we started to get concerned. We waited about 10 minutes before making the decision to walk back to the ship. Keep in mind, it was windy and very cold. We were underdressed, and it started to sprinkle on us. We began the 2-mile walk back to the ship. The most frustrating thing is seeing where you need to go, and worrying you will not make it in time. We kept our eyes on the ship the entire walk back. We made a wrong turn twice. The first we walked into the port entrance for private vessels. The second time, we realized we had to pass the ship in order to enter. At this point in our journey, we began to run. We made it into the entrance of the port, but they would not allow us to walk to the ship. They held us at the bus stop type entrance with security. The security guard didn’t speak English and we had to attempt to explain that we needed to get on our ship, which had smoke coming out of the stacks. We were TERRIFIED we would be this close, and miss our ship. Luckily he was able to radio to the last shuttle coming back from the city and we hopped on just in time.


Panoramic of us departing Salerno


We were sad to set sail from the Amalfi Coast, but we were excited on what was on the horizon ! Our next day would be at sea, and then on to Athens, Greece for 2 days!





Celebrity Equinox: Day 1 – Rome/Civitavecchia

We are back in the states after 13 days away! I didn’t give myself any downtime during our adventures to write. Instead, I took notes so that we could revisit our experiences and relay them to anyone who stumbles across the blog! We walked 60 miles, traveled 2,594 miles through the Med and flew 9,608 miles. I tracked all of the mileage on foot with my fitness tracker, Misfit Shine. I love the device, it is light, and most people assume it is a watch.

Our flight to RoIMG_7948me was on time leaving and we actually had great tail wind and arrived an hour early. We both used the restrooms at the airport, and we both talked about how nice the bathrooms were when we came out. So…when in Rome! Make sure to check out the airport restroom.

We were concerned that we were going to have to wait an additional hour for our driver, who was scheduled to grab us at 11am (we were supposed to land at 10:15a and arrived at 9:20a) We were pleasantly surprised when he was waiting as we exited the airport. Just a heads up to anyone flying into Rome, it is CHAOTIC at the taxi area. There are hundreds of names on placards. We also saw the Celebrity Cruises shuttle (very easy to spot). Sad side note, during our flight EgyptAir flight 804 crashed, a woman on our flight was in hysterics when we landed in Rome after she received a phone call. We were not sure if it was related  but very sad to hear.

The drive to Civitavecchia is straightforward, it took roughly 45 minutes. We arrived around 11:00 am. The only traffic we experienced was in the town of Civi.Our driver cost € 110 and he was very kind. He drove us right up to the drop off area for luggage. Joey and I managed to grab a few hours of sleep on the plane, so we both felt ok. Check in took less than 10 minutes. Make sure to have your forms completed, passport and forms in hand. We boarded the ship around 11:30 and since the rooms were not ready we went to the Sunset Bar.


view from the Sunset Bar of Port of Civitavecchia


We both determined that if you just start drinking, you can avoid jet lag (not scientifically proven) If you sail with Celebrity as Concierge or above, you will be invited to have lunch in the dining room, it ends at 1pm. We were not hungry, so we didn’t attend.

The layout of the ship is great! We were room 1124 on Deck 10 and were close to the elevators on the AFT/Starboard side of the ship. We were able to get into our rooms around 1pm. Concierge provided a bottle of champagne, a tote bag, a wallet , and a tray appetizers. Our balcony is extra large and had loungers on it, we utilized the balcony for room service nearly daily!


We were traveling with our friends Nicole and Geoff from Nova Scotia. We ran into them at check-in so we made plans to meet up and get our table together in the dining room. Which was super easy. We ended up at a 6 top next to the window, and we sat with a couple from England.

We had a pretty relaxed night. We met up with fellow Cruise Critic passengers at the club on  deck 4 of the ship. Once we left that venue, we had dinner and then returned to our room. We wanted to catch some Z’s and at this point, we were super underslept. Next Up… Salerno, Italy (The Amalfi Coast).


The Amalfi Coast

Our first port of call on this trip will be Salerno, or for more familiarity the Amalfi Coast. When we were on our last Meditteranean cruise, aboard the Norwegian Epic, we stopped in Naples (north of Amalfi) Salerno is south.

On our last trip along the Amalfi coast, we visited ate pizza in Sorrento, took in the views of Positano, and ventured around Pompeii. This time, we will do a more in-depth visit to the Amalfi Coast, with visits to Positano, Ravello, and Amalfi.

Here are some photos from our trip previously:


Sunrise over Vesuvius
Pizza in Sorrento
Walking through Sorrento
Overlooking Positano
View of Vesuvius from Pompeii ruins
Pompeii Ruins

So the Amalfi Coast is the coastline on the southern coast of the Sorrentine Penninsula in the Provence of Salerno. Here is a map for reference:

It attracts HOARDS of tourists each year and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area is known for limoncello liqueur, and you will see lemon trees everywhere!

This time instead of focusing a large portion of our shore excursion on Pompeii, we are diving into the Amalfi Coast. We are touring with Joe Banana Limos, a company we used on our last cruise. This tour can be found on their web-site. We will visit Amalfi, Ravello, Praiano, Furore, Conca Dei Marini, and Positano. We modified the set itinerary a bit (perks of creating private tours). We will do a flip of the plan, and we are hoping to catch a ferry back to Salerno so we can view the Amalfi Coast up close from the water. If for some reason, we are unable to secure tickets or the ferry is not running (rough seas, etc) we will go back with our tour guide.

I will post either during our trip (depending on the wi-fi) or upon our return! So the follow-up post will be full of photos! We will be touring the Amalfi on May 20th, hopefully we are not too jet lagged! Wish us luck!



Rome (FCO) to Civitavecchia

Joey and I are heading out on a 12-day cruise in 25 days! Did I mention we are really into all things nautical? The sea calls to us!

This cruise will be our 2nd Mediterranean cruise. Our last Mediterranean cruise was aboard the Norwegian Epic, totaled 7 days and included: Barcelona, Naples (Amalfi Coast), Civitavecchia (Rome), Florence/Pisa, Cannes, Palma Majorca. This itinerary is longer at 12 days (our longest trip ever!)  and Joey proposed on the last Med cruise, so no large surprises on this one! We are only duplicating 3 ports (Barcelona + Rome + Amalfi)

I typically take over the planning once the destination is set. With cruises, one of the top resources is Cruise Critic. There you will find a great community of fellow cruisers, there are also threads called “Roll Calls” and you can converse with fellow passengers from your sailing prior to embarkation. This is where I arrange our shore excursions. As many who have cruised know, cruise excursions through the cruise line are MUCH more expensive, and typically LARGE groups. We like small groups and more customized itineraries when in port, the savings is a plus!

We set sail May 19th, 2016. We fly out Wednesday, May 18th on an overnight flight. We land in Rome (FCO) at 10:15 and are trying to figure out the best way to get to the Port (43 miles from Airport)


There are several ways to get to the port from the airport. I have outlined 5 options below, in case anyone else finds themselves trying to find alternate means of transportation.We are not sure which method we will take at this time, but are trying to narrow it down between Train and Private Transfer!

#1 Taxi: 45-60 minutes (depending on traffic)

Not very cost effective.  119 or $135

Pricing via World Taxi Meter

#2 Private Transfer: 45-60 minutes (depending on traffic)

Depending on the service you use, the price range is between $75-$200 (for 2 + bags) This is a very strong contender for us due to convenience. Also, in case you were not aware, UBER is available in Rome. I did a quick fare estimate on Uber Rome, and it looks to be around 129 euros.

Pricing via Rome Limousines 

#3 Train: 120 minutes +

This is the most cost effective way to get to the port. However, this also depends on your baggage situation. You will have to make a transfer, so you will have to tow along baggage. You have to take the train into Rome and the transfer to either the express train or regional train to Civitavecchia. € 11-27.00 as of 5/2016

You take the 30-minute train to Termini Station in Rome, at that point, you transfer to the train going to Civitavecchia, which is about 40-50 minutes.

Pricing via: Trenitalia


#4 Transfer via the Port of Civitavecchia: 45-60 minutes (depending on traffic)

This feature is a little tricky if you are a group of 3 or less. The shuttles will only confirm if you have a group of 4-5 people. You enter in your information onto the site and the reserve the shuttle time, HOWEVER, if you are a group of 2 (like us) you have to hope that others need a shuttle at the same time, and are aware of the service. They post the available shuttles on their site for others to join. There is a max of 8 passengers only, so you do not have to worry about a crammed bus! Now put your fingers together that we are able to utilize! Oh, and because it is run by the Port Authority, they have better access to the ships (or that is what I read) We will find out!

Pricing via: Civitavecchia Port- Shared Shuttle

#5 Transfer via Cruise Line:45-60 minutes + (depending on schedule)

$75 per person w/Celebrity (as of 5/2016 sailing)

We hope you are able to find the best way to get to the cruise terminal from the airport to fit your needs! Let us know what you used, what worked…what didn’t?