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  #21  
Old April 23rd, 2012, 04:36 AM
RMALTA RMALTA is offline
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I'd reconsider doing any type of tour since you'll be traveling with a baby. They get bored of watching buildings and just going around in their stroller. We just came back two days ago and we travelled with our 2 1/2 year old daughter.

We took a stroll around Messina, there isn't much to see. If you've never been to Taormina, go, because it's just gorgeous. There is a little playground in the public garden and even a few parrots in cages where your daughter can have some fun after you go around the town.

We then went to the zoo in Rome and the aquarium in Genoa. My daughter is older than yours though, so she appreciates these things a bit more i think.

Barcelona was in the afternoon and she slept most of the time there. We walked around a bit but didn't want to see it so we wouldn't spoil the surprise when we go back this summer. We shopped around at MareMagnum too.

She loved Sidi Bou Said in Tunis, she likes the colour blue so maybe that's why. We went there by taxi.

The tours on the ship are so expensive. They're not all a day long, some are just four hours so don't worry about that. Booking organised tours does take the headache out of figuring things out on your own though.

Dear Galeaden,
thanks for the info, we were thinking of going down to all ports... or maybe using the hop on hop off buses as the timit is a bit limited to go round and maybe booking a tour for rome as i read that the port is abit far to rome. what do you think of the other ports? Is it easy to travel from the ship to the ports and to the other cities visiting? another thing please, in what cabin were u? I booked an outside cabin but with no balcony, should I go for the upgrade?

Thanks lots
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  #22  
Old April 23rd, 2012, 02:49 PM
Galeaden Galeaden is offline
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Originally Posted by RMALTA View Post
Dear Galeaden,
thanks for the info, we were thinking of going down to all ports... or maybe using the hop on hop off buses as the timit is a bit limited to go round and maybe booking a tour for rome as i read that the port is abit far to rome. what do you think of the other ports? Is it easy to travel from the ship to the ports and to the other cities visiting? another thing please, in what cabin were u? I booked an outside cabin but with no balcony, should I go for the upgrade?

Thanks lots
We were in an inside cabin. We were on a strict budget and also, my partner is very seasick and thought that being able to look at the swaying sea would bother him. He wsa fine with medication but anyway. Our tour leader told us that small kids can pass through between the metal in the balconies. I don't know if they are really that wide but if you decide to upgrade be careful. No one we spoke to really used the balcony except to peer through since it was so cold and windy all the time.

If you're not used to travelling by train like us, i would definetly recommend taking at least the Rome on your Own excursion, meaning it's just a shuttle bus to Rome. There is a lot to do in Rome, and if you have the right map, it is very doable on your own. I think all other ports are easy to do on your own, unless you want to go to Taormina and Portofino. Public transport in sicily is rubbish, very non-reliable. I don,t know how much a taxi would cost but if you,ve never been to Taormina please go, it's really an amazing place. There is a nice public garden with a playground if your kids need a break. Do yourself a favour and don't go to Medina or Tunis. The only places worth seeing in Tunisia are Sidi Bou Said and Carthage.

Don't know if I answered all your questions, if not, ask away don't worry.
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  #23  
Old April 24th, 2012, 12:47 PM
vanessa5076 vanessa5076 is offline
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Hi

Great review. Just a quick question, what was the weather / sea like? I'm thinking of booking a similar msc cruise for the end of jan next year but a bit worried it might be a bit rough.

Thanks
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  #24  
Old April 24th, 2012, 01:28 PM
mairead224 mairead224 is offline
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Originally Posted by RMALTA View Post
Dear Galeaden,
thanks for the info, we were thinking of going down to all ports... or maybe using the hop on hop off buses as the timit is a bit limited to go round and maybe booking a tour for rome as i read that the port is abit far to rome. what do you think of the other ports? Is it easy to travel from the ship to the ports and to the other cities visiting? another thing please, in what cabin were u? I booked an outside cabin but with no balcony, should I go for the upgrade?

Thanks lots

Hi,

If you have small children then I would go for the upgrade to balcony. This was a god send for us on fantasia. The children slept and we took to the balcony with a bottle of wine!!! Lovely to sit on the blacony and see the islands at night and listen to the sounds of the ship sailing in the water. I had a 13 month old and a 3 year old last time and there was no danger of the falling through the rail on the balcony. Saying that I would never ever leave them on the blacony unattended.

Ragarding Rome dont forget that the ships excursions are by bus whereas if you take the train you will be there much quicker and much cheaper.
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  #25  
Old April 24th, 2012, 04:34 PM
Galeaden Galeaden is offline
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Hi,

If you have small children then I would go for the upgrade to balcony. This was a god send for us on fantasia. The children slept and we took to the balcony with a bottle of wine!!! Lovely to sit on the blacony and see the islands at night and listen to the sounds of the ship sailing in the water. I had a 13 month old and a 3 year old last time and there was no danger of the falling through the rail on the balcony. Saying that I would never ever leave them on the blacony unattended.

Ragarding Rome dont forget that the ships excursions are by bus whereas if you take the train you will be there much quicker and much cheaper.
It's true, it is cheaper and quicker but we're not really used to using trains here. It was easy to get to Rome but we took the train back from Termini and it was a nightmare. At least if u decide on the train, board from another station because Termini is huge and busy...not even the staff knew where we had to board our train, two of them telling us that our tickets were not good. We speak italian so it wasn't a communication mishap. Finally, we found the train and the conductor was waiting outside and we asked him. The whole experience was stressful, to say the least.

I'm glad the railing is safe, I did find it strange that it wouldn't be so since Europe is so strict on these things.
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  #26  
Old April 24th, 2012, 08:42 PM
Spligit Spligit is offline
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Where did you book the godfather tour? We have been looking at them and found there wasn't enough time to do one. Was your time between the tour and getting back onto the ship ok or rushed? Thanks and great review. We go on the Splendida on the May 4th.
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  #27  
Old April 24th, 2012, 10:35 PM
mom3qts mom3qts is offline
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Originally Posted by vanessa5076 View Post
Hi

Great review. Just a quick question, what was the weather / sea like? I'm thinking of booking a similar msc cruise for the end of jan next year but a bit worried it might be a bit rough.

Thanks
The weather was pretty good. It was warm (low to mid 60s) each day, but not hot. We wore light jackets or sweatshirts and were comfortable. We were lucky to have no rain. The last night of the cruise (between Genoa and Barcelona), the seas were rough. The crusie line put out the little baggies everywhere for those who had problems. Some people did as several of the rest rooms were closed for cleaning. It was the only time that the movement of the ship kept me awake at night (because it was rocking so much). But, overall, the weather was good and the seas were calm.
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  #28  
Old April 24th, 2012, 10:48 PM
mom3qts mom3qts is offline
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Where did you book the godfather tour? We have been looking at them and found there wasn't enough time to do one. Was your time between the tour and getting back onto the ship ok or rushed? Thanks and great review. We go on the Splendida on the May 4th.
We booked with Mario Astone. He email is marioastone@tiscali.it. He took us on the Godfather Tour (but it might have been a modified version of the Godfather Tour per my request). I highly recommend Mario. We had an absolutely wonderful time with him. His brother was the guide for some friends of ours. Our friends also spoke highly of his brother. We had a lot time in Sicily, but we did get off the ship as early as we could. Mario took us to the town where the church from the Godfather wedding scene is located (Savoca). We walked along the same path as the wedding party (in the movie). We were there very early and it was very quiet and peaceful. It seemed like we were the only people in town. There is a bakery in town. Mario introduced to a lady who worked there. The fresh bread smelled amazing. After this town, we also toured Casteola (sp?) and Taormina. We especially enjoyed the Greek/Roman theater in Taormina and got some beautiful pictures from there. Mario also took us to a couple of places in Messina on our way back to the ship. He provided snacks and drinks for us as well. It was a wonderful day.

Last edited by mom3qts; April 24th, 2012 at 10:48 PM.
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  #29  
Old April 24th, 2012, 10:49 PM
mom3qts mom3qts is offline
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Originally Posted by mom3qts View Post
We booked with Mario Astone. He email is marioastone@tiscali.it. He took us on the Godfather Tour (but it might have been a modified version of the Godfather Tour per my request). I highly recommend Mario. We had an absolutely wonderful time with him. His brother was the guide for some friends of ours. Our friends also spoke highly of his brother. We had a lot time in Sicily, but we did get off the ship as early as we could. Mario took us to the town where the church from the Godfather wedding scene is located (Savoca). We walked along the same path as the wedding party (in the movie). We were there very early and it was very quiet and peaceful. It seemed like we were the only people in town. There is a bakery in town. Mario introduced to a lady who worked there. The fresh bread smelled amazing. After this town, we also toured Casteola (sp?) and Taormina. We especially enjoyed the Greek/Roman theater in Taormina and got some beautiful pictures from there. Mario also took us to a couple of places in Messina on our way back to the ship. He provided snacks and drinks for us as well. It was a wonderful day.
His website is sicilywithmario.com.
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  #30  
Old April 25th, 2012, 07:53 AM
Galeaden Galeaden is offline
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It is Castelmola if you,re interested in visiting. Sounds like a perfect tour mom3qts! Savoca is a very laid back town. They still use a mule to carry produce and they live on their local produce. I really wanted to go but never had the chance.
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P&O Cruises - Oriana Norwegian Fjords and Iceland 1991

MSC - Western Mediterranean Cruise 1992

Msc Splendida - Western Mediterranean Cruise April 2012
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  #31  
Old April 26th, 2012, 04:27 PM
Spligit Spligit is offline
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We just booked with sicilywithmario.com. Excellent communication with them. Thank you for the info!
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  #32  
Old April 29th, 2012, 08:24 AM
mom3qts mom3qts is offline
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You will have a wonderful time with Mario or his brother! Tell him the Effinger's say hello. I have been meaning to post detailed reports for each day at port. Hopefully, that will happen this week.
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  #33  
Old April 30th, 2012, 04:35 PM
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Podie Podie is offline
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Just wanted to jump in and give another recommendation for Mario and his brother Ig****o. What a wonderful day we had with them!
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  #34  
Old May 3rd, 2012, 11:30 PM
Cruiser09347858754 Cruiser09347858754 is offline
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Would someone who only speaks English have problems on this ship? I speak Spanish, but my husband is English only. I don't want him to be uncomfortable because he can't communicate with the people around us. Any thoughts?
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  #35  
Old May 4th, 2012, 12:35 AM
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The_Big_M The_Big_M is offline
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No issues with English only. The only issue would be the one that there'll be conversations by other passengers in other languages, but that's one that'll affect all passenger groups.
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  #36  
Old May 8th, 2012, 08:38 PM
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loriva loriva is offline
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Thanks, mom3qts, for your review. Did you arrange for private tours/guides in other ports? We are on this same itinerary on Splendida in June and would be interested in your recommendations.

Many thanks,
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  #37  
Old May 9th, 2012, 03:11 AM
AmoMondo AmoMondo is offline
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Would someone who only speaks English have problems on this ship? I speak Spanish, but my husband is English only. I don't want him to be uncomfortable because he can't communicate with the people around us. Any thoughts?
There could be as little of 5% of people speaking English and even fewer of them from the US. Interaction with other passengers will therefore be limited. Will this bother him? Has he been in a situation like this before?

Other factors to consider are that won't just be the language of other passengers that will be different or even very different but their behaviour, customs and what is considered polite. Tours in English may be cancelled at short notice or combined with another language, if the tour does not have enough English speakers booking.

Communication with crew is fine. He will just need to drop any loca.l colloquialisms and not talk too fast. The vast majority ofmthe passenger facing crew speak English but not all are completely fluent, so you need to be prepared to reword something ifmyou getna blank look.

The ship is beautiful and travelling with a line like MSC, will mean you don't just get the European experience on land but also onboard rather than just observing it form a comfort bubble of your own country.
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  #38  
Old May 9th, 2012, 12:23 PM
Cruiser09347858754 Cruiser09347858754 is offline
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Originally Posted by loriva View Post
Thanks, mom3qts, for your review. Did you arrange for private tours/guides in other ports? We are on this same itinerary on Splendida in June and would be interested in your recommendations.

Many thanks,
Loriva, which week in June are you sailing? I am about to book and we haven't decided on June 10th or 17th as the embarking day. \

Thank You AmoMondo. No, my husband hasn't really been in this kind of situation before except that we live in Texas and are surrounded by Spanish speakers and I am a High School Spanish teacher who loves her Mexicano students and we frequently have them and their families at our house. Spain is my dream and he's being the awesome man that he is by agreeing to go there for me. It sounds like he can handle it. Thanks again!
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  #39  
Old May 18th, 2012, 04:08 PM
mom3qts mom3qts is offline
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Loriva,
Sorry for the slow response. Yes, we did arrange tours at the other stops. In Malta, we hired Amy Pace. She was wonderful. She basically gave us a tour of the highlights of Malta that we customized after I did some research. It was a wonderful tour of an absolutlely beautiful island. In Rome, we used Rome in a Limo for the highlights of Rome tour. We also hired a Vatican guide as we were there on Good Friday. It was also a wonderful day. Our driver Franchesco and our Vatican guide Gorgina (sp?) were both fantastic. When I go back, I will use the same companies/people. In Genoa, we didn't plan anything and ended up regretting it. We toured around the town a little and then headed back tot the ship early. If I make it back to Genoa, I will find my way to Portofino. HOpe this helps. Let me know if you have any quesitons.
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  #40  
Old May 22nd, 2012, 10:03 PM
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loriva loriva is offline
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Thanks, mom3qts, for your response. We also used Rome in Limo for our last trip to Rome and loved them as well, including the Vatican tour. We are also thinking of Portofino from Genoa--it doesn't sound too difficult to navigate. I found Amy's website and will contact her.

carlaw70--We are booked on the sailing out of Civitavecchia departing 15 June. It also boards 16 June out of Genoa or 17 June out of Barcelona. There is a Roll Call under the latter two dates.

Take care,
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