Our cruise starts out in Rome. I always recommend arriving a day early for any cruise but even more so for European cruises when you will be flying further and also dealing with some jet-lag. I also think it is very important to not forget that the place where your cruise starts should also be considered a port of call. If you were to fly in the day of your cruise you will miss out on exploring that port. If your cruise is a round trip cruise then you can also plan to explore that port after the cruise. My cruise is a one way cruise so I cannot do that.
For this cruise I know Rome is huge with so may things to see that it could be a vacation unto itself but with already doing a 9 night cruise we could only add a couple days there pre-cruise. The port is about an hour from the city of Rome so the day the ship departs doesn't really leave you much time to see anything. This means we had to plan our time wisely and choose the things we wanted to see and do most.
When searching for flights it can help to be flexible and also a little creative. Living in Orlando we are lucky enough to have quite a few airport options withing a few hours drive. Generally Orlando has some pretty decent flights to just about everywhere but being a travel agent I cannot help but explore all options to find the best flights for my needs. This time it turned out that I could save about $500 per person by flying out of Miami so for me a 4 hour drive is worth $1000. It turned out even better when we boarded the flight to Rome and found the plane wasn't even half full so we lots of room to spread out and get comfy for the overnight flight.
Finding a hotel in a place like Rome can be overwhelming, even for a travel agent like me. There are just so many options and it is not like in the US where you have all the chain names where you pretty much know what you are going to get. Most of the hotels in Rome are in old buildings many that might not have started out as a hotel. I decided I wanted a hotel right in the heart of things and then realized I needed to narrow that down even more so I picked the Trevi Fountain to be close to and then started sorting through all the options. Reviews are helpful but I will be honest what really made up my mind was when I read the hotel rooms have a mini bar where everything in it is just 1 euro each. I know it may seem like a silly reason to some people but when there as so many hotels and many seeming to be very similar that stood out to me as something I know I would like to have. I just know so many times when I travel we will spend the day exploring and when you get back to the room you are thirsty or maybe just need a snack and are too tired to venture back out to find something so the mini bar comes in handy and knowing I am not going to be gouged for that is nice. Most European hotels will come with a free breakfast but the hotel I chose has a bonus and the free breakfast is served on the rooftop terrace, another feature that stood out as a reason to choose this one for me. Since we are short on time in Rome having a hotel that was in easy walking distance to a lot was important too. I am very happy with my choice of Relais Trevi 95 Hotel. As the name suggests it is super close to Trevi fountain. So far we have been able to walk around and get to see a lot very easily. Will add photos later :)
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