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Giantfan13

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Everything posted by Giantfan13

  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
  16. Giantfan13

    Advice needed

    We need some advice from the experts, so I go right to the source. Here is our situation--we have a cruise booked on NCL, Sept 2-9 southbound from Seward to Vancouver. We stay a day in Vancouver and then do another cruise to Hawaii on RCCL. We have been to Alaska twice already, once on a round trip from Seattle and another on a northbound from Vancouver to Seward. We got to Anchorage, but due to circumstances at home, we never got further North and had to fly home from Anchorage. This time we would like to try and do a more Northern trip as we do have some time. Here are the questions, we figured to fly into Anchorage, rent a car, travel North and then back to Anchorage to get the southbound cruise from Seward. Is this a better plan than to fly in to say Fairbanks, rent the car and travel south, to Anchorage? Would that be possible, renting in Fairbanks and returning to Anchorage? Second, about how much time should we leave to explore a bit and then return to Anchorage. I know some will say weeks, but we don't have that time. If we drive from Anchorage to say Denali and then back, what amount of time should we allocate for that trip, stopping along the way so as not to rush thru things? I don't know if we can do an extra week traveling. Would say 4 -5 days be any good. The drive isn't that far and stopping along the way where we wanted. Any good advice as to where to stop and what to see. We are more lookers than doers, if you know what I mean. We are seniors, and helicopters and things like that are out. Also, do they still have books, like Toursaver that would help with hotels and any things we might want to participate in? We haven't booked our plane fare yet, and are looking to do that this week, so that's why the questions on time are very relevant to us now. Cheers Len
  17. I agree about Mdina. We are old, but kids at heart, and we loved wandering about the old streets, the fortress, and all this city ahs to offer. You can take the HoHo to Mdina and stay as long as you like. Kids will love it. Cheers Len
  18. Your topic says DIY Genoa, yet you are talking about places outside of Genoa. We were in Genoa in December for a day stop. We had never been here and, at first, read all the stuff about things out of the city, well, we opted to stay in town and you know what, Genoa turned out to be our favorite port of the entire cruise. Why, I really can't say, but we wandered all about on our own, had a small map, but we just loved wandering the really small narrow streets, stopping in shops along the way. We also wanted to do the funicular to the top of the city, which we found and used. We found a wonderful little restaurant for lunch, had a luscious gelato in the afternoon. Genoa is a city that should be explored. We did and loved it. Cheers Len
  19. We were in Rome, year before last and stayed 5 days pre cruise and did the entire city on our own, very easy. Plus, I ma 72 and still was fine to walk around and enjoy all the sites. Look for a centrally located hotel that will enable you to get to many of the main sites very easily. We stayed not to far from Termini and it was perfect. In one day we walked to the Spanish Steps, Pantheon, Trevi and back to the Steps with many stops in between. We did use public transportation to get to the Vatican one, day and we also used transportation to get to the Colosseum and the Forum. Like has been said, avoid the HoHo and use the trains or the bused to get around. We also did a day trip to Florence, if you have the time. Very easy to get to from Termini and spent a marvelous day just wandering about Florence. Cheers Len
  20. Giantfan13

    Livorno

    Just a heads up, when we went to Livorno, we already had a pre booked ticket on the Tuscany Bus, but there were many taxi's at the port ready willing and able to take you to Florence, Pisa, Lucca, basically where ever you wanted to go. We didn't stop to hear their prices, as I said, we already had a bus ticket, but there are there, in force. Cheers Len
  21. We also had been to Rome for a week the year before and now, here we were, with a port day in Civi, so what to do. We also wanted to do something just a bit different, something most others won't be doing, so we opted for a day at a thermal spa. https://civitavecchia.portmobility.it/en/ficoncella-thermal-baths We thoroughly enjoyed our day there. Now it is hard to get to, as you need a taxi and it wasn't a cheap ride, but the baths only cost about 2-3 Euros depending on how long you want to stay. It isn't a glamorous spot, but the three pools that were open were great and we were the only tourists there, and had a wonderful time meeting the locals. My DW also said the pains she was having in her legs were gone when we returned to the ship. We made arrangements for the taxi to pick us up at a certain time and he was right on time. You want something different, this was it for us. Cheers Len
  22. We used them for a bus from Livorno to Pisa. We cruised mid December and they weren't doing a continuation to Lucca. I cannot comment on their bus to Florence. Unlike the OP, we contacted them several times in advance to see if we could get a bus from Pisa to Lucca. They always responded right away, basically telling us that they had none for the day we were in Livorno. We pre bought tickets for the one leg, to Pisa, but you also can buy a ticket tin the Tourist Info shop, a few hundred yards from the bus stop. They run 3 separate buses to Pisa, each bout 3 hours apart. We wanted to do the early bus, maybe take the train to Lucca and then come back on a alter bus, but they won't allow that. You are buying a round trip ticket, so if you go on the 10AM bus, you have to return on the 1PM bus. All in all, we were completely satisfied. Just be aware that the bus leaves you in a main parking area and it is still a nice walk to the Leaning Tower. Cheers Len
  23. We have been to Valencia twice and loved this city very much. It is definitely NOT walkable to get to anything worth seeing. You might want to check out the HoHo bus. This will take you thru most of the city, getting off in the 'old town. We loved this section of the city as it is wonderful to just wander around and find many great buildings. We also opted to go to the Grand market, which we found wonderful. The HoHo will also take you to the Aquarium or oceanography center. It is huge and you could spend all day there. We didn't visit it as we just preferred to ride the bus and see the city. Our second time, we opted for the #4 bus, (I think that is it) which takes you r ight to the old city and, once again, we just wandered about, checking out many things to do. Cheers Len
  24. Most MSC shows are what one might refer to as 'visual' so it can be understood in many languages. Cheers Len
  25. We did a 10 day cruise and has 3 formal nights. On those nights, they had 3 shows in the theater, with that last one, a very late show to accommodate those who wanted to see the show, as we felt the theater is quite small. Just on those nights, you had to pre book a spot for the show you wanted to see. Obviously, the first two shows were usually filled up and the late one, was the last resort. You can start to pre book at the close of the show the night before. There is usually a mad rush for the screens to pre book right outside the theater, but if you go down one deck, there are several screens with no one there/ All you need to do is scan your ship card and touch which show you want to see. At the night of the show, they scan your card and you can sit anywhere you like. Cheers Len
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