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About Giantfan13

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  1. Thanks for all the great advice. I know it's a bit late, but you've got to do what you got to do, when you can. Can some one recommend a bus company that goes from Anchorage to Seward. I googled it and only one came up, which leaves Anchorage late afternoon and arrives after our ship has sailed. Are there other options by bus/shuttle? Cheers Len
  2. We are flying into Anchorage, last week in August. We are booked on an NCL cruise Sept 2 southbound Seward to Vancouver. We plan on renting a car in Anchorage and driving to Denali. My questions Is it best to rent a car right at the airport, or might it be cheaper in town. Is there a preferred rental place that some would use and does anyone have any codes for discounts on a rental? We plan on getting to Seward a day early. From Anchorage, what are our options to get to Seward?. Private car or taxi are just a bit too expensive. Is there a train or bus we can sue and if so, where can we find a timetable? Appreciate any help with these questions. Cheers Len
  3. We just did an MSC cruise in December and stopped in Livorno. They also, like the other cruise lines, offer a shuttle to the city center, and like the others, it wasn't free. Is anything free these days from the cruise lines? Cheers Len
  4. We were in the Vatican on a weekday mid December last year. We were told it was an 'off' day, not as crowded as a busy day.' I have never seen so many people crowded into this place as when we were there and if this was an 'off' day, I would hate to see what it is like on a crowded day. We had a Vatican tour booked and my DW got separated from the tour. Trying to find her thru that crowd was impossible. Lucky we had those head buds and I was able to tell her where to be thru the microphone and we were all reunited. In the Sistine Chapel it was like cramming little sardines into a small can as to the amount of people in that room, again, on an 'off' day. Maybe the latter you go will be better, but certainly not in the AM. Be prepared for mass crowds and we are from NY and suppose to be used to crowds. Cheers Len
  5. Add another vote to going to see Florence. We did a day trip there, off our pre cruise stay in Rome about a year ago. We downloaded several free walking tours, places to see and visit, for free, and we were prepared for everything and anything. Florence is just a wonderful city to just forget your cares and woes and just wander about and enjoy everything, from the narrow side streets to the glorious buildings. On another note, we had a cruise stop in Livorno in December off an MSC cruise. We chose to go to Pisa and Lucca, but a word on this if you want transportation to Florence. At the port there are many, and I do mean many, taxi's and vans, and the like, all offering to take you where you might want to go, like Florence, Pisa, Lucca and others. I cannot say if their prices are good or not as we didn't use them, but I would assume they would be better than any private tour or ship's tour you would want to book. If you think this may be your one time to see Florence, go for it. You won't be sorry. Cheers Len
  6. You have to get to Civi eventually, so why waste time traveling back and forth. Staying in Rome is the smartest thing to do and take an early morning train or taxi or whatever to Civi the day of your cruise. Rome is pretty easy to do on your own, but two days is hardly enough time to see everything. Not sure if this helps, but if memory holds, the cost of a ride from the airport to say mid Rome is about $45 and from Rome to Civi about $75, give or take a few dollars. Cheers Len
  7. Here you go. We were in Rome about a year ago and on the first Sunday of every month, most of the paid attractions are free. WE felt why pay for something that we can get for free, even if we have to wait a bit to get in. So we decided to go to the Colosseum and Forum. We arrived at the Colosseum about 8:30 AM and the line was so long I really couldn't believe it. When I asked some one, they said about 2 hours to get in. My DW went on line as I am slightly handicapped and cannot stand for long periods in one spot. After about 15 minutes, I approached the gate where they were letting people in and inquired about their practices for handicapped. They immediately took me to the head of the line and was ready to let me in right then and there, but I had to get my wife. first. When she got there, they let us in a special entrance and we were thrilled. I do walk with a cane, so, I guess, that helped. After the Colosseum, we went across the street, to the Forum and the lines were just as long and this was about 11:00. We again inquired about handicapped entry and again, we were taken to the front of the line and allowed in. I can't say enough good things about the Italians and their treatment of handicapped people. So, if you want to take advantage of the free day, I would suggest you get there maybe at 7AM. I don't know if you can buy tickets from a private vendor and skip the line, maybe some one else can help with that. If not, prepare for a very long wait. Cheers Len
  8. Thanks for all the great advice. We figured about 4 days pre cruise, maybe 5 if we can swing it. Last time we were in Anchorage, we were only there for one day and, as I said, had to change plans and fly home from there. It ended up working out great as we had a midnight flight out of anchorage, took some advice form CC and sat on the left side of the plane and we were treated to an amazing display from the Northern Lights. Yes, I know people say you won't see them at the end of August, but we did and it lasted for almost 45 minutes. Again, thanks for the advice and any more would love to have. Cheers Len
  9. Good question. Isn't there a bus that runs from Anchorage to Seward? If not, any suggestions would be appreciated. Cheers Len
  10. Spend a hour or so reading some of the threads on this forum and you will immediately not want to book anything thru the ship. EVERYONE on this forum will recommend a private tour company over anything the ship can offer you. It's as easy as that. Do some research, contact several of the major tour companies and see which one you feel more comfortable with. They all do about the same thing and people choice their particular one because they felt more comfortable after speaking with them. You just can't go by the recommendation of one person as to whom you might choose. We used SPB Tours because Victoria made us feel so at ease, others use ALLA for many of the same reasons and it just goes on. And, YES, you cannot get off the ship on your own unless you have a Russian visa. The companies, as well as the ship supply you with a temporary visa for 72 hours so you can tour with them, but you always have to be under their watchful eye. You never know when Putin might be eavesdropping. LOL Cheers Len
  11. This is very true. But often Tallinn is the day before St. Petersburg, so you should bear that in mind when deciding what is best for you. I read a review of a family who spent all day walking around Tallinn, and then their teenagers were tired and refused to get off the ship on day 2 in St. Petersburg. The mom wasn't comfortable leaving them in the kids club by themselves, so she stayed behind too. But for physically fit people, this is a lovely walk both ways, and Tallinn is beautiful and lovely to explore on foot. But I honestly wouldn't push it if you are concerned about your strength (we had a 3 year old so it wasn't up for debate. Without him, we probably easily would have been able to complete the walk). What, teenagers tired and didn't want to get off the ship, what is this world coming to. I am 72 and we had no problem walking from the ship to Fat Margret gate and then up the hill, down the hill and all over town also. Then we had the nerve to walk back to the ship, get up early the next couple of days and see St Petersburg. It is a very easy walk from port to ship and YES, unless you have mobility issues, it should be no problems walking anywhere in Tallinn. Teenagers tired from walking--WOW. Cheers Len
  12. We were on the Rhapsody on a TA in December. We really do not gamble, so we didn't spend much time in the casino, but it is there. It is not large, but it does have just about whatever you might want. Cheers Len
  13. Even with MTD, you can request to be seated in a certain section, even the same table, if you like the wait staff and others dining with you. Make a reservation for the time you think you will be eating most nights. It is just a reservation. If you feel like going earlier or later, you certainly can, but may have to wait a bit until tables open up. We like to share tables, but we found people who wanted tables for 2 usually got seated first, when you have no reservation or are at different times. Cheers Len
  14. We also have done over 25 cruises and most have been insides. I can understand some who must have a balcony who might be claustrophobic, but otherwise, to us anyway, the cost outweighs the thrill just to hear the ocean at night. We are in the same category as many here, who just use our room to shower, change and sleep. We prefer to be with others, all around the ship, and not hibernate in our rooms when there is so much to do. Yes, I would love to be able to get up at dawn and watch the sunrise from our room, but we value cruising more and we can do 3-4 cruises for what others pay for 2 cruises because they need their balconies. Again, this is just us. Insides are a bit more cramped, but the sleeping is great. We usually leave the TV on, on the ships camera station, So, at night, it is completely dark, but in the AM, we can see what's doing outside. To each their own. You cruise to make yourself happy, so do what you feel would make you the happiest. Cheers Len
  15. Maybe I can help a bit also. In December, we did a 10 day Med cruise on the Sinfonia, from Barcelona. After that, we boarded an RCCL ship for a trans Atlantic to Tampa, from Barcelona. So we had the situation you are talking about, back to back. This was our second cruise on MSC but first European cruise. The first time was a disaster on the Divina, her first time in Miami and they knew nothing about American cruises. But we decided to try it again, maybe for the same reasons as you, price. To answer a few of your questions, there are stark differences between MSC and any other American cruise lines. Most passengers (about 90%) will be Europeans and there will be enough that do not speak English. If you are English speaking, you will be seated with English speaking passengers at dinner, menu will be in 5 different languages and all announcements are in 5 different languages. Just our take on major differences--Service was good, but crew doesn't know how to smile unless smiled at. They do their job, very well, but as to friendliness, it isn't even in same ballpark as an American cruise. We had a waiter for 10 nights, never smiled, never knew our names etc. When we got on RCCL, EVERYONE was happy, smiling, cheerful. To us, it just made for a better atmosphere. Food was good, but very small portions. As I said, service was good as we were usually done with dinner in less than 90 minutes. There is NO coffee or tea after dinner. If you want that, you pay for it. Shows were short and sweet--everything is visual so all can understand and view. A couple of Operas also are included and that is up to you if you want to view. We did, but we are not Opera people and were sort of bored. Maybe one of our biggest 'complaints' if that is the right word, and it has nothing to do with MSC, just the European people per se and I truly do not mean to insult anyone, but to Americans, they are just plain out rude and do not partake in many of the social graces we do. Like I held a door for a lady as we were going thru and she never even acknowledged me. When elevators open, they just rush in, never even allowing people to get off. People are always pushing to get ahead, enough so, that I had to sort of yell at this little old lady to get out of my back pocket and stop trying to pass me by, while just standing on line. I understand it is a cultural thing, but we found it very offensive. Then there are the continual people disembarking and embarking at just about every port. You sort of get used to luggage in the hallways every night. So, all in all, we still had a good cruise. We adjusted to many of the things we weren't accustomed to and had a good time. Would we cruise MSC again, YES, but if lines like RCCL had the same prices as MSC I would always do RCCL. It was just more cheerful, friendly and made everyone around you happier. Isn't that why we cruise? Cheers Len
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