I left Rome this morning on a high, spending my final night here nearly lip locked with the Coliseum and loving every second of it. How? It’s called Aroma – the rooftop restaurant of the Palazzo Manfredi hotel, situated across from the Coliseum. Flush with the top arches of the legendary landmark, AROMA delivers a multicourse tour de force while you gawk at the Coliseum’s authority and fantasize about its history. This intimate experience with global grandeur never grows old!
Though the Celebrity Silhouette would not set sail until 5 pm, I was eager to get onboard early, get settled in, and begin the utter relaxation and excitement dubbed Celebrity’s “12 Day Holy Land” cruise.
With my Captain’s Club elite status (which I achieved after just a few sailings with Celebrity), I was privy to a fabulous VIP waiting lounge before embarkation, the perfect detox for the obnoxiously long journey from Rome to the port of Civitavecchia. (Note: Taking the public train from Rome Termini to Civitavecchia is easy; however, walking nearly a half-mile from the train station to the ship’s bus at the port entrance with heavy bags is not. Opt for a private transfer instead.)
By 2 pm, I was onboard and combing every deck and floor of the ship to get a complete lay of the land. Each of the common rooms impressed me more than the next. The ship has a youthful, whimsical and super stylish feel, with sexy interiors highly reminiscent of my favorite “W” hotels. The Martini Bar & Crush (above), for example, feeds off a 28 degree concept of deep glacial whites and blues with its Philippe Stark style mega chairs and sleek chaise lounges, while the oval shaped bar, which comfortably seats a few dozen, is an actual ice bar, where drinks rest on the slabs of ice that double as the counter top. The Hideaway, two floors above, functions as an eclectic coffee and chill-out lounge area, where relaxation and good conversation unfolds over avante garde seating areas resembling bird cages and nests.
Next stop: the world-class Aqua spa, flanked by the most expansive, state-of-the art full-scale gymnasium I have ever seen on the high seas. I peeked into Qasar, the ship’s main nightclub across from the shopping arcade (which includes Michael Kors and other retail shops) and saw a pimped out palladium that puts South Beach’s most popular trendsetters to shame.
I arrived in my stateroom, already able to see my embarkation photo on the Apple powered entertainment system (Did I mention the iLounge on board with courses on Mac products?). And scrolling through the options on my TV screen, I came across the menus for the eight – yes eight- specialty-dining restaurants on board, including the interactive Lawn Club Grill (think: upscale BBQ on the top deck where a Celebrity Chef helps grill your selections) and traditional fine dining at Celebrity’s most renowned restaurant, Murano. With so many things to try and experience, 12 days suddenly felt way too short; and my entire suitcase of form-fitting suits, shirts, and jeans began to seem like a really bad idea …
Relaxing on deck overlooking the Med