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KansCocoa

Middle Aged Drama Queen's Eastern Med Review: Serenade, Pics, Surprises & Fun!

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If you wish to use your Bank of America card (and the cards from many other providers). Go to their website and look for their "one time use" program. It may be called Safe card or SafePay or something similar.

 

You setup a temporary credit card account through the Banks program that assigns you a temporary credit card number that you can use for online purchases, It does not cost you anything, but you can set the length of time before it expires, and the maximum amount that can be charged against that credit card number. If a thief somehow steals the number they cannot run up your main credit card account. You can use the program as many times as you wish, each time getting a new temporary number if you wish.

 

Any amounts that are charged to the temporary account are automatically added to your regular credit card account by your Bank.

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If you wish to use your Bank of America card (and the cards from many other providers). Go to their website and look for their "one time use" program. It may be called Safe card or SafePay or something similar.

 

You setup a temporary credit card account through the Banks program that assigns you a temporary credit card number that you can use for online purchases, It does not cost you anything, but you can set the length of time before it expires, and the maximum amount that can be charged against that credit card number. If a thief somehow steals the number they cannot run up your main credit card account. You can use the program as many times as you wish, each time getting a new temporary number if you wish.

 

Any amounts that are charged to the temporary account are automatically added to your regular credit card account by your Bank.

 

Wow. I never knew you could do this! What an excellent tip!!!! Thank you so much - I just wish I'd had this info before my cruise. I hope others who are planning future trips utilize this; this is a great feature.

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Wow. I never knew you could do this! What an excellent tip!!!! Thank you so much - I just wish I'd had this info before my cruise. I hope others who are planning future trips utilize this; this is a great feature.

 

 

I use this all of the time when booking things like Excursions or anything that is out of the country. Yet, I still had my card compromised here at home. I did not see any unusual card activity, but BOA apparently did, as they closed my old account and sent me new cards. It is a real PITA to update all of the auto-pays that I have set up. I use the BOA/RCCL card for absolutely everything that I can. Maximum points equals maximum cruises.!!!

Edited by Hypo

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That is a good idea. It's called ShopSafe. I never thought of using it for excursions though. Thanks.

 

Last time we booked European excursions, the vendor wanted PayPal payment so that is what we used. Also protected the cards that way.

 

Thanks for the suggestion. :D:):D

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Yes. That is exactly how Giolitti is set up. You pay up front and get your ticket then go towards the rear and pick your Gelato.

 

Thank you! Thank you!

 

I'm just returning for two reasons: I hate it when I put information on a thread and never know if the person asking the question EVER comes back to read it and.... most importantly... talking about gelato just seems to fit with Sherri's Great Grand Adventure anyway and I don't think she minds!

 

So, agan... Thank you! Will definitely put this information into... I don't know... maybe a soon-to-be-started Binder?!? LOL.

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Awwww, Binder got its picture in the review! :D :D :D

 

(It has now become Binder Jr., in preps for our cruise on the Allure)

 

Whilst we were traipsing from room to room I also had a lady ask me, completely serious, if we were on a ship's excursion. We were THAT noticeable, and probably, annoying. :p :D

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Whoa! I always wondered what'd be like to go on a cabin crawl, but haven't yet! I bet your's was a hoot!! Thanks so much for sharing.. can't wait each day to read more. I usually am a lurker, but just had to show appreciation in knowing how much effort this takes after the fact. I am going in December. Thanks again Sherri.

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oh no! My friend and I are on the same cruise and were really looking forward to spending the day doing the Cinque Terre route. Now not sure what to do.....darn...

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we were hoping to do the Cinque Terre route out of Livorno, if anyone has an update on whether it will be open, we'd appreciate it....thanks.

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Hi! We were on this cruise too, and I have been reading and remembering along with you - as I looked at the photo you posted in the Vatican that you called "typical tourists" I see two of our group- my brother in law and my neice right there on the right! It's as if we are standing next to you! :D

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Hi! We were on this cruise too, and I have been reading and remembering along with you - as I looked at the photo you posted in the Vatican that you called "typical tourists" I see two of our group- my brother in law and my neice right there on the right! It's as if we are standing next to you! :D

 

That is TOO funny! My crazy family could very well have photo bombed you, as well! :)

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Thank you! Thank you!

 

I'm just returning for two reasons: I hate it when I put information on a thread and never know if the person asking the question EVER comes back to read it and.... most importantly... talking about gelato just seems to fit with Sherri's Great Grand Adventure anyway and I don't think she minds!

 

So, agan... Thank you! Will definitely put this information into... I don't know... maybe a soon-to-be-started Binder?!? LOL.

 

I don't mind a bit...part of the purpose of this thread is to pass information forward, and gelato is considered VERY important information. ;)

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Awwww, Binder got its picture in the review! :D :D :D

 

(It has now become Binder Jr., in preps for our cruise on the Allure)

 

Whilst we were traipsing from room to room I also had a lady ask me, completely serious, if we were on a ship's excursion. We were THAT noticeable, and probably, annoying. :p :D

 

Of COURSE Binder would make it to the review...it was a VIP, after all...a Very Important Part of our cruise! I almost "touched" The Binder while in your cabin, but I figured Steve had it booby-trapped or something!

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Whoa! I always wondered what'd be like to go on a cabin crawl, but haven't yet! I bet your's was a hoot!! Thanks so much for sharing.. can't wait each day to read more. I usually am a lurker, but just had to show appreciation in knowing how much effort this takes after the fact. I am going in December. Thanks again Sherri.

 

I hope you're having fun on this Cabin Crawl vicariously through me! It was most definitely a hoot - as Amy said upthread, another cruiser thought we were on a Ship Excursion! We should have charged an inflated price for our Cabin Crawl and made some money that could be spent later on gelato or gioielli (jewelry)...

 

Have a great trip in December...and indulge in some gelato for me. And if you get an opportunity - do a Cabin Crawl. With drinks in hand, of course. ;)

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we were hoping to do the Cinque Terre route out of Livorno, if anyone has an update on whether it will be open, we'd appreciate it....thanks.

 

It's my understanding that all five villages of the Cinque Terre are open...but two are still in the process of rebuilding after the mudslide...they may not be "pretty" - but are still visitable (is that a word???!!) I LOVED the Cinque Terre when we visited in 2009 - if you get a chance, I say go for it. You may have to go on your own, but it's really worth it. Good luck!

Edited by KansCocoa

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We last left our giggly travelers crawling through the decks of the ship, visiting various cabins and making mischief by making other unsuspecting passengers think the ship was being evacuated…all the while heading to the last cabin on the Crawl, the Royal Suite.

 

So…its about 3:30 now…we’ve been crawling for an hour, and it’s time to head to the piece de resistance, the Royal Suite. Because I was at the back of the Conga Line (also known as the 4th shift), I told Hubby Mike to go on ahead to our cabin and make sure all was ready for the party we would soon be having.

 

I was a bit worried…we had met with Daniel, our Concierge, ahead of time…who had promised us that several bottles of champagne (and glasses) would be waiting for us in the Suite…as well as various nibbles, including cookies for the kids, and cheese & crackers for the adults. What if he hadn’t delivered? What if I was hosting a party…with no food? Or drinks? My reputation as The Hostess with the Mostest would never live this down….

 

It was with great trepidation that I made my way – with the last of the Crawlers – to our Suite…and once inside….? I shouldn’t have worried. Hubby Mike was behind the bar, popping the corks of the cold champagne…and the party was in full swing. Several plates of goodies sat on the table, and it looked as if everyone was having a great time. Someone had thoughtfully turned on the self-playing piano, and it was playing – loudly, of course – some melodious tunes. I wasn’t worried about the neighbors below us complaining about the noise, because guess what? They were Cruise Critic members, and were in the Suite with us, partying along right beside us. Life was good.

 

And just when I didn’t think life could get much better, two things happened that made it truly…magical. Seriously. Those precious moments in life when you almost get choked up, because it just seems almost too perfect and too amazing…and you wonder, “How did I get so lucky to be in this very moment???”

 

The first magical moment was when we all realized that we were now sailing through the beautiful Strait of Messina…that narrow little channel that separates mainland Italy from the big island of Sicily. The Serenade’s Captain had been making announcements all morning, with continuous updates on when we were expected to reach it…and here we were. Standing on the balcony of the Royal Suite, with 30+ of some near & dear friends, sipping champagne, while sailing through the Strait? Priceless.

 

BalconyStrait.jpg

Let the good times roll...

 

StraitMessina.jpg

Sailing through the Strait...

 

 

BalconyBehind.jpg

Looking behind us from our balcony...

 

 

The second magical moment occurred a short time later…back in the Suite, it dawned on me that the music on the Grand Piano had changed. Thinking that someone had changed the CD in the piano, I didn’t think much of it…but then, I happened to glance over at the piano, and what I saw there, stopped me in my tracks.

 

Sitting at the piano was a 14-year old boy…Sam. Sam is a special kid, with a very special talent…he is a piano virtuoso. He doesn't take lessons; he learns and plays by "ear." The music coming from his fingers was breathtaking…and it soon captured everyone’s attention in the room when they realized we were witness to something very special…a live piano performance that equaled none other.

 

Sam.jpg

Unbelievable...

 

 

It gave me goosebumps to hear this precious kid playing music that I could I only dream of playing…and when he saw me watching him, he broke into a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” – and all of our guests serenaded me with a special song.

 

I’m tellin’ ya – I choked up then, and I’m choking up now…just reliving it.

 

Eventually, all good things must come to an end…usually when the champagne and food runs out. Our Cabin Crawl party was no exception…by 4:30 or so, the last guest was bidding us farewell, and our family collapsed – COLLAPSED – on the sofa, to relive the events of the wonderful afternoon. About 20 minutes later, during our reverie, the cabin phone rings…and it’s the spa.

 

“Um…Sherri? Did you forget you had a 4:30 appointment for a pedicure?”

 

Oh, snap. Yes. I did forget. And who could blame me??!! Between the M&M, the Dodgeball tournament, the Cabin Crawl, the Royal Suite party, and Sam’s concerto on the piano – I kinda’, sorta’ forgot. It’s amazing how fast I can run – in flip flops, no less – when I realize I’m late and I’m keeping someone waiting.

 

Arriving at the spa in record time, I get a few minutes to relax in the chair while Josie, the pedicurist from Falmouth, Jamaica, does magical and wonderful things to my pooped piggies. She asked what I had been up to that day, and I began telling her of our fabulous and fun Cabin Crawl. She looked at me curiously, and asked, “What’s a Cabin Crawl?”

 

“Where you go and visit everyone’s cabins,” I explained.

 

Her eyes popped out of her head, and she asks, with a bit of horror in her voice, “You visited OUR cabins??? The crew’s?????”

 

That set me to giggling…and I almost couldn’t stop…as I reassured Josie from Jamaica that no worries…we did NOT visit the crew’s cabins…although that would have been kinda’, sorta’ fun.

 

 

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It's my understanding that all five villages of the Cinque Terre are open...but two are still in the process of rebuilding after the mudslide...they may not be "pretty" - but are still visitable (is that a word???!!) I LOVED the Cinque Terre when we visited in 2009 - if you get a chance, I say go for it. You may have to go on your own, but it's really worth it. Good luck![/quote

 

Thank you so much, Sherri! I can't believe I started reading your posts early today and now it is dinner time! I lost a whole day! But it was well worth it. What everyone else has told you about creating a book...I second. Your comedic sense and zest for life is inspiring and contagious. Your photos are great and really give one a realistic idea of what to expect. I am even more excited to experience the cruise on Serenade..but hope they read your critique of the food, though, and do something about that.

 

I also wish they'd lighten up their rules about not being able to buy and enjoy some local wines or other beverages we might find, while on board. Kind of a tacky policy that I'm sure turns a lot of people off. I would think it must be a bit demeaning to be searched every time you come back on board from a long day's excursion. I'd love to hear your take on this, even though I realize you are not a wine drinker. Telling adult people they can't do something like that, especially those of us who came of age in the 60's, who are now in our 60's, brings out the rebel in us! This policy seems to have created a whole sub-culture of wild, crazy, and inventive ways to sneak booze on board, which I find hilarious, but kind of pathetic, too. Oh well...

 

I very much look forward to continuing to read your posts of the rest of the Mediterranean ports and your lovely family's adventures. Sorry you won't be on board the same time as us!

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Sherri,

We are doing the same itinerary on the same ship in October. I just love reading your story and your pictures are amazing. I wish I could have a copy of your famous binder to take along on our trip so I don’t miss out on anything. We still have to make plans, so this has been very helpful. I am enjoying this so much, waiting for the next chapter to begin.

When you went thru the Strait of Messina, was the beach picture on the port side of the ship or starboard side?

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Sherri,

We are doing the same itinerary on the same ship in October. I just love reading your story and your pictures are amazing. I wish I could have a copy of your famous binder to take along on our trip so I don’t miss out on anything. We still have to make plans, so this has been very helpful. I am enjoying this so much, waiting for the next chapter to begin.

When you went thru the Strait of Messina, was the beach picture on the port side of the ship or starboard side?

 

I'm glad my review/notes have been helpful - you're going to have an amazing time! Just remember to relax and take it all in...and know that you won't possibly be able to see it all or do it all. That's why you'll have to go back some day! ;)

 

The Royal Suite is on the Starboard side, so that particular beach was on the Starboard side. I have no idea what the people on the Port side were seeing - probably very similar scenery!

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I'm determined to finish June 26th before I go to bed...so one last post tonight and then I'm calling it a night. :)

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I'm glad my review/notes have been helpful - you're going to have an amazing time! Just remember to relax and take it all in...and know that you won't possibly be able to see it all or do it all. That's why you'll have to go back some day! ;)

 

The Royal Suite is on the Starboard side, so that particular beach was on the Starboard side. I have no idea what the people on the Port side were seeing - probably very similar scenery!

 

Just my luck, our balcony was on the Starboard side, and we switch to the port side several weeks ago. I can't thank you enough for your great review.

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Leaving the spa around 5:30, it was time to get gussied up (it was our 2nd Formal night) and ready for dinner…and where should one go for dinner when one has perfectly-painted & pedicured pink-piggies? Why…Portofino, of course!

 

As I had said, this was our 2nd of 3 formal nights onboard…I had cajoled the Klingons by promising them they would only have to dress up on two of the formal nights; tonight, they were free to eat wherever their little hearts desired. Declaring tonight a “Klingon-Free Night”, I had made reservations at Portofino so that Hubby & I could have some alone time…free from Klingons…free from barbarians. Bliss.

 

Tonight was Black & White Night onboard, so we got into the spirit:

 

BlackWhiteNight.jpg

And no...we didn't know in advance that there was going to be "Black & White Night" - but we just got lucky in our clothing attire...and so did quite a few other passengers, actually....

 

 

After indulging in some delicious grape juice – oops, I mean “non-alcoholic wine” in the Concierge, we headed down to Portofino for our 7:00 pm reservation. The restaurant was surprisingly empty…I’m not sure if that was because of the “early” hour of my reservation…or if people just don’t partake of a venue that upcharges…but whatever the case, we pretty much had the restaurant to ourselves.

 

Other than a crying baby.

 

Yes. A baby…in a stroller…who couldn’t have been more than a year old…and obviously NOT happy about having dinner in Portofino. And the young parents…oblivious to the wailing of the infant. Now – don’t bash me as some baby-hating monster; I love babies. More mine than others, but that’s typical. However…when you’re trying to have “date night” with Hubby – a crying baby is the last thing you want to hear. All guests under the age of 13 are welcome to dine at Portofino before 7:00 pm…but since dinner can take as long as two hours…there’s really no guarantee that you won’t have crying babies in the restaurant. Sigh.

 

Tuning out the crying baby, we began feasting….we ate this:

 

Appetizer.jpg

This was good....

 

and this

 

Shrimp.jpg

This was not-so-good...the risotto was a little overcooked...but hey. It's better than I could have done - I'm the world's worst at cooking risotto...

 

 

Our waitress was kind enough to snap a photo of us before we indulged in our entrees….

 

Dinner.jpg

Hubby got the kabob...and I got the filet...

 

 

For dessert, I had the delicious tartufo:

 

Dessert.jpg

Best part of the meal...I'm a HUGE tartufo fan, and we can't hardly get it in Kansas City....

 

 

Dinner was a delight…besides the impeccable service and the good (not excellent, but good) food, we also enjoyed the sight of a pod of bottlenose dolphins jumping and frolicking right beside the ship. I’m not sure why I was so surprised that the Mediterranean Sea has dolphins…I mean, duh…it’s a sea, and dolphins have every right to live there…but I WAS surprised. And tickled. Crying babies can’t hold a candle to frolicking dolphins, so all was right in my world again.

 

After dinner, we strolled the deck of the ship, and ran into Renee (kinder102) by the elevator banks…and sure enough. We had another impromptu Elevator Party on Deck 5 of the ship. We were joined by Amy & Steve, as well as Gris & Jason…so, again…I apologize. We certainly weren’t planning on being THOSE people who block the elevators…it just seemed to be the place where everyone ran into each other and stopped to chit-chat.

 

Amy mentions that Brainy Brad ended up in the Dining Room for dinner, where he was not only dressed appropriately (I’m so proud!), but he sat with strangers at a table and appeared to be having a great time. We find out later that Too-Tall Taylor and Mickey hung out at the Sports Court all night, and indulged in some Seaview Café’ delights. They apparently had a great time together and enjoyed their night “off” of the dining room.

 

When Hubby and I get back to the room, we find our first towel animal:

 

TowelAnimal.jpg

I wear my sunglasses...at night...sing with me!

 

 

And I had to laugh. It just so happened that at the party earlier this afternoon, in the Royal Suite, I had jokingly complained that we had YET to receive a towel animal… I mean, seriously, five days into the cruise, and no towel animal? That’s sacrilegious!!! I had then gone on and joked that I should march down to Guest Services and demand compensation…because my cruise was now ruined. RUINED, I tell you!

 

Well, it seems as if the Towel Animal Gods had heard me voicing my complaints, and wanted me to shut up. I had my animal. I'd had a wonderful date night. And I'd seen frolicking dolphins. Life was good.

 

 

Some misc notes about today:

The show tonight was “Stage to Screen” – a salute to Broadway shows that made their way from the Broadway stage to the silver screen. Show times were at 9:00 pm and at 10:45 pm (to accommodate the Captain’s Gala, which we didn’t attend). We didn’t attend the show, as well, as it just didn’t fit into our schedule. I heard mixed reviews later – some said it was “pretty good;” others said it was “not great – but not bad.”

 

Also…clocks had to be moved forward an hour at 2:00 am this night…as the ship is traveling east.

 

And one more final note...today was the first day that we began hearing reports of fellow passengers falling victim to becoming ill...little did we know what the future foretold....

 

 

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OMG, I have never laughed so much or so hard - you are a total hoot - thank you so much for doing this review. AND we still have your Freedom cruise review to look forward to, as well - LIFE IS GOOD!!! ;)

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