I have been ever so busy lately, but that is now the story of my life. I had to take a few minutes and escape into my dreams back to a trip in 2006 while on the MSC Musica. We stopped at Katakalon in Greece – this place is ever so colorful – it reminds me of Cefalu in Sicily – oh, how I’d like to get my hands on some of the pictures I took there and then scan them onto my computer. Until, then….Katakalon is a nice diversification.
Well, here is Katakalon – just a few pictures – we only had a few hours here.
That’s me in 2006 in Katakalon
Now, would you like to take a trip to Dubrovnik in Croatia? This place is stunning and deserves more than a few hours of your time.
Well, that’s it for today. Just thought I’d escape to Europe for a while and share some of my pictures with you. Hope you are all doing well.
Our cruise on the MSC Musica was magical. Perhaps it was because we traveled in a big group. I will always remember that cruise. Here are more pictures of the MSC Musica. Let’s just say this cruise line is definitely worth your consideration.
In the evening, there’s spectacular entertainment, here are the performers after one show
Did you know MSC Cruise Lines have cruises out of Florida now? One of their new ships is the MSC Divina and the reason I am mentioning this is that I have a picture shown below with that very name on it. I don’t know why I took it at the time (during the MSC Musica cruise, and I believe in Turkey) – perhaps because it has a little resemblance to my own name? Anyway, here’s the picture.
Here’s me on the MSC Musica
Here’s my son (looking out to the swimming pool) and daughter all dressed up for an Indian function on the ship – we were part of a big Indian group on the cruise – we enjoyed Bollywood, Bhangra and more – danced to it, and ate Indian food.
Here’s a picture taken of one of their lounges.
Of course MSC Cruise Lines also depart from many other places throughout the world, including Europe, where we took our cruise from lovely Venice, Italy. I think my next post might have to be on Venice. I hope you all have a fantastic week!
Our visit to Istanbul during the MSC Cruise (on the MSC Musica) was packed with shopping, and savoring Turkish flavors – whether it was Turkish coffee or kebabs. Turkey is delightful, and so colorful.
The first few pictures (below) were actually taken in Izmir, I could only tell since I looked back at my pictures, and saw some pictures of the cruise in the evening. I will include those here, so that you can see the sequence of events. The cruise stopped in Izmir first, and then we had our evening onboard, and the next day we got off at Istanbul.
Here are a few pictures taken back on the cruise ship that night.
Now let’s venture into Istanbul, and to the Grand Bazaar! Many people come to the bazaars of Turkey to get great bargains – you can find tea-sets, glassware, ornaments, clothes, handbags, and many other items. These bazaars also tantalize you with their aromas and Turkish treats. Don’t forget to try the Turkish coffee!
Time for some Turkish Coffee at Red Cafe
We left the Grand Bazaar, and ventured into the streets…..I must have asked this man if I could have a picture taken with him.
I think this is also called the Blue Mosque, but this is of course in Istanbul
Here’s the Mosque from a different angle
Here are the last pictures of Istanbul:
Well, I hope you think Turkey is as delightful as I do. I have only showed you some pictures of Izmir, the Grand Bazaar and the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, and some of the surrounding streets. I’m sure Turkey has many other hidden delights.
Turkey delighted me when I visited that mysterious country in 2006. We were on a cruise with MSC Musica from Venice, Italy, and visited several ports in Europe. One of our stops was in Izmir and another one in Istanbul. I had to get out of our taxi which we took from the cruise port to the Mosque to actually venture closer and even go in the Mosque. Nobody else in the car wanted to go into the Mosque, but I could not let such beauty and magnificence pass me by.
Here are some pictures of the Blue Mosque in Izmir, Turkey:
This was taken inside the Mosque
Last look at the Blue Mosque
Then it was time to get back to the MSC Musica
Turkey is an incredibly beautiful country that I have to explore much more on a future visit. The amount of time that you get while on a cruise port of visit is not adequate enough when visiting a land that is full of cultural mystique and glory as Turkey is. My next post will include more pictures taken in Istanbul.
Don’t overlook MSC Cruise Lines – they are not as well known as some of the bigger names, but should be. I have cruised with them in 2006 on a 7 day cruise from Venice, Italy on the MSC Musica that included stops in Bari, Italy; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Katakolon, Greece; Izmir and Istanbul, Turkey. I would highly recommend the MSC Cruise Lines. Here are some pictures.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cruising
Is cruising affordable and a good vacation value?
Cruising is the best vacation value! There are cruise vacations to suit every budget. Your cruise fare includes your accommodations, on board activities and entertainment, most meals, plus transportation from port to port. You’ll know what your vacation will cost you before you go. (Typically, your only extra expenses will be drinks, specialty restaurants, optional shore excursions and personal services such as massages or hairstyling.)
How long are cruises?
As long or short as you want. Most cruise lines offer itineraries from three days to three months.
Where can I go?
Wherever you want! Cruises visit over 500 ports worldwide and practically every destination accessible by water. You can embark on your cruise vacation from a wide variety of over 30 North American ports close to home or exciting and exotic locations around the globe.
How do I book a cruise?
Couple of options: Call Davinder at Luchanik Travel & Cruises (doing business via CruiseOne) at 858-427-4972 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you prefer to do it yourself, go on Davinder’s website at http://www.likecruises.com, and research cruises, you may even book and pay for a cruise, hotel, or all-inclusive resort yourself! If you have any problems whatsoever, please give me a call, and I would love to help you.
Are all ships fairly similar?
Far from it. They range from intimate and yacht-like to vessels stretching longer than three football fields. You can sail with fewer than 100 fellow guests or with more than 5,000.
Enjoy atmospheres ranging from casual to formal, contemporary to classic. Enjoy the endless activities offered on a contemporary resort-style cruise, or immerse yourself in the culture of a destination on a special interest cruise.
Are there different types of cruises?
There are cruises designed to suit virtually every interest and personal preference.
The choices include: boutique, luxury cruises with globetrotting itineraries; large, contemporary ships with a fantastic array of recreational facilities; classic vessels evoking the time-honored traditions of cruising; special interest, or exploration cruises specializing in unique destinations with an accent on cultural enrichment; river voyages into the heart of a destination.
There are cruise lines that feature soft adventure expeditions to such unique frontiers as Antarctica, the Amazon Rain Forest or the African Serengeti. Or, discover historical legacies closer to home with enlightening itineraries to New England, French Canada, Colonial America, and America’s Rivers.
For experienced travelers, destination-focused cruises specialize in culturally-rich ports of call with itineraries dedicated to illuminating such historic, world-class treasures as the antiquities of classical Greece, the Polynesian paradise of Hawaii, the fabled splendor of Norwegian fjords or the castles and museums of Europe’s rivers.
For many, the perfect vacation includes the non-stop fun and sun of a tropical resort-style cruise to the Caribbean, where you can sample a variety of island cultures and cuisines while relaxing your cares away. Plus, many cruise lines create special “themes” on board, with entertainment ranging from jazz festivals and classical music concerts to golf clinics and murder mysteries at sea!
Are there any special educational programs on-board?
To complement the spirit of discovery that travel evokes, many cruise lines feature an extensive program of on board enrichment programs hosted by distinguished guest experts. In addition to lectures highlighting the history and sights of the ports you will be visiting, there may also be special in-depth presentations ranging from Renaissance art to strategic financial planning to epicurean secrets of classic French cuisine.
What’s an air/sea cruise?
A fly/cruise or an air/sea vacation package includes, along with your cruise fare, free or reduced-cost airfare to and from the ship’s port of embarkation. These convenient money-saving options are available from most major North American cities and include ground transfers between the airport and ship as well as baggage handling.
Do I need a passport?
Cruise Lines International Association, Inc. (CLIA) recommends passports on all cruises. While the U.S. Government may not require a Passport for Sea travel on certain “closed loop cruises” originating in the U.S. and for travel only within the Western Hemisphere, other specified documentation is required. For specific U.S. governmental Passport and Visa regulations visit: http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html.
Be sure to ask your travel agent what passport requirements apply to your cruise vacation. CLIA strongly recommends that all travelers apply for or renew their passports as soon as possible. Government regulations are continually being modified and it is best to be prepared. Besides, a passport grants you unlimited cruise vacation options around the world!
Further Information on Do I need a passport?
All passengers must provide proof of citizenship when boarding the ship, even if your cruise includes only domestic destinations. If your cruise is an international sailing, the countries you visit will also require proof of citizenship. The cruise lines strongly recommend bringing a valid passport as this is the only form of identification accepted by most countries as required by the US Department of State for reentry into the Unites States.
Additionally, some countries require visas. You will need both a visa and a passport if your cruise departs from or visits a port of call that requires a visa. You are responsible for acquiring the necessary visas. If your cruise departs from or visits a port of call that requires a visa you must have a valid passport for your trip. Non US citizens must present a valid passport and any visas or travel documents required for re-entry into the US. Contact your consulate for specific requirements.
Are there different classes of service?
The vast majority of today’s cruise ships are “one-class.” Everyone can use all of the ship’s facilities. The price of your cabin is based primarily on its size and location. Regardless of the category you book, you’ll enjoy the same courteous service, menus, activities, and entertainment as everyone else on board.
Will I get bored? Feel confined?
Hardly! Being at sea gives you a feeling of total freedom that no land-based resort can offer. There’s plenty of room and it will probably take you two or three days just to discover everything that’s on board. Plus, you get the added adventure of exploring many exciting ports of call, often a new one every day of the trip!
Cruise ships are floating resorts with all the choices fine resorts have to offer. You can lie back in a lounge chair, breathe in the sea air, soak up the sun, read good books, or watch the ever-changing seascape. Smaller ships focus on the treasures and delights of myriad destinations.
If you’re more active, join in exercise or dance classes, or sports contests. Practice your tennis stroke or golf swing, or take in some fresh air on the jogging deck. Or you can swim, stretch out in the sauna or work out in the gym. You can also watch a feature film, attend an enrichment lecture by experts, or play backgammon and bridge. And that’s just when you’re on board!
What can I do in port?
So much that you’ll have a hard time choosing! You can explore on your own or take a guided tour (referred to as shore excursions). Search ancient ruins or hunt for shopping bargains. Ride a raft over river rapids or a horse across miles of hills and beaches. Climb a waterfall or pyramid. Follow the footsteps of history or the wake of a waterskiing boat. If there’s still time, play golf or tennis. Learn how to windsurf. Sun and swim at some of the world’s best beaches. Catch a record marlin. Sail, snorkel or Scuba dive. Take a cable car to the top of a mountain. Explore dark catacombs.
In short, cruising is the perfect way to sample a number of new destinations and try all the things you’ve ever dreamed of doing, while never having to pack and unpack!
Do I have to participate in the activities?
On a cruise, you do what you want, when you want. You can do everything or do absolutely nothing. It’s your vacation!
Do cruise lines welcome families with kids?
More and more cruise vacations are booked by families with children. Twenty-five percent of cruisers sail with children and a majority of cruise lines provide plenty of supervised activities for kids, especially during school holidays. If your children enjoy swimming, sports, games, movies and the adventure of new places, they’ll love a family cruise. You’ll find that children adapt to shipboard life with ease, and you won’t have to wonder what they’re up to every minute. Trained youth counselors will help keep them safe, busy and entertained. Ships even offer different types of age-appropriate activities, suitable for toddlers to teens.
What’s there to do at night?
When the stars come out, a cruise ship turns on. There’s dancing, live entertainment, nightclubs and lounges, feature films, and parties with all your new friends. Most ships also have casinos. What’s more, there are many special events like the Captain’s Cocktail Party, Passenger Talent Night, Broadway-style shows and Las Vegas-type revues.
Is there a charge for entertainment?
On a cruise vacation, the entertainment is on the house. There’s no cover, minimum or charge for an admission ticket. The shows are live, films first-rate and all included in your cruise fare.
Will there be people like me?
There’s no such thing as a typical cruise passenger! All kinds of people take cruises now… all ages… from all walks of life… singles, couples and families. Just ask your CLIA-affiliated travel agency for advice on the best ship for you, based on your tastes and lifestyle.
What should I pack?
Pack like you would for any resort. Cruise vacations are casual by day, whether you’re on the ship or ashore. In the evening, ships vary as to dress. As on shore, attire is dictated by occasion. At the Captain’s Gala, for example, you’ll probably want to wear something more formal, such as a dark suit, or cocktail dress; perhaps even a dinner jacket or gown.
Will I need a tuxedo?
Reflecting today’s lifestyle trends, many cruise lines now feature a more relaxed and casual approach to dress throughout the cruise – while on others, formal dinners or parties are part of the fun. But don’t buy a tuxedo just for the trip. Even on the most formal of ships, a dark suit and tie are fine for the dressiest occasions. Plus, many ships offer tuxedo rental services.
Can singles have fun on a cruise?
Cruising is ideal for people traveling alone because it’s so easy to meet other people. In fact, most ships have parties for singles early in the cruise, so you can get to know other guests right away. Some ships even offer gentlemen hosts to be dance partners, dinner companions or a fourth at cards.
Many ships also have single staterooms and others offer single rates for double staterooms. If you ask, many cruise lines will even find you a roommate so you can obtain the per person/double occupancy rate, saving you even more on a great vacation..
Can I use my hair dryer or shaver?
Most ships have 110-volt outlets in the staterooms but do check with Davinder at Luchanik Travel & Cruises to be sure. Most ships feature hair-dryers in your stateroom.
What about meal times?
Choices, choices and more choices. During the day, there are many different dining options – in the formal dining room, on deck, in a pizzeria and at an espresso bar, to name just a few. At night, most ships offer several venues. Some ships’ dining rooms can accommodate all guests at one time, called a “seating.” Many ships offer you a choice of several seating times, and others offer multiple restaurants for “anytime” dining. More traditional ships have two seatings in their formal dining rooms, which differ only by time: typically 6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
To choose, just decide whether you prefer to dine early or late – then have Davinder at Luchanik Travel & Cruises request your preference when you book your cruise. Frequently, you can choose to enjoy dinner someplace other than the formal dining room, such as in an intimate restaurant that features Italian or Asian cuisine. More and more cruise lines are opening up their informal lido areas to evening dining, where the dress and dishes always are casual, and sometimes, you can even eat out under the stars. And a large number of ships offer romantic in-cabin dinners. The choice is yours!
Is cruise ship dining as good as I’ve been told?
Everything you’ve heard about cruise ship dining is true. At each meal, you’ll find a varied selection of entrees (appetizers, salads, soups, vegetables, and desserts, too), and each day the selection will be different. If you’ve ever wanted to experiment with a cuisine or try a dish, you can feel free to order more than one entrée or appetizer (or dessert!). But, just because your cruise ship offers plenty of delicious food, doesn’t mean you’ll come home out of shape. You can choose low-cal, spa, vegetarian or fitness menu selections that are just as tempting as the regular menu. Best of all, the one thing you’ll never see on a cruise ship menu is a price. Because your meals are included!
Can I get a special diet?
Most ships can accommodate salt-free, low-carbohydrate, low cholesterol, diabetic, or other diet preferences. This request should be made in advance, so be sure to advise Davinder at Luchanik Travel & Cruises when you book your cruise.
What about dining companions – can I sit with my spouse and friends only, or will I have table-mates?
Experienced cruisers say they prefer sitting at a table with several other diners; some lifelong friendships have been made this way. But the cruise lines are geared to accommodate each guest’s wishes, and it is possible to request a table for two or four. In the unlikely event that you do wish to change tablemates, speak with the maitre d’, who will make every effort to seat you with more compatible dining companions…discretely and politely.
Are there non-smoking areas?
Virtually all dining rooms are smoke free as are designated areas in other public rooms onboard the ship. Check with Davinder regarding the individual cruise line’s policies.
Can we celebrate a special occasion?
Absolutely! Most cruise lines will even treat you to a complimentary cake and a chorus of “Happy Whatever” to honor the occasion. Your birthday or anniversary can be more festive with champagne, flowers or canapes. You can even arrange for a special private party. All you have to do is advise your Davinder in advance.
Is cruising right for honeymooners?
Without a doubt. Cruising offers an atmosphere that’s just right for romance…cozy dinners for two, strolling on deck at sunset, dancing the night away (even under the stars). Most lines provide special services – from Sunday or Monday departures to champagne and breakfast in bed.
Also, some ships offer special packages for performing a marriage ceremony or renewing marriage vows.
Can we stay in touch with the outside world?
Maybe too easily! Most staterooms are equipped with televisions and have satellite or cellular telephones. You can even use your own cell phone on some ships, where cellular service is available. Many cruise ships are now Wi- Fi enabled, so you can check your e-mail on your laptop in your stateroom or go to the on board computer café for Internet access. You can also call someone on shore through the ship’s radio officer while at sea. In addition, most ships have a daily newsletter with news, headlines, selected stock quotes and sports scores.
What about tipping?
Tipping is a matter of individual preference. A general rule of thumb is $3.50 – $5.00 per person per day for your cabin steward and dining room waiter and about half that for the dining room assistant. Other shipboard personnel can be tipped for special services or at your discretion. Some lines include an automatic gratuity in the price of your cruise and will advise you of that as well as the amount while other lines maintain a no tipping policy. Check with your Luchanik Travel & Cruises regarding the individual cruise line’s policies.
Are there medical services onboard?
While cruise ships are not comprehensive medical facilities, cruise lines understand that some people may have health needs during a cruise. Thus they are committed to providing first response and emergency care to guests until they can be transferred to a shoreside medical facility. Most cruise lines have 24-hour medical services and staff operating under guidelines developed in conjunction with the American College of Emergency Physicians (AECP). Cruise lines and travel agents encourage vacationers to obtain medical insurance, travel with adequate supplies of medical prescriptions and devices and to disclose pre-existing medical conditions before sailing.
Are there laundry services aboard ship?
Almost all cruise ships have laundry facilities and many provide dry-cleaning services. There is, however, an additional charge for professional laundry and dry-cleaning services. Many ships also have self-service launderettes.
Do cruise lines accept group bookings?
Most lines welcome groups – often at special rates, depending on how large the group. Policies vary from company to company and sometimes seasonally. Davinder would love to book your group, and can offer you the very best service for your group by booking you a conference room if needed, meeting space, organizing refreshments, and helping with special requests.
Are there meeting rooms onboard?
Nearly every full-size ship has public rooms or a conference center to offer as meeting space for private or corporate groups. Many feature dedicated meeting facilities. If you’d like to make meeting or incentive travel arrangements, ask Davinder at Luchanik Travel & Cruises to contact the cruise line’s group sales department to coordinate schedules and arrange for any special requirements. Your ship may also be able to offer audio-visual equipment, communications, meeting coordinators, secretarial and printing services and more.
Can I extend my cruise vacation?
Cruise lines feature special pre-or post-hotel packages that allow you to extend your vacation in either your port of embarkation or debarkation.
Is motion discomfort a problem?
Rarely. Popular cruise itineraries ply some of the calmest waters in the world. In addition, stabilizers on modern ships, availability of advance weather information, and development of effective preventative medications have, for the most part, eliminated the incidence of motion discomfort.
How can I stay healthy on board?
Follow your mom’s advice and wash your hands! Cruise ships work very closely with public health agencies such as the CDC to make sure they provide the healthiest shipboard environment for guests. The last thing you want is to be ill while you’re on vacation, so take the simple precaution of washing your hands often with soap and warm water thoroughly. Wash your hands after using the restroom, before eating and avoid touching your face.
It sounds too good to be true! Is it?
The one complaint we hear time and again is that cruises end far too soon! Beyond that, it’s hard to find any negatives. All you have to do is relax and enjoy your vacation. Most importantly, every crew and staff member on board is dedicated to making your cruise the best vacation of your life (until you top it with your next cruise!)
Should I get travel insurance?
Travelers purchasing a cruise also can protect themselves by paying with a major credit card, and/or obtaining low-cost travelers’ insurance that covers trip cancellation for any reason, including supplier default. The latter is available through Davinder, who through CruiseOne – will insure you with one of the best trip protection plan carriers.
Who should I talk to if I have questions that haven’t been answered?
Ask your travel agent Davinder or email her at email@example.com. We look forward to helping you.
Reprinted onto this page, with some modifications, on January 9, 2011 from Cruise Lines International Association, Inc. (CLIA) http://www.cruising.org/vacation