Italy and Greece – Day 2 – Off to Ship

What a wonderful start to our trip of a lifetime.  After a good nights sleep and quick breakfast.  Oh, okay – breakfast –  we had coffee and croissants at the hotel – our shuttle to the cruise terminal was set up for 10 am.  The bill came for our breakfast and it was 103.00 Euros!  Oh, so sorry made a mistake – it should be 13.00 Euros!  Just a small warning to look at the receipts before signing the credit card receipts.

Joe, myself, Dorothy and Stacy did the transfer from Rome to the port together. The cost was 200.00 Euros for a private van with our 8 pieces of luggage.  It was a beautiful ride and we arrived at the terminal at 11:30 am.

Of all of the cruises I’ve been on this was one was the easiest boarding process.  When you arrive at the terminal your given a number and once they call your number, you proceed to check in and onto the ship.  It was less than an hour from arrival to sitting on the deck and enjoying the sunshine and the company.

On our first evening aboard ship, we all enjoyed Teppanyaki – the Hibachi Restaurant on NCL Spirit.  We had a lot of fun and a lot of laughs and celebrated Stacy’s birthday

After dinner, we all went up to the Galaxy Lounge – had lots of fun, some drinking and dancing

End of day 1 aboard the NCL Spirit – off to bed to rest up for the remainder of our trip!

Our amazing trip to Italy & Greece

A trip of a lifetime! My husband gets annoyed when I say that, but to me it was a trip of a lifetime, not only the trip itself, but the people we went with.  Will I visit these places again? Without a doubt, the experiences and people made it a trip of a lifetime.

Let’s start with Day 1 –

Departure for Rome.  We opted to take an evening flight and boy was I glad we did. As we only had one day to spend in Rome prior to our cruise departure, I actually was able to sleep for a good part of the flight.

Even as a travel agent, we learn new things every day –  so I learned that Alitalia does not participate in TSA Pre-clear. Going through security was pretty easy, but it is so much easier with TSA Pre-clear, I highly recommend it to everyone.

What else did I learn?  Do not book the last seat in any section of these big airplanes. Literally, when I tell you that when the gentlemen in front of me reclined his seat he was inches from my face and being it was the last seat in the section, my seat did not recline nearly as much as he did.  Oh! the food on the plane – we were served dinner and breakfast and both were pretty good for airplane food.  Dinner was interesting, the flight attendant came around to take our order – your choice was meat or pasta, okay so what kind of meat – the reply was “We don’t know, we only know it’s meat!” okay – our answer – PASTA!

Once we arrived in Rome, going through customs was very easy and pretty quick – what wasn’t was the walk from the plane to customs.  It was long! Really long (if you have any kind of mobility issues, I strongly suggest that you request wheelchair assistance from your airline)

Hoped in a taxi and off to Rome!  It probably took about an hour to arrive at the center of the city and our magnificant hotel.  We passed the forum on the way and it was amazing.

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Let me say this, living in New York I thought the drivers here were crazy – well, they are even crazier in Italy.  I did close my eyes a number of times, it was pretty scary.  The roads are narrow and people just step out in the street to cross.

We arrived at our hotel by 10 am and I was just amazed at how beautiful it was.  We stayed at the Palazzo Naiadi, The Dedica Anthology, Autograph Collection.  The only problem I had was finding my room and finding the elevator.  The hotel is very large with many wings to it and a bit confusing.  But the service was fantastic and our room was very nice.  We had this weird balcony – when you walked out the door onto it it was 3 walls, no ceiling – the walls were standard room height, so you couldn’t see anything from it, but it was a balcony.

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We did some exploring in Rome and no, I didn’t get to go to the Vatican.  We met up with our friends who were going on the cruise with us and took a short walk over to the Trevi Fountain.  It was beautiful, but I expected a bigger square – it was very small area and very very crowded.

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We spent the afternoon and this beautiful little cafe, drinking wine and snacking.  Unfortunately, between the Aruba trip, the overnight flight and the wine, I ended up back at the hotel with a nice long nap and didn’t make it to dinner.  Joe did, he met the girls and they went out for a nice dinner – he had the opportunity to see the Forum at night, all lit up and looking amazing

End of day one of our excellent adventure, off to a good start!

 

 

 

Sail away Saturday

Every Saturday I will highlight a different cruise line and what they offer.  Let’s start with a list of cruise lines –  did you know there were so many! Many of these you’ve never heard of, I’m sure.  I’m sure you didn’t know how many cruise lines are actually connected to each other and have the same owners –  for instance Carnival Corporation owns – Aida Cruises,  Carnival Cruise Line, Costa Cruise Lines, Cunard, Holland America, P&O, Princess, and Seabourn.   They can offer everything from traditional cruising to premium.

Name Status Headquarters Notes
AIDA Cruises Operational  Germany Owned by Carnival Corporation & plc
American Cruise Lines Operational  USA Based in Guilford, Connecticut, offers coastal cruises and paddle-steamer cruises
Azamara Club Cruises Operational  USA Owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line Operational  USA Formed by former executives from the defunct Celebration Cruise Line, operates the Grand Celebration
Birka Line Operational  Finland Subsidiary of Rederiaktiebolaget Eckerö, operates the Birka Stockholm
Bohai Cruises[7] Operational  China State owned,owns Chinese Taishan.
Carnival Cruise Line Operational  USA/ United Kingdom Owned by Carnival Corporation & plc
Celebrity Cruises Operational  USA Owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
Celestyal Cruises Operational  Cyprus Previously named Louis Cruises
Compagnie du Ponant Operational  France Based in Marseille, operates yacht cruises
Costa Cruises Operational  Italy Owned by Carnival Corporation & plc
Cruise & Maritime Voyages Operational  United Kingdom Owned by South Quay Travel & Leisure Ltd.
Crystal Cruises Operational  Japan Owned by Genting Hong Kong
Cunard Line Operational  United Kingdom Owned by Carnival Corporation & plc
Disney Cruise Line Operational  United States Headquartered in Celebration, Florida
Dream Cruises Operational  Hong Kong Owned by Genting Hong Kong
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines Operational  United Kingdom
FTI Cruises Operational  Germany Cruise branch of Bavarian travel company FTI Group, operates MS Berlin
Hansa Touristk Operational  Germany Privately owned (Kilian family), offers ocean cruises with MV Ocean Majesty and river cruises
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises Operational  Germany Owned bei TUI Group
Holland America Line Operational  USA(originally  Netherlands) Owned by Carnival Corporation & plc
Hurtigruten Operational  Norway Also marketed as Norwegian Coastal Express
Majestic International Cruises Operational  Greece
St Hilda Sea Adventures Operational  United Kingdom Dunoon (Scotland), offers Scottish island cruises
The Majestic Line Operational  United Kingdom Dunoon (Scotland), offers Scottish island cruises
Mano Maritime Operational  Israel
MSC Cruises Operational  Italy Privately owned (Aponte family)
Nanhai Cruises[8] Operational  China State owned, exclusively run South China Sea cruises
North Pacific Expeditions Operational  USA Privately owned (Teevin family), offers Alaska cruises with M/Y Sea Star
Norwegian Cruise Line Operational  USA (originally  Norway) Partially owned by Genting Hong Kong
Oceania Cruises Operational  USA Owned by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd
P&O Cruises Operational  United Kingdom Owned by Carnival Corporation & plc
P&O Cruises Australia Operational  Australia Owned by Carnival Corporation & plc
Paul Gauguin Cruises Operational  United States Branch of Regent Seven Seas Cruises till 2010, offers South Pacific cruises
Pearl Seas Cruises Operational  United States Offers Great Lakes, New England and Cuba cruises
Phoenix Reisen Operational  Germany Privately owned (Zurnieden family)
Plantours Kreuzfahrten Operational  Germany Operates MS Hamburg and several river cruise ships
Poseidon Expeditions Operational  United Kingdom Arctic cruises with nuclear icebraker 50 Let Pobedy
Princess Cruises Operational  USA Owned by Carnival Corporation & plc
Pullmantur Cruises Operational  Spain Owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
Quark Expeditions Operational  USA Expedition cruising
Regent Seven Seas Cruises Operational  USA Owned by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd
Royal Caribbean International Operational  USA (originally  Norway) Owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
Saga Cruises Operational  United Kingdom Owned by Saga Group
Seabourn Cruise Line Operational  USA Owned by Carnival Corporation & plc
SeaDream Yacht Club Operational  Norway Privately owned (Atle Brynestad)
Silversea Cruises Operational  Monaco Privately owned (Lefebvre family)
SkySea Cruise Line Operational  China A joint venture of Ctrip inc. and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.,which will die around the end of 2018[9]
Star Cruises Operational  Hong Kong Owned by Genting Hong Kong
Thomson Cruises Operational  United Kingdom Owned by TUI Group
Transocean Tours Operational  Germany Since 2014 German branch of Cruise & Maritime Voyages
TUI Cruises Operational  Germany Owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and TUI Group
UnCruise Adventures Operational  USA
Viking Ocean Cruises Operational  USA Branch of Viking Cruises
Windstar Cruises Operational  USA Owned by Xanterra Parks & Resorts, Inc.
Voyages to Antiquity Operational  United Kingdom

List of river cruise lines

Name Status Headquarters Notes
1AVista Operational  Germany River cruises in Europe
AmaWaterways Operational  USA River cruises in Europe, Asia and Africa
American Cruise Lines Operational  USA Paddle-steamer cruises on US rivers
Aqua Expeditions Operational  Peru Privately owned (Francesco Galli Zugaro), eco-friendly river cruises on Amazon and Mekong rivers
A-ROSA Flussschiff Operational  Germany River cruises in Europe, offered ocean-going cruises with A-Rosa blu 2002-04
Australian Pacific Touring(APT) Operational  Australia Privately owned (McGeary family), river cruises in Europe, Asia and Africa, shares many ships with AmaWaterways
Avalon Waterways Operational  USA River cruises in Europe, Egypt, Asia and South America
CroisiEurope Operational  France Privately owned (Schmitter family), river cruises in Europe and Asia
Crystal Cruises Operational  Japan Owned by Genting Hong Kong, river cruises in Europe
Emerald Waterways Operational  USA Owned by Australian river cruise operator Scenic, river cruises in Europe and Asia
European Waterways Operational  United Kingdom Operates converted trading barges on European Rivers
Grand Circle Cruise Line Operational  USA Owned by Grand Circle Corporation, river cruises in Europe
Great Lakes Cruise Company Operational  USA Privately owned (Conlin family), Great Lakes and river cruises in USA and Canada
Hansa Touristk Operational  Germany Privately owned (Kilian family), offers ocean and river cruises (Europe, Asia)
Lüftner Cruises Operational  Austria Privately owned (Lüftner family), river cruises in Europe
nicko cruises Operational  Germany Owned by Mystic Invest, river cruises in Europe and Asia
Orthodox Cruise Company Operational  Russia River cruises in Russia
Phoenix Reisen Operational  Germany Privately owned (Zurnieden family), river cruises in Europe, Egypt, Asia and South America
Plantours Kreuzfahrten Operational  Germany Offers ocean and river cruises (Europe, Asia)
Reisebüro Mittelthurgau Operational   Switzerland Owned by Twerenbold Group, river cruises in Europe
Riviera Travel Operational  United Kingdom Luxury river cruises in Europe – Which? Travel Brand of the Year 2017[12].
Scenic Operational  Australia Owned by coach tour operator Transit Scenic Tours, river cruises in Europe and Asia
Tauck River Cruises Operational  USA Privately owned (Tauck family), river cruises in Europe
The River Cruise Line Operational  United Kingdom River cruises in Europe
Transocean Tours Operational  Germany Since 2014 German branch of Cruise & Maritime Voyages, river cruises in Europe
Uniworld River Cruises Operational  USA River cruises in Europe, Egypt and Asia
Viking River Cruises Operational  USA Branch of Viking Cruises, river cruises in Europe, Egypt and Asia
Vodohod Operational  Russia Owned by UCL Holding, river cruises in Russia

Fantasy Friday

Every Friday let’s post our fantasy trips – where would you go?  What’s your dream trip? Maybe you’ll get some ideas for planning your next adventure.  I’ll start with one of mine (yes, I have a few), but the top number one fantasy trip for me would be Tahiti – specifically Bora Bora is top of my list.

6/8/18 –  I didn’t have this destination on my list until I arranged a trip for my cousin and his daughter –  the photo’s that he has shared have been nothing short of amazing and the feedback on his trip has been nothing but positive.  So, now my next Fantasy trip is without a doubt, GREECE.  They visited Athens, Santorini and Mykonos – spending a few new nights in each location.  I’ve stolen some of his photo’s and this just makes me want to go more!!

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6/1/18:  An overwater bungalow

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Look at the color of that water –  what a beautiful location!   Just the thought of spending sometime in this peaceful and tranquil location – completely unwound – is a dream trip for me.

It’s not as difficult to get here anymore – from New York I can take a direct flight to Los Angeles (5 hours) and then a direct flight to this amazing destination (yes, it’s another 8 hours, but if I spend a day or two on the west coast first it wouldn’t be that bad).

There is plenty to do here so mixing a little bit of activity with lots of relaxation would be wonderful.

Matira Beach is one of the only public access beaches in Bora Bora making it extremely popular with visitors. The water is crystal clear and the sand is soft and downy. Matira Beach is also peppered with resorts, shops and eateries, so it’s a convenient place to spend most of a day.

beach

Mount Otemanu is one of two extinct volcanoes at the center of the island. Rising 2,400 feet above the lagoon, this volcanic remnant makes for a dramatic photo op or an adrenaline-pumping adventure. In fact, many say a trip to Bora Bora isn’t complete without a visit to the top of this breathtaking mountain. And fear not, hiking isn’t your only option; you can enjoy Mount Otemanu in all sorts of ways — a 4×4 tour, a boat tour, a helicopter tour or even some casual snapshots on the beach.

mount o

On a small islet just east of the main island and directly across from the Sofitel Marara, you’ll find a gorgeous coral reef. Because the reef isn’t far below the water, all you need to bring with you to spy the cache of colorful fish is some snorkeling goggles. But keep in mind that the beaches are filled with coral and not sand, so it gets a little rocky. Many past travelers recommend bringing water shoes or aqua socks to save your feet.

coral

Tour companies offer snorkeling, and shark and stingray feedings and encounters. You’ll have the opportunity to interact with native blacktip reef sharks and stingrays in their natural habitats. And if you don’t feel comfortable feeding the stingrays and sharks, you’ll still be able to enjoy snorkeling the reefs and seeing the plethora of rainbow-colored fish.

shark

What a beautiful part of the world and it’s definetely #1 on my wish list!

 

Carnival

Let me start by saying – I like Carnival!!!  There I said it.  My first cruise was on Carnival and besides cruising on spring break (with 1100 kids on the ship) I have thoroughly enjoyed every single Carnival Cruise.  I hear all the time, oh it’s to much partying or there are just to many kids.  Like I said, except for that spring break cruise it hasn’t been my experience at all.

I like the itineraries they offer, I like the ships and I like how they take care of their guests.

I’ve sailed Carnival from New York, Tampa, Ft Lauderdale, Miami and Long Beach California.

Here are some photo’s from our Carnival Inspiration out of Long Beach

We did the Chef’s Table, and it was amazing (that photo of the 4 of us, Joe, myself and our friends Diane and Charlie) where from the night of the Chef’s Table.

It was held in the Library and was absolutely wonderful

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I have a story about Carnival – we sailed on the Carnival Breeze (yes, this was during spring break – don’t know what t he heck I was thinking).  We had a cove balcony (wasn’t really pleased with it, just a personal preference) it felt very claustrophobic to me – it was very cool being close to the water, but that was the only positive about it. It’s on Deck 2 – so everything was far away and traveling during spring break – it was difficult to get an elevator. Besides that, the ship was great, the food was great – we enjoyed our cruise immensley.  It was a Southern Caribbean itinerary (which I really like).

Two things happened on this cruise – first I got sick – not sea sick – I ended up with an absolutely miserable cold.  When we got to Aruba, I was so sick I couldn’t get out of bed. Joe was diving, so he went off to his dive and I stayed in bed for the entire day.  Before he left, he found our cabin steward and let her know that I wasn’t feeling well and would be in the cabin.  Well, she was amazing –  she took care of me the whole day – checked on me a few times, even brought me soup for lunch.

The second thing that happened was when we got off the ship when we arrived in Miami. We got off the ship and headed up to Ft. Lauderdale.  We stopped at Denny’s for breakfast and when we sat down, I looked down and realized that I had left both my engagement ring and my wedding ring, in our cabin on the ship in a shot glass.  Now, these rings belonged to my mother-in-law, family heirlooms.  I was in a major panic – first I had to tell my husband I lost his mothers rings, and then I had to pray and hope that I could get them back.  Back in the car, on the phone with Carnival – mad dash for Miami.  Carnival told me to find security at the port and explain what happened. And I did (let me tell you I wasn’t alone – there were 3 other girls who had left their jewelry on the ship as well).  I stood there for about an hour, panic setting in – Joe was waiting in the car and I was praying I didn’t have to tell him they were gone.  Well, they found them – I got my rings back.  I’ve heard so many horror stories about people doing this and never getting their items back. It was just amazing!

So, besides liking Carnival for their ships and itineraries, returning my jewelry to me was over the top!

Next up Princess Cruise Lines . . .

 

 

UP Next . . . . . NCL!

Norwegian Cruise Line –  we’ve been on a bunch of these – on our own and on Seminar at Sea’s (these are cruises that travel agents are invited to attend to learn about the product and experience it first hand.  A lot of At Sea time is spent in training)  I also sell a lot of NCL Cruises to my guests and I’ve never had a complaint come back to me.

There is plenty to do on the ship and the restaurants are really good.  We’ve done both the Breakaway and the Getaway a number of times.   Here’s a big secret (well, probably not so big)  the fish on the floor swim towards the front of the ship.  Sounds a little silly, but really helps so you know which direction your walking in.

Specialty restaurants – they have a bunch – our absolute favorite has been Teppanyaki-it’s a Hibachi Restaurant and the food was really very good.  I highly recommend adding on the specialty restaurant package (or upgrading your cabin to one that includes Specialty Dining).  Didn’t really care for the Italian Restaurant, but every thing else was very good.

We again, did the Chef’s Table on our last cruise, which was absolutely amazing – it was served in the Haven (which is the “Private” suite section of the ship).  It was a little over $100.00 per person – could not be booked in advance, had to wait until we were onboard the ship.  I heard, but haven’t been able to verify, that they may not offer this anymore or it just maybe on select ships/sailings. I would be disappointed if they no longer offered it.

On our last cruise, our ship spotted a small boat jammed with people – it ended up being a refugee boat, I believe there were 18 people on board.  We circled that little boat for about 3-4 hours waiting for the coast guard to show up to rescue them.  While we were going around in circles, we went to the Cuban Restaurant for lunch –  had a great lunch – and as I went to get up I pushed my chair back (it was a wicker chair) and the legs collapsed and next thing you know, I was laying on the floor, in the chair – with my legs in the air and couldn’t get up.  Within seconds of course, a little group of people were helping me up and I just wanted to run to my cabin and hide cause I really felt like a dufus –  I was so embarrassed.

I have tons of pictures of our NCL adventures –  GETAWAY ,  GETAWAY 2

Great Stirrup Cay – Norwegian’s Private Island –

GREAT STIRRUP CAY

Depending on which ship you are on, will depend on some “specials” that maybe offered – when doing the Breakaway or the Getaway we do the Illusionist show on the first night. It’s is usually on sale and the show is very good. I won’t ruin the surprises by telling you here, but it is very enjoyable and entertaining.

Joe loves the Walk the Plank (not me, that darn fear of heights), I’ll stay planted on deck and take his picture – works for me

plank

 

Cruising Continued – Royal Caribbean

We recently experienced Royal Caribbean.  It was our first time with this cruise line.  We sailed on the Independence of the Seas from Ft. Lauderdale to Cozumel.

She is a slightly older ship, built in 2008 and her passenger capacity is 4375 guests.  Our voyage was sold out and the ship didn’t feel crowded.  It wasn’t during spring break, so there weren’t a lot of kids on this voyage.

Embarkation was a breeze,  it took less than an hour from arrival to boarding and we arrived a little after noon.

Balcony cabin, deck 6 – good location – easy to get to everything – no long waits for the elevator. On the floor in the elevator they put the day of the week (it’s an insert into the carpet), which was pretty cool – except when they didn’t change it and that caused all sorts of confusion on what day of the week it was.

One thing we try to do on every cruise is the Chef’s Table.  If you’ve never done it, you really need to.  It’s really a pretty cool experience.  So, on this ship it was 12 guests at a private table. The table is located in the Main Dining Room on a balcony overlooking the entire dining room.  It was a cool location.  Dinner took about 4 hours from start to finish and the food was delicious. There is a cost for doing it and this one was $85.00 per person and well worth it.  It’s done with a wine pairing for every coarse.

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The couple we sat next to during the dinner where originally from New York (well, the husband was – the wife was from New Jersey).  Really nice couple and we enjoyed getting to know them.  It seemed from this point on we followed each other around the ship at ran into them at almost every meal.

We ate in the main dining room on the first night – it was okay –  I wasn’t impressed with our meal.  The table next to us never received their appetizer.  We did the Chef’s Table on the 2nd night.  They have a two specialty restaurants – Chops Grille and Giovanni’s Table.  Chops Grille was good, but Giovanni’s Table was excellent – from the service to the food, we enjoyed every moment of it.  Remember that couple from Chef’s Table – at both restaurants, we ended up sitting next to each other.

We also made it a point to have lunch at Johnny Rockets –  good burgers, good fries, good onion rings- great shakes!!  20180304_125018

Lot’s of shops on the promenade, the usual liquor and smokes and jewelry.  Plus a few extra’s like the Cupcake Cupboard and Ben & Jerry’s.  So, one of the things I don’t really like is these are all extra’s –  Johnny Rockets, Cupcake and Ben & Jerry’s are an upcharge.  It should be included if they are offering it on the ship. Just my opinion. 20180301_164217

So, they do have the Flow Rider, the rock climbing wall, miniature golf and the Ice Rink.  We only saw one show, it was the Motown Show and it wasn’t very good at all.

I stayed on the ship in Cozumel and Joe went scuba diving (more on that later).  We have been to Cozumel many times and our usual go to is Mr. Sancho’s (another day, another post).

We did have some issues on this cruise that I think are worth mentioning –  I didn’t find the staff not to be very friendly or accommodating.  They all seemed to be a bit grouchy to say the least – we were on deck and a waiter walked past and I asked him if he had any napkins – his response – NO and continued to walk.  Doesn’t seem like a big deal, but he should have said, no, I’m sorry – they have them at the bar, No, I’m sorry let me get you one – something other than just NO! This was a  typical response when asking the staff a question. Just a bit rude.

The second issue we had was in the Casino.  We spent sometime there (LOL!) I played slots mostly and Joe was playing Roulette.  It was the last night and he was at a table playing with $5.00 chips and everyone else had colored chips.  The gentlemen next to him lost all his colored chips and the dealer gave him $5.00 chips.  Well, if you play Roulette you certainly know that there is absolutely no way to tell whose bet is whose if your all playing with the same chips.  When Joe realized the player next to him was putting down $5.00 chips on the table, he brought it to the dealers attention –  the dealer proceeded to remove $5.00 chips from the table, not knowing whose was whose, before you knew it, he rolled the ball while Joe was trying to get him to stop what he was doing.  Of course, the number he had been playing all along hit – and his chip had been removed by the dealer.  The dealer realized his mistake and kept apologizing – we got the manager, who had to get another manager, who had to watch the tape and then have a meeting.  A few hours later, the manager called our room and they decided that the dealer did make an error and would pay off on the bet.  They did the right thing, my issue was the dealers weren’t very trained at what they were doing.  This was our issue, but there were others who were having similar issues at other table games.

The last thing I was very unhappy about is we booked an excursion for arrival back into Ft. Lauderdale as our flight was not until 7 pm.  The last night of the cruise, we received a notice in the room that our excursion was cancelled.  Oh good, what now – go to the desk – so sorry, no other options available.  Now, I need to figure this out and make plans – oh, wait first I had to pay for WIFI at the cost of $30.00, so we could now rent a car for the following day. It was just handled very poorly.

All in, it was a good cruise, we enjoyed ourselves, the ship was nice, the food good (for the most part) and we were on vacation!

 

Cruising ???? Should I or Shouldn’t I?

So, at one point in time I would have said – Yes!!!  Go on a cruise, it’s amazing, it’s wonderful, you’ll have the best time ever.  Now, not so sure – please remember this all about your own personal preferences (and they change). I’ve been on over 30 cruises and enjoyed all of them (some more than others).  There are cruises that I still want to experience –  would love to do Norwegian’s Hawaiian Island Cruise and I really want to do a Mediterrean Cruise and I will eventually do both.

My very first cruise was a gift from my brother. It was a short cruise from New York to Canada on Carnival.  There were 18 of us who went.  It rained almost the entire time, but it was great and I really enjoyed myself.  I had all the anxiety ever first time cruiser has – the biggest probably was “would I get sea sick”, I tend to get motion sickness and have had some pretty bad experiences with small boats (I went on one of those casino/gambling boats and was sick the entire time – I had to stay outside on deck to keep from throwing up and it was December)

So, that very first gift cruise started my fascination with cruising – I always booked an inside cabin (how much time was going to spend in there anyways) until the upgrade fairy shined upon me and I ended up with a balcony. No turning back from that point – it was now always a balcony (or better).

Then it was all about how many sea days?  I didn’t want more than one in the beginning and one at the end – what would I do all day at sea?  Well, that changed to after my first cruise out of New York – which had two sea days – and guess what – I found something to do – wasn’t bored at all and actually I now enjoy having more than one sea day back to back.  I find that with only one, I never really get to experience the ship itself, the restaurants, the shows, the silly games, relaxing, enjoying the pool – just seem to be enough time with only one sea day.

Itinerary – I prefer Southern Caribbean or Western Caribbean cruises.  Ports in the Southern Caribbean include Antigua, Aruba, Banana Coast (Trujillo), Barbados, Bequia, Bonaire, Curacao, Dominica, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Illes des Saintes, Martinique, Mayreau, Nevis, Pigeon Island, St. Barts, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Tobago Cays.  Many of these destinations you cannot reach on a traditional cruise ship, some just by private yacht – but the Southern Caribbean is so diverse in what it offers, from beautiful beaches and clear blue water, to mountains, rainforest and volcanos.

The Western Caribbean is just as unique and varied – Honduras, Belize, Costa Maya, Cozumel, Falmouth, Grand Cayman, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, Playa del Carmen, Progreso, and Roatan.

To pick a cruise, you first need to determine what interests you more – the ship or the destinations.  You either pick the ship you want to sail on and then go where it goes or pick your destinations and find a ship that goes there.  There is no right answer; it’s all what you enjoy.  I’ve cruised with people who never ever leave the ship – they have no interest in the ports – they just really like to experience the ship.

People ask me all of the time, what is my favorite cruise line – I can honestly say I don’t have one single favorite (but I haven’t sailed on them all YET!) I’ve done Carnival, Princess, MSC, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean.  Each of them has things I love, I like, I’m okay with and I don’t like.  I like Carnival’s itineraries; I like Norwegian’s food and beverage package and specialty restaurants, I like MSC ships and Royal Caribbean, and they have more on board activities.

Next up – some detailed info on the various cruise lines I’ve had the opportunity to sail with . . . .