Sunday, September 15, 2013

Our Spring Break Trip

Better late than never.  I'm sure that's true.

We cruised during Spring Break on the MSC Divina- leaving from Bari, Italy, and traveling to Katakolon in Greece, Izmir in Turkey, Istanbul in Turkey, Dubrovnik in Croatia, and Venice in Italy.  We actually disembarked in Venice, instead of going back to Bari, because we wanted to have extra time in Venice.  It proved to be a smart decision.  I booked the cruise in January, through a company called Vacations to Go.  Initially they were very good with making the reservation, and then paying.  However, I found that after I had paid, the communications were always slower and more confusing than I'd like.  For instance, at first we were told we'd need Visas, then we were told we wouldn't, so I researched it myself and decided not to get them.  (We ended up not needing them).  Then we never received our reservation confirmation via email, and couldn't book the excursions without it.  Then, we finally received everything we needed just a few days before sailing, which was way too late for my comfort.  Lesson learned.  If you book through them, stay on their case until you get what you want.  Kids cruise free on MSC, but I will say that you get what you pay for.  Now that we've done the cheapest Mediterranean cruise, I can tell you that we wished we had paid a little extra for Costa.  Another lesson learned.  Anyhow.....

We flew Ryanair out of Frankfurt Hahn airport, and it was a very easy (and relatively cheap) experience!  Ryan has such cheap tickets, but very strict rules and fees for baggage.  We only paid for 1 checked bag (20kg), and each of us carried a small carry-on. We were prepared to pay for another bag on the flight home if we needed it, but it wasn't necessary.  I also knew we could do laundry at the apartment we had rented in Venice if we needed to.  Hahn is about 1.5 hours from where we live- and not really close to Frankfurt either, so I'm not sure why it is called Frankfurt Hahn.

Mdx brought her backpack with lots of toys.

Mav had a little snack before boarding.

The flight was short, only about 2 hours.  On Ryanair you listen to advertisements the whole time you fly, and nothing is free.  You pay for any drinks or snacks that you want.  We landed at the airport outside of Bari, and took a taxivan into the city to our hotel.  He drove extremely FAST!!  I booked a hotel that was relatively close to the port (Hotel Boston), thinking that we would walk in the morning, but we decided to take a taxi since I wasn't sure how far it was, and there was light rain.

In European hotels you have to book rooms based on how many people you have, so here is an example of a quad room.  Even the rooms booked as doubles typically have two twin beds pushed together.

We got teeth brushed and the kids went to bed pretty easily.

The Marshall and I enjoyed some Italian beer sitting in the dark while the kids slept.

The next morning we made our way to the cruise check-in.  It was a cool and extremely windy day!

We turned in our luggage, and then had a lot of time to sit and wait for our number to be called so we could board the boat.

I didn't get a good picture of the boat that first day, but it was HUGE!  Once onboard we headed to the buffet to eat a late lunch, since our luggage wasn't in our room yet.

The buffet was okay, not great.  In general they served basically the same thing all the time.  They also didn't have any kid sized utensils, which made it hard for the kids to eat.  We stuck with the buffet most of the time, and really only ate in the fancy dining room three times.  We found over and over with MSC that they said they were child and family friendly, but really they catered to families with older kids- anyone with kids under 5 would have a hard time on these cruises, I think.

Mav did his best with a giant fork.

I stuck with the salad bar, and grill.

After lunch we explored the ship some more, and then let the kids rest up a bit before getting dressed for dinner!  It was Italian night (of course!) so there were Italian specialties on the menu.  They always had special menus for the kids too.  We didn't order a drink package, because I felt like we would feel like we had to drink a ton of alcohol to get our money's worth out of it.  I'm glad that we didn't because in the end I think we saved money.  We got a few drinks here and there, but weren't drunk the whole time (and some people WERE!)

Maddox took this picture of Marshall at the dinner table.

Yes, we are those people that give their children electronics to get them to be quiet in fancy places.  Don't judge.

This Kindle Fire has paid for itself with how many peaceful dinners we have eaten.

The dinner was pretty fancy.  I ate more than my share of bread and REAL BUTTER.

We headed back to the room and got the kids into bed.  Maverick and I slept in the bed that you can see here, and Maddox and Marshall each slept in one of the fold down beds that you can barely see in the corners.  I was worried about Maverick falling out of bed, but if someone did fall out of bed, they'd just fall onto the poor people sleeping in the middle.  :)  It worked out well.  The kids are cringing in this picture because they didn't want it to flash in their face.

Next up- our first full day on the cruise!

1 comment:

Aunt Kathy said...

So glad to read about your cruise. Can't wait to read about the rest of it! Love you all!