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Everything posted by CCJack

  1. Although we did not stay at this Hilton as we walked past it I thought it would be a great place to stay for its location. It is really nice up by the castle area. We did walk down from there to the river , it is a very nice and easy walk.
  2. I like your idea of leaving the ship after an early dinner..... We found Venice to be very charming in the evening after the crowds have left - I wouldn't miss the chance to walk around in the evening... There is more to Venice than St. Marks, so don't limit your plans to that. Are you walkers? It is walkable to go from P. Roma to St. Marks - a very pleasant walk in the evening.
  3. I agree with all these posts, we tendered and it went pretty well. However on our stop we were scheduled to tender (we were on Cunard QE) and a Holland America ship was scheduled to dock. However, the QE was ahead of schedule so our ship docked for about 20 minutes, let people off, then backed off and started tendering (making way for the HA ship to dock). Unfortunately, Cunard only let off people at the dock who were booked on early excursions sponsored by the ship. We were biking on our own, so we could not get off even though we were ready and willing. I was a little upset that they would not let us off. So just be cautious if you are pushed for time, then the cruise line could give priority to those who booked excursions with them.
  4. Yes, this is a subjective question.... which direction are thinking of cruising (ie, sailing west from Budapest, thus likely stopping in Vienna, or sailing west from Vienna thus missing Budapest altogether??) I would definitely recommend an overnight in Budapest - our ship spent the night there so we did not do a pre or post cruise there (we did our pre cruise in Prague) but we spent an evening in Budapest on ship. The night time cruise after dark (which our Viking ship did while docked we took a special night city cruise for a couple hours) was truly spectacular. The government buildings lit up after dark in Budapest is really beautiful. That said, Vienna although more expensive, may be a slightly cleaner city, off the beaten path at least, and maybe more to do for a few days. I would definitely not skip Budapest altogether, however.
  5. We were in the same situation on MSC disembarking in civi and going to hotel. I arranged driver for 9;30 (arranged before the trip). We were assigned one of the last exit times which was 8:45 or so which worked out fine. Technically you could probably stay on board later but I am not sure I would want my luggage by itself in the claiming area. Self debarkation means you would have your luggage but you won’t have a cabin. They are going to change the locks early on your cabin. Have fun....
  6. We were on MSC in the Mediterranean in Dec. 2018. Water was included however it is bottled water and required a charge to the room (with signature) then a deduction from the account, etc. A bit of a hassle. No ice. We were told coffee was not included but could be specially ordered from the bar. I agree with the poster that it was met with confusion. When I looked around the dining room I saw not one table with coffee after dinner any of the nights. So if you insist you may get some but I doubt it is included.
  7. GBR !! We went on MSC (Mediterranean) this last winter. Far more similarities to other cruise lines than differences. I think most of these lines have settled into the recipe that works and they are almost the same. So I would not hesitate to go on MSC. A few differences, but really not that many, in my opinion.
  8. We have been to both cities and can recommend them both. However, one thing to consider is pre or post stay. I much prefer pre cruise stays. First you get a chance to adjust to time differences before your cruise. Plus on our viking Danube cruise (with Prague pre cruise stay) the airlines lost my wife's luggage but not mine. They were not able to deliver it to the Prague hotel until 2 full days after we flew into Prague. Without the pre cruise stay we would have been on the boat. I have to think delivering the luggage would be that much more complicated if you are already on the boat and traveling down the river. Of course there are also flight cancellations to consider. Just my thoughts.... Have fun
  9. I think it was 16 Euro on board for show and cocktail. I was disappointed in the cocktail, I was expecting to order a premium cocktail, however when you enter the theater they have a table of pre made drinks and you get to choose one of four. A fruity rum drink, a gin and tonic, a non alcohol yogurt drink and one other I don't recall. None really appealed to me.....
  10. I agree. providing tap water and ice at the tables is an inexpensive thing for the cruise line to do and they prevent really making people mad. Cruise ships are a diverse group of passengers and many will not be used to paying for water. Especially since all other lines provide water even when cruising in Europe.
  11. No it was not on the table. I missed the ice water a lot. Ice water is hard to come by in Italy and on the ship. Actually, I think if you asked your server for ice, they would bring it. Then you can pour your bottled water in it. At least for the kid's sodas we asked for ice and they brought it. Have fun....
  12. For Genoa we had an excellent private guide through GoGenova tours. gogenova.com ... I can highly recommend. In Palermo we did on our own. We walked to the Theater Massimo (Teatro Massimo) - we took the 8 Euro guided tour of the theater - it was very interesting. We did not pre book just walked up. Some scenes from The Godfather were filmed there. We then walked to the Cattedrale di Palermo (cathedral). For 5 Euro or so you can walk to the roof of the cathedral. It was beautiful up there. All in all a cheap day but one of our favorite stops. The walk from ship to theater is about 20 minutes: safe but uninteresting. The walk from theater to cathedral is interesting as it goes through the tourist and busy pedestrian / shopping areas - a great walk... maybe 35 minutes . Just stay along Via Maqueda or close to it and there will be plenty of shopping. Then right on Via Vitorrio Emanuele and it will be a nice walk as well to the Cathedral. Then retrace your path back to the ship.....
  13. We had two formal nights, however it seemed far fewer people dressed up as with other cruises I had been on. I think you would not be out of place in the Main Dining room if you chose not to dress up but that is a personal preference. Our formal nights were Palermo and "at sea" day. We also stayed in central Rome and walked everywhere... We had pre arranged tickets to the Colosseum and the Vatican however. I do not recall seeing an all entertainment package what includes bowling and formula simulator. I recall the bowling was 30 Euros per hour.
  14. We did not visit the spa, but I understand it is very nice... I can tell you the hot tubs around the ship were warm and not hot - so I did not use them either ( I am a hot - hot tub kind of person !) I have most of the daily planners if you have any questions... English was the primary language on all signes, etc. on the ship but not a majority language. Announcements were always given in several languages. No real problems with communications however. I would expect less than 20% of the passengers were American. Enjoy your trip !
  15. sure, can you send me a note my address is 21jackj at geemail and I will reply
  16. We just got back from our MSC cruise last week (December 2018). We booked a private guide since we are a family of 6 and it was more economical than a ship excursion. I can highly recommend our tour guide if you would like let me know. I am sure she would tailor to your time allotment. I can say that Genoa was my favorite stop of the cruise. Personally, I would not let this be your "short" stop. We did all 3: SM., Portofino, and old Genoa (which is very close to where our ship docked.) I think on your own is doable, but with a local guide, they can really get you on the train, ferry quickly since they know the ropes, and schedules, etc. There are express trains vs. trains that stop between Genoa and SM as an example - our guide exchanged tickets from one to the other to help save time and get a better time, etc. You will not be able to walk along the coastal road between SM and Portofino. It is gone in at least 2 places. Our guide indicated they are hoping to have it repaired by Easter 2019, but I sensed that people are not optimistic on that date. We saw the construction equipment (cranes) which have been located in the damaged areas so that means they have at least begun the work, that is good news. If you have to decide between Genoa city and making the trek to SM and Portofino, I would do Portofino - although I recommend all 3 stops. Have fun.....
  17. We were just there last week (December 2018) for a 3 day stay pre cruise and stayed in Hotel Abruzzi, which is right next to the Pantheon. We did a similar pre cruise stay in 2013 and stayed at the Hotel Mancino 12, which is close to the Emanual II monument (wedding cake) - so it was closer to the Colosseum. Both hotels were charming - small, clean, old and great locations. I really liked staying at the hotel Abruzzi this time. Our room window literally opened up to show the Pantheon right in front of you. Staff was very friendly. Breakfast is included at a restaurant right across the Pantheon square from the hotel. It was buffet style - small but very good. Distance is relative and means different things to different people depending on how well you like to walk. From the Abruzzi Hotel (Pantheon) we walked everywhere... Vatican, Colossuem, Trevi fountain, and everywhere else. We did not take a cab or a bus the entire time. Try going to google maps and input a destination and see the walking directions. I think Vatican was about 30 min walk from Pantheon. Colosseum was also about 30 min from Pantheon as well. Both are interesting walks in good areas. You will walk more than that just going through the Vatican museum. Have fun !!
  18. We were there last week (Christmas Day, 2018). I knew it would not be a good day to visit on our own since most businesses were closed. I had contact Chris Sheridan via email several months in advance and he was able to find a guide willing to work on Christmas Day for us. Obviously most of the guides he works with preferred to be off that day, so I feel we were lucky that he was able to find a guide for us. When we exited the ship Chris was there as well as Julie our guide for the day, as well as Marco our driver. Julie was a great guide, very friendly and very knowledgeable. I am glad we booked a private tour - costs more but you get much more out of it than just walking around by yourself. Chris was very prompt with email replies and left very detailed instructions on where to meet. Obviously he took time out of his Christmas morning to meet us and make sure we were set with the guide, driver, etc. Very good service....
  19. We went on this cruise during xmas week and departed from Rome (Civi) - many thanks to those posters who helped me plan our cruise. I would be happy to answer any questions. We had never sailed on MSC before. previous: RCCL x 5, NCL, Celebrity, Cunard, Viking) We had booked 3 rooms (family of 6) on deck 10. Fantasia package. Overall a great trip - with just a few suggestions for improvement ! We spent 3 days in Rome pre cruise. We arrived Civi at 1 pm (cruise documents said do not arrive before 2 pm) - there was no one in line and we got right on. Cabins ready. They gladly switched my wife and a teen child's rooms; we had to previously book with a parent with each teen but they switched us. Ship is beautiful and of course new. Very pleased with our cabin (balcony floor 10). Although these cabins across cruise lines are starting to look a lot alike - this one no exception - it was just fine. The bed was very comfortable, floor 10 was very quiet, larger shower than other lines/ships, and the thermostat worked well and quickly. No complaints with the cabin. We did not eat in any specialty restaurants. Only MDR or buffet. Overall the food was good and very comparable to other lines (RCCL and NCL as an example) We had no issues with food being served too cold. Selection in the buffet was good. Portions in MDR were a bit small, however our waiter always asked if we wanted something else at the end of the dinner. One small complaint however, is MSC makes the drinks too much work for staff and passengers. in MDR water, coffee, lemonade, etc. are not included. As part of our fantasia package we got the 12 paper vouchers for drinks, plus we had free still or carbonated water (not sure why we got that.) Anyway, they bring the bottles of still water but have to charge it to your room using your key card. Then a second step is they deduct the cost of the water they just charged you requiring a signature on the waiter's ipad - which frequently was slow to respond. it just seems this added unnecessary work to a overworked staff already - just bring water without any bookkeeping ! Ditto with the drink vouchers - a two step process involving the vouchers and the ipad. Coffee was not available after dinner - unless the waiter ordered it from the bar for you - we didn't order any. When I looked around the MDR, no one had coffee with their dessert. This is really surprising to me. Entertainment was very good. Unlike other cruises we have been on, this ships' singers and dancers were scheduled to do shows 6 of the 7 nights and 3 show times each night. (plus the bonus afternoon opera show). That seems like more work for them than on other lines. They were very good and I enjoyed every show. Least favorite was Virtual - a show about smartphones (!) - the cast did fine, but not a topic that is appealing. Most favorite was Pax - Spanish music and dancing - I would not miss that. (actually the one show with a guest artist (magician) was cancelled and the ship's crew did a last minute classical trio with Soprano show - so for our cruise every show was the ship's crew). We opted for the Sonar choice for Cirque show. Like most Cirque shows it was done very well, very creative, and lots of visuals in the theater. It is shorter than most full production Cirque shows such as those in Vegas. Since the theater is small, it is not a grand as the Vegas shows either, but none the less very good and very entertaining. This was our second Med cruise. First one was NCL in July. I much preferred a December cruise than July. I was hesitant about going in winter - but we had pretty good weather and 58 deg F is much more appealing to me than 98 F. I wouldn't hesitate to book another one in December. We did no ship excursions. Palermo, Barcelona: on our own. Malta, Genoa: I booked a private tour guide. In France we booked a transfer to Aix en Provence. My favorite stop was Genoa and 2nd favorite was Palermo.
  20. I assume on board cash is in Euros including the Casino on the Meraviglia. Can someone confirm please. thanks.
  21. We just received our cruise documents for Dec 23rd embarkation and they indicate you cannot check in until 14:30. Has anyone recently sailed on MSC out of Civitavecchia - I was hoping to arrive earlier. Not sure how strict they are on this. thank you.
  22. We did not stay at either - so I am likely not qualified to comment! However, when walking by the Hilton in Buda by the castle, I thought this would be a great location to stay. I thought the area around the castle was very clean, beautiful views, and if you are a walker, the walk down hill to the river and bridges was easily doable (we did it - maybe only 20 minute walk.)
  23. We were on a Viking cruise and we did a nighttime cruise - it was awesome. It appeared to me that not all of the ships docked went out in the evening so perhaps some do not. I would definitely book a 3rd party cruise if your ship does not. Perhaps if you are interested in a dinner cruise or a real special night out book 3rd party whether your ship does a cruise or not.
  24. We left the Viking tour near the Castle (of course telling the tour guide.) the castle area is really beautiful and I wanted more time to explore and take photos. The walk back down the hill to the bridges (and Viking ship) was very easy. It looks like a long way, but it was not. Of course it is down hill, and quite a few stairs, but if you are a good walker, should not be a problem. Pretty hard to get lost as well, since you have a bird's eye view of the bridges and river most of the way. I think it may have been 20 minute walk or so.
  25. I posted the same question a long while ago, but would like to know if anyone has any updates. We are booked on the Meraviglia in December, my wife and I and teen children. Teens are 16 and 17 and MSC required that we book one teen and one adult in each room. We would want to swap rooms to have the two teens together. Options are for one parent and one kid just to swap key cards while on the ship. Would this stop us from making on board purchases (if photo is checked when you purchase something.) Other option is to ask for an extra non- charge keycard that only opens the stateroom. I understand MSC may or may not do this, based on other posts. Has anyone had recent experience with this. thank you.
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