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Giantfan13

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Everything posted by Giantfan13

  1. I guess it depends on where you want to stay in Barcelona. We had a pre cruise stay where we stayed at a very nice hotel on Las Rambles 'Arc De Rambles pre cruise as we wanted to be in this area. Post cruise, we had some points with Hilton so we stayed with them. The Hilton is in more of a residential and shopping area, but it was an amazing hotel. Would definitely stay at either place again. Cheers Len
  2. I can't exactly say how early you can leave your luggage at the port, but when cruised out of Barcelona about a month ago and we booked a hotel on Las Ramblas, which is about 10 minutes away from the port. It took about 10-12 minutes by taxi to get there and they held our luggage until we were ready to go to the port. There are many hotels in this area that would probably do this. Cheers Len
  3. We have cruised on the Grandeur twice and loved each cruise. We simply love the smaller ships and the Grandeur was perfect. Cheers Len
  4. Tim I didn't want it to sound as if our cruise was a failure, it wasn't. If so, I would plainly state I would never cruise MSC again. There were just things that we weren't expecting and if we ever venture there again, we will be more prepared. Thanks for your insight. It does show that there are two sides to every cruise, and two ways of looking at every day things. Chees Len
  5. A I have written a slightly smaller review of our sailing on the Sinfonia, early December, I found your review quite interesting. Since you seem to be a huge fan of MSC your perspective might be very different from some who have never sailed MSC and were looking to, like other Americans. While you found the crew friendly, I did NOT see that at all. In fact it was my biggest complaint for the entre cruise, the stoicness of the crew. We had a waiter for our 10 day cruise who ever smiled ONCE, never took the time to know our names. I did comment on the effectiveness of the service as we usually were in and out for dinner in about 90 minutes. When passing any crew member in a public place or in a walkway, they NEVER said anything unless I initiated the prossess. Almost the exact opposite of what one would find on any American cruise ship. To each his own as far as if that might be a deal breaker. As I also reported, the shows were decent enough, but we just aren't huge opera fans, so they weren't that awe inspiring to us. We did attend and did like the voices of the leads, but after that, it just may not appeal to that many Americans. We also found the cruise director a bit long in the tooth. Since everything he had to say was in 5 different languages, it did take a while. The performances were good, but we were surprised most of the songs and singing were in English. Some might have been better in their native language. We did like the Flamenco show very much, others were hit an miss. Again, a I said previously, the showgirls were stunning, and were very good. Our cruise, also 10 days with only one sea day, so we basically never ate lunch as we were off the ship on all port days so I really cannot comment on that. As I said in another post, they try to show you to a table for breakfast, but if you want to go where you might want to go, they do not object. As for portion size, we found them small. My wife ordered fish and chips one evening and she got 2 fish sticks with some packaged French fries. Not what I would call a gourmet meal. I do agree about ordering that extra appetizer. As Americans, who never sailed MSC in Europe, we were surprised there was no coffee or tea offered with dessert. If you want that, you pay extra. Again, maybe since you cruised MSC many times, you expected that, we didn't. We did thoroughly enjoy the Gelato every day and some of the entertainment staff were very funny when they did visual antics. As many Americans don't adjust to MSC as well as others, I would not rule out sailing MSC again, as I would be more prepared for what to expect. thanks for your review. Cheers Len
  6. We try to avoid the buffet at all costs, so we did eat in the MDR every morning for breakfast. This was so different from American breakfasts. We usually walked in and sort of sat where we wanted. They sort of tried to escort us to a table, but if we liked something better, we just sat there. When they did seat us it was usually with people already eating so we felt that rude and we opted for a table on our own. While we were eating, they did seat others with us, like everyone doing their own thing. We ordered from a menu, but also got up for several items off the breakfast buffet that they also have there. Good pastries and cheeses and some other nice items that you won't get off the menu. Orders were served quickly also, but don't get too exotic as they won't understand what you want. Cheers Len
  7. On the Sinfonia, there is separate pizza station outside the buffet area where the pizza is made fresh all the time They offer different types at different times, even something with a black crust, but it was always fresh and we felt, very good. Same guy was always here. Cheers Len
  8. On the Sinfonia No interactive TV. Just basic stuff and a lot of BBC. We had a 10 day cruise and we had 3 formal nights. On all the formal nights, they scheduled an extra show (late) so we had 3 shows to attend. BUT, you had to make a reservation for which show you wanted to attend. You needed to just scan you card, after the previous day show and pick which show you want to attend. You can do it from any of the many screens all over the ship. After that previous nights show, when it is announced you have to make a reservation for the next night, everyone goes out and tried to get to the scanner right outside the theater. Go down one flight of stairs and no one is at those scanners. We received a daily guide n or stateroom, just like on ever other cruise we do. It was I English, for us and contained all the info we needed about the next day's activities. The casino was on the small side, but we rarely gamble, so we didn't spend much of any time there. smoky--aren't they all? Cheers Len
  9. we attempted this maneuver several times but the door was always roped off due to high winds. cheers Len
  10. John Overall, we usually sail 'older' type ships so we really don't look and really don't care about many minor things. Some deck chairs were in need of tender care, same for some of the railings on the deck, but if that's why you won't cruise on a certain ship, tell them, I'll take their place. Ship was fine, food was decent enough, service was good and shows were also fairly good (short, but good). Sun was shining most days, so what more could you ask for. cheers Len
  11. We were on deck 8 around mid ship and it was great to just walk out onto the rear deck and basically have it all to ourselves. You need the rest room, just a short hop back to your cabin. We never arrive day of the cruise. Just too many variables and why risk it. Plus we have never been to Barcelona and wanted to see some of it. We stayed at a hotel on Las Rambles. We did a red eye arriving in Barcelona at 7AM. Got to our hotel about 9 and they had a room ready for us. We never go to sleep then, so we wandered all around this wonderful area, had lunch, and early dinner and was in bed by 8PM. Next morning the hotel got us a taxi to the port and we were on board by about 11:30. Our taxi driver spoke no English, but the hotel told him where to take us. From where we stayed it was a short 10 minute taxi ride. We thanked him paid by credit card and required no tip. As or the dress we were also concerned about that and asked a few questions on this board before we traveled. I would say the dress is a bit more dressy than most American cruises, in that there were no floral shirts, but most night, men dressed casually but women tended to be a bit more dressy. We had early dining which was at 6;30 and late seating is abut 9 or 9:30. After finishing eating the ship really starts to get active. where most American ships, by 11 or so, the decks are clear and the lounges mostly done, here, the party is just starting. I would say, bring darker color pants and wear them several times. We had 3 formal nights on our 10 day crusie, but we do not do formal anymore and many also felt that way. I would say there were more tuxes than you might see on an American ship but no where want it used to be ages ago. Cheers Len
  12. WE used SPB Tours and our time at Peter and Paul Cathedral to see the tombs of Peter the Great and the Romanovs was tremendous. Shopping in St Pete would be nice but my DW can shop anytime, here in the USA, we went to St Petersburg to see things we can't see anywhere else. LOL Cheers Len
  13. Not disagreeing with those that say a guide is a necessity in some ports. We just found that most Baltic cruises are very port intensive and, at my age, all those facts and date seem to get all jiggled together and I come away remembering very little. Again, not saying it isn't an option, but we just prefer to go at our own pace, see what we want and find things out as we please. Less remembering that way. Cheers Len
  14. That is a good point about the luggage. Since we made arrangements for the taxi to come back to get us, you can't do that if you have luggage. There might be a place to store luggage at the baths, but I would call them and inquire about it first. The only problem I see wit that posters plan, is when you exit the baths, you have wet bathing suits to deal with, unless you decide to go au natural, which, I suppose, the locals wouldn't mind too much. Cheers Len
  15. We were picked up in a small van type bus that had plenty of room for luggage. We went on two separate cruises and were away for about a month and we had PLENTY of luggage. (2 large suitcases and 2 carry ons plus a couple of hand things and it was all taken care of. We had about 12 people on our tour. Cheers Len
  16. Just a shout out to Roger here. We got back from our cruising the other day and we are trying to catch up on everything. As Roger suggested, we did the HoHo bus and got off at the old city and explored it and loved it. We then went to the castle and spent some great time there. This was our goal, to spend the day in this city as it is our first time there and we wanted to get the feel, instead of just seeing it and sunning out somewhere else. We had a marvelous time and again, thank you roger for all your help. Cheers Len
  17. I'm not sure if some one asked, but for some of the ports mentioned In Messina, there were many taxi's looking to do tours In Civi once you get off the shuttle, there are literally scores of taxis and vans looking to take you to Rome for, what we felt was a very reasonable sum. Other areas were available also In Livorno, same thing, many taxis looking to take you to Pisa, Florence, Lucca, where ever you might want to go. I believe there were also taxis in Valetta Malta if anyone is interested. Cheers Len
  18. Tony It would be my pleasure to share our info with you. As I said, we were in Rome last year and we just wanted to do something different, especially on a very port intensive cruise, just spend a day relaxing. So we read somewhere on CC about the thermal baths and felt it would be a great idea. We have done baths like these around the USA and loved it. Here is the web site https://civitavecchia.portmobility.it/en/ficoncella-thermal-baths  Now don't expect a modern area. We had 3 different 'pools' open, each with a different temperature. Anyway, we were told from CC that a taxi would cost about 15-20 euros, not on our trip. We got off the ship and asked a someone to call us a taxi as all the taxi's around the port are looking to take people to Rome and other places. They called us a taxi, we showed him the paper where we wanted to go and he ended up taking us to the Roman Bath ruins. We told him this wasn't it and then he knew where we wanted to go. It was only about 5 minutes away, but the ride was about 30Euros, a lot more than we anticipated. (this was with the meter running).I would say it is about 8 miles or so out of Civi. Good part is the baths only cost 1 1/2 Euros for 2 hours. There are stalls to change if you like and most people just left their clothes along the rails and hooks. We made arrangements for the taxi to come pick us up as you are really out in the sticks and you will never get a taxi unless you call. He charged us the same thing to take us back (with the meter off) so we assume it was 'off the books'. Again, a bit more than we expected but overall, we had a very enjoyable day and the entire cost wasn't that much. there is small shop there where you can buy some things to eat or drink. Don't expect glamorous surroundings, but we thoroughly enjoyed just being away from all the tourists and just being with locals who were more than happy to engage in whatever conversation we could. Cheers Len
  19. You didn't say if you were also on the Sinfonia. If so, there ARE several great spots if you want some 'quiet time'. Ourselves, when we cruise, we love to sit on the Promenade deck away from the crowds, but alas, seems MSC doesn't' do chairs there. But, again, this is our secret; on every deck, in the back of the ship, you can sit out with hardly anyone ever there. There are lounge chairs there and we sat out there almost every day, when we could. At night was the best. As far as smoking. They do have areas for smoking, but we found, and saw, many people smoking anywhere and anytime, as long as they were outside. Rules are made for others, I guess. WE boarded in Barcelona with about 300 others, and YES it is sort of strange to see baggage in the hallways every night and life boat drill announcements made every day. You can tell the newcomers as they don't know where to sit as of yet, in the dining room, but you just get used to it. I believe the main port was Genoa where about 1000 boarded. it was our next to the last port and up until then the ship wasn't crowded at all, but after Genoa, it was packed wherever we went. Where there were seats in lounges, not any more. Lucky we were almost done by then so it really didn't bother us too much. As for pickpockets, I had read some much about Barcelona being a pick pocket paradise, we were extremely careful. It was a concern, but after a while, we felt much more comfortable, but we did try and avoid large crowded areas. Always better to be safe rather than sorry. One area which we were annoyed, MSC seemed to always dock furthest from the port so they always had shuttle buses ready, for, what we felt was a pretty heft cost-some 12 Euros PP some 14 Euros PP. Do your homework and there are several ports that have free shuttles into town, you just have to walk a bit to get to them. Anything else I can help you with, it would be my pleasure. Cheers Len
  20. Thanks Rick, you also Cheers Len
  21. I guess it depends where you are cruising out of. We live in NY and try and cruise out of NYC as often as we can. In January it can get tricky. We've had cruises where you can sit out on the decks and enjoy the gorgeous scenery sailing down the Hudson and we've had 12 inches of snow on the deck as we left during a blizzard. If you are just referring to Tampa, we just arrived in Tampa on the Rhapsody after a TA and when we arrived the temp in Tampa was 42. it was warmer in NY, but alas it didn't last. enjoy your cruise and the warm Caribbean weather. Cheers Len
  22. Sorry but that is absolutely NOT so, and not just in Nassau but in many places. I go to places with a happy attitude and always try and be polite, but in Nassau, that is hard. How many times can one say politely, NO Thank You, to 10, 20 maybe even 30 different taxi drivers who follow you till the next guy tries to grab you. Same for all the people trying to get you into their shops and markets. They hound you until you seem to adopt that attitude also. It has absolutely NOTHING to do with what I bring. What you say is true for the people who live in Nassau, they get the same disrespect that they give the tourists. As I said previously, once you get away from the touristy areas and get to meet the 'real' folks, they are probably fine and likable, but that is just not what one gets coming off the ship and in any of the surrounding areas of the port. Cheers Len
  23. First of all you should post this on the Baltics Board where most everyone has done a Baltic cruise and you can get a more general answer https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/116-northern-europe-amp-baltic-sea/ We did that Baltic cruise several years ago, and from I remember it certainly wasn't as 'formal' as some have said. I would say the biggest difference is you won't see all the floral type shirts that you might see in the Caribbean, and, unless it is terribly warm, you probably won't see many shorts in the MDR. But the buffet, be prepared for anything. As far as packing goes, I would leave most of the shorts at home and opt for jeans. Depending on when you are going (month wise) the weather could be cold, or hot, so the old 'layers' is the best answer. Prepare to do a lot of walking, so good shoes are a must and leave the sandals and flip flops at home. I would either have an all-purpose lightweight waterproof jacket or buy a few of those disposable plastic rain things they sell for less than a dollar. We went late August. Most mornings we needed a light jacket and by mid day we were in shirt sleeves, but when you are cruising, it will be nippy, especially at night. If you are a jacket guy for dinner, then bring it, you won't be out of place. If not, then dress as informally as you would like, no one really cares anymore. Cheers Len
  24. We have returned from our cruises and jut some info share. We did find that there were taxi's trying to get you tours in several of the ports. Messina being the main one. We instead opted for the HoHo and returned n time for the clock's performance. Maye it was just me, but I really didn't find it that awe inspiring. Different might be a better term. We did use the Tuscany Bus company in Livorno, for a jaunt to Pisa. They did not do the Lucca part at this time of the year. We already had tickets but you can easily buy tickets in the TI shop just a few steps away. Our one complaint about this company and it is probably not their fault, but where the drop you off in Pisa, you have a sort of extended walk to get to the Tower. No signage, just follow the crowd. We tried that on he way back a got lost. had to ask for directions. If they are going to drop you far from the attraction, at least have the way marked. We stayed in Genoa and loved the city. We just love wandering those small streets with many shops and stairs. We ended up using the funicular to get to the top of the city with marvelous views. In Civi, we opted not to go to Rome and instead chose the thermal Baths. Something we really liked. We were the only 'tourists' there and had some wonderful exchanges with all the locals. Took a taxi there and made arrangements to be picked up which worked out well. I very relaxing day on a hectic itinerary. Cheers Len
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