September 9, 200012 night W. MediterraneanMy husband and I are cruise fans and felt we had taken the perfect cruise when we were on the Legend of the Seas for her Med. cruise in the fall of '99. We decided to repeat the itinerary this year because there was so much we missed seeing the first time, as each port of call offers so many options. Also, we'd been in the Caribbean several times since being in the Mediterranean, and we wanted our 20th cruise to be special. I'm delighted to report the second time was even better than the first! First, and I believe foremost, RCI had the concept of excellent customer service, attentiveness and courtesy prevalent throughout our cruise experience. They certainly understand that their best asset is the respect and loyalty of their passengers and treated us (and everyone) accordingly. I believe their goal is to assure a vacation on their ship(s) is like no other on earth and for us, the goal was exceeded.The Barcelona embarkation experience was great and took us less than 20 minutes to check-in and be in our cabin. We enjoyed an extra day in Barcelona before boarding, which I highly recommend. It's a beautiful city, and along with enjoying the sights, you also get a good night's sleep to overcome the jet lag. I definitely recommend this approach, and also, not to miss a stroll down Las Ramblas: quite the attraction in Barcelona.The 12-night Western Mediterranean history included stops in Marseilles, Livorno (Florence/Pisa), Naples, a restful day at sea, 2 days in Venice, a day a sea, Messina, Sicily, Civitavaecchia (Rome), Ville Franche (Cannes, Nice, Monte Carlo), one last restful day at sea, and back in to Barcelona for disembarkation. This was another process that went well. As we experienced last year, the culture, history, art, religious significance and sheer beauty we saw are things that cannot be replicated in a book or taught in a class. The museums and cafes in Florence, the experience of seeing the history of Rome by horse and buggy, the architectural ruins near Messina and the beautiful scenic view from the top of Capri, the hillsides of Eze (near Nice) and the sheer thrill and beauty of Venice are awesome. Going down the Grand Canal in Venice reminded me of the popular American song of "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," because as we were departing Venice, I knew I'd left part of my heart there.Now, on to some of the particulars of the good service, attentiveness and courtesy that I mentioned earlier. Our entire dining experience was made extremely enjoyable by the very fine service provided by our waiter, Ugur Ercan, our assistant waiter, Rhoit Arora and assistant maitre d', Deniz Mehmet. Though their demeanor was always highly professional, they were also fun and congenial, making our meals one of the highlights of each day.With some luggage being lost along the way, the purser staff was extraordinary in handling all of my concerns and questions, and yes, located and got my luggage to me by the third day at sea! Doug MacLennan, Maru Andrade and Paulo Santos couldn't have been kinder and friendlier during the entire cruise, even after the lost luggage had been resolved. They performed a number of special favors for me, and their friendliness and concern will always be remembered. The dining and purser staff certainly reflected the cordial, professional and service-oriented demeanor exhibited by our hotel director, Fred DeCosse. We had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Mr. DeCosse several times throughout the cruise, and his many kindnesses and cordiality will be remembered as being very special.
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