Pleasant HAL Med cruise

Four of us took a 2-week trip with Vantage Deluxe World Travel (Boston, MA; 888/734-0188) in August ’06 that included a 10-day eastern Mediterranean cruise, “Roman Empire,” on the Noordam of Holland America Line (Seattle, WA).

For a cabin with balcony on the Veranda deck, the cost was $4,259 per person, plus an air add-on from Cincinnati of $150, air taxes and government fees of $215, airline fuel surcharges of $180 and travel insurance of $399. Deducted from the total was an early-booking discount of $150, a past-traveler discount of $183 and a full-payment discount of $227.

We were lucky enough to fly directly from Cincinnati to Rome. I believe this is because we booked early, when more space was available.

A Vantage representative met our flight and we were driven to Rome’s Hotel Quirinale for a night before embarking on the Noordam. This is good, especially if one’s luggage doesn’t arrive with them as happened to another couple.

Our room’s bedroom and bath were small but attractive. Hotel Quirinale is on the Via Nazionale and is in a nice area for walking; many small shops are in this area.

After an orientation meeting, we decided because of our jet lag to have dinner at the hotel. It was most pleasant as we sat on a porch overlooking a beautiful garden with statuary and live music. The food and service were excellent. My AmEx bill shows that dinner for four of us, including one drink each plus wine plus tax and tip, cost $240.

We left the next morning on a bus to the port, Civitavecchia, where we embarked. This was a destination cruise, as we stopped in a port almost every day. We had two days at sea.

Our ports were Dubrovnik, Croatia; the Greek islands of Corfu, Katakolon and Santorini; Kusadasi, Turkey; Malta; Sicily, and then Civitavecchia again to disembark.

We drove to Rome for a tour of several hours, then to the airport at Fiumicino, where we spent the night at the Rome Airport Hilton.

We always enjoy Holland America ships. The amenities are nice, the food is good, and the crew and staff are most helpful and pleasant. Our Vantage tour director met with our group several times to give us tour information and answer our questions. We had a great time.

London, KY