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MSC Splendida Cruise Review
4.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
350 Reviews

Splendida Western Mediterranean 11/2010

MSC Splendida Cruise Review by queenL

0 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Nov 2010
  • Destination: the Western Mediterranean

I'm back from a great cruise. A bit of background for you guys. This was my 16th cruise. I've sailed all the major cruise lines RCL, NCL, Carnival, Princess, HAL and Celebrity. This was my first cruise on MSC. I sailed with my parents, active, 70 somethings and my 3 yr old daughter. My husband couldn't travel with us this time. His boss wouldn't give him the time off. (Sorry honey, better luck next cruise?)

Overall impressions:

I enjoyed my cruise on MSC. I'm not sure why this line is ripped so bad in the reviews. I was slightly concerned by all that I heard in my pre cruise preparations. Even though some of the complaints I did verify for myself, there was nothing that happened that was significant enough to ruin the cruise. I would sail MSC again. I feel it is a good value for the money. The kids sail free promotion is an excellent deal. Coupled with the fact that we saw 7 beautiful ports, I definitely felt we got our money's worth. The only thing that I would say is that MSC is a specific product. It will not appeal to everyone, if you are easily troubled when little things go wrong. This is not the line for you. If you have to have everything the way you are accustomed and are not open to a different way of cruising....this line is not for you.

Embarkation-

We arrived at the pier about 10:20. It was about a 20 minute cab ride from Eric Vokel Apts to the pier. Check in was really fast, we walked directly up to the security screeners, no one was in front of us. We also walked straight up to the check in counter to take our picture and establish an onboard account. Afterwards we stood and waited, with about 100 other passengers until they allowed boarding. Perhaps my only criticism was that there was only one photographer taking the welcome aboard photos. This backed the line up considerably.

Cabin-

We stayed in cabin 8159, OV. It was in a great location, center of the ship, really close to the elevators. No complaints whatsoever. I loved the fact that they had both electrical outlets- US and European. (A blessing after I fried my curling iron on the first day in Barcelona due to the additional voltage) There was ample storage. I do believe the rooms were slightly larger than most lines of a similar category. We didn't even need to collapse the stroller in the cabin and there was still plenty of room to walk around. There were no AV jacks though for people like myself who travel with a portable DVD player.

Ship-

First impressions of the ship....she is truly splendid. I must admit my bias towards contemporary/modern dEcor. This ship was right up my alley. The public spaces were beautiful and well maintained. I think my favorite was the aft lounge but it was all attractive. There were a few layout issues. I hate it when you have to go over and down to reach a certain area of the ship. That is the way it was when you wanted to reach Villa Verde where we were assigned for dinner. Also, it did seem as though they could stand to have a few more elevators. The lifts frequently arrived full, so you had to either wait around a bit or take the stairs. There were even times I carried the stroller up and down stairs to avoid having to wait for an elevator.

Service-

If I noticed any really difference between the cruise lines it was in this area. There were just a lot of little things where they could have gone the extra mile but didn't. For example, on the first night the maitre d came around and told us we needed to leave (before dessert had arrived) so they could prepare for the next seating. We usually take first seating so there is always the need to prepare for the second service. Yet, I had never been told to leave....at least not in those words. On a previous cruise, we were told to take our time and not to feel rushed because they wanted our dining experience to be excellent regardless of time constraints. Certainly they could have found a more subtle way of moving things along.

Every night I had to ask for ice, 2 or 3 times before they would bring it. (Is it not custom in Europe to get ice anyway?) On previous cruises if the waiter knew we had a preference, it would be waiting for us every night thereafter, without our having to ask. I couldn't help but wonder if some service issues might be attributed to cultural differences.

On another occasion we were in Bora Bora cafe. I was by myself with my tot and I wanted some water but didn't want to leave her by herself or abandon our food. A waiter passed and I asked him for water, he said, "I can't get water unless you buy bottled water." I'm not one to make an issue over little things like this, however, I know some people are. If these type things are deal breakers for you...be forewarned.

Food-

Main Dining we were assigned to Ville Verde, 1st seating. We were seated with a family from the UK (they had a small child too) so there was no language barrier. In fact, it was a great pairing. We got to be great friends and it was a pleasure to have met them. Dinner time was at 6:30, for some reason I thought it was going to be 7:00 so I was relieved that it was earlier than I expected. Overall I thought the food was pretty good. I'm not sure why the food is bashed so hard on MSC. Maybe we just got lucky. There were only 1 or 2 items that really stood out to me as being bad. For example, the...risottos. Each one I tried was not good and the Cordon Bleu did little to impress me either. I didn't care much for many of the salads. I guess oil and vinegar is the custom dressing for a salad. This was certainly a healthier alternative, but I still missed real dressing. Most of the soups were tasty. I enjoyed the pastas and most of the appetizers. The sorbets were really good too. IMO, most cruise lines have some foods that you like and some that you don't. This was no different.

Bora Bora- I hated the breakfasts. Again I think this might be a cultural thing. I want cook to order omelettes with salsa and jalapenos, pancakes, waffles, a variety of fresh fruit. I didn't see a pancake or a waffle the entire cruise. I made it work of course but I wasn't a fan of their breakfasts. The juice was awful. It was extremely watered down, Tang. I found myself thinking maybe it's a good thing that they don't offer juice at lunch. Lunch buffets had the typical cruise foods. There wasn't an extensive salad bar with toppings. Perhaps not as much variety as we might be accustomed to on the American lines (ie stir fry station, sandwich station, etc) but still what they did offer was good overall. They probably had some of the best desserts here that I've ever had on a ship. The cakes were consistently very good.

Kids Club-

I had mixed feelings here. I liked the staff but I've been spoiled by RCL and the level of activity and planning that goes into their kids program. The kids club just didn't have a lot going on. I took my daughter the first few days but she seemed to lose interest towards the latter half of the cruise. Just as well, this cruise was port intensive, so there was limited time for us to really utilize the kids club. The interesting thing is that I was most concerned about the language barrier. There were only 1-2 other kids at any given point that spoke English. The staff all spoke English so that wasn't a problem. Surprisingly it didn't seem to bother my daughter much at all. It was a great experience to see her pass her friends in the hall and even though they couldn't understand a word each other said, their faces would light up and they would wave enthusiastically. I guess play is universal.

The kids club activities link:

http://s1210.photobucket.com/albums/...%20Activities/

Kids-

There were still a good number of infants and children, even though school was in session. I love kids, obviously, so their presence didn't bother me. For those that do not though...they were everywhere. I saw them at the buffet, many in 1st seating, in the pools, hot tubs and adult only areas. I didn't see any bad behavior, but they were there.

Weather-

The weather was slightly cooler than I expected. The 10 day forecast called for upper 60's low 70's in all of the ports. However, with the wind it felt cooler than that.

Cruise Critic Party-

There wasn't one of course. I couldn't even find anyone prior to our sailing. That is one of the things I missed most about sailing with MSC.

Entertainment-

This is another area of criticism. There were so few scheduled activities onboard that it literally took only a paragraph on the daily newsletter to list them all. There was no scrapbooking, photography, investment class, jewelry making, cooking, etc. that I have seen offered and/or taken on previous cruises. I realize that this cruise was port intensive but if you were planning to stay onboard in any of the ports...be prepared to entertain yourself. The evening shows were decent...nothing spectacular but the standard cruise stuff. I didn't partake in much of the night life...I went to sleep early nearly every night but those that did go to the clubs and things said that they weren't crowded.

Here is the link to the daily Splendida activity sheets...

http://s1210.photobucket.com/albums/cc412/queenl3/

Disembarkation-

We were given a color and lounge to wait in. When we arrived in our lounge it was empty. So, we thought they might have called our color and we went downstairs to disembark. It turns out that we hadn't been given clearance to leave yet, so we stayed there and waited by the door. About 15 minutes later we were allowed to leave. Our luggage was neatly organized by color. The process was very quick and painless. There was literally no security check returning to Barcelona. We just walked straight to our cab. We carried off food, beverages, I don't think anyone noticed or cared. Considering the Al Qaeda/terror warning, announced right before we left. This was troubling.

We did get water vouchers. We had to go and ask for them but we got 7 vouchers only redeemable in the main dining room. We were unable to get tap water. I will say that I had no problems bringing on board, juice, soda and water. I didn't even have to really smuggle it on. Most times it was in my backpack, sometimes I returned to the ship with a bottle in hand. No one questioned me about it at all. I brought it to the dining room and we drank them while in the cabin. Typically drinks in the grocery stores in port where about .60 to 1E. Some days I filled my sports mug with water at lunch and drank that. We aren't alcohol drinkers so we went the entire cruise without purchasing any beverages. I had also packed Kool aid and crystal light drink mixes. Sometimes I would just add those to water and presto.

My legitimate gripes:

It was hard not to feel nickel and dimed. Many things were at an extra cost; movies $10E, bowling 4E, Gelato etc

The photos- I'm a photo junkie. I normally by 3-5 ship photos each cruise. This cruise I didn't buy any. Most of them weren't really good shots and the ones that were.....a whooping 20 Euros (almost $30 US). Ridiculous!

The shuttle in Marseille (15E RT) Why aren't things like this included in your cruise fare? The ship docks in the middle of an industrial area. It is too far to walk to anything. You must get a cab or the use the shuttle. I think this should be something that is a part of standard fare.

Availability of drinks- Is it really cost prohibitive to offer lemonade or juice at every meal? I'd love to see the math on that. I'd be willing to pay an extra $50 on my cruise fare to have things like this included.

Availability of food between meals- When we return from port late afternoon...we like to eat. There wasn't anything open except the sports bar. This was available at an extra charge of course. I understand it may not be feasible to leave Bora Bora open, but poolside hotdogs and hamburgers, sandwiches, pizza....anything! I also felt that Bora Bora should be open for dinner to provide a casual dinner alternative.

FYI- Gratuities were 7E per day. They didn't add anything for my 3yr old. Even though they say they are a service charge with no flexibility. Our dinner mates and one of my parents adjusted theirs down with no problems.

Ports of Call

Day I of pre-cruise stay in Barcelona

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g187497-d1722409-Reviews-Eric_Vokel_Boutique_Apartments_Gaudi_Suites-Barcelona_Catalonia.html

We stayed at Eric Vokel Apartments. We really needed the space since we all wanted to stay together. We rented a 2 bdr apt, with full kitchen, internet, washer/dryer and 2 bathrooms. The prices were slightly less than a hotel of similar quality. It was about a 20-30 minute ride from the airport (40E including baggage fees). It was in a good location...a few blocks from Sagrada Familia. It was near a major hospital, Metro, shops, restaurants, grocery stores and banks. The apartment itself was very nice, modern dEcor, clean and spacious. I will caution that this may not be the place for people with mobility issues. The elevator is about 3'x3'. It is the only elevator in the building. This made for a challenge with luggage. We each rode up separately with our bags. Large strollers would be impossible. The stairwells weren't much better, they were narrow and winding. The elevator lets you off at a landing between each floor but the rooms were actually located either one flight up or down. Taking stairs at some point was inevitable.

We did have a few snags though. They gave us the wrong room initially (1bd, 1bth) and had no other rooms available. So, we had to make do with a smaller apt the first night. The second night they switched our rooms but forget to leave the key for us, so we had to wait awhile to get in. (There is only someone at the front desk during business hours) After the mishaps, things improved for us leaving me with a positive overall impression.

We weren't able to check in early so we left our luggage in the hotel lockers and decided to go explore. Our first stop was Sagrada Familia. Again, this was within walking distance of the apartment. I was surprised at how long the lines were for admission, given that this was the "off season". At any rate the line moved quickly. Admission was 12E (10E for seniors and students). This place is amazing. I'm not one to be moved by cathedrals but this is certainly unlike anything you've ever seen. How in the world Gaudi sat down and came up with this is mind boggling. The attention to detail is truly amazing. We didn't take the elevator. The lines to ride to the top were over 90min long. Plus, while we were there one of the elevators broke and so the wait times got even longer. We stayed for about 2 hours. Then we returned to the apartment to check in. The rest of the evening was spent eating and getting situated.

Day 2

We decided to take the HoHo. There is a stop near the apt so this became a convenient form of transportation for us. There are 2 HoHo companies: Barcelona Bus Touristic (BBT) and Barcelona City Tour (BCT). The first few BBT's drove by already full and there were long lines of passengers waiting to board. I looked ahead at Barcelona City Tour (they stop nearly side by side) and it was near empty. So, we decided to go with them. Consistently throughout the trip we saw buses that were full/near full on BBT but BCT was only semi-crowded. If you want, the entire tour is narrated, just plug in your earphones and you can hear all about the landmarks you are passing. I quickly became a fan of the HoHo. I love to take photos and it was a great way to see the city, take a lot of pictures without actually having to go to all the places. I always found a space on top. The bus went everywhere we wanted to go. We never had to wait longer than 10-15 minutes for the next bus to come. Perhaps my only criticism was that most stops the busses only run one way. Prepare to do a full circle if you need to go back one stop. That could be time consuming, so lump your stops together to maximize your time. One day passes were 22E(18E for seniors) (14E for children ages 4-12) 2 day 29E (22E for seniors)(18E for children ages 4-12) under 4 were free. The prices were the same for both buses.

First stop was La Padrera (11E). The line was not too bad. Another awesome Gaudi work, just the second stop and I'm already a fan of his. The roof top is a definite must see. The face sculptures are worth a visit by themselves. I'm so glad I left the stroller downstairs. A few tight spaces, narrow, winding stairs leading to the roof. It would have been more trouble than it was worth to have the stroller.

Casa Batillo (14 E) - If you use HoHo you get a 10% discount here. It was a much shorter line to enter. Still very nice, but La Padrera was better. I stayed about an hour at each of these places (Casa Batillo and La Padrera) but I was moving along quickly. I'd say 2 hours is probably best if you don't want to rush around. The elevators go all the way up. However, there were lines to take the elevator. Each floor (I think there were 7 to 8 total) you could get off and explore. If you needed the elevator, you really had my sympathy here. Ten to fifteen minutes to explore each floor, then a 10 minute wait to take the elevator up to the next one. Again, I was really glad I left my stroller for these sites.

Casa Amattler- You can't really tour this place. The lobby area is open and it has a nice gift shop. There is no charge though. I'd allow about a half hour to explore this area.

All three of Gaudi's Casa's are practically side by side. This makes it really easy to see them all without losing time to travel. This is also a great area to walk around. The Passeig de Gracia area has plenty of shops and restaurants. We killed a lot of time just browsing around in the stores. I coined this street, the Rodeo Drive of Barcelona. A lot of people strolling along, pricey boutiques just a great area to window shop.

Day 3

Initially, we planned to use the train to get around today. However, we loved the HoHo experience so much that we decided to stick with it instead. We visited Parc Guell (free). The HoHo drops you off a few blocks from the park. It was very nice but crowded. I took plenty of nice photos and there were really nice views if you went all the way up.. There were street entertainers, vendors and standard park stuff like playgrounds and picnic tables.

Placa Catalunya(free) - Not too much to see here, just a square and a fountain. We did pass through though on the way to Las Ramblas.

Las Ramblas (free) - It was here that we ate our first good meal in Barcelona. A place called LaPoma. The past few days we found random restaurants near the apartment that left much to be desired. Today we decided to eat in a different area. As we walked along the strip we saw the street entertainers and browsed the shops (plenty of places to exchange currency here). We went to the infamous Mercat De Boqueria had a delicious smoothie and wandered around looking at the attractive food displays.

Day 4

We used metro today (bought one T-10 pass for all of us 8E or 9E). I quickly found myself missing the HoHo. We got on the wrong train accidentally, and travelled a few stops before we realized it. Of course there is no view and there were tons of stairs. I carried the stroller up and down so many flights I lost track. We were headed to Montserrat to the monastery. The T-10 got us to Placa Espanya, then we paid 16E RT each for the Renfe train to Montserrat (which includes the rail car transfer that takes you up the mountain to the monastery. I think the cable car transfer costs a little more.

Montserrat was a beautiful and very peaceful place. We went into the cathedral and saw the Shrine of the Black Madonna. We browsed around at several of the souvenir shops and ate lunch in the cafe. You could easily kill an entire day here but we rushed back because I wanted to see Poble Espanyol as well. I'd say travel time one way from our apartment to Montserrat (including wait times/changing trains) was a little over 2 hours. It was worth it to travel here, but only if you have a few days to spend in Barcelona.

We returned to Placa Espanya about 5pm we did a drive by of Palau Nacional and immediately hopped the city bus (1.6E) to Poble Espanyol (6.6E). We had some paella and enjoyed an excellent strawberry cheesecake gelato. I loved the shops out here. I collect art glass and sculpture. There were plenty of nice artsy finds here. The next day we boarded the ship and left Barcelona behind.

I must say I was a little nervous with all the pickpocketing threads I read on these boards prior to our departure. We had no Packsafe products whatsoever. My mom wore a small purse across her chest. My father and I both wore the waist wallets underneath our clothes. I carried a camera (outside the case, around my neck) and backpack everywhere I went and we had no trouble with pickpockets.

Tunisia

We docked early today. We were instructed to take our passports with us. We needed to show them to enter the country. Right off the pier there were camel rides (10E) which dropped to 5E for those who rode later in the afternoon. There was an official taxi stand right in the marketplace as you exited the ship. We grabbed a taxi tour. You pay the taxi driver only when you return which was good since I had heard of the independent taxi drivers demanding more money in order to bring you back. We even got a slip of paper with the prearranged price printed on it. We wanted to see Sidi Bou Said and Carthage. (Taxi Tours cost on average (40E for a 4pp taxi tour, 60E for 6pp, 80E- 8pp) 5hrs max on tours. The other taxi tour offered went to Mdina, Sidi Bou Said and Carthage. I think the prices were slightly higher. Our dinner mates used the unofficial taxi tours outside the pier. They averaged about 10E less.

Carthage (9 Dinars, plus an extra Dinar if you have a camera) was ok. They only take dinars so you must exchange a little currency to get in. I've been to many ruins...Lamanai in Belize, Chichen Itza & Tulum in Mexico, Colosseo in Rome... if you've seen the any of these...you will not be impressed by Carthage. The sad thing is that the port time is so short here that the worthy things to do in Tunisia- (Sahara Dessert, El Jem) are too far away.

Sidi Bou Said (free)- It is truly Africa's Santorini. This was a picturesque area with its blue and white buildings. The vendors were persistent but not as bad as I have encountered in other ports. We haggled for a few souvenirs, explored the area a bit and we were ready to head back to the ship

Before I left I read a lot of reports of people who were afraid to get off the ship. I must say as Americans I think we are trained to be suspicious of Arabs. Unfortunately a few acts of terrorism have caused many to stereotype the entire culture. Any uneasiness I felt initially was unwarranted. I got no menacing stares, finger points or whispers. As a matter of fact there was just a lot of adoration towards my daughter and curiosity in general about where we were from. It was a great opportunity to visit Africa and I'm glad I didn't miss out on it by staying on the ship.

Malta-

This day zipped by. I watched us sail in to the harbor about 8:00am. It was very pretty. I can understand why so many wake up just to see it. Fresh off of my HoHo high, we took the HoHo here as well. It was about 10E pp, they were selling passes just as you exited the pier. One thing about the HoHo here though, it was much longer between stops. I think we waited between a half hour and an hour for the next one to come pick us up. Also, don't wait until the last minute. It takes a little over 3 hours to do a complete circle. If you get off at one of the first stops on the line... you have awhile to go before you return. I did price taxi tours for the benefit of other cruisers...they were about 52E closest to the port, the further out you walked the taxi tour prices dropped to about 30E.

We had many places that we wanted to see; Upper Barrakka Gardens, Marsaxlokk Bay, and Hagar Qim but our plans were instantly derailed after we made our first stop...Mdina art glass. Like I said I am a collector of art glass, this place was tailor made for me. I really lost track of time and before I realized it, hours had slipped by. (I brought home some nice pieces though ?) Anyways, after the three hour + time to circle around back to the pier we didn't have time to really go anywhere else. We tried to find Upper Barrakka on foot, but went the wrong direction and were too tired to keep going. So that was our day in Malta.

I did get taxi tour information to help future cruisers. Tour A, 2 hrs, 52E goes to Mdina, Rabat and Ta Qali Crafts Village. Tour B, 3 hrs 66E goes to Mdina, Mosta Rotunda and Ta Qali Crafts Village, Tour C, 4hrs 80E goes to Mdina, Mosta Rotunda and Ta Qali Crafts Village, San Anton Gardens and around the coast of Sliema and Valletta. Tour D, 5hrs 94E goes to Tarxien Temples, 3 cities including Senglea Point, Marsaxlokk Fishing Village and Blue Grotto. The 6hr tours were 108E, 7hr 122E and 8hrs 136E. Apparently you can customize the tour within the time frame you pay for.

Sicily- We pre-booked a tour with Mario Astone (75E pp) marioastone@tiscali.it. I can see why he gets really good reviews on Cruise Critic. He is everything a tour guide should be. He promptly returned all emails and arrived on time to pick us up. He was very knowledgeable about his country, he was friendly, thoughtful (brought snacks and water for us), took many pictures for us at each stop and returned us safe and sound...with nearly two hours to spare before the cruise ship departed.

He was one of the few vendors that would take us to both Mt Etna and Taormina. The ship tours only took you to one or the other. We really wanted to do both. Another fetish of mine is volcanoes. So, I couldn't be that close to Etna and not go. It was a good distance away, maybe an hour and a half or so. It was a very winding, ascent that made me nauseous (or at least I thought it was the motion at the time). It was very windy and cool at the top. We got there before the ship tours arrived so we had the place all to ourselves. There was a nice souvenir shop, which allowed us to thaw out from the chilly temperatures, we bought a few souvenirs and we were on our way to Taormina.

We really liked Taormina. I found myself wishing we had more time to explore. By the time we went to the Greek Theatre (8E pp) and explored the ruins, there was little time left to do anything else. We shopped for about a half hour and then we met up with Mario to head back to the ship.

Since we had time leftover, he took us on a driving tour of Messina. We stopped at an overlook to view the ship. In addition, he took us to the cathedral and we got a chance to go inside and wait for the clock to strike. (The statues move around every half hour)

A very good day and I highly recommend Mario to other cruisers.

Rome

It was easier than I thought to get to Rome on your own. There is a free shuttle that takes you from the cruise ship to the edge of the dock. You can buy tickets 9.50E (BIRG) for the train & the Rome HoHo right at the dock's information booth. We ended up missing the first train to Rome and had to wait around for the 10:30 train. By the time we got settled in Rome it was about noon. We have been to Rome before on a land vacation so we had seen many of the popular tourist attractions. We bargained for a lower price on the HoHo (16E) (half the day was gone already) and we got it. This time I wanted to go to the lesser known Baths of Caracalla. I found out the stop we needed, but the HoHo dropped us off on the backside of Palatine Hill. I thought that Palatine was the Baths of Caracalla. So we walked all the way around to the front side only to find out we were in the wrong place. Since we hadn't been to Palatine either, we went ahead and went inside. By the time we left it was time to head back to the Termini station to catch the return train to Civitavecchia.

There was supposed to be a 4:09 train but we never saw it. Maybe the information we had was inaccurate. However, the next train was scheduled for 4:40 and it arrived late. I don't know how often trains are delayed but we were sweating bullets. My advice to cruisers is not to play it so close. By the time we arrived in Civitavecchia it was about 10 minutes after 6pm. When the doors of the train opened about 200 cruise passengers broke into a run. We ran nearly the entire way back because we were supposed to be back by 6:30. By the time we got back to the port and took the shuttle we had about 5 minutes to spare. That was the closest I've ever come to missing the ship. They were detaching the gangway when we arrived. In hindsight I'm not sure it was worth it to make the trip to Rome, especially since we had been there before. Even if we caught the earlier train, that would have only bought us an extra hour. It was a lot of rushing and we really only had about four hours there by the time it was all said and done. If we had been really aggressive we could have easily seen two sites maybe three but still. I had read on the boards that Civitavecchia was all industry with nothing to do nearby. However, there were plenty of shops and restaurants. There were certainly enough things to do to kill an afternoon.

Genoa- Originally we were going to go to Portifino but due to traveller's fatigue we decided to stay around Genoa. What do you know? There was a HoHo here as well. It was (10E) for about an hour and when the tour was over they left us in the city center, so that we could browse around at the stores. It was hard to find souvenirs in this port. The stores were not geared to tourists.

Marseille- Again we changed plans. We were originally going to go to Aix en Provence. We were tired of trains and hectic travel schedules and really just wanted to stay nearby. You are forced to take some form of transportation to get out of the pier. Don't even think about walking. It's too far. The ship charged 15E RT to transport you to the city center. The cabs wanted 25E one way to travel the same distance. If you have a larger party it's probably worth it to take the cab.

Most of the places were closed. It was Sunday. There were a few places that opened as it got closer to noon but not very many. Once again we found a Ho Ho (18E, 15E for seniors and students, 4to 11 8E, under 4 was free.) We toured the city and stopped at Notre Dame. It was a beautiful cathedral with great views. There was also a tram ride (I think it was 8 or 9E) and the city bus that ran the same route to Notre Dame. The tram and the bus took you all the way to the top. The HoHo left you at the base of the cathedral. There were many stairs to climb. We also spent a good portion of the day searching for a pharmacy that was open. I thought my fatigue might have another explanation and I wanted to be sure.

Post cruise stay in Madrid

From the cruise ship we traveled to Barcelona Sants train station by cab.

We booked our train tickets online from Renfe's website. It was about a 3 hr train ride from Barcelona to Madrid. From there we got a cab and went to the hotel.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g187514-d1485912-Reviews-Axor_Barajas_Hotel-Madrid.html

I really enjoyed our stay here. Another modern hotel, very clean, within walking distance of a major mall, movie theater and restaurants. We were so exhausted that we poked around the mall for awhile and returned to the hotel for an early night. We decided to pass on the sightseeing since we had an early flight the next day.

On a more positive note- I missed a lot of the nightly activities due to fatigue. I thought it was just a hectic schedule but I found out that I'm pregnant with our second child. The motion sickness I felt was really morning sickness. So, in July we will ecstatically welcome the next cruiser into our family. ?

Another thing, my father is on dialysis. He was dialysized every other day while in port. If anyone desires that kind of information, we can pass on what we learned about dialysis abroad.

A word to parents who travel with car seats, I didn't see a single cab or bus that had tethers to anchor a car seat. We actually travel with a ride safer vest instead of our car seat. http://www.safetrafficsystem.com/ Either way we needed a tether to attach the vest to.

Ok, I'm done.


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Cabin Review

Cabin 5 8159

We stayed in cabin 8159, OV. It was in a great location, center of the ship, really close to the elevators. No complaints whatsoever.


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