Monday, June 16, 2014

Behind the scenes on our cruise with Celebrity Reflection



www.cruises.co.za
A cruise is not just about the days on board ship,
It is about the planning that happens before you set foot on the plane.
These are the people who helped make our trip the wonderful adventure it was


We used this shuttle service to get to and from ORT International.
Leon Sher is always early and a pleasure to deal with.
Sherffeurs Shuttle Service.
Give Leon Sher a call on:
sherffeurscharter@gmail.com


We flew to and from Italy via Dubai on Emirates Airlines.
On the Dubai to Rome leg we flew in an Airbus A380-800
What an aircraft!
The positive: The staff
The negative: Lousy sound and picture quality on all the flights
Our flights were organized by Petra Middleton,
at XL Protea Travel.
Tel: 011 805 3120
Email: petra@xlproteatravel.co.za


Dubai Airport.
At first I was not impressed, but our return journey changed my point of view.
The largest airport I have ever visited.
Lots to see and do, but limited free Wi-Fi.


Fiumicino Airport, Rome
We got to know this facility intimately on our return trip as we spent almost 12 hours there
Shopping, not so great, but unlimited free Wi-Fi...a HUGE bonus for me.
But you do have to search for the fast signal.
I found it at the charging station near information on the ground floor


To get to Rome from the airport we used Civitavecchia Cab Service.
We also retained them to get us from the harbour back to Fiumicino Airport after the cruise.
They were on time, the vehicles that we traveled in were clean, with AC.
Our first driver spoke limited English, but that was not a problem as he was not acting as a guide.
The second driver spent most of the trip on his phone...
CIVITAVECCHIA CAB SERVICE TRANSFER FOR HOLIDAY SRLS
Via della Magliana 329 - 00148 Roma. Italy

My wife found this Rome hotel on line.
It might not look like much from the outside, but service, food and accommodation were top class.
It is home to Stazione Di Posta, a Michelin Star restaurant!
www.hotelrex.net


If you find yourself on a


And Bosco Pires is the Hotel Director,
then you are in for a fantastic cruise experience.
He hosted a wonderful Captain's Table dinner to which we were invited.


A "MUST TRY" on board Reflection!
There are several specialty restaurants on board, but this one is UNIQUE.
There are 20 main courses and 8 desserts.
We challenge ANYONE to attempt to FINISH them all
We managed 8 mains and 3 desserts
You have to ask for Nathan as your culinary guide...
and the Maitre D, Leon, is a South African, a bonus for us.


For a fun eating experience,
try the Lawn Club Grill on the Deck 15.
It is surrounded by an ACTUAL lawn...with NO dog poop.
Guests have the option to either,
a] Cook their own flat bread pizza from scratch (including the base)
b] Grilling their own choice of meat
or
c] Doing neither of the above, and just enjoying the meal being served to them
MOST important, leave room for dessert!


At the Kempinski Palace, Istanbul
After shopping and eating, another of my wife's "hobbies" is asking questions.
Fielding them was:
Bulent Tatlav
Sunorama Cruises Ltd.
Managing Director
Marketing & Sales Representative for Turkey :
Royal Caribbean International & Celebrity Cruises & Azamara Club Cruises


In Istanbul we discovered what makes Turkish carpets different.
If you are looking to buy, DON'T buy from street vendors.
We spent almost an hour at the Istanbul Handicraft Center,
 having a variety of carpet styles explained to us.
Plenty of tea and information was dispensed.
And, yes we did eventually purchase one...
www.nuturizm.com.tr 


Looking for a Pashmina or scarf at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul?
Try and find Ilyas at Chasmere House.
His selection is EXCELLENT...our that is what my wife tells me.
I assumed my usual position while she shopped...
outside waiting and watching the passing parade.
www.cashmerehouse.com.tr


Our guide for our day tour of Istanbul was
 the knowledgeable and entertaining, Dr. Arzu Toraman.
She has her PhD in Art History and she certainly made the city come to life for us
Contact details:
Mobile: +905325261581
Email: arzutoraman@gmail.com


Our guide/driver for our day in Kusadasi was Mr. Suleyman.
You can find out more about his services via his websites:
Many thanks to the local port agent, Mr Mert for organizing the outing.
Contact details:
Mobile: +905544972992
Email: marine@istanbulships.com


We had a wonderful, non-tourist, lunch at this restaurant overlooking the harbour.
Off the radar of most of the tours, the seafood menu was excellent...
You can email them on: akayincili@hotmail.com



We found this tour group handing out flyers when we boarded in Civitavecchia.
We found them again in Santorini and decided to use their services while we were in Naples for the day.
This is the email that my wife sent to them after our tour: 
Dear Stefano
We are back in South Africa . 
Just wanted to say that the tour in itself was great and thank you !
I just needed to let you know a few things that perhaps you can take into consideration for future groups 
I had been really keen to see Amalfi coast but it was much too rushed.
As it turned out , we only left half hour late  as the young man herding us was still waiting for others . The  result overall  was that we only left Pompeii for coast 2pm ( too much time there) and a whirlwind trip to Amalfi . 
We barely had time ( 30 mins ) in Sorrento and did not even go to Positano. 
While I do realise logistics dictate possible itinerary changes , it requires good organizational skills to make sure the tour leaves promptly on time and as this itinerary was swopped around - it has to be better planned to spend less time in Pompeii( had lunch there not Sorrento as per brochure).
This is my only "complaint" the people involved were terrific. Gus (augusto) was really special . 
Having said that I will recommend but will tell others honestly that I found the second part very rushed . 
If we had stuck to original itinerary ie amalfi coast first then Pompeii it might not have happened as the drive to Sorrento is much longer than drive to Pompeii . 
Thank you !
Warm regards 
Carolyn 

Within a very short period of time we got this response:
Dear Carolyn, 
Thank you very much for sharing this with us. 

We were aware of the difficult day on Wednesday, and we're already discussing improvements to be made with our Naples coordinator, precisely in regards to the order of the itinerary for the reasons you mentioned. That day was unique because of the number of ships in the port, and the subsequent traffic it created in the area. 

While we do not have the possibility to change the somewhat rushed experience you had, we would like to offer you another tour with CBM next time you come to Italy, either to Rome or from the port of Naples. Simply let us know and reference this email. 
Again, we sincerely appreciate you taking the time to send us your honest feedback. And we hope for the chance to serve you better in the future. 
Kind regards, 

Petro Shevchuk

Co-owner CBM Tours
Contact details:
Email: info@cantbemissedtours.com
Website: www.cantbemissedtours.com
Now we HAVE to go back...


This is the aforementioned Gus...
What an entertaining guide AND he was able to keep control of a large group with ease.
Well done!
Contact him via email: augustoastarita@tiscalinet.it


Lucio, our guide at Pompeii.
Very knowledgeable and entertaining.
Most trivial fact learned, there were more brothels than bakeries in the city's heyday!


William, Julie and Dave from Park West Gallery.
On board auction specialists
www.parkwestgallery.com


The art work that we purchased while on board.
The two pictures of the women are by Itzchak Tarkay
The top one is called Brunch with Cynthia, and the other, Elegant Pause
The"crazy" work is by David (as Lebo) Le Batard
and is called Sweet Salvation.
Now we have to wait for them to be delivered...



One of the two works that we got for "free".
This is by the European "Rock Star" of art...Alfred Gockel.
We were entitled to these as a "thank you" for attending the various auctions.


Every travel posting should include a goat...
WHY?
Because...



www.cruises.co.za
Many thanks to Tracey Krog (Commercial Manager, Cruises International)
 for going above and beyond the call of duty.
My wife and I have both fallen in love with cruising, and I am certain that this will not be our last.
To see all the posting on the cruise:
http://www.davidbatzofin.com/search/label/Reflection%20cruise


"Travel & Things" was an entrant in this competition.


         

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