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Photo review | MSC Fantasia June 1st 2014 Venice


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Hi there,


I've decided to post a photo review of the trip we made on the MSC Fantasia, June 1st 2014 sailing. I have read many reviews over the last years in cruise critic, that have help me a lot in planning our future cruises, I'll be doing the same so that I can help or entertain others. I hope you enjoy it!


A little bit about us: we are two guys in their thirties, we have been together for three years now and both of us were born and raised on the island of Mallorca, Spain. English is just one of the languages I speak, since it is not my mother tongue I apologize for any mistakes I might make.


This was our second cruise together, we made a Western Mediterranean cruise in 2012 on the Liberty of the Seas and we were terribly hooked! Last year we invested our travel money in very much needed air-conditioning machines and equipment for our home, so we could not go cruising. This year it was finally time for us to discover the Eastern med ^_^


We have normal jobs and we pay two mortgages, since we met when each of us had already a property (and currently selling a house in Spain means selling at way too low prices due to a high unemployment rate). So even if we are travel addicts we have to control our expenses. We are quite conservative when it comes to money and that's why we chose to be in a interior cabin for this cruise. Maybe we could have afforded a balcony, but we prefer to make other shorter trips and getaways this year.


We chose the MSC Fantasia because her itinerary out of Venice was an intense 7 days - 7 ports of call, and more importantly we got a very good rate for this cruise. Plus the ship looked sooo beautiful!


The itinerary was:


Day 1 - Venice

Day 2 - Bari

Day 3 - Katakolon

Day 4 - Santorini

Day 5 - Athens

Day 6 - Corfu

Day 7 - Dubrovnik

Day 8 - Venice


I had to cancel a cruise to Greece 7 years ago when I found my current job, it turned out to be a good decision of course, but it was something that I wanted to do ever since :-)


I'll try to write a balance review. I anticipate that we were very satisfied with both the MSC Fantasia and our trip in general. However, I do not feel the need to defend MSC against some of the common critics. MSC is a very powerful multinational cargo shipping company, it's cruise division while already significant, it's just a part of their business. We don't think MSC makes everything right, and I am very against some of their policies, specially price discrimination among European Union markets.


So, let's do this!


Like I said, we switch houses twice a year, living several months near the Tramuntana Mountains of the northern coast of Mallorca (Unesco Heritage site by the way, come and visit!). The rest of the year we live on the eastern part of the island. In the beginning of June we make the transition process, so we try to have holidays at this time. It's our temporary farewell to this:




We usually do it this way because it's less traumatic for our little buddy!




We leave him at a lovely countryside Finca with a couple who trains dogs and has a pet shop. We trust them completely and our dog is in very good hands, since he's used to the place and actually likes it.


So the first thing we did before starting our trip is paying a visit to the dog hotel. It's a sad time, and I confess we feel a bit guilty, but it's the only way :-)

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I found out soon enough that you have two options when you have to deal with a 7 days - 7 stops cruise:


You either plan a lot, or you end up paying a fortune in excursions


This is what the itinerary looks like and my rating of each port. I also learned eventually that the only way they can do this long itinerary is with relatively short port calls. That of course means even more planning!


1.Bari ***

2. Katakolon ***

3. Santorini ****

4. Athens ****

5. Corfu ***

6. Dubrovnik *****




To my family and friends I am something in between a travel addict and a trip planner freak. That's who I am, no shame in it. Anyway, we always agree on things when planning and take decisions together, it's not like I am a little travel dictator ^_^.


I will show you how my planning spreadsheet looked like in the end. Isn't it lovely? My partner laughs at this, but he has the guide always at hand afterwards :D (I even print our telephone numbers on it, as he insists in not memorizing them)





You might have realized by now that we make a "little" addition to our trip, aside from the cruise itself.


Since there are no direct flights from Mallorca to Venice we planned to fly to Milan Malpensa airport the day pre-cruise with Easyjet, then take a train the day after, then cruise and finally spend two more days post cruise and flying back from Bergamo.


Soon before leaving we learned that there was a strike at both Milan airports handling and Easyjet Italy during that days. Bingo! To avoid any hassle, and stop worrying to much about missing the ship we bought a flight the day earlier and ended up with two more days pre-cruise. In the end all of that meant a 12 days trip, a new record for us, thankfully we just had an interior cabin! We lost 130€ in booked plane and train tickets, but I'm glad we did since we had a wonderful time and at the end of the day everything went smoothly. Sometimes you just have to assume a little loss to save everything else.

Edited by Elmartellama
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Wow! That's some planning spreadsheet!


Could I ask, how did you produce your itinerary map?




I've tried to do something similar in Google Earth but yours is very impressive.


Looking forward to your on-board review.

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Thank you


Wow! That's some planning spreadsheet!


Could I ask, how did you produce your itinerary map?




I've tried to do something similar in Google Earth but yours is very impressive.


Looking forward to your on-board review.


It's just painted on it! I don't know how to do it on Google Maps properly, so I just made it old-style using a very basic photo edition tool :D

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Day 1: Mallorca - Bologna - Ferrara


After too much planning, the day had finally come and we had everything ready to leave for this adventure. The weather in the Mediterranean had been a bit cold an unstable for may, and T-storms were forecasted in northern Italy. It was good bye time:



On that day there was supposed to be a general aviation strike in Italy, even though it was specially worse with Easyjet and Milan airports, so I was quite nervous about our flight. In the end there were no problems at all and we took a convenient Ryanair morning flight and we were in Bologna before 11:00h.




I lived in Padova, near Venice, 6 months about 10 years ago. I knew most of the places we would be visiting pre and post cruise, but since my partner did not, I prepared a tour according to what we like visiting the most when we travel.


Now, I must admit that we are not the museum type of person (not that we hate them). Since we are relatively fit we can walk for hours and hours and we prefer seeing and experiencing urban and nature landscapes. That allows me to plan for heavy walking tours, that to some families with children or to not so fit people could be arduous and tyring.


In this particular case, when we had planned a Bologna walking tour for about 4 hours and then take the train to the lovely city of Ferrara, where we had our hotel.


One good thing about Italy is that all major train stations have lockers to leave your luggage for a few hours, usually they cost 6€ a piece, so that's what we did.


Bologna is an easy city to navigate, so we took a bus to the city centre and then walk to see major attractions that are relatively close. We just had our telephones to make pictures, so their are not great quality. The first day I almost took no pictures at all with all the excitement and all.




This was the Neptune statue, and very close was the beautiful public Library




We encountered a free promotional lunch, and a bride that was dressed in a Mortadella dress!




Some buildings were really curious




A man making pictures with iPads at Sette Chiese, I don't know if its comfortable to move around like that! :D there were so many of them in our first cruise, it brough us nice memories



Edited by Elmartellama
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After the Bolonga tour we took the train to Ferrara. Despite our terrible pictures and the lack of them Bologna is a nice city, maybe not as iconic as Firenze but it's worth a visit.




As soon as we arrived to the Hotel in Ferrara, it began raining heavily, we got so lucky! After about two hours we went for a walk and had dinner at a traditional wood oven pizzeria.




That's it for the first day, do not lose hope with our pictures, they'll get better!

Edited by Elmartellama
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Thank you




It's just painted on it! I don't know how to do it on Google Maps properly, so I just made it old-style using a very basic photo edition tool :D



Good job, I thought it was a maps generated route. I'll have to have a go.

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HOLA, Great start to what looks like being a very interesting review. We love Mallorca. We honeymooned there many years ago, in C'an Pastilla and revisited it 4 years ago on our 1st cruise. Our favourite part of the island was the North, Soller and Sa Colobra, followed by vintage train journey back to Palma.


I am a travel obsessive but those spreadsheets would be a step too far, even for me! :D Looking forward to your review of MSC. Ken

Edited by CruiseIreland
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This is amazing so far! For the likes of Papcx and I who plan a lot and who have other halves who are blissfully ignorant the spreadsheet idea is genius.


Thank you. I look forward to reading more. :-)



Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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Thank you! I'll try to post many details and tips for future cruisers on this itinerary


Day 2: Ferrara - Padova


After a relaxing night walk in Ferrara the night before, we had already fallen in love with the place. I don't know what it is, but I've always liked this town. You won't find impressive museums here, or famous tourist attractions, but the city itself is lovely, very clean, green, laid-back, and it has little tourism so that you don't have that theme park feeling you get in other italian cities. Ferrara has a unique soul that attract us, we wouldn't mind living there.


We stayed at a rather 3* basic hotel one minute from the Castle, they offered a 2€ bycicle rent service which we found out to be very convenient. The storm had passed and the city is very bycicle-friendly, so we had a great time.




There are many nice parks, as well as the green belt by the city walls. In medieval times, this is where they knights competed on their horses, you can easily picture it.




My partner couldn't help it ^_^






There was a good-quality nice to visit street market in the center, I guess it's every saturday. That's a chair for patriots!





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It was a bright day and the city shined along :)




That's me approaching!




Classic red brick Ferrara style




Ok, let me tell you we don't usually make pictures of food in restaurants. But (food porn alert) I couldn't resist taking a picture of this deliciously frozen amaretto thing:



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It was past midday when we decided to head back to our hotel, pick up our things and take a train to our next destination: Padova


In Italy, you can purchase a regional train ticket in advance, but you need to validate it before getting on the train. This is a bit annoying since sometimes the validation machines are broken or out of sight, but it gives you a lot of flexibility since trains in the northern part of the country run very frequently. So long as there are no strikes Trenitalia is reliable and affordable.


You might suffer some train delays for no particular reason, and in some stations they don't announce the platform until the last minute. Also, most Italian train stations are not adapted to people with mobility issues, so you have to drag your luggage up and down the stairs to reach the correct platform or to exit the station. Nevertheless, we couldn't have made this trip if it wasn't for them.


We were getting closer to Venice, and the pre-cruise excitement was growing on us




Like I explained, I lived in Padova for six months while I was doing an Erasmus at the Padova University. An Erasmus exchange is a very popular program in Europe, in which university students live and study in other European countries, usually for a semester.


I have very nice memories of that time of my live. Not only did I learn a new language in months, but it was also a life-time experience that in a way defined who I was and I who I would become. It forces you to find your way in a foreign country, to make new friends, to submerge yourself in another culture, to ultimately broaden your mind.


Going back to Padova with the love of my life was somehow special, like coming back while realizing I had moved forward.




We stayed at the NH Mantegna, not so far from the train station. The hotel was very nice and convenient, but if you visit Padova you might want to be in a more centric location.


We rested a little and went out for a yet another walking tour. You can discover Padova on foot since it's not that big.


Padova University was founded in 1222. Protected by the Venetian Republic, it could advance in scientific fields that were not allowed by the church in other places. Galileo Galilei was probably the most important Padova citizen of all times. Thanks to the freedom of though that he found in that University, he could prove that it was the earth that moved around the sun, not otherwise. The church neglected that idea, and in front of the Inquisition he had to officially withdraw the theory in order to avoid punishment. He then murmured his famous: "eppur si muove", that means "yet it does move".


While walking around the town I remembered the story of Galielo, and how sometimes ignorance rules the world we live in. Even if we don't realize it at first, so many stories happened in the old buildings we just pass by. This trip was full of places that ultimately changed the story of humankind. That alone makes it well worth it.




The Lion, symbol of venetian rule and power at Piazza dei Signori. In our trip, we would be visiting many cities and places that had direct relation with the story of the Venice empire. Actually, while Venice somehow protected science and commerce, it was also the oppressor regime in other places like Dubrovnik. That's why Dubrovnik motto: "Libertas", is a clear sign of the wish of freedom against Venetians. More on Venetians later.




I do love the Padovan "piazzas"




We were lucky that day, as they held a free concert at Palazzo della Raggione. They were a german orchestra, from a small town near Freiburg. They played famous contemporary songs, and we just loved it! Just picture hearing the Copacabana and Ipanema songs played live with all those instruments at that atrium




After a bit more walking, we reached Pratto della Valle and then headed back to our hotel to rest a bit for the upcoming cruise that was awaiting us on the day after




So far, I was receiving very positive reviews by my partner. Everything was according to plan and we had managed to transform the strike situation into two fantastic days.


Life was good, and we had not started cruising yet!

Edited by Elmartellama
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Day 3 - Venice - Embarkation day


After having breakfast, we went straight to the Padova train station for a regional train to Venice. It was rush-hour-subway packed, so if you have mobility issues I recommend taking a more expensive Frecciabianca (high speed) train.


Another tip: just don't get on any train you see bound to your destination. It occurred to us that right before our regional train, they put a high speed train also for Venice in the same platform. It was certainly confusing, but it arrived 5 minutes earlier and you could easily see that that was not a regional train.


An American family next to us happily boarded the train until they discovered that they were on the wrong train (thus they could be fined). The inspector ended up yelling at them since some members of their group were still inside and had to get out... the train was delayed for several minutes. Pay attention at the train type: REG are regionals, and REGV are regionale veloce, you can also use them with the normal ticket, it's just that they make fewer stops. In a high speed train you have numbered seats, in all others you can seat anywhere, but you might have to stand up if there are no available seats. Obviously you can't use a high speed train with a regional fare ticket.




We left the luggage at Venice Santa Lucia train station, it costs 6€ the piece for the first 5 hours. Venice was packed that day, so we had to queue for about 15 minutes just for the lockers.


There's also another luggage deposit at Piazzale Roma, next to the people mover to the cruise port, it costs 7€ but it's valid for the whole day. We used the latter the day we disembarked. Both of them worked fine, just choose according the number of hours you'll have to use them, for less than 5 hours the lockers at the train station are more convenient.


After we were luggage-free it was time for a short tour of Venice. We wandered around for 3 hours, from approximately 10:00 to 13:00h. Arriving to the terminal at around 13:15 worked fine, as we found little queues and everything went fast. Thanks again to Amomondo for the advice on this!


It was another beautiful and hot day, we went from the station to St. Marks, trough the "left" island of Venice and then crossing the Gran Canal by Rialto. To go back we always went though the "right" island. Hoards of people were everywhere.




My partner was very excited at that point and was taking pictures at Japanese speed, at least : D Also we stopped before every single shopfront! Eventually he gave up, but there were to many stimuli to be processed in such a short period of time.


I was quite high as well. Don't be alarmed, it was just adrenaline running trough my veins, not chemicals of any kind *_*




Local wildlife




Saint Marks square was as impressive as ever




You'll never walk alone (in Venice) O_O



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It was decided. Should we ever have to face a Walking Dead apocalypse, not in Venice!


Despite the masses, no matter how many times you've seen it before, its always astonishing.






To all those who have late flights on the disembarkation day, MSC offers an excursion that includes transfer to St.Mark + Gondola tour + Airport Shuttle for 66€. I actually find it cheap compared to what you pay for a Gondola ride, and the price of the MSC less interesting excursions in other ports. We didn't do it because we had other plans, so can't offer further information.




It was time to go to the cruise terminal







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Ok that's chocolate amaretto thing looks scrumptious YUM!

Love the pictures

Love italia

Che bella



Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk


Oh yes :D It was dangerously yummy. I wish they made it at the gelato shops of Mallorca!

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