Embarkation day is usually the busiest and most critical day of the cruise. We kick the passengers off the ship, starting at 6AM. This is happening in an orderly fashion with lots of announcements and many crew involved in getting the luggage for the right group of people off the ship at the right time. For us I/S Managers it means to get up early (7AM), start with our routine chores for voyage dropping and voyage loading and to be on standby for those critical systems that can crash. No time to get off the ship to see Rome you might think. Well, the three of us out here of course NEED to see Rome and we arranged for one person to get off if everything seems quiet after the first hour or so. Alain was first to go to Rome. I was second, and poor Chad didn’t have a chance yet to go. Well, here’s some info about my trip:

I left at around 8:30AM with the two Maitre D’s Mehmet and Muhammet (from Turkey), the Corporate Trainer Ashlea (from Canada) and the Restaurant Hostess Larisa (from Lithuania). We caught the 9:15AM train to Rome and napped for the hour’s drive through the Campagna region. We got off at San Pietro and already saw the dome of St. Peter’s Cathedral. It took us about 15 minutes to get to St. Peter’s Square and I wouldn’t say I was disappointed but rather surprised at how small and normal this square is. I imagined it being super large but it’s not. It’s still impressive though with the oval arcade structure, the art work and the cathedral. We went on a week day and the tourist masses were bearable. It took us about 5 minutes of waiting in line for the cathedral. We weren’t so much keen on going to see the tomb of the recently deceased pope but rather in climbing up to the dome of the cathedral – a wise decision as the day was perfect for some city view action :)

You could take a lift half way up but it was still 300 more steps to go, and since we are young and restless (hehehe), we walked all the way up. After mostly wide spiral stairs, we reached the first station, the dome, and caught a glimpse at the tourists far below us visiting the cathedral. But we went up higher. The hallway narrowed down to a shoulder-wide passageway nestling to the curved shape of the dome and finally ended up in the steeple. The view over the eternal city of Rome was spectacular, especially because it’s been a clear and bright day. We rested a few minutes, enjoying the scenery with Rome’s hills, ancient building, the Tiber river, and the Vatican Gardens, and then started the descend taking us right into a side hall of the cathedral. I was just astonished by the architectural achievemens of the Renaissance artists such as Bramante, Raffael or Michelangelo – I would really love to travel back in time to see how the construction site looked like :)