After a 2+-year hiatus, I’m returning to my blog to document our recent cruise to the Caribbean. Last night was a trip down memory lane as I read every post of this blog from beginning to end. It’s neat to see all the cool things I’d mostly forgotten. It’s also sad to realize all the major events that were barely documented if at all: our 1st cruise (2 years before I started this blog), our trips to London, Lanzarote, Melilla and our Alaska cruise are some of the things barely mentioned here. We used to keep a separate website for our family travels, but after the boys we found out no one wanted to look at us. That site has become a woefully out-of-date photo gallery of our boys. The old photos are still with us in storage, along with the original descriptions we wrote back then. I’m going to have to unzip that file one day and read through it all. In any event, I’m mostly posting the same things here as my Cruise Critic review. I wanted it here too so that I can read it over the years. The CC thread is here. I’m starting this tonight […]
After returning to the airport on the Alilaguna water bus, we’re taking AlpiEagles again to Barcelona. This time instead of paying the €149 price listed on the website, we were able to get a flight pass from EuropebyAir for $99, plus whatever airport taxes we’ll need to pay on the spot in Venice. The flight arrives in Barcelona at 13:15, and then we have a few hours to wait for the trip back to Alicante. We may take advantage of the time to try out the Barcelona public transportation and see if it can take us anywhere cool during the layover. We takeoff for Alicante at 20:00 and should arrive by 21:00, after which we only have the 1 hour drive before finally reaching home. There, that wasn’t so bad, was it? Now that I’ve gotten the itinerary fully explained, the posts ought to be spaced out a little better. Now the only thing left to do besides packing is to select some shore excursions. We can’t wait!
Yeah I know, what a cop-out, right? According to the reviews I’ve read, the Hotel American is 100% Italian. From what I’ve seen it looks like a great place, and we splurged a little (as if we’re not spending enough already on this trip). A double room with a view of the canal will run us €190 a night, with a 5% discount if we pay in cash. I’ve heard many good things about the American including that it has a free internet terminal in the lobby, so you may get some updates from there. Then again, I may handwrite everything on the trip (how 20th century) and then transfer it to the web when we get home.
After searching in vain for some sort of free shuttle from the airport to the hotel, I stumbled across Alilaguna, a company that operates a water bus from the airport to the city. According to the website, it will take us about an hour and twenty minutes to get to our stop, Zattere, and will cost €10 each way. We’re also planning on taking this back to the airport if it works out ok, so no separate entry for that leg.
Like I mentioned, we couldn’t do the flight pass, but we did get a fairly good deal through AlpiEagles. We’re flying directly from Athens to Venice for €149 each, as opposed to the next lowest on Alitalia which was over €500 per person with a connection in Milano. The crazy thing is that I found AlpiEagles the same day as EuropebyAir. On that day the fare was €99 (about $115), so I decided to wait to buy the $99 flight pass. 2 days later when I found out the pass wasn’t available, the fare had jumped to €149. Nothing like a €100 penalty because I wanted to save $15.
Before moving on I wanted to mention I site I found called EuropebyAir. With it US citizens can buy a $99 “flight pass” that will allow you to go between any two eligible cities. Although Ellen and I are US citizens and have a US mailing address, they wouldn’t let us order a flight pass because we are physically out of the country. They did, however, let Joelle buy them for us in our names, and she’ll be bringing them when she comes over. The flight pass wasn’t available for the day we need to leave Athens, but we did use it later on down the road. NEXT: Athens-Venice
Once again we decided to stay in the same hotel as our family after the cruise, especially since they will be in Athens 2 nights. We will be at the Divani Caravel Hotel, which seems to be a fairly nice hotel athough a little ways away from the main Plaka area. Discount hotel companies don’t seem to do too much business with the Caravel because every place we found showed the same price as the hotel website. We wound up booking through Travelocity. They say we’re getting a Superior Double room with a view for €136.17 a night, but naturally as soon as I entered my credit card information the confirmation no longer shows the words “superior,” “view,” or even “room,” so we’ll see what we get once we’re over there. By the way, I neglected to make a Piraeus to Hotel entry because in the end we’ll probably wind up taking a taxi there if we can’t get in with the paying passengers. Supposedly the metro runs from the port to the center of town, but I haven’t found anyone who could confirm it.
Ellen just did something that knocked my socks off. She wanted to let me know how much she appreciated the work I did in researching and reserving the cruise, so she got me a present! I’ve been wanting to replace the FRS radios we lost in a move 2 years ago, and she’s been quietly researching FRS and GMRS radios to find the best one. After consulting with my friends, she decided on the Motorola TalkAbout T7200. It’s on the high end, pricewise, but the deal was sealed when she realized we should be able to talk back and forth while I’m at work. That would be REALLY COOL. For the cruise, we’ll definitely be able to use them on the ship and in port to stay connected if we ever split up. Thanks Ellen, you really are a great wife!
Well, we finally got our cruise documents today! The TA sent them by FEDEX, and they got here Thursday while Ellen and I were at the Spanish AF Academy’s graduation ceremony. Although the note said they’d try back Friday before 2, we waited until 4:30 and they never came. Today we were just about to call when they came by at 1:45. Now we have the task of reading through the Shore Excursions book to decide what we’d like to do with the ship. Then we’ll pass that list on to the Pinkards to see what they have to say. We went through the debate about with the ship or not with the ship on our first cruise, and there are definitely advantages both ways. I’ve been around the world with the Air Force, and I know that sometimes the tours are cheaper and more interesting when you take care of things yourself, and sometimes they suck. The big thing for me is that I have done a LOT of searching, planning, querying, wondering, etc, and I’m done. D-U-N, done, I tells ya, so anybody who wants to research the stops and arrange for something other than the Orient Lines […]
Ellen and I have talked about doing a Mediterranean cruise, with or without friends and family, since we found out we were moving to Spain. Ted and Joelle thought it sounded like a great idea, and in the summer of 2002 we started looking at our options. We wanted to have a Spain departure so that they could come visit our house first, which really narrowed down the cruise options. Royal Caribbean has a 7-day cruise that starts and ends in Barcelona, but we were having trouble finding a good price. In November 2002, Joelle went to a travel agent and found out about Orient Cruise Lines. She was able to get a 7-day cruise from Barcelona, plus airfare, pre- and post-cruise hotel stays, and shipboard credit for less than the cruise-only portion of Royal Caribbean. The travel agent was kind enough to get us a similar deal on the cruise-only portion, and when all was said and done we paid about $3000 for the two of us. We’re booked in a cabin with a porthole on the lowest deck–room 3033 to be exact–but I’ve read that if the ship isn’t full we can expect a free upgrade. We originally […]