Our port to board the cruise that we chose was Venice so before the cruise we flew Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi into the city of Milan and immediately after checking in a hotel next to the Milano Central train station we went to Duomo and spent our day there. The following morning we bought a ticket with Trenitalia (36 Euros- 2nd class ticket) from Milano Central to Mestre Station where we spent one night in Venice in a hotel close to the Mestre Station (Lugano Hotel). There after checking in we took the bus to Venice (aprox 15 minutes) and once in Venice we passed our day walking around the city.
About Venice, I could say that is a pretty city but to over crowded with people and prices are very high since is a tourist popular spot, not to mention that even if you want to use a bathroom you must pay. (Must husband said as long as there is a bush there is a toilet!)
The following Day we started out for our adventure and went from the Lugano Hotel in Mestre to Venice. We arrived to Venice we took the people mover to our cruise, (1Euro per person) and as soon as we got off the people mover there was a sign for passengers of MSC where some free busses would pick up there and take you to the Cruise to start your checking process.
Recommendations in Italy:
-If you are only staying one night there are many hotels in Mestre that are close and has easy access to Venice and better prices.
-If you are planning to use your credit card, some places would ask you for your pin number in a credit card, so be sure you get that number from your provider.
- If you are using public transportation in Italy, whatever ticket you have, do not forget to validate your ticket before you climb on board the train.
My husband and I took the MSC Divina out of Venice, Italy in the first week of September 2012 and had a wonderful time on the ship.
Boarding the cruise was relatively smooth I could say that didn't take us more than one hour from the moment we got there to our standard inside cabin 12187, located on Aurora deck 12.
Our overall experience in Divina was great. The beautiful floating city is huge boat, so big we could not walk every single floor in our 8 days on it, but we try to be in almost every single public spot of the boat, not to mention that the views of the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean are breathtaking, and the ride on Divina is smooth as silk.
About our destinations we think that it's hard to deny that The Mediterranean Sea (Latin for "the middle of the earth") is one of the most diversified cruise destinations in the world with many of the most amazing ports ever to be found, even if my husband and I agree that since Italy is a beautiful country the port of Bari is not the nicest to visit in Italy.
Lifebelts are located in the wardrobes. Compulsory emergency drill for all guests and emergency lifeboat exercise is held in your assigned an assembly station and shown what to do - in five different languages.
The Ship - Public Areas
There were a lot of these: restaurants, bars, a 24-hour casino whilst the ship is at sea, a big theater, library, shopping stores, gymnasium, pool, Jacuzzis and spa.
The bars and lounges are attractively furnished - good solid comfortable chairs and seats.
There is smoking on board in some designed areas, but all the restaurants were all non-smoking.
Restaurants: There are many restaurants in this cruise, for all kind of food lovers in case you do not want to eat daily in your assigned restaurant. In our case we booked a 2nd dining seating and the hours of dining seating are one at as 7pm, and the next being at 9pm. Honestly the reason why we booked 2nd seating is thinking about diner at that hour would be most for adults. Our assigned restaurant for diner was the Villa Rossa, in there your table is assigned since the beginning of your cruise and you share the table with the same people, and we were very lucky to have a good dinner table, and our waiters were always greeting us with a smile.
Entertainment: Every single night on the cruise there is a show on the Pantheon Theater and the cruise director Franco would introduce the show on more than 6 languages so not matter what language do you speak you would be able to understand what the show is going to be about.
The Michael Jackson show was the best. Lighting effects and great performers. In general, we must say that we enjoy the shows every night before going to our diners. On the other hand Most of the bars had resident singer's bands or Djs, and there are plenty daily activities everywhere you go on the cruise, just be sure you read your daily program that you won't miss anything.
Wifi: We brought our i-phones and a laptob computer that we use to connect to the internet and when you brouse to use the internet it takes you to the msc webpage and you pick different increments, 30, 60, 100, etc, minutes and we chose 100 min for $15.00 euros and just connected to download my email to keep in touch, it's automatically charged to your room. Just be sure to logout! Or your time keeps running until you expend your last coin.
Ports to Visit on this cruise:
In this port we caught the MSC shuttle bus that take you from the cruise port to the city, and from there we just walked around the small narrow streets of the city and visited it churches and the harbor.
After Bari we headed down the coast to Katakalon where we took a private excursion to Olympia, offer just as soon as you start working in to Katakolon with a company called Global Travel (for only 10 Euros for person the transportation) Olympic is the original places were they started the Olympic Games. We visited there the archaeological site and for that, one hour is more than enough time. (Tickets are 9 Euros for both archeological and museum or either one for 6 Euros for person) and from there back to Katakolon were we now headed back to the boat, since there are not many hours in this port.
We found that overall; the best way to tour the city was to find a taxi at port and request for them to take us to the place we want to visit ( In our case it was the ancient city of Ephesus and the virgin Maria house). Therefore, we hired a taxi driver as soon as we got off from the ship and spent our day in this magnificent place. (We paid 90 Euros for the taxi ride).
Istanbul is the only city in the world located on two continents. It is the nearest Asian city to Europe, and the nearest European city to Asia.
Istanbul, in my personal opinion, is one of the most exciting ports on the Mediterranean. Ships tie up right in the center of town and if you decide to, you could literally walk to the Galata Bridge and just a few minutes from there take the tram, in our case we hired one of the many drivers that parked outside the boat waiting for passengers to head to the tourist places, in our case here we visited the Topkapi palace, the blue Mosque and the grand bazaar. Be sure to negotiate the rate with the taxi driver.
It is good to mention that in this port you would have many hours since you get there at 730 AM arrival and you must be on board by 430 pm. (Wepaid 90 Euros for a taxi to take us to The Blue Mosque area, and in there we visited The Blue Mosque, the Topkapi Palace and Agia Sophia. and from there take us to the Grand Bazaar and bring us back to the port all this from 9 am to 230 Pm.) so my advice is if you book a taxi be sure you arrange your hours from that time until at least 4 00 PM that you won't miss a minute in these fabulous city. Also Don't pay the taxi driver until after the end of the day and your returned to the ship!
Our last port of call was Dubrovnik in Croatia; there we rode a MSC bus from the port to the city center, which is surrounded by walls. We walked around and saw the most important buildings and stop to see everything that this place has to offer. My advice is if you go there be sure you enjoy a cold beer or one of their famous ice creams and one of the many ice cream shops, and them be ready to walk the city and appreciate its beauty and since is right on the coast you would have the chance to see some beautiful breathtaking views.
our luggage was collected from outside our cabin late on the last night after we'd labeled it. Then we were up early for our disembarkation process. We waited for a while in the main theater then our group was called and sadly, we were off the ship. We found our luggage very quickly, saw it loaded onto the coach, and waited for just a few minutes before setting off. We again took the people mover and one time in Venice, we caught an airport shuttle bus from Piazzale Roma to Marco Polo airport (6 Euros for one way for person). Buses run often and it takes 20 minutes to the airport so we got there with plenty of time for our 230 Pm flight back to Dubai with Emirates Airlines.
Top 5 Must-Pack Items for a Cruise
- After this cruise I would say that we would like to recommend this top 5 items:
- 3 copies of your passport, 1 in your suitcase, 1 to take with you in port and 1 to email yourself in case you lose your documentations when traveling.
-One envelope to save bar receipts in case you get charged for something you think is not correct, or just to keep control and order with your receipts.
- TSA locks.
-umbrella, sweater and something to cover your heard, personally we used the umbrella not on our cruise but in Venice since was raining two days in a roll, you never know when you would need it, and your scarf is always useful if you plan to visit places that require women to cover their hear.
- One small extension cord, since there are not many places to plug your electronics on the cabin.
My husband and I had an outstanding time on this trip and it will hold many memories into the future, we made new friends and we are so glad for the opportunity we had to do it. In addition, I thanks every single person that make this trip an unforgettable experience, and I do recommend people to experience the travel on board an MSC cruise whatever would be their destination.