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Pre-cruise hotel options in Rome

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We need a hotel in Rome for 2 nights prior to an Oct. sailing of Celebrity's Reflection. Celebrity gave us these options: Crowne Plaza, Empire Palace, or Leonardo Da Vinci. All include breakfast and transfers. Any recommendations?

Another question: This will be our first time to cruise in Europe. Do we tip the driver Celebrity has taking us from the airport to the hotel? How much? Does this need to be in euros and where would we get them that quickly?

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    Not familiar with those 3 hotels but we have stayed at Hotel Quirinale on 2 separate trips. Just love the location. It is in the middle of everywhere: 2 blocks from Piazza Republica, 5 blocks from Trivi Fountain and walking distance to most destinations. It is also only 2 blocks to a metro station and 2 stops away from Spanish Steps. The room is clean, quite large by European standard, and a full hot breakfast is included, all for a modest 128 Euros per night.

    We arranged our own transfer (Bob's Limo) from airport to hotel, and from hotel to cruise terminal. 38 euros to hotel and airport, and 85 euros from hotel to cruise port.

    Below is my trip report posted here, and hopefully, you may find useful.

    http://www.fodors.com/community/cruises/eastern-mediterranean-and-grrek-isles.cfm

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    Thank you for the hotel suggestion. There will be 2 of us. Do you request a certain room number or location within the hotel?

    Do you need adaptors for the plugs?

    Do you have any recommendations for a place to eat lunch and dinner within walking distance?

    This will be our first time in Rome. Would you suggest arranging a half-day tour ahead of time or will the hotel help with that once we arrive?

    I appreciate your help!

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    If you are already booked with Celebrity on hotel and transfers already, you will be fine. If you have not been to Rome before, you have to do a bit of homework by deciding what you wanted to see and how much you want to see, i.e. set your priorities, get map and plot things out. This is not a plug: the Fodor's Rome city guide is very good.

    There are a few options, and ultimately, you have to decide what is within your budget, how adventurous are you and what you are comfortable with.

    You can book locally before you leave home with a company such as Viatour. You can call them direct or speak to your local travel agent. You can also book through the internet with a company in Rome such as Rome Cab or Bob's Limo where they offer a day tour. The difference is Viatour offers a tour guide and the Limo company offers the vehicle and a driver. They take you to all the hot spots, you get out, you take pictures, you move on.

    Based on your original post, you have 2 nights. I translated it to minimum 1 full day with a maximum of a day and a half as it all depends on what time your flight got in.

    The day of arrival, you will be tired, you want to rest. It all depends on what time you get in and where your hotel is located. You should at least try to get to Trivi fountain after dark. There are plenty of restaurants there so you can get there, have dinner and go visit the fountain at night and then head back to the hotel.

    Warning: beware of pick pockets. Most tourist areas are crowded.

    On the day going to the cruise port, you have time to have breakfast, check out and you are on your way. No chance to sight see at all.

    Post your arrival time and then make a decide on the hotel. Once that is established, then you can determine what is walking distance. Depending on language, are you comfortable taking the metro in a strange city where you maybe hopeless lost?

    You have to determine the sites you want to visit. Do you want a real visit or just stand in front of a building, take a picture and that's a check mark off the bucket list?

    What we did was we knew we will be back so on the first time we were there, we went to as many places as we can, sort of like a sampler. On subsequent visits, we pick off a handful of places and spent more time on places that interested us.

    Knowing what the type of things you like to visit would help as well. For first timer, and with only 2 of you, booking through a company like Viatour may not be a bad idea. In one day, they will show you about 8 to 10 of the "main" attractions, you will have 15 minutes to half an hour at each place.

    If you are the adventurous type, there are so much to see that I can bet you within 10 blocks of the hotel, there are enough attractions to keep your attention for the day and a half, all within walking distance.

    As to food, we love to try the local cuisine, find a place that is crowded and people are waiting in line to get in. Ask the servers what is their favorite and order it. We had a friend who traveled with us on our first trip to Rome. He found an Irish pub called O'Grady's (remember we were in Rome), ordered a cheeseburger and fries, washed it down with imported American beer. He loved it so much there that he returned for a few more meals. LOL! Needless to day, we didn't join them for lunch or dinner.

    Good luck!

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    Eschew has given you lots of good info. When we were going to Rome on our first visit (also were on a cruise ship docking Civitavecchia) I did tons of research to see what we wanted to see. We were on Celebrity ship also and I believe that one of the suggested/recommended hotels they use is Crowne Plaza St. Peters. Transfers are probably included if you book the hotel thru Celebrity. We did not book our hotel thru the ship but happened to book Crowne Plaza St. Peters because they had a good rate. When we arrived, we saw lots of our cruise mates staying there. It is a very nice hotel, large rooms, outdoor pool. Breakfast was not included in our rate but we ate at the hotel for convenience. Hotel is in Vatican but not really walkable to the central sights. There are not many restaurants that you can walk to either. We took a taxi to the Vatican for a tour because of the hotel location. I think that you can find something closer to the sights.

    Here is a Rick Steeves hotel that might be of interest to you.
    http://www.hotelsonya.it/default.html

    You should also go to Cruise Critic website and check out where your fellow cruises might be staying. Look for Celebrity roll calls then your ship and sail date. You will find tons of info there. Good luck and have a wonderful cruise.

    Rome is a wonderful city, so much to see and not enough time. You will want to go back after you have been there. We have been 3 times and still not seen everything we wanted to.
    Location is good for walking to sights.

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    Four years ago, we took a cab early in the morning (6:30 am) from our hotel to the Vatican. It was less than 15 Euros although the hotel had told us that may cost us 20 Euros, depending on traffic. After the Vatican tour, we took a cab back across the river to Pantheon, and the cost was less than 10 euros. We had lunch at a sidewalk café right in front of the square. We had an outside table with a view of the square and the Pantheon. We walk through the Pantheon, it's free as it is a church. We followed our map and walked towards our hotel, making many stops along the way on destinations that we have picked and places that we didn't pick. We probably walked maybe 15 20 blocks in all. There were so much to see along the way, and we made frequent stops that we did not realized we have walked that far.

    One time, it was getting really late, it's dark and we didn't want to walk and chance it on a metro. So we took a cab from the Spanish Step back to the hotel for 5 euros.

    Actually, we hop in the cab and muttered Piazza Republica. The hotel is one block south of the Piazza and the Piazza is such a landmark, and can easily pronounced correctly by non Italian speaking people (like us) that the cab driver understood us, and it didn't matter if he speak English or not. It is a whole lot easier than tell the cab driver to go to a hotel as they may not know where the hotel is located, or the street address, or whatever.

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    Eschew--I will look into Viatour. You are right in guessing that we just have one day to tour Rome and want a sample of many sights. We are a mother & daughter (in 30's) flying overnight from IN so we won't want to do much, but maybe dinner and the fountain the first day/night. We would like a tour the next day and then get to the ship ASAP the day after. We appreciate any tips on safety for the 2 of us, as when you mentioned to beware of pickpockets. We will also research the hotel you mentioned.

    Luv2travel--the Crowne Plaza was the least expensive of those Celebrity gave us to consider (we have just booked the cruise with them at this point--still looking at air and hotels, before we call back IF we book those with the cruise line). It was $436 each for 2 nights, breakfast, and transfers from the airport and to the ship. Thank you for also trying to help us!

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    Purdue74, You have to do the math. The last trip we took and went through Rome was last year (August 2013) so the price we paid was relatively current.

    38 euros (airport to hotel) and 85 euros (hotel to port) for transfers. 2 nights hotel with breakfast (128 euros x 2). The total was 379 euros (<500USD at current exchange rate) for both of us. That's total for transfer, 2 nights hotel and breakfast. You can refer back to the trip report posted on how it all went and the quality. Nothing is 5 stars but quality was fine.

    The big difference between booking things through the cruise line and do it yourself is this: they do the work vs you do the work. When things go wrong, you call the cruise line line, one phone number for all. If you book on your own, you have to deal with everything yourself.

    The cruise line will always have a hidden booking fee/commission and makes money off you so they will always be the most expensive option, but they are also the "safest" and trouble free. They typically will have a staff at the airport or the hotel or both during certain hours. The above rule also applies for shore excursions. The "extra" is for the "peace of mind" so you will have to put a value on it. If you are a nervous traveler, this is the only way to go.

    You still have the option of contacting a local travel agent and have them book airfare, transfer, hotels etc for you. You should look into that.

    Check out Rome Cab and Bob's Limo web site on day tour anyway and compare them to Viatour. I mentioned Viatour only as we have used them, they are very popular with local TA's in North America.

    Caution about hotels: if you have not traveled/stay outside of North American style hotels, and not comfortable in different/strange settings, you may want to stick with a brand name that you are familiar with like Crown Plaza, Hilton, Sheraton etc.

    At the end of the day, your decision should come down to how comfortable are you travelling in a strange land with different languages, and can you take things in stride and deal with them or get really stressed over it. If you get stressed easily, go with the cruise line options. It not worth saving a few bucks and potentially ruin your entire holiday.

    By the way, for transfer from airport to hotel and hotel to cruise port. You can take the train and lug all your luggage with you. It is much cheaper and a very viable option and not all that hard. We just couldn't be bothered with it and didn't think the $$ saved is worth it. On the other hand, while we were in Venice (same trip), we stayed outside of Venice and took public transit daily to and from hotel into Venice and we loved it, and the savings is very substantial. You just have to place a value on time, safety, convenience etc.

    Not sure what ports your ship may take you, be aware of pay toilets in some places (have local loose change ready) and "TP in the baskets" as older plumbing cannot handle paper waste.

    As to the pickpockets, you just have to be street smart and don't be a target with excessive jewelry etc. Don't get distracted, be aware of the surroundings, don't go into dark alleys, don't hand over camera to strangers to take pictures, spread your money around (We kept just enough money to pay for a meal or a cab fare in a pocket and kept the majority of the money hidden under the layers of clothing we wore), don't put anything valuable in your back pocket, don't carry a purse or fanny pack if you can get away with it, and if you must, wear your purse across your shoulder and have it in front of your chest, keep it zipped etc. And fanny packs are easy targets (A quick cut on the strap and it is gone before you know it). You just have to be careful.

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