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About sailawaybellaluna

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Traveling, Cooking, Reading, Sewing

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  1. sailawaybellaluna

    Has anyone done the VIP Luxury Sailing Excursion from Nassau?

    Just wanted to bump this as I'm considering booking this and my cruise is just around the corner!
  2. I will! Sorry about the delay...both of my kids have birthdays this week and we have been away, camping at the beach!
  3. I think most people either find Nikon or Canon more intuitive. So, try and hit up Costco or Best Buy or something and play with them and see which one you're comfortable with! For me, it was definitely Canon!
  4. Thanks so much for the nice comments! Unfortunately, these were all shot on my Honor 7x Phone with a dual lens...Hopping around with two kids in the heat and lugging my big purse full of snacks and a foldable potty just isn't leaving me much room for a proper camera these days...;) However, since you're in the market, my favorite camera to take travel photos with is my Canon Rebel T3i. Actually, any of the Rebels are great. Very reliable and affordable. I'd recommend checking them out before you go!
  5. Today we docked in beautiful Split, Croatia!! This was our first time visiting Split. We had cruised to Dubrovnik six years ago, and absolutely loved it, so we were looking forward to our visit to Split. After looking at all of the excursion options, we decided we'd DIY Split. It's so small and walkable,that it was a perfect DIY day! We docked right near the center of town, and our original plan was to take a taxi (Uber actually) out to Trogir to spend a couple of hours, and then return to Split to walk along the Promenade and explore Diocletian's Palace. Everything I had read said to expect about 25 - 35 minutes in the cab or on the bus to get out to Trogir. However, due to the World Cup and Croatia winning there were some parades/parties/road closures happening and the guys at the port said we'd probably need to allocate at least an hour each way to be safe. In fact they said it may take long returning from Trogir. Since our all aboard time was 3:30pm and our day was already expected to be quite short, we opted to skip Trogir and just spend the day in Split at leisure. The walk from the ship into the heart of the town is only about 15 minutes, probably less if you don't have little ones trying to chase birds and needing to stop for water breaks as we had. It was a gorgeous day! We spent the morning wandering around within the walls, and really enjoyed the shopping! I'm normally not really a huge shopper when going into port, but I loved that most things were made locally and/or handmade. There is a lot of lavender grown along the Dalmatian Coast, so you will find lots of essential oils, lavender sachets, lavender soaps, etc. There is also quite a bit of handmade jewelry, painted pottery, and olive wood goods such as cutting boards. I love all of these things, so I stocked up! It was so nice walking and exploring in the morning before it got too hot and crowded. There are some very clean and well kept public toilets throughout the city that cost 5 Kuna or 1 Euro to use. Traveling with small children, I appreciated this! We stopped here in this little square and ate lunch. Local Croatian wine and lovely food! Wi-Fi was also readily available in all of these little restaurants and cafes, just in case you're not buying the package on the ship... A few more pics from around town...
  6. Thanks everyone for reading along, and for your kind comments! One quick note about our cabin: As I mentioned, we were in cabin 7082 - a large family OV. I've seen a couple of different deck plans, and even spoke with an agent prior to booking it...I've noticed Royal just updated the deck plan online this month, so it looks different from when I booked. When we booked last year, there was a door showing in the hallway opposite this cabin. I had asked if this was leading to the main hallway, or what is was. I was told it was a small supply closet for the room stewards. Ok, no problem. I was surprised to realize it was a fire door leading straight out to...the atrium balcony. And, it was to be open from 6am - 10pm. :o Our cabin was so so noisy! Now I kind of knew there was a risk of that being so close to the atrium anyhow, but this was literally the only choice left for this category when we booked last year. We travel with a white sound machine and I wear ear plugs when I sleep, but still. It was pretty noisy, and the staff often did NOT close the door at 10pm. (I tried closing it myself but couldn't - some sort of special mechanism and I think it may require a key to unhook it). If you don't go to bed early, it shouldn't be an issue, but FYI! We didn't let it ruin our cruise. Sometimes I'd laugh listening to the songs and crowd responses down below, and thankfully it didn't wake our kids! Just mentioning it so you can be aware that even though most of the activities (dancing, ceremony of flags, name that tune, etc) are happening on Deck 4, you will hear every word if you're on deck 7 in this group of cabins!;p
  7. Good to know! We were riding it 4 days later, so I don't even think I could have found my tickets in my huge purse by that point! ;p
  8. We spent the afternoon exploring the ship a bit before getting ready for dinner. Although we had the anytime dining, I made reservations for our party of 8 online, months in advance of sailing. So the process of checking in and getting seated together went very smoothly. I didn't take very many pictures during dinner. The service was very friendly, and the food was great, but the timing seemed off every night. For example, sometimes we'd order and it'd take a solid 50 minutes to get our appetizers or salad. At other times, they'd be brought out right away and there would be an hour delay until the main course was served. :o I know sometimes this can be a cultural difference since Americans seem to rush their meals, and Europeans take their time and savor them. However, the rhythm was just off during dinner. Anyway, this wasn't a huge deal for us, since we normally allocated two hours for dinner. But if you're planning on seeing shows and such, I'd truly plan for 2.5 hours. We ate at 6pm every night and weren't able to make it to any 8pm shows or events because we were typically just being served dessert by that time...I'm sure part of the challenge was that we were a table of 8, and they wanted meals to be brought out together. I did notice the tables nearby with only 2 people were in and out much faster... Each evening after dinner, our kids really loved walking around the promenade on Deck 5. It isn't as windy as the top of the ship, and the views, especially at sunset were beautiful! Next up: Split, Croatia!
  9. Well, our three nights in Venice were up, and today was the day to board the Rhapsody of the Seas! We called the porter company we used when we arrived, and they met us at the apartment to help us return to Piazzale Roma where we caught the People Mover. Now the People Mover is an elevated tram that quickly takes you to the cruise terminal. It is only 1.50 euros/each and very efficient. That being said, if you're traveling with a lot of luggage (as we were), getting through the turnstiles and onto the elevators can be quite difficult. We chose to hold our luggage on the escalator so we wouldn't have to wait in the huge line. It was very crowded and chaotic, but for that price, it was worth it. You can purchase your tickets when you walk in from an automatic kiosk. There are 4 or 5 of them, and they accept cash or credit card. Now I've used my credit card all over Europe, but for some reason, the kiosk wouldn't accept it. So I was lucky to have enough cash for everyone's ticket! After a few minutes we arrived to the port, and there were three other ships there that day! The Rhapsody was docked the farthest, so we had a bit of a walk to get out there...baggage check is handled in a queue outside, and then you enter the building and go through passport control and security. It was all quite efficient. We got our key cards and were ready to set sail! We made it onboard at 12:10pm! At that point, the cabins were still closed for cleaning, so we headed up to the Windjammer Cafe on Deck 9 for some lunch! Oh my goodness! It was so extremely crowded and chaotic! I know the first day of a cruise always feels that way until people can get settled in their cabins and offload their carry-ons. But this was really quite insane. We were lucky to find a table, and while we were eating, people were hovering and waiting around us for our table! That being said, the quality and variety of food was great! We usually only ever eat in the buffet on the very first day onboard the ship (we prefer the main dining room), but we had great food and the staff were very swift in clearing the plates and cleaning up the tables! By this point, it was past 1:30pm, so we were anxious to see our cabin! We booked a category 1M (Spacious Oceanview) on deck 7. My primary motivation in booking this category of cabin was that it had a sofa that opened up to a double bed, so our kids wouldn't have to be on uppers. Unfortunately, the way the bed opens, there is a large metal gaping hole at the head which made me too nervous to have our two-year old there. So we requested a pack n'play, and she slept there while our son had the bed to himself. Here are some pics of our cabin: One of my favorite parts of the cabin was the HUGE windowsill! We sat up there eating our breakfast and drinking coffee in the morning! The windows were much larger than the standard OV cabin. More to come...
  10. Okay, one final tidbit about Venice before we venture onto the Rhapsody of the Seas... For years I have seen photos of the Libreria Alta Acqua online - the famous bookshop in Venice where books are housed in bathtubs and gondolas to protect them from the rising waters! Well, we finally ventured out (with the help of Google Maps on my phone), and found it! It is such a cute little bookshop and was really fun to wander through! It's in Campo Santa Maria Formosa, which is a lovely square that wasn't crowded at all! The kids loved running around with the pigeons throughout the square!
  11. You will have a wonderful time! I'm sorry, no experience with the nursery, we kept our littles with us during the trip. But overall, I felt all of the staff was very friendly and accommodating to our children, so I expect it'll be great!
  12. Just a few more photos from the Dorsoduro area of Venice, in case anyone else is planning on staying there! I also wanted to share just a little bit about flying into Marco Polo Airport. Once arriving, we exited out the lower level and took the ATVO express bus to Piazzale Roma. I'm so glad the landlord of our apartment suggested this, because it was so extremely easy and affordable. The kiosk to purchase our tickets was right at the baggage claim area. One-way tickets are 8 euros each, including your luggage. The bus has huge compartments to store your bags, and is very efficient. The bus ride from the airport to Piazzale Roma took only 18 minutes. Piazzale Roma is the furthest point in Venice that cars and buses can enter into, so from there you have options to walk, book porters, take water taxis or the People Mover out to the cruiseship terminal. For us staying in Dorsoduro, it was less than a 10-minute walk from the bus to our actual apartment. Now we had several very large suitcases and a stroller, so we did pay a porter 30 euros to assist with our luggage over the canals and staircases. As promised a few pics of Dorsoduro:
  13. This cruise was actually part of a 25-day trip my parents took all of us on this summer, so it was a pretty epic vacation! We spent a good portion of it traveling around Turkey, and then flew from Istanbul to Venice four days prior to the boarding the Rhapsody. We've been to Venice a few time prior, and were a bit concerned about the hordes or tourists and hot weather that would greet us in July. I rented two apartments in the Dorsoduro area for our families. We were just on the outskirts of Campo Santa Margherita, and it couldn't have been a more perfect location! The streets and bridges along the canal were never crowded, there were little cafes and grocery stores nearby, and the area was filled with locals and university students. Yes, it was quite a trek to San Marco and other major sights, but the peace and calm of the neighborhood was a perfect trade off! Here's a few pics of the apartment we stayed in for three nights before getting on the ship. We loved that there was a little balcony we could sit and have our coffee on each morning. Watching the boats bring fresh veggies and seafood by to the restaurants and homes across the canal was so fun!
  14. Hello fellow cruisers! I thought I would attempt to do a brief photo review on our 6-night cruise aboard the Rhapsody of the Seas! We were on the July 7th sailing, leaving Venice and calling at Split, Croatia, Athens, Greece, and Katakolon, Greece. We are in our late 30's traveling with our two children (ages 2 and 8), my parents (grandma and grandpa), and my brother and his fiance'. More to come!