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Need Some Cruise Advice


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Hello everyone,


I am sure this is a very common group of questions, but after 7 years of marriage and at the ripe age of 34 :), I am not only taking my first real vacation, but am also taking my first cruise and flying on my first plane.


My wife and I are taking the Mediterranean Cruise on Carnival's Liberty at the end of July. We will board in Rome and then travel to Naples Italy, Dubrovnik Croatia, Venice Italy, Sicily, Barcelona Spain, Nice France, Livorna Italy, and back to Rome. Additionally we will be spending another full day in Rome when we return.


In general I am asking anyone who is nice enough to respond to the following questions:


1) Are there any general tips or advice for a first-time flyer and cruise-taker that I would not intuitively know or be able to discover on my own?

2) Is there anything about this particular cruise line or cruise ship that I should be aware of before boarding?

3) In the cities listed above are there any recommended trip excursions that you would encourage me to go on or avoid? Should I use guide's or should I explore on my own in certain cities?

5) Do you recommend travel insurance and if so, what company and what level of coverage?

4) Is there any other sage advice that you can provide to me?


Thank you for your time and responses to this request.





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Good questions, and I'm not gonna answer any of them, but will tell you where you can get lots of those answers right here at Cruise Critic, because most of your questions require answers that would take up many many paragraphs to answer fully. Luckily, these questions have all been answered already:


1) Read this board, go back a few pages, also check out the "Ask a Cruise Question" board here and the Cruise Air board


2) Carnival? Some folks love 'em, some hate 'em. I hear the crowd is less of a party crowd for their Europe cruises than they are in the States, but you must know something about them or you wouldn't have chosen them. Check out the review section of Cruise Critic for Carnival reviews, looking specifically for your ship and itinerary.


3) There's a section here called "Ports of Call", check out the Europe section. Lots of advice about your destinations.


5) Travel Insurance (I like how you put #5 ahead of #4, by the way!). Lots of discussions on this board and the "Ask" board, but basically: "Can you afford (financially and emotionally) to sacrifice the total amount you're paying for the cruise if you or a loved one takes ill and you can't travel for that or another reason"? If the answer is "yes", and/or you're a gambling man, then you don't need the insurance for that purpose. Of course insurance also helps you if you get sick in Dubrovnik and need medical attention and/or to be airlifted home. Sure, it's unlikely to happen, but can you afford that risk? Only you can answer that.


4) Read this board. Read it again. Check out the Carnival board here for tips about your specific ship. Ignore the "haters", and have a great time.

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Wow, they are great questions! And the answer above said it all. The only thing I would say is: make sure you go to Pompeii and Herculanum when you are in Rome/Naples. Also, I would not wander around a city anywhere without knowing something about the culture and economy; having wandered around places like Stockholm (very safe) and Bucharest (not safe when I was there), I recommend reading the Fodor's guide and asking the people on the ship what they think. I would also probably book excursions through the cruise line. . .have a wonderful time!

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1) There is no such thing as a perfect cruise, but there are lots of fabulous cruises. In large part, the trip is what you make it. Enjoy the positive moments and minimize the negative ones. Find some lovely spots on the ship that you really like, and watch the world go by. Read the daily activity newsletter and select what appeals to you. Don't ry to do everything.


2) I'm no help--I haven't cruised on Carnival.


3) In general, we don't care for the ship's shore excursions--too many people getting on/off a bus, and never the timing that we like at each stop. In Naples, we hired Giovanni from http://www.tourofitaly.com for a all day trip along the Amalfi Cost, with stops in four towns. In Dubrovnik, we did a self-guided walking tour of the old city and walked the city walls with the audioguide. Venice is a wonderful place to walk--read some guide books and select wht you like. I have three words re: what to do in Barcelona: Gaudi, Gaudi, Gaudi--Casa Mila, Casa Batllo, Parc Guell, & La Sagrada Familia.



5) I wouldn't book an expensive or faraway trip without insurance--to re-pay me if I had to cancel, and to get me care and transportation home if I became ill.

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This summer (2006) is the 50th anniversary of my first airplane flight (from Detroit to Chicago on a DC-3). And I have been on 15 cruise, with a 16th paid for (Transatlantic cruise in October of 2006).


You have written excellent questions are I will try to provide you with excellent answers.


Plane ride:


Wear comfortable clothes. Wear shoes that you can easily remove when you go through security. Be very pleasant to security personnel, US Customs, and especially foreign customs officials. If the person in the seat in front of you reclines their seat so that your legs are impacted, kindly but firmly tell that person to please straighten their seat. If he or she ignores you, ask the flight attendant for assistance. Do not be shy about asking the flight attendants for help (water, etc.), and tell them that it is your first flight as this may make them smile. Do not complain about the food because the pilot, co-pilot and flight attendants did not do the cooking. Do not get unduly frightened at every bump that you feel. Get a window seat so you can see spectacular sunrise, sunsets and famous landmarks that you will see from the sky. Every so often walk around the cabin and stretch your legs. As for sleeping on planes, some can and some cannot, so you will have wait on this. I have a terrible time but my wife has no trouble sleeping on planes.




Remember that after emptying your suitcases, put them under the beds. Shake hands with your cabin steward and smile. And be absolutely sure you ask them what country they are from. Then take a long walk around the ship. Think of your cruise as an adventure and part of this adventure is to be at the highest point on the ship as it leaves the first port (and give your wife a big kiss and a hug). In the dining room give your tablemates (whom you do not know) at least one meal to get acquainted. But if you and/or your wife do not like the table mates then see the Maitre D the next morning and request a change. Do not overpack (you have all you need in your closet). After you become addicted to cruising you can buyy a tuxedo! Attend the formal nights because the ship becomes a truly magical place to be. And do the things your wife wants to do.


Take a careful look at the ship excursions. Sometimes in foreign countries it is best to take a ship's tour because the excursions simplify things... you do not have find guides, taxis, language, and so on. And do your research, including asking for advice on these boards.


Hope that you have a wonderful time.



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