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  1. Single traveler on 'Isole Del Sole' cruise with 'Costa Pacifica' from Savona. I chose this cruise to experience 'Costa Crociere', Madeira and Canary Islands with some more sea days again. Embarkation - The process from arrival at the terminal to my stateroom took about 2 hours, but I was repeatedly addressed in German, my native language. The stateroom was not yet ready at shortly after 01:00pm, but I already could store my hand luggage and grab my board card. Security Drill - It took less than 30 minutes and was held in Italian, English and German languages shortly before departure; movies in other languages were available on the TV in the stateroom the entire cruise. Cruise guests had to bring life vests from their staterooms. The Ship - 'Costa Pacifica' is a classic cruise liner, 9 years old, with a more traditional form, compared to newer ships. Interiors featured the theme music, with many colorful symbols and images in warm colors. There were always lots of free sun loungers on the very spacious sun decks, even in quiet areas. The cruise was outsold and the ship appeared crowded sometimes. 'Costa Pacifica' was well maintained and in good shape, given its age. Orientation signs on board were good. Crew And Staff - The crew was friendly, caring and attentive, always trying to talk to their guests in each their languages, a charming Babylonian language jumble. The stateroom stewardess made a good job and was always open for a small talk. Dining - There were different theme evenings in the main dining room, but I couldn't find a menu before entering the restaurant, and since I am a buffet type of passenger, generally avoiding long sessions in the main dining rooms, I did not visit the main dining room at all. In the evenings, the 'Ristorante Buffet La Paloma' was open from 07:00pm to 09:00pm, there were queues sometimes, since the buffets are arranged on long bars, not allowing guests to jump. Plastic table ware was used, but the offered food was among the best things on the cruise. Different variations of meat - including very good Bratwurst - and fish, a selection of pasta and different potato and vegetable preparations, very delicious small bites from the patisserie were always offered for lunch and dinner. Other deli was presented at special events at the main pool for example, as well as hamburgers and fries daily from 11:00am to 02:00pm. For 'La Merenda' from 04:00pm to 05:00pm, the restaurant was always very crowded, for good reason, the many different bites were very good; queues at the basket with freshly fried cinnamon rolls. On sea days, the 'Ristorante Buffet La Paloma' was crowded for breakfast; choice and quality was always very good, except for the fluid scrambled eggs. I had the 'Pranzo & Cena' beverage package, since only some beverages for breakfast and 'La Merenda' - coffee, hot chocolate and tea, plus juices for breakfast - were included in the cruise fare. The guest can get beverages at the end of every buffet line in the 'Ristorante Buffet La Paloma' at lunch and dinner, manually served by friendly staff, a full plastic cup with 250ml to 300ml out of cans or bottles. The 'Carta Costa' must be shown or handed over to the staff for paying therefore, any purchased beverage package is noted with its code on the card. Tap water was free, available from dispensers in the 'Ristorante Buffet La Paloma'. Hand disinfection was available at every buffet, but was not taken very seriously by most guests on this cruise. The dress code was casual, long pants were required in the evening. The Guests - Majority from Italy, followed by cruise guests from German speaking countries. Other remarkable groups were from France, Spain, UK and Eastern Europe. The cruise was like all Europe on one ship. From my observation - I saw people in wheel chairs and with rollators - the ship was very kid friendly, with different kinds of kindergarten like care, plus a dedicated pool and play area. Kids were involved in festivities and had their appearances as special guests. Shore Excursions - This is something I usually organize on my own. Disembarkation and Embarkation at ports of call was quickly without long waiting. The ship was always very punctual, but harbor stays were short. Guests were not allowed to bring beverages on board, but could walk in with even big bottles sometimes. Entertainment - The program offered something for everyone, with live music every day, plus the shows in the theater of course. There were also entertainment offers in other languages than Italian. Over all, the program appeared a little bit limited, especially on sea days. Shopping - Some few shops offered different things, from clothes to gifts, spirits and tobacco, as well as perfumes. There was no intrusive spa promotion on this cruise. The photo area was under renovation, temporarily moved to another location. Internet - I had purchased the Internet 500mb package, the internet speed was not so good, temporarily overloaded or even unavailable sometimes on sea days. Disembarkation - Cruise guests were assigned to disembarkation time slots and had to leave their staterooms until 08:00am, spending time until disembarkation with breakfast or waiting in crowded lounges. The baggage was easy to find in the terminal, on-board accounting was correct. Thank you 'Costa Crociere' for an again wonderful cruise with so good food, charming multilingualism and your warm Italian hospitality on bella 'Costa Pacifica'! My 'BP Premium Balcony Stateroom' #424 on deck 8 port side had a double bed and a couch, convertible to a bed, bedside tables, closets, commode and stool, a safe for valuables, a telephone and a coffee machine. The minibar was filled with different beverages and snacks. Lots of storage was available for clothes and baggage, partially occupied by life vests. There were 2 sockets for EU plugs, one of them behind the TV, which offered many programs in different languages. Bathroom with shower and gel dispenser, big mirror, toilet, washbasin and towels, as well as a clothesline. I slept well on the bed, the stateroom was quiet, besides of some occurrences of moving furniture on the deck above and the loudspeaker announcements on the corridor. Appearance was nice and clean. The usually 6-page and closely printed daily planner 'Diario Di Bordo' with all necessary information was delivered to the stateroom every day, but was also downloadable as PDF at 'onboardportal-pacifica.costa.it' in different languages. Security information on the stateroom door, as well as a 'Non Disturbare' card to move into the card reader outside the stateroom. The big balcony had a deck overhang of about 1.20m. It was equipped with a small table and 2 chairs, each without foldable backrest. The lockable and heavy door always shut a little bit noisy. Pool towels were stored in the closet. Full Travel Report 2018 · 'Costa Pacifica' with 81 photos also available as PDF ...
  2. Would you mind stop talking of German people in general, please. Your words may let the people get wrong impressions of Germans. We are not all equal! Such aggressive activists destroyed entire streets at G20 summit in Hamburg, they enter ships and secure harbor areas without being punished. Sometimes, I'm just only ashamed of being a citizen of this country called Germany, embarrassing ...
  3. I personally would stay in Hamburg. My baggage could be delayed on flight for example, or my flight is late at all. If the weather is bad - cloudy like on most days -, Hamburg is a much better place - compared to Kiel - for activities, and if the weather is good, you're really a lucky one! Transportation from Hamburg to Kiel: at least 2 trains per hour; journey duration less than 1½ hrs See my Hamburg-Gallery and thread JMHamburg and others please help with Hamburg for more information. EDIT: During 'Harbor Birthday' 08 to 10 May 2020, hotels may be outsold!
  4. TUI Cruises 'Mein Schiff 1' - 7 Nights Canary Islands And Madeira - September 2018 Las Palmas - Funchal - La Palma - Tenerife - Fuerteventura - Las Palmas Open the full report with 68 images at janswebsites.altervista.org, also availabe as PDF with 56 pages. Or search for "! Jan's Websites ! Travel" including exclamation marks at major search engines. My CruiseCritic Review: Mein Schiff 1 - Solid German Cruise-Craftsmanship by JMHamburg Mein Schiff 1 · IMO9783564 · 13may2018 2006CEST (Hamburg)
  5. If you are good at walking, you can walk from Breivika pier to downtown and even over the bridge; see my travel report for details.
  6. Join me on my Western Mediterranean Cruise with 'Symphony Of The Seas' in May 2018 with my report containing 102 pictures, a little bit to read, and let yourself be inspired ... Open the full report at janswebsites.altervista.org, also availabe as PDF with 88 pages. Or search for "! Jan's Websites ! Travel" including exclamation marks at major search engines. Symphony Of The Seas · IMO9744001 · 23may2018 1848CEST (La Spezia) My CruiseCritic Review: Great Cruise On 'Symphony Of The Seas' ! by JMHamburg Single traveler on '7 Night Western Mediterranean Cruise' with 'Symphony Of The Seas'. I chose this cruise to experience this class of cruise ships once again, and because it was the cruise of a German cruise forum I'm member of. Embarkation - That was efficient and quickly done by friendly staff. I was already on board the ship before my stateroom was ready by 01:00pm, so I could enjoy all public areas and lunch in the meantime. The baggage arrived in front of my stateroom door within 3 hours after boarding; I don't know the exact time since I was taking a long sunbath on deck. Security Drill - It was held in the 'Royal Theater' for my me, no life vests to put on, a demonstration was shown, followed by a greeting movie featuring the captain and an artful 'James Bond'-like movie, the sound switched on amidst that movie. The show was held in English language, pointing out the availability of other languages on the TV screens in the staterooms. The Ship - Well, gigantic, great, extraordinary, exciting, well designed, spacious and new, as expected from my previous cruise with 'Harmony Of The Seas', 2 years ago. Real plants and trees in the 'Central Park'! Very few situations of congestion or waiting. Orientation on board is very good, finally maritime terms like port and starboard in the staircase halls, as well as direction signs to aft and forward. The very fast and quickly available elevators signalized up and down in colors green and red, and there is always a 'Gangway' and 'Close Door' button. Announcements were mostly made in English and Spanish languages. The pool and sun deck areas are very spacious with many sun loungers bound together in rows. Free sun loungers were available even on the sea day. Lifeguards permanently supervised the pools, stood at the rims and watched every swim move of the guests. There is also a big pool and fun area for the kids. The giant ship plowed gently through the sea with nearly no vibrations, and since the sea was calm, no rolling and pitching as well. Crew And Staff - They were always friendly, nurturing, took care of everything, but not in an intrusive way. My room steward did a good job, left a towel animal on my bed every second evening. American way of communication and dealing with things here, salutation by first name and 'Sir', which might be unusual for a German traveler. Information in German language was provided not perfectly, but useful for those who depend on it. Dining - I'm a buffet cruiser, and I noticed that the 'Windjammer Marketplace' buffet restaurant had reduced opening times in the evening until 09:15pm; but nobody was thrown out, many guests sat until 10:00pm, and it was also possible to get something to eat and beverages included in the cruise fare after the official closure time. Variety and quality was throughout very good, with astonishing surprises every day. The choice of included beverages also was good. Food labels in the 'Windjammer Marketplace' buffet restaurant were in English language, various Indian cuisine was offered always, and many guests from India even ate with their fingers. Guests had to wash their hands before entering the buffet restaurant, and the observance of the ritual was supervised by funny and entertaining reception staff. The background music was mostly pleasant, and it was always possible to get a free table, very few situations of congestion. Staff was very attentive, even went around with tablets, offering lemonades and juices or other things. Dress code casual, also at other locations like the 'Park Café', the 'Sorrentos' and the 'Café Promenade', snacks and included beverages were available all day. Stepping on the stairs up to the 'Windjammer Marketplace' was like playing piano, very funny. The Guests - A remarkable proportion of passengers from Far East and India, lots of people from Spain and Germany. The German language was number three in the ranking, behind English and Spanish. Of course, lots of guests from North America were travelling with the ship, very internationally, together with crew, actually from everywhere in the world. I did not notice bad or questionable behavior, always easy going and relaxed American way of live! From my observation, the ship is kid friendly, and I also saw people in wheel chairs and with rollators. Shore Excursions - This is something I usually organize on my own. In Civitavecchia, disembarkation was pulled into length, and arrival or gangway open times of the ship generally were not meant to be taken too seriously in my eyes. Returning to the ship from excursions was never a problem, no long queueing up. Last departure times of possible mandatory shuttle buses were conflicting with reality, even by asking local staff, correct information was hard to obtain. Entertainment - So many activities and so much entertainment was offered, so less time to enjoy it all within a week. Very big gym and spa areas, and the best running track around the ship that someone can expect on the seas. Hailing from the German musical capital of Hamburg, I have never visited any musical before in my life, but had the chance to get into the premiere of 'Flight', even without a reservation, and the show was absolutely great, as well as both the shows in the 'Aqua Theater', called 'HiRO' and 'Aqua Nation'. Other events took place nearly 24/7 on the 'Royal Promenade', and music was almost everywhere, live Caribbean sounds in the afternoon on the pool deck, and throughout always to my taste. The bars and lounges were well frequented with events, live music and dancing. Shopping - Some few luxury shops and repeated promotion and sales events on the 'Royal Promenade'. Few offers of typical duty free, some vending machines with various accessories and care products. The 'Royal Gift Shop' is small, sweets were offered in a shop on the 'Boardwalk'. There is also a travel agency where you can book your next cruise, a discount flyer was delivered to my stateroom. Internet - From previous cruise with 'Harmony Of The Seas', I knew that internet access by VOOM was fast and working like a charm everywhere on the ship anytime. I connected my smartphone to 'Royal-WiFi', tried to open a homepage of my choice, the 'VOOM' site appeared with the offer to 'Purchase Wi-Fi', where I had to type name, year of birth and stateroom number. On the same page, I had to choose a username and password, but then decided against a package. Land based LTE internet access did not work inside my interior stateroom in the middle of the ship, but was available on deck and in the 'Windjammer Marketplace'. Most of the time I needed internet, it was available via land based LTE internet on that route. Disembarkation - I could take my baggage off the ship on my own, as I prefer it. There was no congestion or waiting worth mentioning. The board account was correct and the billing was made in the currency I desired. Thank you very much 'Royal Caribbean', for making this a great cruise again with so many unforgettable moments on an extraordinary and great ship 'Symphony Of The Seas'! My interior stateroom #428 on deck 9 had a king size double bed, bedside tables, couch, closets, commode, table and chair, big mirror, a small safe for valuables, an empty but cool minibar - the cabin steward offered to fill it up -, sockets for US and EU plugs, as well as an USB socket to charge electronic devices, telephone, and a big flat screen TV for access to cruise related information, as well as some few international television channels in different languages. Bathroom with shower, separated by a swinging door instead of a curtain, gel dispenser, toilet, big mirror, small washbasin, towels and flannels. Appearance was well cared and clean. I slept well on the bed, the room was quiet, no annoying loud speaker announcements. The daily plan 'Cruise Compass' with all necessary information was delivered to my stateroom in German language, but was also available at the 'Guest Services' in other languages.
  7. Join me on my cruise with 'Norwegian Jade' to wonderful Norway in July 2018 with my report containing 152 pictures, a little bit to read, and let yourself be inspired ... Read about fjord landscapes so beautiful that it hurts and how my Norwegian dream finally came true while hiking with sheep on so beautiful Lofoten islands. Read further about how I managed to see the midnight sun and the luck I had with the weather in the arctic region of Europe despite evil weather forecasts, in a summer that was way too hot there, in Tromsø and at Nordkapp with wonderful scenic landscapes. Join me sightseeing wonderful Bergen, the rain capital of Europe, with sunshine and blue sky and a wonderful departure through the fjord and archipelago heading the sea. Open the full report at janswebsites.altervista.org, also availabe as PDF with 110 pages. Or search for "! Jan's Websites ! Travel" including exclamation marks at major search engines. My CruiseCritic Review: Midnight Sun Cruise - Norwegian Jade Cruise Review by JMHamburg Single traveler on '12 Days Norway And North Cape' with 'Norwegian Jade' from Hamburg. I chose this cruise to finally see the fjord landscapes and many other sights of Norway. Embarkation - This took 2 hours in the 'Cruise Center Steinwerder' and was one of my longest CheckIn procedures at all. Refreshment drinks and snacks were offered to countless people standing in a single line for all CheckIn counters. Security Drill - It was done professionally and was one of my quickest drills ever. No life vests to bring with from the stateroom, it was not necessary to wear one at all. The drill was in English language with most important details in German language as well. The Ship - An older one, but renovated in 2017, less signs of wear and tear therefore. Lounges had some charm of looking old fashioned and the pool area a little bit undecorated. Sun loungers were collected early on sunny evenings, guests were friendly evicted from them by deck staff sometimes. Deck areas were closed due to strong wind on the third sea day, while the wind speed was lower than the ship's speed, as displayed on the TV ticker with comprehensive nautical and meteorological information. Partially deck area closures also happened at other times without any recognizable reason, there may have been painting works. As many older ships, 'Norwegian Jade' has a classical promenade around the life boats. Orientation was made more simple on this ship, compared to others. The sports court above the 'Garden Café' was well audible when guests were dining, noisy banging and tramping. There was no storm during the cruise, thus the ship always sailed very stable. Crew And Staff - They were mostly friendly and open. The stateroom steward made a good job. Spa staff used every opportunity to attract cruise guests for spa and massages. Cruise director Richard Matic made several announcements on nearly every day to invite cruise guests for events and shows. Dining - At bars, cups and glasses were filled half with ice on the first few days, staff more and more began to ask then, whether the guest wanted ice at all. I only go to buffet restaurants, since I don't like to wait and then have a reduced choice in restaurants with service at the tables. Sometimes, especially on sea days, it was hard but not impossible to find a free table. Breakfast was available also on the open sun sail covered aft deck of the 'Garden Café', even after closure of the buffet restaurant at 10:30am. For lunch and dinner, the choice of food was a little bit limited, sometimes the offered food was just lukewarm, especially rice. There was always a very interesting theme evening with food from a particular country or region in the world. The pastries section was throughout good and there were 2 self service ice cream machines. A small selection of soft drinks, some were sugar free, as well as coffee and tea was included in the cruise fare in the morning, for lunch, in the evening and for the late snacks from self service machines. Pieces of pineapple and water melon were not peeled off, guests had to do it on their own, using knifes which usually were not really sharp. French crêpes and Italian pasta were prepared for the guests on their individual wishes just in time. There was always plenty of different meat and some fish, as well as an Asian corner, with delicious and well spiced Asian food. Labels were in English language, but very spicy food also had a note in German. Nearly everything I tried tasted good or even very good, except the sausages. 'NCL' could have loaded high quality German sausages in Hamburg, but they did not. Staff usually asked friendly before taking dishes away from the table. Dress code was casual. The Guests - Majority of passengers were Germans of a higher average age. Other remarkable proportions were from Spain, Italy, North America, many other European countries and Middle East. Loudspeaker announcements were made in English, German and Spanish. From my observation, the ship is kid friendly, there were lots of kids and youths, and I also saw people in wheel chairs and with rollators. Shore Excursions - This is something I usually organize on my own. Disembarkation at ports of call was nearly always without any problems, no long waiting, at tender ports, everything well organized. The ship was mostly very punctual. Guests were generally not allowed to bring beverages on board. Entertainment - Too less time to enjoy all the offers. Usually, there were different entertainment opportunities in many venues at the same time. Music, dance, games, no reason for boredom. I missed proper information on the 3 possible midnight sun appearances on this cruise, most passengers thus may have missed the first midnight sun, which was the only good one. The passage around Nordkapp however was announced in the 'Freestyle Daily' program with quite exact times. Shopping - A big duty free shop offered different things, from clothes to gifts, spirits and tobacco, as well as perfumes. I missed price labels on candy, chocolate and potato chip products. Special sales were offered sometimes. Internet - Access prices were significantly higher than I knew it from other cruises, and together with the fact that in northern latitudes internet via satellite is not guaranteed or even technically impossible, I waived purchasing an internet package on this cruise. Land based LTE internet access was available most of the time, when the ship cruised in coastal areas, and in ports anyway. Disembarkation - Elevators did not stop on the deck from where the disembarkation took place in Hamburg, for whatever reason. Cruise guests were allowed to take their baggage from the ship on their own, and I did it without any waiting after arrival. Thank you very much 'Norwegian Cruise Line', for this cruise on 'Norwegian Jade'! My 'Interior Stateroom' #519 on deck 9 starboard side had a king size double bed with bedside tables. Ship's vibrations and engine noise were transmitted into the pillows. There was a commode with stool, a big safe for valuables, a phone and a minibar stocked with refreshment and alcoholic drinks. Storage for clothes was partially occupied with pillows, blankets and life vests. There was a socket for EU and some more for US plugs, as well as a socket at the commode for charging with an USB cable. Some very few international TV channels were offered in most important languages only, a moving map provided ship's position and plenty of other nautical and meteorological information. There was only the single main light switch next to the door, the main stateroom light could not be turned on or off at the bed for example. Night light switches were at the bed, but I could bump my head at the night light boxes mounted directly above the pillows. The boxes each also had an USB socket for charging electronic devices. There was quite annoying cigar smoke coming to the stateroom from the air condition several times for each a while every day, twice it was even exhaust fume. The stateroom was quiet, no annoying loudspeaker announcements, but they could be heard on the bow cam TV channel 24. Bathroom with very spacious shower, gel as well as conditioner dispensers and a clothesline. The shower temperature oscillated constantly between warm and not so warm. Mirror, toilet, washbasin with soap dispenser, towels and flannels. Some toiletries were provided. Stateroom cleaning was carried out twice a day. From my observation, balcony staterooms received a written note on the evening before the balconies would be cleaned. Security information was on the stateroom door, an air conditioner thermostat next to the bathroom door. I usually found a towel animal on the bed in the evenings, together with the 6-page and closely printed planner 'Freestyle Daily', containing all necessary information. And now, just enjoy some preview photos:
  8. It is definitely wonderful! See my travel report Tallink Silja Line - Silja Symphony - Stockholm Helsinki vv at janswebsites.altervista.org for many pictures ...
  9. In May 2018, I finally went on the trip I was so long only dreaming of. A mini-cruise with just a regular ferry - well, it was the cruise ferry 'Silja Symphony' - from Stockholm to Helsinki and back through the wonderful Skaergard Archipelago with all the islands and bays. Join me on a mini-cruise with my report containing 80 pictures, a little bit to read, and let yourself be inspired ... If you plan to go on your own journey through the scenic Skaergard Archipelago and make your Swedish dream come true, please keep in mind that the postcard-like views and pictures from my mini-cruise are possible to make from mid May to end of July only, since this is the time of the year with the most daylight; and of course, you would need the really good weather I had. Choose HTML or PDF version of my report Tallink Silja Line - Silja Symphony from janswebsites.altervista.org Or search for "! Jan's Websites ! Travel" including exclamation marks at major search engines. And now, just enjoy some preview photos:
  10. I have been to Barcelona countless times in the past years, I'm very vigilant, and there were only very few situations of feeling uncomfortable, I've never been in any bad situation in Barcelona!
  11. Hamburg was the first city in the world introducing a public transport network with network ticket system, that was back in 1965. So, don't worry, you can use your single or day ticket on the entire HVV network with metro, ferry and bus, fast buses with surcharge. You can also use HVV tickets on regional trains to Lubeck or Stade, you would just have to pay attention to the tariff zones shown on the maps in the stations. Single ticket is €3.30, day ticket on weekdays from 09:00am is €6.40, day ticket on weekdays for entire day is €7.70, day ticket on weekend and public holidays for entire day is €6.40. There are also short distance tickets if you only travel some stations or stops. If you plan to travel to Kiel for example, tickets are available at HVV ticket machines as well. For your journey from Dockland to Rathaus and back, you may take a day ticket.
  12. The Google Photo Spheres are very nice, but unfortunately, the vast majority of them are no freely accessible points in Oia, but private property, like hotels and restaurants for example. For good photos, in the morning, this eastern spot is freely accessible, in the afternoon, this western sport is more suitable. The eastern spot is actually some stairs down from the Photo Sphere, you have posted ... Yes, Akrotiri and the main wineries are situated in the opposite direction ...
  13. The world famous chapels are located in Oia: Santorini Oia Agia Spyridon Agia Anastasi · 16jun2016 1142EEST (Oia) You can get to the chapels through narrow alleys east and west of them from the main pedestrian road in Oia, just follow the masses of tourists. Together with the as well world famous sunset spot: Santorini Oia Panorama Sunset · 30may2017 2018EEST (Oia) There are some other chapels with blue domes in Oia, and some bell towers. The main town on Santorini island Fira is not sooo spectacular, but about 2kms north, you can walk along the scenic caldera, there is the village of Imerovigli. The following spot is on top of the cliffs, you can get to it through a narrow alley and down some stairs around the corner: Santorini Imerovigli Panorama Caldera · 01jun2017 1028EEST (Imerovigli) Santorini, this is my Greek dream in blue and white !
  14. In the past 12 years, we did not have anything that could one have named summer here in northern Europe. In the past weeks we had a lot of summer, great! I have been to Stockholm some weeks ago, and it was a glowing heat with best sunshine for my Mini-Cruise to Helsinki and back. The forecast for the upcoming week provided by 2 major weather models: Big and stable (!) high pressure area from northern Scandinavia down to southern Europe; that means very good chances for many sunny days! Refer to Windy ...
  15. I use the MAPS.ME app, offline usable data based on OpenStreetMap, including GPS positioning and direction suggestions ...
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