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  1. In my experience, in Europe, ships generally are letting passengers off within 15-20 minutes of the planned arrival time. They are usually staring the docking process a few minutes in advance and then the process of tying up the ropes and setting up the ramps and such takes a few minutes. While that is being done, the arrival paperwork is done. I would be watching for the ramps from the promenade deck (if there is one) and then start heading down to the gangway when I see that they are ready to let people off. I would not wait for a formal announcement. I often am off the ship before that announcement is made. As marazul has said above, your tour company should be aware of the actual timing and should be prepared to deal with your arrival time.
  2. I'm curious what price you would be suggesting the additional people pay for the cruise? Are you suggesting they would pay $0?
  3. I consider this an excellent location to base yourself when in Barcelona. I've stayed twice at the Regencia Colon Hotel which is a block away. You're very near the Cathedral, which is a nice place to visit. And there is a public square in front of the Cathedral which offers space to people watch. You'll be within easy walking distance of La Rambla (with all of its activity), Placa de Catalunya, the Gothic Quarter, etc. Lots of shopping and restaurants and places to choose from. Also you'll have easy access to the metro via short walks. For places like Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell, you'll probably want to take the Metro or a taxi. I love the location, personally.
  4. On one of my Barcelona cruises, we arrived around 9:30 directly from the airport. They weren't prepared to take our bags yet at the drop-off location. They told us to come back at 10:00 and they were taking them at that time. We just sat off to the side for that 30 minutes. There was a LOT of action going on at that time as previous passengers were finding their transportation and new passengers were arriving to hopefully start their cruise. It was a bit chaotic. I suspect the exact time they will take your bags depends on the status of that particular day's chaos.
  5. Assuming you are up for activity upon arrival, I would suggest walking or taking a vaporetto boat from your hotel through Venice to the St. Marks Square area. This will keep you active and awake (hopefully) after your flight. I wouldn't try to go inside any of the sites that day. Just explore and take in the marvel that is Venice. Then on embarkation day, I would do one of two things, and it probably depends on when you can board the ship. If you can board early, I would do the checkin process and then go back and explore Venice again. If you are able to board late, you might consider leaving your bags at the hotel until late in the day and then sightsee first before going to checkin on the ship. If it were me, I'd probably try to get the ship processing done first and then spend the rest of the day/night in Venice. It is on this day that I would go inside the Palace and Basilica. I would try to see St. Marks Square in the evening too, if weather is nice. It's quite a fun place to just hang out as the restaurants fill in and music starts to play. On Day 3, you can continue to sightsee. If you haven't done a full-length Grand Canal ride on a vaporetto yet, be sure to get that in this day. It's a great way to see the heart of Venice.
  6. No difference. When you're at sea, you're too far off the coast to see land until you start pulling into port. When you are in a port, there is no way to know which side of the ship will face land or face the sea. They can use either side depending on what needs done with the ship while it is in port. Pick your cabin based on best location on the ship itself.
  7. JB has given you good advice. I am from the US and here is my approach. I like to show up with a few Euros in my pocket. But usually only about $100 worth or so. Just enough so that I don't feel uncomfortable if I have any immediate need for cash before I can get to an ATM. Sometimes, I have this from a previous trip to Europe and sometimes, I order it from my local bank prior to leaving. Once in Europe, I try to use my credit card for most purchases. I think all of my current cards have no additional fees for international transactions. I tend to take at least 2 and usually 3 credit cards with me, just so I have options. For casual spending money (smaller meals, beverages, incidental purchases, etc., I use Euros. When I start running low on Euros, I hit up an ATM and use my debit card linked to my home checking account. I don't spend a lot of cash, so I usually just get 100 Euros at a time. But you can withdrawal as much as you want. You should check with your bank to see how much each transaction will cost you. But to be honest, I don't really worry that much about these fees if they hit me. They don't bust the bank. I carry 2 different ATM Debit Cards with me in case something happens to one of them (i.e. the machine eats it or one gets damaged, etc.). In the tourist areas you will be visiting, you will have no problem finding ATMs. It seems there is almost always one within sight wherever you go. It's very easy to deal with money in Europe. Don't stress about it.
  8. I can't comment on RCI's insurance. But in case you haven't found it yet, there is an entire forum on cruise insurance here... https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/499-cruisetravel-insurance There is a lot of good info on various companies to consider. It seems that most people recommend going with insurance not from your cruise line (more coverage for your money).
  9. You definitely want to get inside. It's a one-of-a-kind destination. Spend at least a couple hours here. However, I don't feel the need for a formal guided tour inside any cathedral. I do it myself.
  10. I'm curious why all of the "classes" are named after their first ship in that class with the exception of the Vision Class which is named after the last to sail in the class.
  11. I will say, I also found the Guiness Storehouse uninteresting, for the most part. But it's a big draw in town, so I put it on the list. The glass of beer included in the price didn't do anything for me either. I mostly just ate in pubs/restaurants that I came across as I walked around. I can't recall the names or locations of them. I'm not a foody.
  12. No help on the hotels, however, another option could be to just take the train to Tarragona from Barcelona on the morning of your cruise. It looks like there is service about every 30 minutes. Trip lengths vary from about 30 minutes on the fastest trains to about one hour on the slower ones. Renfe is the Spanish train company. http://www.renfe.com
  13. In central Dublin... Kilmainham Gaol, Guiness Storehouse Brewery, Grafton St. shopping, Trinity College ground and the Book of Kells, the General Post Office, St. Patrick Cathedral, Christ Church Cathedral, St. Stephen's Green Park. Reading up on Ireland's independence movement before visiting the Gaol and Post Office will help understand their importance to the Irish.
  14. Specifics will vary by port, but at 9:30 arrival you might not even be let inside the building yet. That is right about when they start letting people in, but it does vary. Remember, they are dealing with a LOT of people getting OFF the ship first. They aren't always ready to process people ON the ship. We usually arrive around 10:00. They porters will take your luggage and point you to the building entrance (where you may or may not be let in yet). Once they open the doors you will pass through security and start your paperwork processing. But going in that early, you will then be given a boarding group number (probably a very early one, if you're that early) and then instructed where to sit and wait. I don't mind that wait. We find it part of the cruise fun. People watching. But we usually have to wait until until 11:00 or 11:30 to board the ship. They will board special groups first and then start calling boarding group numbers. The checkin process goes quite quickly that early. Very little waiting in line. However, you do then have to wait in your seat in the waiting area. Sometimes that waiting area gets VERY crowded before they begin the boarding process. So it's really a matter of do you want to wait in the waiting area quite a while or do you want to arrive a little later and board more directly (after the initial crowds have been boarded already).
  15. I also think it is too much to do in one day if you truly want to enjoy your visit. I once did Pompeii, Sorrento, and Capri as part of a ship excursion and it was just too short of time at each location. It felt very rushed and left me dissatisfied. And there certainly wasn't enough time to do the Capri chair lift. Granted, with a more private tour, you would probably have a little more time, however, I still don't think it would be worth it. I would personally pick Capri or Pompeii as your primary destination and then add in Sorrento or exploring central Naples itself for a while. There are worthwhile things to see there too.
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