Archives for June 2016

Sailing the Mediterranean with MSC Cruises

MSC Cruise Line (3)Although not a household name in America MSC Cruises is one of the world’s largest cruise lines and offers cruises to a wide variety of destinations from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean and even to the Orient. With my previous experience only being US cruise lines, however, my introduction to MSC came out of convenience.  Because I knew my goal for 2016 Spring Break was to take a cruise in the Mediterranean the options were limited. As the weather in the Mediterranean at this time is not the warmest in March I found many of the cruise lines I was familiar with did not offer the Mediterranean route at that time.  So MSC Cruises quickly became my first and only choice for my adventure.MSC Cruise Line (4)

MSC Cruises managed to deliver a mix of both comfort and luxury in a wealth of offerings that was honestly too much for me to explore on this first trip. Setting off on an adventure is normally invigorating, however the plane, train and automobile it took me to get on the boat wore me out!  Being Jet Lagged is a beast and with daily ports in some really amazing locations it is easy to get busy with the things there are too do off the boat.  Still in really taking the time to explore I was able to find a little bit of everything making it a spot on choice for family entertainment.  From shows to gambling to fantastic swimming pools there was always an option for how to spend your time while on the ship.  With a full list of activities on the daily rooster it almost becomes difficult to remind yourself that vacationing does require some rest and relaxation on the list.

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Here is the quick roundup of some of the most important components of MSC Cruises:

MSC Cruise Line (5)Dining: Throughout my seven days I had what felt like an authentic variety of Mediterranean and European options. Certainly there were days that were a little more of what I like to eat, like this delicioso lobster, but every day there were some basic staples that you could choose like salads and soups.  Each meal had a variety of courses so even if one missed the mark you still left the table feeling satisfied.

Entertainment: The full on theatre show I was only able to catch once but it was a full on dancing and singing spectacle. Each night offered two main stage professional shows as well as a kids dance competition that lasted throughout the sailing.  For me what was a little more accessible was the entertainment throughout the ship from singing to dance lessons.  This is a great way to hop in and be involved as you wander the ship and stay as long (or as little) as you like.  Of course the casino also had a big pull for me but what probably pulled me the quickest was the nightly BINGO games!  If shows are not your speed there was also dance parties in a couple of locations as well as a sports bar and small bowling alley.  In room entertainment was a little more limited as the channels were primarily not English and those that did show in English were all news channels.  After purchasing the Wi-Fi, however, I was able to master Netflix and Chill while finishing our cruise.

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Beauty: Time did not allow for a full spa visit but the sauna options on the cruise were right on point. I avoided the crowd with morning and evening visits to make sure I got a chance to unwind in between all the sightseeing.  I was able to get a pretty good product demonstration including facial while on the cruise and highly recommend it.  Not only did I love the products it is a great use of time during your sea day without breaking the bank.

MSC Cruise Line (6)Pools: When I was planning for a vacation where the temperatures did not even peak in the 70’s, swimming was pretty far from my mind. Once I got on board, however, and realized just how many of the pools were either indoor or offered a hot tub option I had to stop immediately and join in on the fun.  Although there was a pretty big demand at the indoor pools I am sure with the summer months the outdoor pools get a lot of action.  No matter the time of year however, the view of the water from the pools on the top decks is phenomenal.

Customer Service: Perhaps my favorite part of this cruise line was the staff. Everyone was friendly and willing to help.  As I celebrated my birthday on the ship the chocolate covered strawberries were a great night cap and ended an amazing day on a high note.  With the international staff I was able to hear a little about destinations all over the world and they made sure to point me in the right direction and keep a smile on my face.

All in all I really enjoyed my MSC experience!!!  The great attitudes and attention of the staff definitely would have me check out a MSC cruise all over again.

My one day Roman Holiday: A one day tour of Rome

Roman Holiday (6) If you have thought about traveling to Italy chances are that Roma is on your list. Rome tops the list because all in one city you have the option to get swept away in an ancient capital, marvel at the artistic inspiration, seek peace at the Vatican and still enjoy the hustle and bustle of a modern city.  My decision to go on a Mediterrean tour was based in part with my desire to get a taste of Italy and Rome being the juiciest bite on my planned tour.

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While being able to see several cities is one of the major draws of a tour, it is also is hard to limit everything you want to see in a city as amazing as Rome into one day. In order to give it my college try I decided to take a full day tour to see the city.  The first challenge: the commute.  With a port in Civiccehi, we had about an hours drive to get to Rome.  On the bright side though, our tour actually had two guides, one just specifically for Rome, giving us all day coverage with a tour guide and in-depth info regarding just Rome.  While tour guides are full of information, sometimes maybe a little too much information, I think they also have the best glimpse at things you may love about the city, even after the tour is over.  They know things to skip and things you can’t miss so make sure to pick your tour guides brain to get some intel.  Once we arrive in Rome, the first stop was the Colosseum.  It is truly a marvel to see this magnificent building and understanding that you are getting just a glimpse into how majestic it was in its days of glory.  This was one of my favorite parts of the tour because not only did we get some great information that gave a real mental image on the building and its visitors hundreds of years ago, you also got to skip a really, really long line with your tour guide.

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Next up was a walking tour. Rome is a really big modern city smooshed inside a really old ancient city so there are things and people everywhere.  Any time I travel, especially overseas, I enjoy walking the most.  It gives you the best chance to see what it is really like to live there and how the residents live their lives.  On top of that you run into things that you never get to see and feel with just a drive by.  Our walking tour lead us to several sites pretty quickly with one of my favorites being the Trive fountain.  Many of these spots are packed with tourist but that doesn’t stop them from being breathtaking all the same.

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We ended our day at the Vatican City. I walked in with hopes of getting some holy water for my grandmother but with the tour running behind we were unable to go inside.  My suggestion on this part would be not to be afraid to ask them for their time schedule and not to be afraid to do your own thing if it’s something you really want to see or do.  I could have skipped all the info and just went directly to line at the St. Peter’s square but I was being what I thought was polite.  When you are putting once in a life time visits under your belt sometimes you just have to ask for what you want and try your damnest to make it happen.  It won’t always work but you never know until you try.  All in all I had a fabulous day and almost thought of staying and joining my new friend in his one man accordion performance of “Oh when the Saints come marching in.  Atlas I hopped back on the bus with my mind blow of just what could be done over 2,000 years ago by man – MIND BLOWN

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