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Old August 7th, 2009, 08:45 AM
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Default First timers

Hi fellow cruisers, my husband and i are first time cruisers, never been on a big ship before, hoping to do the 17 day Mediterranean Explorer in August 2010. Has anyone out there done this cruise before? can you give us some tips? cabins, tipping, what to wear? what optional tours are a must? etc. We also are thinking of disenbarking in Messina as we want to spend a week with friends. Is there anything i should be prepared for? we are thinking of getting an outside obstructed cabin, what are your thoughts?
i would appreciate hearing from experienced travellers, and also anyone booked on the 12 aug 2010.
We will be travelling from Australia to Rome via Air and then maybe spend a day exploring Rome.

thank you
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Old August 7th, 2009, 10:24 AM
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Default Re: First timers

Quote:
Originally Posted by pappi
Hi fellow cruisers, my husband and i are first time cruisers, never been on a big ship before, hoping to do the 17 day Mediterranean Explorer in August 2010. Has anyone out there done this cruise before? can you give us some tips? cabins, tipping, what to wear? what optional tours are a must? etc. We also are thinking of disenbarking in Messina as we want to spend a week with friends. Is there anything i should be prepared for? we are thinking of getting an outside obstructed cabin, what are your thoughts?
i would appreciate hearing from experienced travellers, and also anyone booked on the 12 aug 2010.
We will be travelling from Australia to Rome via Air and then maybe spend a day exploring Rome.

thank you
Hi and welcome to this forum.
For a lot of answers to your questions: the search button is your friend (tipping, clothing, shore excursions).
What I was wondering: why such a long cruise as your first, and then halfway across the world. I would consider that quite a risk. We took a 7 day as our first just to see whether we would like it (turns out we do). It's a lot of money and a long time if you don't like it.
About disembarking early: I don't know whether that is allowed, talk to your travel agent.

Being European: One day in Rome is really not enough to see a lot.

On travel: As I understand you, you have 1 day between arriving by plane (24h travel??), and ships departure. That will probably be enough, but if there are problems on your flight, on those distances, a day is quickly lost. When we fly to the US for a cruise we ussually fly in 3 days in advance. Gives us also the time to get used to time-zone/weather etc. And start the cruise rested.

Good luck and have fun on your cruise

Boudewijn
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Past Cruises:
February 2008: HAL Zuiderdam: Eastern Caribbean
November 2009: HAL Noordam: Caribbean Wayfarer
November 2010: Norwegian Jade: Western Mediterranean
January 2012: HAL Eurodam: Eastern Caribbean
May 2012 HAL: Noordam: Transatlantic Riviera

Upcomming:
HAL Westerdam: Panama Canal
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Old August 7th, 2009, 11:11 AM
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Please see the CruiseMates cruise line and ship reviews for all of your answers about tipping on Holland America.

The easiest thing to do is to just have them take the recommended amount out of your onboard account every day.

As far as your ports of call, yes you shold ne able to leave in Messina without a problem, but I would double-check to see if there are any visa or other restrictions to stop you from doing so.

I see the cruise normally starts in Rome. If you have never been there I really suggest you arrive at least three days early and stay in a hotel to see it. It is one of the highlights of the world.

http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/.../hal/index.cfm
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Old August 9th, 2009, 07:52 AM
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Default first timers

thank you Boudewijn and Paul, i appreciate your input.
the reason we chose the 17 day cruise... being so far from the rest of the world it is a big effort getting to the northern hemisphere, therefore we make it worth our while. We have heard such positive feedback from friends that have cruised before that we can't imagine not enjoying it.

thank you for suggesting the extra days in Rome, we will consider that into our budget.

can i ask another question? should we stay in Rome or Civitavecchia? is it expensive to get to the port from the airport?

thanks
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Old August 9th, 2009, 01:05 PM
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The best thing by far is to stay in Rome. You can find budget hotels online easily. Then arrange to find the cruise line provided (for a fee) motor coach (bus) to the port in Civitaveccehia. The port is a good 60 miles (90 kilometers) from Rome itself. You will want to fly into Rome and stay in hotel. Then contact the cruise line and find out which hotel the coach to Civitaveccehia leaves from.

When we did this two years ago the coach left from an InterContinental near the Spanish Steps. That was an expensive hotel so we didnt stay there, but we stayed close by so we could get to it easily when the day to transfer arrived.

That is what I recommend. Don't even think about seeing any sites in Civitavecchia, there aren't any. It is just the nearest port to Rome which is actually an inland city. Rome is the attraction here.
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