Santorini Greece island
Capri Italy architectural detail
Santorini Greece hillside
Acropolis Athens Greece
Pompeii Italy ruins
Trevi Fountain Rome Italy
Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas atrium

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© 2006
Tom Buhl

Brilliance of the Seas ship’s bridge
Island of Capri Italy shop
Acropolis Athens Greece
Acropolis Athens Greece
Pompeii Italy mural
Spanish Steps Rome Italy
Brilliance of the Seas details
  Santorini, Greece with Royal Caribbean Cruises
I joined the Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas for her last Mediterrean cruise of the season in October. Barcelona was the starting point. From there we visited Nice, France; Florence/Pisa, Italy; Santorini and Athens, Greece; Taormina, Messina, Naples, Capri and Rome, Italy before returning to Barcelona. I missed Barcelona outbound, due to a Santa Barbara fog delay, so I had to pickup the cruise in Nice. Once I found the proper 800 number the Royal Caribbean people handled the flight re-booking quite efficiently. We were scheduled for a stop in Mykonos, Greece but that was cancelled as the ship had to stop to search for a “man overboard” as we passed through the straits between Sicily and the Italian mainland at night. [A staff member commited suicide we were told the next day.] After the delay we proceeded to Santorini so that the remainder of the trip could meet the schedule.
My time on Santorini was one of the highlights of the trip for me. Unlike most stops we did not need special transportation to reach the featured destination. To read that episode follow this link or the link on the right-hand column. Some of other thoughts and memories follow on this page.
Cruising on The Brilliance of the Seas
One of my favorite aspects of travel is spending evenings in new places wandering or hanging out in plazas or cafés people watching and just soaking in the atmosphere. On a cruise evenings are spent onboard cruising to the next destination. Therefore cruising is not an ideal way to experience new places. That said, it was an incredible way for me to experience a wide range of places and to formulate where I might want to return for more indepth visits. Cruising is an attractive vacation when traveling with someone who might not be as comfortable being in strange cities at night or who might not be very mobile. I met a number of people who were traveling with a partner or older relative who could go out and about on their own while knowing that their companion was safe and in a comfortable setting.
I enjoyed some awesome volleyball games on our “at sea” days. And strolling the top decks when quietly cruising the Mediterranean under a full moon was pretty amazing. Food was decent and quite plentiful, entertainment was mixed but plenty of variety, the concierge lounge Happy Hour was a nice way to meet people, check e-mail, sample tasty snacks and indulge in pre-dinner beverages. My stateroom including balcony was quite roomy and nicely appointed.
I’d strongly recommend signing up for the extra-charge tours for most venues as they are generally some distance from the ship’s docking area. Cost of taxis is pretty expensive for only one or two people and if you have any sense you are tempted to cut short your time to ensure being back at the dock on time. The tours booked through the ship are in contact and the ship will wait for them if there is a delay. On your own, if you miss the ship your options for catching up become quite expensive. Florence and Rome are quite far from the docking area. The tours I took were quite well-lead and I was impressed that my fellow tourists were easy to travel with.
Our guide in Rome was a very short, very knowledgeable, very opinionated and very feisty woman. Watching her assert her path in Rome traffic was quite impressive. Throughout our time together she repeatedly cautioned us about the gypsies. At the end of the tour we were walking to the parking garage to get back on the bus. At the entrance was a gypsy boy playing accordian with his mother (?) in the background. The tune was familiar. In a bit I realized it was the tune they were singing at the Genoa Peace March I had seen a month earlier. At the time I recorded part of the singing with my little digital camera’s recording feature. I had become very fond of the sound without knowing what the words meant. I asked our guide about the song. First she practically spit out, “he has no right to sing that song! [being a gypsy and all].” Then she explained it was a popular tune from World War II after Italy had surrendered to the Allies but the Nazi’s continued to control Rome and other areas. The song expressed the determination to bring the boys (partisans) back to Rome. These days the song is used to express the desire to bring the boys (soldiers) back home from unpopular military excursions such as the war in Iraq sponsored by the United States. Another connection found while on the road. I love it.


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