Living in Europe gives numerous opportunities to travel and one of your travel options is a cruise. When my family and I decided we would like to take a cruise I went to a ton of websites and ultimately decided on militarycruisedeals.com to book our cruise. We chose this option due to the ease of the website, the variety of destinations, and cost.
I called the number at the top 866-9-MILITARY and spoke with my travel agent Mitch. He was incredibly laid back but professional. He walked me through choosing the best deal to meet my demands. I had 4 adults and 2 children. I chose a Mediteranian cruise on MSC because it offered children cruise free. You will see a variety of different destinations that offer this same deal, but I chose Genoa as my departure port because of the close proximity to a Ryan Air destination. Again, this will be your choice.
Mitch talked me through the steps and I booked and paid that very day. Because of the fact that we used our military status to get a discount he needed my sponsors LES to prove that he was indeed American Military. You will need to scan this in and e-mail it right away.
Skip ahead to the cruise. We flew from Dusseldorf Weeze to Milan Italy and stayed the night in a very quaint apartment near the airport called Airport Abaco Suite. The owners picked us up from the airport and drove us to our accommodation where we had to pay cash for the room. Did not see that coming, but now maybe you will! Website: http://www.booking.com/hotel/it/airport-abaco-suite.en-us.html?sid=818548ad7a402af3a396bfb975101d7f;dcid=1;checkin=2013-12-24;checkout=2013-12-25;srfid=5da0575cd1b4afa9fe7d2f4399533f4031321d95X6
The next morning we woke up and walked the very short distance to the train station where we boarded and headed to Milan Central train station. Our tickets were purchased ahead of time on the EU train website but you can buy tickets at the station very easily. At Milan Central we changed trains and went straight to Genoa. At departure we walked the next short distance to the port. You can easily see the boats when you come out of the station so just head in that direction!
Because you have your tickets printed and you know your departure time you need to show up at the terminal at least 2 hours prior to departure. You will need to follow the well positioned signs to find your cruise line terminal. It was very easy for us. They took our bags outside the terminal and took them to our rooms for us. After we checked in we bought our all inclusive drink package and it was billed to our rooms. Then we took the small ramp to paradise.
First they gave me all of the information I needed for my children. Lots of paperwork. Bring a binder. Then we headed to the deck for a mandatory safety meeting where we were shown how to put on our life vests and which lifeboat we would be on in case of an emergency. There are plenty of lifeboats. Don’t worry. Enough with the technicalities. We went back to our rooms to find our bags and put away our life jackets. Then to the deck for swimming and daiquiris.
The Sinfonia was beautiful, but don’t get me wrong. They are a discount destination cruise line. The price was nice and the ports were beautiful, but if you are used to fancy ships, you wont get that here. It was my first cruise so I was PLENTY impressed. There were a lot of services.
My children used the kids club once when we went into the city of Mahon. They were very professional and courteous. My kids were well taken care of and the process was easy and free! There was entertainment every night such as bingo, movies, dance lessons, fashion shows, and bartender shows. They also had mini golf, a basketball court, and a disco on the top of the boat. In the boat were 2 bars and a casino. We spent most of our time on the top deck soaking in the sun and swimming in their two pools. For dinner we were assigned a table in the same restaurant every night. Their menu changed every day and there were gala nights for dressing up. If you didn’t want to partake in the fancy sit down dinner you could always go to the buffet. Any time of day there was food laid out for the taking. For breakfast we could either go to a separate restaurant or the buffet. The food was absolutely delicious.
We went to 5 ports. Nice, Palma, Menorca, Sardinia, and Solereno. I will post about the cities in a separate post, but if you were interested in purchasing any of their excursions you could do that at the excursion desk. You could inquire about anything that was going on on the boat, ask questions about your bill, or order room service and a wake up call at Reception.
I am sure this is not all of the information I learned on my first cruise, but enough to set your first cruise off to a good start!