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About racingraysswimmom

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    Rolling Meadows, IL
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  1. racingraysswimmom


    Just wanted to touch base with our Roll Call Post Cruise to say hope you ALL had a good flight home and that it was wonderful to MEET you all. Thanks for attending our "informal" Meet & Greet on Sunday, Sept 30 after the Muster Drill. Thanks for attending the "formal" Meet & Greet on Tuesday, Oct 2 with the Senior NCL Officers. Thanks for participating in the Slot Pull immediately following the M & G on Tuesday. Thank you Libby and Jack for organizing the Slot Pull. We had so much fun and appreciate your efforts!! Thank you Myra for all the time you spent standing in line for Tender Tickets in Kotor, and Santorini! Thank you to the 18 CC members who spent their early morning holding our space for the Santorini Tender Tickets. Thank you to the very special CC members who surprised me with tokens of appreciation for the planning of our tours. This was so unexpected and so thoughtful. I will never forget your kindness and the special times we shared in Ports together. This bonding prior to cruise and onboard make these Roll Calls so special. My heart goes to all the new friendships made onboard and hope all of you made it home healthy and the jet lag has worn out by now. I will always remember this special cruise and your beautiful hearts. Love, Jan
  2. racingraysswimmom

    Tendering on NCL Star!

    Mrs. Bear, Come join our Roll Call for your cruise! Thanks, Jan aka Racingraysswimmom
  3. racingraysswimmom

    Star Greek Isles Freestyle Dailys

    Following......and thank you
  4. racingraysswimmom

    Bonine vs. Meclazine

    ALSO....to use with Meclizine..... a pharmacist gave me this recommendation and has worked everytime for us. We use this in combination. Whole Ginger Root - can be purchased at Wal-Mart ~ we used Spring Valley brand~ 550 mg. p/capsule 50 tablets in bottle with cost approximately $4.00 Adult Dosage: Take 1,100mg at least 30 minutes BEFORE TRAVEL Following initial dose: 1 or 2 more 550mg capsules every 4 hours Maximum dosage: 4,000 mg. per day Chewable "Ginger Trips" found at various health food stores. If you need Children Dosage: Always ask the pharmacist We have also asked for fresh ginger onboard as the Sushi restaurant
  5. racingraysswimmom

    NCL Venice - Venice cruise; Greek Island excursions

    Thanks for posting your review flexmom! We will be on the NCL Star in September so I just had a few questions and kindly ask your assistance. If you are not Platinum and had to get tender tickets - did you have a limit of number of tickets you could get? Do you remember what time your Muster Drill occurred? Did you have a sail-away party/BBQ on deck? Thank you so much. Jan
  6. I was asked to evaluate/respond to our Cruise Critic M & M onboard the Carnival Vista 01/13/18 cruise in an email. I did respond and wish I had gotten a reply to my response in my email. Here is the hot topic. We did have our M & M the first sea day at 9 AM in the Piano Lounge. I did get an invitation in my mailbox the first night of our cruise. Not everyone did. Before we got on the ship, I had read from a previous passenger when they had their M & M. At our informal get together right after the Muster Drill......I had forewarned everyone that attended that it might certainly be held the next morning. I told them to double check that evening in their FUN TIMES for it. It was published in the Fun Times. The problem was that some people did not update their cabin numbers if they changed rooms. Some people did not get their invites and some people did not get their FUN TIMES the night prior. I also think some people just never read their Times when they were told to please check for the announcement over and over again on the Roll Call. We still had about 35 people attend and Carnival had a lovely spread of refreshments and treats. I personally was disappointed that no officers came to address the group. I don't know if this is typical with Carnival Cruise Critic M & M. I was also on the FB group and in order to have a cohesive group I suggested we all register with Cruise Critic. Now the person that was in charge of that FB group told our group that she will never do a Cruise Critic party again. She said that she always gets a date and room assignment ahead of the cruise for the FB group and everyone knows about it ahead of time prior to the sailing. The last 2 M & M I attended on NCL we had several officers that spoke to us. Is this because on Carnival the Cruise Critic members are not as valued as much. It seems the FB group gets better recognition from Carnival. Just thought our members should know what they are up against.
  7. racingraysswimmom

    Reservations for large party?

    I had a similar situation for the Spirit. We had my husbands retirement dinner at Cagneys for 20. I emailed NCL at: specialeventsdawn@ncl.com (except I used Spirit not Dawn) soon as we were 60 days out and they gave me the needed reservation. It took 1 day and I got a response back from them. I also included all of my friends confirmation numbers and names. Hope you get them! Jan
  8. racingraysswimmom

    Venice gondola ride

    Newtocruising: Just came back from Venice mid June. We had 6 people in our Gondola and were charged 80 Euro for 45 min. total. We were a couple of blocks away from St. Mark's Square and we choose to not be on the main Canal the whole time because it was very busy and choppy water. This ride was taken in the mid afternoon around 3-3:30pm. No need to pre-arrange your ride. Have a great time.
  9. racingraysswimmom

    MAY 31 2016: Spirit Med Cruise Review

    Gerrimom, After we walked off the Spirit in Piraeus at terminal B, walk along the sidewalk to the port entrance gate (5 min walk). Go towards the left of the Port. We were able to buy tickets at a ticket booth just to the left of the port entrance and the bus stop was just to the right of the ticket booth on the same side of the street.....but I caution you to ASK and then ASK someone else again. We got conflicting answers and the bus stop information changes. :eek:
  10. racingraysswimmom

    MAY 31 2016: Spirit Med Cruise Review

    You will love the ship and the crew! Bon Voyage~:D
  11. racingraysswimmom

    Call from NCL re: water

    I wouldn't drink the water from my bathroom tap......just came back June 13 from the Spirit.....because our sink faucet had brown water coming out. Very appetizing I must say...... Glad we had Brita bottles with filter.
  12. Trip of a Lifetime on NCL Spirit Background: Traveling from Chicago suburbs with 17 close friends and family. Ages for my group were 20 yrs. old – 62 yrs. old. I booked this group cruise 1.5 yrs. in advance. This gave everyone a chance to save up. Booked airfare Oct. 2015 for May 2016 flights on Aer Lingus airline. 12 in our group were on same flights. I also purchased Travel Guard Insurance for flights, cruise, and hotels. Our cruise itinerary originally had a stop in Istanbul and Ephesus Turkey which I really wanted to see, however safety first! The 2 Ports that NCL substituted with were wonderful and appreciated. Vacation start: May 28, 2016 (my 39th Wedding Anniversary) to O’Hare airport for Aer Lingus flight. O’Hare was experiencing long check-in and TSA lines so we got to airport 3 plus hours ahead of flight. On board the plane we had a very nice flight, meal, snack, and beverage. Entertainment movies, and television shows kept us busy. I did take a “chill” pill and slept a couple of hours after we ate. We would fly this airline again. Changed planes in Dublin (May 29), had a quick Guinness (5:30am) because you must in Dublin and boarded connecting flight to Barcelona. On second flight snacks were offered for purchase. Plane landed in Barcelona on time. Airport was easy to navigate. We picked up our luggage (no lost bags for the entire group) and proceeded to Arrivals Hall to pick up our 18 passenger mini bus from ZIPtransfers. We purposely got a larger mini bus than our number of passengers as we had large pieces of luggage and wanted enough room to accommodate everything. Bus arrived 15 minutes later; we packed the bus, and was driven to Hotel Europark: Calle Aragó, 323-325, Barcelona, Spain. Since we were hours ahead of Check-In time, the Hotel kindly stored our luggage for us. One family arrived in Barcelona the day before, and they let us use their safe in their room for our Passports, etc. We ate a quick lunch, checked in at Hotel and then walked to La Sagrada Familia which was a 15 minute walk. Thankfully we had a gorgeous day with temps in the low 70’s. I had pre-purchased the Basilica tickets online for 4:30pm. with the Tower on the Passion façade for 5:15pm. All went smoothly and the site is not to be missed. Buy your tickets in advance! May 30: Delicious breakfast at Hotel Europark. Pre- purchased online our HOHO bus tickets. Walked to the bus stop fairly close to hotel and toured the entire day. Earbuds were provided with documentary in English for our site seeing day. We got off bus several times to see: Park Guell (several hours) changed bus to Red Route, Teleferic de Montjuic stop. We wanted to go up to the top of Montjuïc Mountain but the Cable car was shut down for several hours. Also we visited Futbol Stadium, Olympic Stadium, and Port Vell. At night we found another local restaurant and they gave us a private side room for 15 people. The prices were very reasonable everywhere we went to eat. Hotel Europark: Beautiful boutique hotel. We had lovely accommodations. Staff was outstanding. They were very helpful and knowledgeable giving us great directions for busses and restaurants. Breakfast (we had included in our hotel rate) was delicious and lovely variety for all ages in our group. The hotel was immaculate and would recommend this hotel for not only pre- cruise guests, but also if you are staying in Barcelona for many days. Location was very convenient to restaurants, shopping, and HOHO busses. ZIPtransfers: Very easy to book online in advance (3.5 weeks before trip) and very pleased with promptness. Minivan (for 18) was very clean and looked fairly new. Having a group of 12 trying to get taxi cabs to same location would have been chaotic and in the long run the reserved transportation was less hassle and more economical. I would definitely use their services again. May 31: Embarkation Day ! Had another delicious breakfast at Hotel and finished packing up and getting luggage down to lobby. Checked out of hotel before 11:00 am and sat in the lobby with group waiting for our scheduled 11:30 am pick up from hotel to cruise pier. Barcelona Private Airport Transfers was the company I used to pre- purchase transfer service from Hotel to cruise pier. The company I used from the airport did not provide this service so I looked for one that did online and found them. For 17 people I booked a 25 Seat Bus to accommodate our large luggage. The service arrived on time with a beautiful larger bus than ordered that gave us plenty of room both in luggage and seating. Our entire group was very pleased with the service this company provided us. I recommend them for their promptness and clean vehicle. This was the best way to transport a group like ours to our destination. This company gets high marks from me and my group. Arrived at NCL Spirit Pier around 12 Noon. There were approximately 50 people already in line for Check-In. We did not have to wait very long for check-in. FYI: NCL will take your Passports. We made color copies before we left for trip, but they will make copies for you if you need them. Everyone went to lunch after check-in and rooms were ready not long after lunch. Most of us just went to Henry’s Pub after eating to celebrate our long awaited trip and to try out our UBP!! FYI: while docked in Barcelona, added to your bill is a tax that is not included in your prepaid UBP gratuities. It does not add up too much…..approx. $1.00 per drink….but those who ordered many, many….it did add up for 4 guests that first afternoon….LOL!!! Also a note on the drinks as far as how strong/weak/taste etc: We really thought that NCL did a good job and we never waited long to get a server. I had a lot of frozen-type beverages. My favorite was Mango Meltdown and they were yummy. My group enjoyed the UBP and we thought NCL did a great job. I had read some negative reviews that because passengers had the UBP they had to hunt down someone to take their order. This certainly was not our experience; in fact we became quite friendly with the same servers and bartenders for our 12 days onboard. We tipped them throughout the trip and they were genuinely appreciative and happy to take very good care of us. We did get off the ship after lunch and drinks and took a cab to shop along the Port before the bridge. You really could not walk from ship as traffic and distance was not walk able. We bought some knock-off items for ourselves and for souvenirs. We did have a great time and the weather was beautiful......not too hot and very sunny!! Muster Drill was at 6:00 PM. Immediately after the drill we had our Cruise Critic ROLL CALL informal meeting. I was in charge of arrangements for the Informal Meeting on Embarkation Night (Deck 12 Raffles Bar), and our Formal Meet & Greet, Gift Exchange, and Cabin Crawl. I made arrangements with NCL Special Services approx. 45 days prior to our sailing. At the Informal gathering we had 36 members join us and got to meet many of our Roll Call contributors. I brought name tags and extra Mardi Gras beads (in case someone did not have) to identify us among the RC Group. Raffles bar was quite busy but we never waited long in line. The bartenders were fast and drinks delicious. The meeting disbanded 1.5 hours later, with many staying on and enjoying the sail away. This meeting was very beneficial to many in the group who booked tours together as well as putting a face to the CC name! I did wear my CC blue shirt to identify myself to the RC. June 1 – Toulon, France. The weather was cool (low 60’s) and cloudy. My group got on the “Petit Train” located right at the pier for a 40 minute round-trip ride. We did get off at the beach; however it was cool, misting, and very windy. We stayed briefly and caught another train into the main town area. We shopped and walked around the markets and shoreline till we felt we saw most of the sites. We walked back to ship for lunch and then relaxed on pool deck. Tonight my family used #1 of our 5 night Specialty Dinner Package at Le Bistro Restaurant. Exactly 60 days prior to cruise we all made our reservations online for our dinners so that we would all get the restaurants we wanted and the times we wanted. We loved the French restaurant and the service was wonderful. Went to the Stardust Theatre for the 9:30 pm show of The Flamencos. Loved the show! Thought we would have seen them the night before in Barcelona...LOL. Relaxed afterwards at Galaxy of the Stars….one of our favorite spots, as we knew the next 2 days would be very busy. June 2 – Livorno, Italy. Weather was heavy rain in 60’s getting off the ship. We booked a tour of Florence and Pisa with: Rome Private Excursions. The administration office worked with me as we had to change my contracts several times. Thank you for all your assistance and arrangements : Elisa, Claudia, and Luca J. They had 3 Mercedes Benz vans waiting for my group in the parking lot in front of the ship. We were soaked getting to them, but we dried off quickly once we got into our dry vehicles on the long journey to Florence. The drivers of our vans were wonderful: Fausto, David and Max. Everyone in our group was so pleased with the service and attention to detail while in their care. The driver in the van my family was in was DAVID and my husband (another David) got along so well that I think they were more like family before the day was over. Even with the spotty weather, we saw everything they listed on our tour plus extra’s. We got back to the ship 1.5 hours before sail away. Dinner was at the Garden Restaurant and we enjoyed our dinner very much. Dinner ran a little late for us so we caught part of the show at the Stardust: Soul Rockin' Nights. It was a fun, lively, high energy production show. June 3 - Civitavecchia, Italy. We took another tour with Rome Private Excursions called: “BEST OF ROME WITH VATICAN.” Weather was partly cloudy with intermittent rain showers. Temps were low 70's. AGAIN our group was very pleased with the Drivers: Manny, Max P and Andrea with their TLC of our group. The first part of the day we saw the Coliseum (outside only as we did not want to shorten the time inside the Vatican) , Circus Maximus, Road of the Temples, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and Spanish Steps. The second part of our excursion day we had a 2.5 hour private guided tour at the Vatican (Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and Saint Peter's Basilica). Our tour guide at the Vatican was arranged for us by RPE. Giulietta was excellent even though she did not feel well that day. I did not realize that until we got back to the ship and was told to me by our driver Manny. Giulietta brought the history of the Vatican to life for us. We were captivated with her commentary and explanations. Thank you Rome Private Excursions, Drivers (all of them were wonderful), and Tour Guide Giulietta for the exceptional care and knowledge of your beautiful country that you shared with us. We were back on the Spirit 1 hour before sail away. This evening we were very tired from all the touring that we stopped for a quick dinner at Blue Lagoon Cafe for Fish n Chips. Later we had a light snack at Shogun and my kids had Sushi at the same location. Shogun was my least favorite dining but my family enjoyed. (I have a shellfish allergy so I had to be careful what I ate). We were too tired to take in the Stardust Theater show: Strings on Fire, but our friends went and said it was enjoyable. June 4 - Naples, Italy. Taking a break from a formal tour, we (2 families) did a DIY to the island of Capri. We took the Hydrofoil round-trip and then taxi to Capri Town. We shopped and did a lot of walking. Lunch was fun at a cafe....pizza and pasta.....gelato for dessert. Originally I wanted to take the chair lift to Monte Solaro in Anacapri, but my family did not want to do that. Someone else in my group went and loved it. They said the views were amazing. We walked down from Capri Town back to the Marina and walked around the coastline with shops. Several hours later we met our friends back at the pier to take Hydrofoil back to ship. Some of my group members stayed in Naples and did the HOHO bus or took a tour from a taxi. Another family went with a Cruise Critic group to Pompeii. After returning to Naples we walked around the pier shops then returned back onboard. We cleaned up and then headed to the Pool Deck for a little sun bathing. That evening we ate #2 Specialty Dining at La Trattoria. Had another fantastic meal so needed to walk around the ship and check out the Casino and Shops. We had some fun playing the Slots and Blackjack. The Spirit Shops could use more space and I felt the layout of stores confusing and unorganized. The selection onboard was not as good as other ships in the NCL fleet. I did not purchase from Shops, but did on deck by the Pool for the T-Shirt special. I would have liked to seen more merchandise from the Mediterranean. June 5 - Sea Day. Our group was up early getting their chairs on Pool Deck. We were scattered since some have delicate skin and burn easily, to others who love the sun. Today I was super excited being the "Hostess" of our Roll Call and having our Formal Meet & Greet at 10 AM at the Shogun restaurant. I brought name tags and list of CC Members who RSVP'd to me. Thank you to NCL Spirit Shirlee Magaino the Access Officer who made sure we had a lovely spread of snacks and beverages for our Roll Call to enjoy. We had 68 Cruise Critic members attend the Meet & Greet, and 30 participated in our Gift Exchange that followed immediately after the Officers’ and Senior Staff spoke to our group. THANK YOU NCL Officers and Staff, who took the time to address our group and extend such warm wishes. Our Captain: Roger Gustavsen was very gracious and we really appreciate that he came to our event. Also I must mention Carlos Dinis, Hotel Director and David Klooster the Cruise Director who both went above and beyond to accommodate us all. After the Gift Exchange we went on a Cabin Crawl to view 4 different categories of Staterooms. 31 CC members participated. We finished our activities about 80 minutes after the start. We had a great time and really loved our Roll Call members. We ended up with 81 pages and many new friends. Isn't that what it is all about? It was so nice to engage with people from all over the world and by the end of the cruise, we felt like friends forever. AGAIN to my ROLL CALL thanks for your GREAT PARTICIPATION. Went back to the Pool Area after our Cruise Critic activities. Got some sun and frozen beverages! We did get an invite for Captains Cocktail Reception in the early afternoon, but did not attend. I stayed on the Pool Deck to enjoy the sun, music, and pool deck BBQ. Later that evening we had a Dinner for 17 of us at #3 Specialty Dinner at Cagney's Steakhouse. This was to celebrate my Husbands Retirement and a Birthday Party for one of our group members. I booked this reservation through NCL Special Services 60 days in advance. It was VERY NICE OF THEM to put my group in room all by ourselves. I cannot say enough about the excellent service and the excellent dinner. Yes we did tip extra at every specialty restaurant because of the exceptional service we experienced. Afterwards we went to Stardust to see World Beat musical production. June 6 - Mykonos, Greece. Took a mini bus from Paradise Beach Establishment to Paradise Beach for the day. The bus was parked in the Lot near the cruise pier. We were going to get Taxi’s, but this was easier and we could all be together. The sand has small pebbles which can hurt your feet....but the water was clear and a beautiful aqua blue. My family (4) rented 2 loungers with an umbrella and 2 loungers by themselves. Some in our group got cabana beds. The food was very good and reasonable and the Greek wine delicious! (My middle name is Athena so can you guess why I enjoyed it so much). Stayed about 4 hours and then took minibus back to town to walk around the cobblestone streets and charming shops. I could have stayed longer but my boys wanted to relax onboard. We took a water taxi back to ship. It was a lovely warm and sunny day (I think this was our best weather day for beaching). Dinner was at Raffles for the Seafood Buffet. I had to be extra careful with my allergies so I ate something small here and then went to Blue Lagoon. Tonight’s entertainment was a juggler performing at Stardust but we did not enjoy at all. This was the low point on the entertainment scale for us. The evening ended with drinks and entertainment at Galaxy. June 7 - Athens, Greece. Another DIY and in retrospect we should have maybe done the HOHO bus. Instead we took the X80 Express Bus straight to the Acropolis. Problem with this plan was that we got conflicting directions where to pick it up, and even from the bus drivers themselves who gave us incorrect information. The bus stop has changed again. Busses were supposed to run regularly to pick up at the piers, however they did not and 2 were so jammed pack we could not get on. The regular public busses for the citizens were empty which was frustrating. Finally getting to Acropolis we did our own thing touring our destination. We had copies of Rick Steves’ Acropolis tour so we just followed his tour from his book. (I purchased his book and used the maps at every port.) The skies were threatening but we made it without any rain on top and down until we got to the Plaka neighborhood. Rain came pouring down so fast that is was flooding the streets. Unfortunately we planned on eating at the outdoor cafes so we gratefully found a restaurant that could accommodate the 17 in our group. After 1 hr we ventured back out shopping and enjoying the sites. We wanted to see the changing of the guard at Syntagma but we just missed it. We decided not to wait for the X80 bus on the return as a very nice young lady who spoke English directed us to the Metro and gave us instructions how to get back to the Port. It started raining hard again and the steps down to the Metro were slippery. One of our guys slipped down the stairs and he had a spectacular bruise later to show for it. Also unfortunately 2 of our male friends did not wear their money belts I purchased for them before we went on trip. Yep....they got pickpocketed on the Metro. That was a low point for all of us, but we all tried to make the best of it. NCL Customer Service helped get things straightened out for them. We spent about another 2 hours at Henry's Pub drinking frozen concoctions while the 2 guys were on the phone with their Credit card companies. Tonight we had the White Hot Party so we danced all night and forgot about the trouble we had earlier! What a fun night NCL plans for their guests. The party atmosphere was electric... The younger members of our group especially had a superb time as they stayed out much later than their “older” parents. Sea Day tomorrow means sleeping-in till the afternoon for them. June 8 – Sea Day. Our time was spent mainly at the Tivoli Pool Deck enjoying the Sun, the music, and the conversations with new and old friends. It was wonderful to see our CC new friends and catch-up with their experiences on the cruise. Time was going much faster now as we could hardly believe we were more than half-way into our trip. Dinner was #4 Specialty Dining at Cagney’s. By now our family was hooked on the Specialty Dining packages. Ordered Room Service for the first time as I had my daughter sick and missed dinner. She did enjoy hot Chicken Noodle Soup and baked potato. This is the first time we ever paid to have Room Service in the 20 plus cruises I have taken. The times they are a changing…….. (I knew about this long before we sailed so- no surprise I expected it- but I still did not like it). Today NCL will give you back your Passports. One member of the family (me) went to pick up at the Stardust. They distributed them according to your Deck number. This was for passengers without visa restrictions. At Pool Side they had “sales” on NCL T-Shirts…2 for $20. At the Jewelry shop they had a promotion and at the Atrium they had a $10 sale for costume jewelry, watches, and accessories. Entertainment was Ineffable Two an aerial circus arts production. We did not make the Stardust show but instead we went to Galaxy to listen to music and watch the Dance Off. June 9 – Kotor, Montenegro. We all got up early to see the dramatic mountains as we started our approach into the harbor. It is actually a submerged river canyon and the views are breathtaking. Our ship docked so close to the town that we actually made several trips on and off the ship. Another DIY day planned. We walked/climbed the entire city wall…which takes about 90 minutes. Halfway up was the Church built in the 15th Century that supposedly healed people of the plague. I prayed we would all make it up the rest of the way…LOL. We continued upward and It can be a little steep with rough cobbles but very rewarding when you reach the top Fortress of St. John. After the walk down we headed to one of the small outdoor cafes back in the old town for a beer and Coke. Only Pepsi products on NCL and I am not a fan of them. Things go better with Coke..!! After dinner we went to Stardust to see 4EVER. It is 4 professionally trained male vocalists that are very talented. Their voices were beautiful and we enjoyed their show. This show was a repeat of June 7 show in the Stardust. June 10- Dubrovnik, Croatia. Another DIY day planned. This was the only Port we had to Tender. While on the Tender we had to wait in the lifeboat (our Tender vehicle) to disembark in Dubrovnik for a ship to leave. It got very warm in that Tender and some passengers started to feel ill. Finally onshore we all took Taxi’s to the Old Town to walk the City Walls. It takes about 60 minutes to walk entire wall which is so much easier than our walk the day before in Kotor. People are fascinated with this location because of the TV show “Game of Thrones” including many in our group. We walked around town for about an hour. The weather was threatening again so we spent the rest of our afternoon on the ship. I watched the afternoon movie in the Maharini’s Nightclub...” The Intern”. Tonight we had #5 Specialty Dinner at La Trattoria again. The evening entertainment was the best show of the week Elements. June 11 – Venice, Italy. Even though we knew before we left that our arrival time in Venice was changed from 2pm to 9pm at night…..it still was disappointing. Thank goodness we planned 1 day in Venice Post Cruise before our return trip to Chicago area. We spent day at the pool and packed for departure. My hubby and I had a small setback onboard when both of us ended up in the Medical Center after getting bit by some sort of insect/mosquito. My right hand and eyelid was so swollen and my husband got bit on the side of his head, neck, and about 15 bites on his back. They took blood to be sure (Zika??) and we both got 2 injections in the lower back/butt area: cortisone and Benadryl and some medications to take the next 5 days. My eye was worse in the morning, but started to get better by Sunday evening. Funny thing is that we were not together outside and in fact we were in different locations. The next day we realized that my daughter also got bit….her bites were on the back of her legs. June 12 – Venice, Italy. Disembarkation for our group was at 9:30 am. We found our luggage and proceeded to the People Mover with all our bags to get to the Piazzale Roma. It was a struggle for some of our ladies with the heavier luggage. Our hotel was very close to the Piazzale Roma so we had to cross only 1 bridge to get to Hotel Arlecchino. A couple of rooms for our group were ready so we piled in everyone’s luggage in 2 of the available rooms. Walking into the small hotel, luggage was everywhere so if those rooms were not ready, we would have been stuck. The front desk man worked so hard and I cannot believe how he got everything and everyone straightened out. We left hotel to buy tickets for Vaporetto to get to St. Marks Square. It was a little confusing where to purchase tickets and where to board, but we figured it out. It was an amazing site and this is when I really wish we had more time in Venice!! After leaving the Square, we just walked all around and loved, loved the streets, shops, and sights. Yes we did do a Gondola ride and it was wonderful. Our group was able to print our boarding passes for the next day at the Best Western Olimpia a short distance from Arlecchino. I believe it is a sister property. Our rooms were moderate in size and decorated nicely. We had a very pleasant time, though brief, at this Hotel. I did enjoy it’s charm and location was perfect for our short stay. June 13 – Flights back to O’Hare Airport. Our group had 3 different return flight schedules. Group 1 had very early flights so they missed the breakfast at the hotel. We all took the ATVO Bus from the Piazzale to the airport. We purchased the tickets the day before. Group 2 also had an early flight but 1 hour later. Group 3 (the largest 12 of us) we were able to enjoy a light delightful breakfast at the Hotel and then went to bus stationed in the Piazzale. We used a Porter service that we arranged the night before at the front desk to get our luggage to the bus. ATVO bus transfers to Marco Polo Airport worked out very nicely for us. Our flights home went well and on time. We went through Customs and Immigration in Dublin where we changed planes. We had a decent meal on Aer Lingus on the flight segment from Dublin to Chicago. All our luggage arrived safely back to O’Hare. Comments about the NCL Spirit Ship: The outside of ship is showing some wear as well as the staterooms. Our group had several issues with sewage and mold odors. You could definitely smell some foul sewage on Deck 5. The dining rooms, public rooms etc. all looked very nice. We know it is going to Dry Dock 1/17 and hopefully they can figure out the plumbing as it affected many staterooms all over the ship. Staterooms. Our families had marvelous room stewards. I always had clean towels, bathrobes, clean linens, and fresh ice. We were very happy with our service and our steward kept our room nicely. Our towel animals greeted us every evening and we kept most of them along the ledge of our Oceanview Picture Window. The group staterooms (mainly Deck 5) were scattered but everyone had great stewards so we all rated them highly. General Cruise Staff: LOVED our Washy, Washy, Happy, Happy personal. One of them sang me a cute song he made up of his job! This is one of the reasons we love NCL. This happy young man was a joy and really made my day. We never encountered any personal onboard that was not polite and gracious. I cannot say enough about the friendly and cheerful staff onboard. We were always greeted with a genuine smile and you could not help but feel like they were happy to have you as a guest on their ship. Food: Some food at the Buffet was just OK but you could always find something very good in the large variety of selections. Shogun was my least favorite restaurant and I did not try Teppanyaki because they cook shellfish on same surface as other food (my severe allergy). We ate dinner twice at La Trattoria, twice at Le Bistro, and twice at Cagney’s. We also ate at Blue Lagoon many times. We thought the food was Excellent at the Specialty restaurants and very good in the Main Dining Rooms as well as Blue Lagoon. Beverages: Had very good bar service and loved the frozen drinks. Wish we could duplicate them back home…. Recent news that you will not be able to bring water or Pop onboard is disappointing…especially when NCL does not carry Coke Products or overcharges on bottled water. We did not personally bring on Pop or Water. With the UBP we just drank from their offerings and I brought Brita Water Bottles w/built in filter. I filled them with water from breakfast venues not from tap in our stateroom. Sometimes in the AM the water came out brownish. Shops on board: Nothing special and found selection very limited. I lost my NCL hat from a previous cruise and wanted to purchase another…..but they had no hats, just one type of visor. I do not think that I was looking to buy something unusual, but they need a better selection of merchandise in the shops. Internet: One of our cruisers needed to use for her job so she purchased unlimited package. Unfortunately the service was unacceptable and intermittent. She did complain to Customer Service and the Internet Manager several times, however they ignored her complaints and did not do anything to rectify or give her any credit for the lost service. This was very disappointing as they needed to address the situation and contact her about it. Entertainment: We enjoyed all the evening shows in the Stardust Theatre except the juggler. He just was not good at all. People were leaving during his performance. The groups that performed at Poolside and in the Galaxy were very, very good. I believe their names were V.I.P. and Hotwire. We did not use the Spa but did use the small Fitness Room. The Games Room always looked full. I did purchase 2 more CruiseNext certificates as I plan to cruise on NCL in the future. A more condensed review is Published on Cruise Critic Reviews . Review of Rome Private Excursions is Published on Trip Advisor. Another version of this review was sent to NCL with emphasis on personal. :) Also I need to thank the Concierge Patrick Berido for his fantastic service and help. I did not realize that he was leaving the Spirit before I could thank him properly for all he did for my family and for my group. Patrick went over and above in Customer Service and he made this my trip of a lifetime.
  13. racingraysswimmom

    Welcome back spirit may 31 med cruisers

    Hi Silentlyperfect Katherine, What a beautiful sentiment you wrote. I must say that your words touched me as well. This was my favorite "Roll Call" as our group was the friendliest and most generous with their time and assistance. I could not wait to meet you all onboard our ship. So sorry to hear about your issue onboard. You are so right that you need to print everything before you board and as soon as you get confirmation. Bringing your paperwork just in case......is very prudent. I also do the same....just in case. A lesson for all of us. Please keep in touch. I read you are going on the Pride. We went 2 years ago. If u want, I will email you with my private email so we can keep in touch as well. Contact me @ rdhcruiser@gmail.com Thanks for all your contributions to our Thread. Love, Jan
  14. To my Dear Friends who helped make this such a wonderful voyage for everyone........Welcome Back ROLL CALL!! I especially had many wonderful conversations with Rebecca (rebeccacook) Maria (dreamcatcher and spreadsheet organizer), Katherine and Bob (silentlyperfect), Will & Cathy(wiful), Pam and Geoff (cruisingsmiles), Julie, Jeff, & Jackie (1953cruise60), Regina & Victoria (Regina7), and Jamie, Jaden, & Matt (Cakechick). I miss you all. At our Informal Embarkation Meeting we had 36 in attendance, Mardi Gras beads and all. Since our formal Meet & Greet was not until 5 days into the cruise, this was a chance to make connections with everyone...especially those who were going on shore excursions together! The informal lasted about 1.5 hrs. Thanks so much for showing up! Our Formal Meet & Greet at Shogun was VERY well attended. The entire room was filled with our Roll Call. My husband counted 68 total....some arriving later after sign in, but we had room in the overflow area. The Gift Exchange had 30 participants. What a hoot!! Great gifts! On a personal note: We have been using the Texas BBQ Rub and Big Bob Gibson Kansas City Sauces. Yummy and having great memories from the exchange. Cabin Crawl: 31 Participants. Thank you to : Cakechick and Family, rebeccacook and family, Regina7 and daughter, and racingraysswimmom and daughter for letting us view their staterooms and seeing what each category room looked like. THANK YOU NCL for arranging the Shogun Restaurant for our Meet & Greet and the delicious drink and food you provided for us. Everything was set up so beautifully and we so appreciate your generosity to our Cruise Critic Roll Call. Thank you Shirlee Magsino Access Officer on the Spirit for all your assistance. THANK YOU NCL Officers and Staff, who took the time to address our group and extend such warm wishes. Our Captain: Roger Gustavsen was very gracious and we really appreciate that he came to our event. Also I must mention Carlos Dinis, Hotel Director and David Klooster the Cruise Director who both went above and beyond to accommodate us all. I must say that Carlos greeted me several times onboard the ship by my first name...which is something I will never forget. I am still trying to adapt to reality after our cruise of a lifetime. The staff and crew on the Spirit made it very hard for us to come home!! THANK YOU AGAIN !!! I will be doing a separate review of the cruise soon.
  15. racingraysswimmom

    Just Off the Spirit May 7-May 19. Questions?

    We are on the May 31 Cruise. We were notified this week that we will not arrive in Venice until 9pm. We will report back and give a review. I read that there will be 5 ships in port that day so we got the short end of the stick with less time in Venice. Bummer.:(