Haunted Places in the 50 States

Haunted Places in the 50 States

Haunted

England’s Tower of London is said to be one of the most famous haunted places in the world; not surprising given it’s bloody history.  The Tower counts among it’s prisoners Anne Boleyn, Henry the VIII’s second wife, and Lady Jane Grey who was Queen of England for just over a week.
Both ladies were subsequently executed on the Tower’s grounds.

England boasts many more haunted places from castles and churches to parks and cemeteries.  But haunted places aren’t limited to England, or for that matter Europe.  Just about every continent, country, city, and town has at least a ghost story or two which is inevitably linked to a specific location.

America is no different, from coast to coast and from north to south our country has hundreds if not thousands of reportedly haunted places.   Some, like the Queen Mary in California, are world famous, others local legends famous only to the town’s inhabitants and serious ghost hunters.

In the fall, specially closer to Halloween,  many of us like to experience a little thrill and go on a ghost tour or drive by places that look spooky.  There’s definitely no lack of haunted places in each state. Here’s a list of haunted places, one from each state, some famous, others not so.   Perhaps one or two of them will be close enough for you to visit this year.

HauntedThe Sweetwater Mansion in Florence, Alabama has seen plenty of history.

Construction began in 1828, it was here that Union and Confederate officers stayed during their respective occupation of the city during the Civil War.  It is said that many of its former residents reside here still.  Children’s laughter is said to be heard and  items that  mysteriously move.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

HauntedScary Mary is said to have checked into the Golden North Hotel in Skagway, Alaska during the Gold Rush and has never checked out.

Filled with  hopes for a bright future she came to Alaska as the fiancee of prospector Klondike Ike. Mary locked herself in the couple’s hotel room to await her beloved who went off in search of gold, he never returned.

When concerned hotelkeepers finally gained entrance to her room they found her dead, dressed in the wedding gown she was to wear on her wedding day.

Today  guests have been spooked by a pale ghostly figure looking out the window still awaiting her lover’s return or by a figure standing over their bed checking to see who’s in it.

 

 

 

hauntedThere is no shortage of haunted places in the state of Arizona, but one of the most famous is the town of Jerome, a quaint community in northern Arizona.  All sorts of specters are said to haunt many of the town’s historic buildings.  The most haunted is thought to be the vintage Jerome Grand Hotel.

It opened as the United Verde Hospital in 1927.  Miners from the nearby copper mine were treated here for serious injuries many of which proved fatal; insane people were also treated here for their mental illness.  The hospital closed in 1950 and re-opened as the hotel in the late 1990s.

Today ghost enthusiaists, including my cousin and his family, book rooms here hoping to catch a phantom nurse or hear a scream or two during their stay.  My cousin and his family have stayed here twice and have never had a paranormal experience, but the town has many nice shops and restaurants making it a nice place to spend the weekend.

I can’t talk about Arizona ghost towns without mentioning the town of Tombstone.  During my last visit the lady at the fudge shop told me the whole town is filled with spirits.  She claimed their their presence could be felt as you wander the towns streets and buildings.  I’m not sure about the streets, but whenever we’re in town we usually stop for drinks at the Crystal Palace Saloon, and I hate going to the restrooms located in the back of the building.  Walking down the hallway to the restrooms always gives me the creeps and the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.  Haunted or imagination?
I’m never quite sure.  We did the Bird Cage Theater ghost tour, it was fun, but we didn’t really have a ghostly experience.

hauntedDriving along Arkansas 365 just south of Little Rock can turn into a paranormal experience.

Motorists driving this road on dark rainy nights have claimed to have encountered a young girl on the roadside.  They give her a lift, she tells them where she must go, but when they get to the destination the girl has vanished.

I think just about every town has a similar story, here in Hawaii it’s said that Madame Pele, the volcano goddess, has been seen asking for rides along many of our roads.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

HauntedCalifornia has many haunted places including Alcatraz in San Francisco and the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, but I would never had thought of Disneyland as a haunted place.

It is said that the “Happiest Place on Earth” is truly haunted.  The Space Mountain Ride and the women’s employee locker room is said to be haunted by a man who died on the ride in the 1970s and The Christmas Shop on Main Street, Tom Sawyer’s Island, and Tomorrowland all house a spook or two.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

Haunted

The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado is hands down the most famous haunted hotel in the Rockies.  This sprawling luxury hotel that opened in 1909 is a favorite with dignitaries and ghost hunters.

This hotel inspired author Stephen King to write his bestselling book “The Shining”. Today there are many stories of paranormal activity, particularly in room 217.

 

Union Cemetery in Easton, Connecticut is said to be the most haunted spot in the state and possibly the most haunted cemetery in the country.

The famed “White Lady” is said to wander this 400 year old cemetery.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

 

Haunted

Photo courtesy of Haunted Houses.com

Fort Delaware sits on Pea Patch Island just off Delaware City.

Built in 1848 and decommissioned in 1943 this fort was never attacked.  It did house has many as 16,000 prisoners at one time.

Reached only by ferry today Fort Delaware is part of the Delaware Park System.  No one lives there anymore, just the ghosts of past inhabitants.

The park services offers ghost hunting tours on the island.  Click here for more info![spacer height=”-20px”]

 

HauntedThis particular bend of the St. John’s River in Seminole County, Florida with a cluster of cypress trees, is known as Round Cypress Head.

Many have said they have witnessed paranormal activities in this dark dank area of cypress woods.  It is said that the woods is home to demons and/or witches.  Folks are warned to not venture there for fear of being eaten by these monsters.  Locals claim that fishermen have gone missing in this river and many claim the woods are most definitely haunted.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

HauntedThe quaint southern city of Savannah is arguably the most haunted city in Georgia.

Known for its southern charm and hospitality along with its antebellum architecture many of it’s historic buildings and spaces are said to host a specter or two.

Madison Square was the site of a Revolutionary Battle and British soldiers were buried there.  Shadowy figures are said to be lingering in the park.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

hauntedSteeped in legends and lore from ancient Hawaiian days to missionary days and beyond the 50th. State has its own host of haunted places.

Night Marchers are said to walk the land at night and Madame Pele the volcano goddess can be frightening or almost playful.

The islands are filled with many haunted places including schools, bridges, libraries, drive-in movie lots, and hotels.

The luxurious Hilton Hawaiian Village is said to be one such place. Folks have reportedly seen the Lady in Red wandering the halls or even the beach.  It’s said she could have been a guest who tragically died at the hotel or Madame Pele herself.

Haunted

The Idaho State Penitentiary in Boise is supposedly the most haunted prison in the state.

Constructed in 1870 and added to over the years this prison has seen more than its fair share of violence.  It is said the hauntings began soon after the riots that started to erupt within the prison walls in 1935.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

Haunted

The Nellie Dunton Home in Belvidere, Illinois is said to be haunted by this broken hearted woman who lived here before the Civil War.

Folks claim to see her in the house and around the neighborhood.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

 

hauntedFrench Lick Springs Hotel is a historic resort in the town of French Lick, Indiana.

Among the paranormal activities here it is said that its former owner lingers in the service elevator.[spacer height=”-20px”]

Haunted

Originally known as Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts when it was founded in 1858, Iowa State University (it was renamed in 1959) is known for its agriculture, engineering, and science programs.

It is also home to the ghost of Frederika Shattuck who was said to haunt the theater named after her for her contributions to the theater department.  Shattuck Theater was torn down hence this other worldly being has moved to the Fisher Theater on campus.

 

HauntedThe Hutchinson Public Library in Hutchinson, Kansas is said to be haunted by its former librarian named Ida Day.

Locals say she wanders the building sometimes sorting or looking thru books.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

 

HauntedThe Waverly Hills Sanitarium in Louisville, Kentucky opened in 1910 to house victims of the Tuberculosis Epidemic.

Over 63,000 people including patients, doctors, and nurses died there.  The death toll in this building is comparable to a battle field, it’s no wonder it is said to be haunted.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

 

 

 

HauntedFrom haunted bayous to voodoo queens, Louisiana is host to many ghosts, and goblins, and other things that go bump in the night.

The historic city of New Orleans is home to the blues and filled with many quaint shops and restaurants, it’s also steeped in mystery.  Walking down the streets of the French Quarter on a foggy night can be very creepy.  I know we were creeped out one dark and foggy February night as we walked down Decatur Street.

But did you know that it was in this state where the infamous duo Bonnie and Clyde met their end?
This lone stone in Gibsland, Louisiana marks the ambush site.  Legend has it that on nights when the moon is full you can still hear the gunfire.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

hauntedEllis Pond, also known as Roxbury Pond in serene East Andover, Maine is said to be haunted.

Visitors walking along the shores have reported hearing or feeling a presence.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

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Haunted

There are hundreds of haunted places in the small state of Maryland, but the Antietam Battlefield is possibly the most haunted.

Over 23,000 souls lost their lives here making it the site of America’s bloodiest single day battle.

It’s no wonder those poor souls still wander the field and battle sounds can reportedly still be heard[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

HauntedSite of one of the most infamous double ax murders in American History, the Lizzie Borden House in Falls River, Massachusetts is now a Bed and Breakfast.

I would be surprised if it wasn’t haunted.  It is reported that guests have seen apparitions in the house.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

HauntedFamed pilot Amelia Earhart was a guest at The Landmark Inn, located in Marquette, Michigan before she mysteriously disappeared somewhere over the Pacific Ocean in 1937.

They say that she sometimes shows up in room 502.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

HauntedStaff and diners claim this St. Paul, Minnesota restaurant is haunted by the building’s former owner and his mistress who committed suicide here in 1892.

Back then it was the home to Joseph Forepaugh, today it is Forepaugh’s Restaurant.[spacer height=”-20px”]

Haunted

Stucky’s Bridge in Enterprise, Mississippi is said to be haunted by the inn-keeper named Stucky.

He supposedly robbed and murdered guests who stayed at his inn.  He was caught and hanged on this bridge.

hauntedThis 14 room Victorian mansion in Independence, Missouri is now a museum.

It was the home of President Truman, and of course it is said to be haunted by the President himself.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

 

HauntedThe scene of the historic battle known commonly as Custer’s Last Stand the Little Bighorn Battlefield in Montana is home to many spirits.

Apparitions and Native American war cries have been reported here.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

 

HauntedBrother Sebastian’s, a restaurant in Omaha, Nebraska is said to be haunted by Bill Walden, a regular patron who passed away but still frequents the joint.[spacer height=”-20px”]

Haunted

The Riviera is one of the oldest casinos on the Las Vegas strip in Nevada.

Many mob-related murders took place here and staff reports strange happenings in the hotel, specially on the 9th. floor.  [spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

HauntedBuilt in 1926 at Keene State College in Keene, New Hampshire this college dorm called Huntress Hall is said to be haunted by its namesake Harriet Hunter.[spacer height=”-20px”]

Haunted

One fateful evening, May 6, 1937, the airship Hindenburg caught fire and crashed killing 36people.

Today it is said that screams can still be heard at the crash site in Lakehurst, New Jersey.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

HauntedChaco Canyon National Historic Park in New Mexico is an eerie place.

It’s haunting beauty and great stone work is a testament to past ages.  Folks claim to have the eerie feeling of being followed while visiting this park.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

 

 

Haunted

Built in 1884 the Dakota is one of the most sought out residences in New York City.

This landmark building built in gothic style architecture was where the horror movie “Rosemarie’s Baby” was filmed.  But it’s most known as the building where former Beatle John Lennon lived and was shot and killed on December 8, 1980.

It is said that the famous musician sometimes appears to the building’s residents, although he is not this building’s most famous ghost.  That honor belongs to the two children dressed in late 19th. century style  who have been seen since the 1960’s.  It’s not sure who the children are, but it is assumed that they were once residents of the building, more likely around the time it was constructed.

HauntedBuilt in 1924 Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, North Carolina is said to be haunted by no fewer than 20 ghosts.

The most famous one is that of Dr. William Jacocks.  He lived in room 256.  He pulls pranks and locks guests out of his former room, even after it was renovated in 1990.  The room was partitioned to become part of 4 other rooms and electronic locks were installed to prevent such pranks.  No go, he still manages to jam the new locks.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

HauntedApple Creek Country Club in Bismarck, North Dakota is reportedly haunted by a former chef.[spacer height=”-20px”]

Haunted

The Big Four Train Depot in Galion, Ohio is said to be the most haunted building in town.

It’s seen its share of tragedies and historic events of the town.  Folks claim that at times the building shakes as if a train is passing by.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

 

HauntedGuests at the Skirvin Hilton in Oklahoma City, Okalhoma claim to hear infant cries and female voices during their stay.

It is thought it’s the ghost of  a former maid who killed herself and her illegitimate child by jumping out of one of the windows of the hotel.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

 

 

 

HauntedBuilt by Universal Studios in 1927 the Bagdad Theater in Portland, Oregon housed both vaudeville type shows and moving pictures, today it’s a cinema and pub, it also is home to 2 haunts.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HauntedStraight out of history books is Valley Forge.

Every American knows or should know about the hardships the Continental army suffered here during the Revolution.

Today it’s a National  Historical Park in Pennsylvania.  Visitors claim to have seen men dressed in period army dress.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

 

 

HauntedThough Belcourt Castle in Newport, Rhode Island is not really haunted, some of the furnishings and decor is reportedly so.

The objects here have a haunted history including chairs and a suit of armor.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

 

 

 

HauntedHolley House or the Hotel Aiken in Aiken, South Carolina was built in 1878.

It is reportedly haunted specially on the second floor.[spacer height=”-20px”]

Haunted

The 1880 Train in Hill City, South Dakota was the first locomotive steam engine brought to the area.

Today the Highliner Eatery is located within the train.  Employees report seeing a spectral in a brown suit.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

HauntedThe Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennesee is more famously known as the Grand Ole Opry House  because it was the site for the show, was built in 1892.

It is reportedly haunted by none other than Hank Williams, Sr. whose voice has been heard within singing his songs.[spacer height=”-20px”]

Haunted

I’m sure just about everyone’s heard of the Alamo located in San Antonio, Texas.

Many American folk heroes including James Bowie and Davy Crockett died here defending the Alamo against the forces of General Santa Ana during the Battle of the Alamo in 1836.  During that battle over 2000 lives were lost.  It’s not a stretch to hear reports of restless spirits wandering here.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

HauntedReports claim that the Mormon Militia massacred a group of settlers at this site in Central, Utah in 1857.  Today visitors to the Mountain Meadows Massacre Site report hearing screams in the wind.[spacer height=”-20px”]

Haunted

Legend has it that Glastenbury Mountain in Shaftsbury, Vermont is believed to be cursed by Native Americans, they used it as a burial ground.

There have been several unsolved disappearances on the hiking trails.  All the trails stop partway up the mountain as if forbidding hikers to continue.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

Haunted

The beloved home of Thomas Jefferson, Monticello, located outside of Charlotteville, Virginia is said to be haunted by the famous former owner himself.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

 

HauntedThis inn located in Tacoma, Washington is where Stephen King’s movie “Red Rose” was shot.  It’s called the Thornewood Castle Inn and guests and staff have reported seeing strange apparitions and lights.[spacer height=”-20px”]

Haunted

Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park in West Virginia is on the site known for its battles during the Civil War.

Many apparitions including a marching army have been reported here.

 

 

 

HauntedBuilt in the 1800s and rumored to have been owned by Al Capone the Maribel Hotel in Maribel, Wisconsin burned down in the 1920s.

It’s rumored that it’s haunted.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

 

 

 

HauntedBig Horn Medicine Wheel in Big Horn, Wyoming is said to be at least 12,000 years old.

It’s not known who built it.  Legend has it that if you fast within the circle for 4 days ancient spirits will come to you.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

 

 

HauntedAlthough it’s not a state this post wouldn’t be complete without a haunted place in Washington D.C.

Our Nation’s Capital is not lacking for haunted places, many of them famous, or more appropriately infamous.

At the top of the list would be Ford’s Theater where President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth.  It is said his footsteps can still be heard echoing up the back stairs to the President’s Box.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

 

I’ve taken you thru the states from A-W and the District of Columbia.  Each state has many more haunted places, let me know if  you’ve visited any of them!  Better yet contact me to book your haunted adventure at one of these spooky places!

Smart Ways to Fund Your Family Trip

Smart Ways to Fund Your Family Trip

43% of Americans don’t take a vacation largely due to the cost according to The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Travels bring us joy, reinforce family bonds and helps us get away from the daily grind. Although holidays are a time to relax, they are undoubtedly expensive. Fortunately, you can still visit your dream destination even on a tight budget. Here are some tips to help you raise money for the trip.

 

 

*Cut Back on Costs*

There are many ways you can slash the expenses. Instead of eating out, cook at home and carry a packed lunch. Your family will not only benefit from a healthy diet, but it can also help you save up to $5,110 a year. Restaurant meals are pricier compared to those cooked at home, and the costs can significantly rise if the whole family eats out regularly. To save on transit costs, consider walking, cycling or carpooling with your coworkers. You can also utilize inexpensive technology such as smart power strips to cut your utility costs.

*Set Up a Dedicated Account*

If you are serious about that family trip and you want to have enough funds before the D-day, open a dedicated savings account. This will give you financial discipline, as you don’t have to worry about burning through your emergency fund. Also, you will be able to easily track your expenses during the trip. Decide the amount you can afford to stash away, set up an automatic transfer and start saving early. To reach the target, make it a team effort and stash all extra money into the account including money earned from your side job, work and all loose change.

*Consider Getting Help*

The average cost of a vacation in the US is $4,580 for a family of four according to Forbes. Instead of going it alone, why not join hands with another family. By combining your efforts, you can split the vacation expenses and have a good time together. If you are still short of cash, you can also look into other ways of receiving a financial boost.

There are various personal loans available, and you just need to look for a deal with low interest , no hidden costs and with reasonable terms. With this approach, you will be free to make any plans without stressing about your financial situation.

*Sell the Stuff You Don’t Need*

You probably have a lot of clutter in your home. Items that you don’t useand are gathering dust in the garage or those stuffed in your closet may be a potential source of money. Cash in on unwanted stuff by selling them online on sites such as eBay, Facebook or Craigslist. From furniture, appliances, electronics, bikes to toys, you can make a tidy sum. All you have to do is take quality pictures and post them online. For any deal you seal, send the money to your dedicated vacation account.

Funding for a vacation shouldn’t be overwhelming. First, determine your vacation costs early by deciding what features of the trip are of great importance to your family. Make sure you take into account every possible expense that you may encounter so that you can save enough for every scenario and avoid using your emergency fund. With this approach, your trip will go smoothly, and everyone will have a fun and memorable time.

Exploring the Venetian Lagoon – Murano and Burano

Exploring the Venetian Lagoon – Murano and Burano

BuranoVenice, a city in northwestern Italy’s Veneto region.  It’s situated across 118 small islands separated by canals and linked by bridges.  It’s a city of mystery, romance, culture, art, and so much more.  Not all of its islands are linked to the Venetian “mainland” by bridges, there are many islands including Murano and Burano that due to their distance are linked only by watercraft.

buranoVenice is one of our favorite cities.  We try to get there at least once a year.  So of course we’ve done the touristy things like hanging out at Piazza San Marco and the Rialto Bridge.  We’ve done the Basilica and Doge’s Palace tours, checked out Harry’s Bar and of course ridden the gondola.  These are all worthwhile endeavors, don’t get me wrong, they are definitely the first timer’s must see and do things.  But if you find yourself in Venice for the third or fourth time (believe me this is not a hardship!) or if you have an extra day or two in the city, it might be time to explore the Venetian Lagoon; particularly the islands of Murano and Burano!

First let me say if it is your first time in Venice and you only have a day or so then stick to the beaten path and enjoy the main attractions of the city.

buranoHang out at Florian’s or Quadri’s at Piazza San Marco.  It’s pricey I know, but it’s part of my Venice routine.  We splurge  about €100 on drinks and snacks at one of these cafes and people watch.  I can do it for hours!

Then check out the Basilica and Doge’s Palace, the Secret Itinerary tour is fascinating!  Explore the markets by the Rialto bridge and yes go on that gondola ride!  And don’t forget to hop on vaporetto #1 for the best ride on the Grand Canal!  For more things to do on Venice click here!

Now that you’ve got that out of the way let’s explore further afield.  There’s more to Venice then Piazza San Marco, the Rialto, and gondolas.  Venice has islands!  Lots of them in the lagoon and along the southern coast.  In fact if you want to go further a field we can explore the Veneto!

But for now let’s just go to Murano and Burano.  They’re pretty easy to get to via public transportation and are both picturesque little villages with local specialties to offer even the most avid shoppers.

buranoMurano is a series of bridge linked islands in the Venetian lagoon.  There are 7 islands linked by bridges over 8 channels.   In 1291 Venetian glassmakers were forced to move to these islands due to the risks of fires.  It quickly became known for the exquisite glass chandeliers, sculptures, and beads produced by the talented glassblowers.

To this day Murano is  well known for its glass and crystals.  Many of the companies that own historic glass factories on the island are some of the most important glass companies of the world.

 

buranoEven if you’re not a glass enthusiast you won’t be able to resist the items you’ll find on the island.

Over the years I’ve brought home many Murano glass pieces including jewelry, vases, and even a huge tree with colorful birds perched on the branches.  Oh, and I’ve also go a set of Murano glass pendant lamps.  I’m working on acquiring a glass chandelier, I’ve just go to find a place for it in my house![spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

 

buranoburanoAlthough shopping is a big part of Murano there are also churches and museums one can explore.

Murano is home to the Museo del Vetro or Murano Glass Museum in the Palazzo Giustinian.

We stumbled upon this giant glass abacus on display in one of the alleys leading to a restaurant.  The kids thought it was pretty cool.

We passed  this blue glass display in one of the piazzas on the way to the glass museum.  Lot’s of surprises along the walkways of Murano!

burano

burano

And don’t forget the restaurants and gelatarias along the way.  I’m sure you could use a cool drink or a creamy gelato during your wanderings!

Unless you’re a real big Murano glass fan and want to shop for some serious pieces a visit to Murano should take about 2-3 hours at best.  Honestly we were there for under 2 hours before we made our way to the Faro station and hopped the vaporetto to Burano.  A much more picturesque town in my opinion.

buranoFurther north in the Venetian lagoon closer to the island of Torcello is the small island of Burano.  It’s about a 30 minute vaporetto ride away from Murano and is linked by bridge to the island of Mazzorbo.

Burano was likely settled by Romans in the 6th. Century.  It became an important island in the 16th. Century when women on the island started making fine lace with needles.  The lace was exported across Europe and in 1872 a lacemaking school was opened.

Today Burano is known mostly for it’s richly painted  houses and of course lace.  There are many shops offering lace but most of the lace is no longer handmade as it is a very time consuming method and  very expensive.

 

buranoburanoIt’s also known for it’s seafood restaurants that serve fresh seafood brought in everyday by the local fishermen.  It is after all a fishing village as well.

Try the seafood linguine or the frito misto.  You can’t go wrong![spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

buranoThere’s not a whole lot to do on Burano other than eating, shopping, and wandering.

Wandering’s the best part!  Just cruise around the islands crossing over bridges and enjoy the colorful homes in the different neighborhoods.  I promise you won’t be disappointed!

buranoDid you know that “The colours of the houses follow a specific system, originating from the golden age of its development. If someone wishes to paint their home, one must send a request to the government, who will respond by making notice of the certain colours permitted for that lot.”

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buranoIf your more energetic and a stroll thru the village is too mundane you can explore a few other attractions  including the Church of San Martino, with a leaning campanile and a painting by Giambattista Tiepolo (Crufixion, 1727), the Oratorio di Santa Barbara, and the Museum and School of Lacemaking

buranoFor me strolling thru the town with a yummy cone of gelato is more my speed.

burano

Getting there:

Murano

It’s easy to get to Murano and Burano on the public Vaporetto water bus or ACTV.  You can do both islands easily in a day.  Some day trippers add Torcello to their day but I find it just too tiring specially with kids.  (Torcello is an island in the northern lagoon.  It was first settled in 452 and is often referred to as the island from whence Venice began.  Today it’s a sparsely populated island with some old churches and homes.)

buranoThe easiest way to get to Murano is from the Vaporetto stop by the railway station Venezia Santa Lucia.

As you walk out of the main station go to the vaporetto stop on your right.  You can purchase a ticket good for 70 Minutes heading in one direction, cost is €7.50 per person, kids under 6 are free.  Or I find it cheaper to buy a day pass for €20 for adults and €15 for children over 6.  It’s good for 24 hours from the first validation.  You must validate it every time you board a vaporetto.

If Murano is your first stop take the #3 vaporetto, it’s known as the “Diretto Murano” and connects the 5 stops on the island to the railway station and Piazelle Roma.   It runs about every 30 minutes.  You can get off at any of the 5 stops on the island, the first one being Colonna.

buranoIf you miss the #3 water bus you can take the 4.1 or the 4.2 which are both circular routes that run from the railroad station to Murano stopping at Fondamente Nove, San Zaccaria (close to Piazza San Marco and the Doge’s buranopalace), San Michele the Cemetery island, and a dozen other stops.

 

If you’re adventurous you could hop off at the Cimitero stop and explore the cemetery for a bit.

I’ve heard you can find some interesting old graves and vaults on the island as well as the church of San Michele.

burano

If you’re on the 4.1 or 4.2  the Murano stops are Colonna and Faro.  I like to get off at Colonna and stroll my way to the center parts of the island eventually making my way on foot to the Faro stop.

If you find your self far from the railroad station then make your way to the San Zaccaria stop to take the 4.1 or 4.2.  Or you can make your way to the Fondamente Nove stop and catch the #3. 4.1., 4.2, or 12.

Burano

If you’re around the train station then take the 4.1 or 4.2  to Fondamente Nove and transfer to the #12 to Burano, if you want to go to Torcello stay on the vaporetto after the Burano stop and get off on Torcello.

If you’re on Murano then make your way to the Faro stop and hop aboard the #12.  It will take you to Burano, the ride is about 30 minutes.

For a great view of Burano get off at the Mazzorbo stop and walk over the bridge to Burano.  It’s a nice walk and a great introduction to the picturesque island of Burano.

The easiest and least crowded way to get back from Burano to the train station or even the Piazza San Marco area would be to take the #12 from the Burano stop heading towards Murano.  Get off at the Faro stop in Murano and transfer to the #3.  This gets you to the train station or Piazelle Roma.  If you take the 4.1 or 4.2 it will take you to San Zaccaria, from there it’s a short walk to the Basilica or the Doge’s Palace.

Ready to plan your Venetian adventure?  Let us at Savvy Nana Travel help you with all your travel needs.  From budget to luxury travel and everything in between, at Savvy Nana Travel we are passionate about travel!  808-372-7734

 

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MSC Lirica Review – Would I Sail Her Again?

MSC Lirica Review – Would I Sail Her Again?

mscMy husband recently declared that the test of a good cruise line is if you’d sail them again.  He said this as soon as we boarded the MSC Lirica for our very first MSC cruise.

We are avid cruises and have been for many years.  We’ve sailed with pretty much all the major cruise lines that cater to the US market including Princess, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, and NCL.  But this was our first cruise aboard an MSC ship which caters mostly to the European market.

Before I answer the all important question as to whether or not I would sail an MSC ship again, let me begin by telling you how this cruise came about.  It was mid-March, we had no intention of traveling anywhere, much less cruising the Med.  Our travel plans for the year weren’t  set to begin until July when we are to go on a reunion cruise aboard RCCL’s Adventure of the Seas.  But all this changed when my daughter Jaime decided to book an MSC cruise embarking from Venice.

You see Jaime and her family are currently living in an Italian town about 45 minutes away from Venice.  She decided that she’d take advantage of the great fares MSC was offering on their 7 day Med cruises; the added bonus was that she didn’t have to pay for airfare to get to Venice, the cruise terminal is a short €6.50 train ride away.  Of course as with everything in our family booking her cruise wasn’t as easy as it should have been, Jaime’s in the second trimester of  her second pregnancy.  We learned that she had to complete her cruise before she started the 24th. week of pregnancy, meaning the last cruise she could possibly take before she gives birth would be April 13.

She managed to book the last stateroom on the MSC Lirica’s April 13th. sailing.  She was quite happy and set about preparing for her cruise that would take her to Bari, Heraklion, Mykono, Corfu, and Dubrovnik.

Then my husband decided it would be a great idea if we booked a stateroom on that same sailing so that we could surprise Jaime and family by popping up aboard her ship.  Not only would my husband and I pop up on the cruise, but we’d take our grandson Devon  too.  Seemed like a tall order considering Jaime had booked the last stateroom the day before.  But some how the gods must have been smiling on us because on the last day of March a stateroom for 3 people became available.  Of course being a travel agent gave  me access to updated inventory so when it popped up I grabbed it!

As I mentioned I’m a travel agent; I’ve been wanting to try  MSC cruises.  I love their prices and their new ships look awesome.  So I figured this was a perfect opportunity to check things out.  I really wanted to recommend MSC to my clients, in fact as soon I as booked the cruise I let several clients know I’d be checking it out for them.  We were all very excited.

Now believe me when I say I boarded the MSC Lirica with high hopes.  I really wanted it to be perfect.  I sincerely wanted to recommend it to my clients.  I tried very, very hard to find positive things to say about the experience.  Sadly it was not to be, MSC fell short, very short of even my lowest expectations.  But of course there were some good things so let me begin with a list of the cruise line’s pros.

mscLoyalty Status match

MSC will match the highest status you have on ANY loyalty program including cruise lines, hotels, airlines, and resort.  Just send proof of your highest status on any of those programs and they will match it on your first cruise.  In our case they matched my Elite status on Princess and Celebrity so we were able to get the perks for MSC black status, their highest status level.

Before the cruise we received a 5% discount off the current cruise fare.  The difference was refunded to me after they verified my loyalty status.  I was pretty impressed with the discount and all the other perks they listed.

But did we get all the perks?  Well that’s another story!

Check in went smoothly and quickly – but only because you didn’t have to take a photo, register a credit card, or get your room key.  More on this later.[spacer height=”-20px”]

 

mscThe day we boarded was my grandson Devon’s 10th. birthday.  I purchased a birthday cake for him  on line before we left home and the staff served it after dinner in the main dining room.  They even sang him “Happy Birthday” .  He was pretty stoked!

Speaking of dining the reservation staff were pretty helpful.

They were kind enough to seat us all together on a nice window  table.  They promised we could have the same table at the same time every night we chose to dine at the dining room.  On this cruise we ended up dining there just 2 nights.  Again that’s a story for later as to how this came about.

We also tried the dining room for breakfast as we were told the dining room would be better able to accommodate my grandson Jett’s allergies, (better than the buffet), or so they said.  Again that’s a story for later as it did not turn out quite that way.

mscThey had a nice splash zone for the kids.

Unfortunately the weather during our cruise was pretty bad. The kids were only able to enjoy this splash area while the ship was at port.

Whenever the ship sailed it got very windy and cold.  The splash zone remained closed for most of our cruise.  I’m sure it will be better later in the summer when the weather is milder.  The splash area will probably remain open all the time and the kids should have a great time.

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mscThey have the Do Re Mi club and mascot which hosts some fun activities for the kids.

For this activity the children made Gnocchi with the chef and Do Re Mi the MSC mascot.

There were also lego activities as it seems that MSC partnered with Lego in some way.  Basically this meant that MSC was selling Lego kits in the gift shop.

I’m sure there were other activities, the kids just weren’t very interested.

We also attended a couple of dinner shows.  The Magic show and the Pirate show.  The Magic show was mediocre at best, but the Pirate show was pretty entertaining even though it made no sense.

Some of the staff seemed to be genuinely helpful and friendly.  I saw several crew members who went out of their way to help older folks carry plates to their tables after going thru the buffet line.

Most of the staff we interacted with at the children’s play area were very pleasant.  And many of the customer service people tried to be helpful.  But these folks seemed to be the exception and not the norm.

MSCSailings into and out of Venice were spectacular.

I’m not sure if it’s because MSC is an Italian cruise line, but this was the closest to the Grand Canal I’ve ever gotten on a cruise ship.  Perhaps it’s one of the perks of being locally owned.  Other Venice sail aways I’ve experienced were done much farther away, building along the Grand Canal were much further and a telephoto lens was needed to get a good shop of Piazza San Marco.

I took this photo of Piazza San Marco from the deck of the MSC Lirica without the aid of a telephoto.  Amazing!

mscOne of the perks of being a Black Card holder are these chocolate sculptures of the MSC Lirica.

They were delivered to our room sometime during the cruise.  We also got a draw string backpack and a bottle of prosecco to keep and thick terry robes and slippers to use while on the ship. [spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

mscDuring the cruise we were invited to some member events including the Black party for Black Card holders only.  That didn’t go so well when other black card members found out it was my first MSC cruise and my loyalty status was matched by the line.

They made it very clear they thought this was unfair and spent the party glaring at me.  Not the most comfortable event for me!

Other perks including a dinner at their one and only specialty restaurant and chocolate covered strawberries never materialized.  Oh well!

Okay!  It’s sad, I know.  I can only name 8 positives about my MSC Lirica cruise. Believe me I’m digging deep!

Now for the list of cons, I’ll try to be brief and list only the most glaring things. But oh there are so many!  Where do I begin?

 

Guess I’ll start at the beginning, embarkation.  Remember I said check-in went fairly smoothly and quickly?  Well that’s because there wasn’t much to it.

We just showed our passport and boarding paper which was stamped at the check-in counter.  We proceeded thru security then on to the ship.  In the ship we were funneled thru a hallway and our photos taken.   Then we were told to proceed to customer service which was down the hall and one floor down.

We proceeded down the hall and were greeted by various crew members touting dinner and drink packages, spa treatments, and shore excursions.  Somewhere along this hall way we passed the kids’ club staff. They placed a plastic bracelet on Devon’s wrist and gave us a schedule of children’s activities which we could register for on deck 12 I think.

Anyway to say they were unorganized is an understatement.  When I asked anyone how and where I would get my cruise card I was told to proceed to customer service, presumably all would be made clear at customer service.

I finally made it to customer service via the central stairway.  I  had entered the ship on deck 6 and customer service along with shore excursions and shops were on deck 5.  At the bottom of the central stairway there was a crowded mess.

Cruisers were crowded between stachions that formed a zig zagging line from the bottom of the steps to the customer service counter.  When I reached the bottom of the stairway a crew member asked me what I need from customer service!

Ummm, I was there because I was told to go there.  When she pressed me for the reason I needed customer service it took a while to explain that I was  there because everyone told me to go there.

All I really wanted were our cruise cards and I had no idea where and how to get them.  You know that magical card that opens your  stateroom door and allows one to make on board purchases.   I was led to believe that the genies behind the counter would issue me my cruise cards.  But alas I was wrong.

I learned that I did not need to go to customer service unless I was going to put a cash deposit down on my cruise card!  I was told that our cruise cards were left on the bed in our stateroom; the stateroom door remained open until I retrieved my cards and locked the door.  Very interesting!

I was further told that if I did not put a cash deposit on my cruise card (which is bound to my on board account) I would not be able to purchase anything on board until I registered a credit card and linked it to the cruise cards.  To do this I must go to one on of credit card registration machines located on deck 5 not far from customer service.  Ok, so this was new and different.  But never mind I’d go get my cruise cards then look for my daughter, after all we were there to surprise them.

In my stateroom with the unlocked door I found our cruise cards.  I guess it didn’t matter if anyone else got a hold of the cards as I hadn’t put a cash deposit down nor had I registered a credit card yet.  In theory no one could buy anything using our cards.

After retrieving our cruise cards we went in search of my daughter and family.  Thru text messaging I determined she was at the lego play area.  We asked 3 different crew member where the lego area was, we got 3 different answers.  They ranged  from the location being on deck 6 to decks 11 and 12.  In spite of the faulty directions we somehow managed to run into my daughter and family.  So that turned out well, they were pleasantly surprised!

The disorganization continued.  The next day I went to register my credit card on the machine.  It didn’t work!

I proceeded to customer service (thankfully no long lines) and was told to keep trying on the machine.  Of course it didn’t work, so back to customer service I went.  This time a different lady told me I couldn’t register on the machine because they were also disembarking cruisers that day while we were docked in Bari, hence cruisers embarking from Venice the previous daycould not register on the machine.  It had to be done at customer service!  Ugh!

That night at dinner they mistakenly discarded our wine!  Talk about a comedy of errors!

We had purchased a bottle of Lambrusco  the previous night.  What we didn’t finish they stored for us.  At dinner the next day we were greeted by our waiter with the news that they had mistakenly tossed out our wine, but not to worry because they replaced it with a very  nice (cheap) bottle of  prosecco, you know the type I buy at Costco for $7!  (The Lambrusco was over €20 a bottle)

mscThe next day was a day at sea, unfortunately it was too cold to use the pools and the splash area, but the kids enjoyed making gnocchi with the chef and the MSC mascot.

It was also a formal night.  We  enjoy getting dressed up for dinner and Jaime, my daughter was very excited.  She wanted to take some formal photos.  Which she did and they came out pretty well.

mscThe formal dinner did not.  In fact that was a disaster!

On the MSC Lirica they offer an upgraded meal of either lobster or t-bone steak nightly.  This means that in addition to the regular menu whose offerings are included in your cruise fare you can order a lobster or t-bone steak dinner for an up charge of €18 to €22.  The €22 was for the lobster up charge.  Both meals came with a glass of prosecco. (Again with the prosecco!  They loved giving that stuff away!)

So during the formal dinner we decided to order 3 lobster meals, one each for Jaime, Devon, and myself.  That’s a total of €66 plus a 15% service fee.  Whatever, we wanted lobster.  The lobster dinner was served with asparagus and fried onions I think, it’s pictured above.

Anyway when my daughter sliced into it she immediately asked me if it was still raw because the meat was sort of grayish with a very strong ammonia odor.  In short it was very, very rotten.

We called the waiter over; he had no idea how to handle the situation, he just shook his head and smiled sweetly.  The head waiter was called in and asked me what the issue was, I couldn’t tell him, instead I had him smell the lobster which I  had skewered onto a fork.  You should have seen the look on his face!  It was apparent he knew something was very wrong.

He offered to make 3 new meals; no way that was going to happen, at least not at our table.  In the end he made up some excuse about the kitchen thawing the lobster very fast to serve it to us.  They had to do this because they don’t prep the lobster because not too many people order it.  Really?  Nah!  That lobster was mishandled.

They agreed to void our bill and not charge us for the 3 lobster meals.  Now don’t do us any favors!  Of course you will not charge for the lobsters we could not eat.  (The meals were not credited to us until 3 days later and then only after complaining to customer service!)

I told him and any other crew members who addressed this issue with me during the rest of the cruise that the lobster was mishandled and should never have been allowed to leave the kitchen!  Imagine serving rotten lobster to a pregnant woman and a 10 year old child! Unbelievable!

Needless to say we never returned to the dining room again.  We ate the rest of our meals at on shore restaurants  or at the buffet.

mscThe buffet, burger & hot dog bar, and pizza & pasta bar.  All were in adequate with haphazard service and appalling food options.

I’d have to say the pizzas were the best thing there.  This was proven by the fact that there was a constant wait for pizzas to come out of the oven.  Of course they only set out 2 large pizzas and 1 foccacia  at a time.  This would be grabbed by the first 2-3 people in line.

msc

The bufffet venue itself was tiny with a narrow walkway.  So narrow that you could barely fit 2 people standing  side by side.

There were 2 drink stations on either side of the ship in the very back.  You could serve yourself hot coffee or tea.  In the morning there were juices and hot chocolate available.  At any other time of day  if you want juice or ice tea it must be purchased from the small bar located at the back of the buffet.

If you want drink service at the buffet I can only say good luck at finding a waiter to help you.  Waiters were hard to come by, they much preferred congregating in the corners chatting with each other.  They seemed to treat the guests more as a bother and interruption.  Heaven help anyone who asks for service.

 

Seating was very limited in the buffet and tables and chairs were practically stacked on each other.  And did I mention the dirt?

Yes the tables were always filthy.  I had to ask a waiter to wipe a table for me.  Oh he wiped it all right.  He wiped the crumbs right onto the floor and the chairs!  I have never seen such lack of enthusiasm in a crew ever!

Oh and before I forget, on the MSC Lirica never touch the handrails on the stairways.  They are forever sticky and filthy.  I am as serious as a heart attack.  Not once during the 7 day cruise did I see clean and shiney handrails!  I was not the only one remarking on this, I saw many people look and touch them with disgust.

The public bathrooms were marginally cleaner, it depended on when and where you went.  The busier ones by the buffet were almost always out of order or out of supplies.  Don’t recall anyone cleaning public bathrooms either.  Perhaps they were all busy consulting with each other on how to keep handrails spic and span?

Speaking of bathrooms, public bathrooms were few and far between on the public decks.  I believe there were one set in the forward part of the ship by the theater and another set in the aft part by the photo gallery.  There were never any bathrooms midship, at least none that I could find.  And the public bathrooms were small, most of them only consisting of 2 stalls, one of which was almost always out of order.

Now back to the food, that’s an important part of cruising.  On our first day we went to the buffet for breakfast.  My daughter requested soy milk as her son Jett has milk and egg allergies.  We were told that from then on we should go to the sit down dining room for breakfast as they were better equipped to handle food allergies.  Although to be fair the buffet staff did manage to produce a cup of soy milk that morning after about a 20 minute wait.

So the next day we went to the dining room for breakfast.  We were given menus but were encouraged to get our own food at the mini buffet they set up.  We said we’d check out the buffet but wanted to order waffles as well as the cocoa puffs they had on the menu.  Well that went well, they said they had no idea what cocoa puffs were and they came up with waffles that were cold hard and had a thin drizzle of syrup.  When we asked for syrup they pretended they had no idea what that was.

My husband took himself to the buffet area for some cold scrambled eggs.  He asked  a waiter standing at the buffet for  ketchup.  The waiter snapped at him and said there was no ketchup period, sort of like the Soup Nazi on Seinfield – No Ketchup for You!

Fortunately for us a nice waiter had observed our problems; he went to the kitchen or where ever and came up with a bowl of cocoa puffs, a bowl of syrup, and a bottle of ketchup!  Guess it was a magic moment, he found the condiment pantry!  That was the one any only time we went to the dining room for breakfast.

mscFor pretty much the rest of the cruise we ate hash browns for breakfast, they were pretty good and available most mornings at the hot dog grill, and warm croissants which were served at the pizza bar.

We bought a coffee card and had coffee and pastries at the coffee shop on deck 6, then we ate pizza for dinner.  We tried to eat the burger and dogs, but they were just too disgusting to even bother with.

The buffet offerings were sparse and mainly unappetizing and after the lobster incident we refused to return to the main dining room.  Over all the food and service on the MSC Lirica are disgraceful.

Another part important part of cruising are on board activities, specially on days at sea.  On all the cruises I’ve ever been on the cruise director and his staff work very hard to find a variety of activities for guests to do.

On every other cruise I’ve been on I’ve always looked forward to the daily newsletter that my cabin attendant delivers to my stateroom every night.  This newsletter gives me all the information I need to plan my day.  It usually gives me the weather, date and port, opening times of ship board services and dining venues, and most importantly it lists the times and locations of all the activities on the ship.  This usually includes lectures, movies, bands, dance lessons, exercise classes, demonstrations, sporting activities and challenges,  trivia games, and much more.  There’s always something for everyone!  And of course the schedule of activities takes up about 2 pages of the newsletter.

mscWell it’s not quite the same on the MSC Lirica.  Sure the staff have some activities planned.  The schedule was a whole half page long!

It’s great if you love dance lessons.  On our day at sea they offered 5 different dance lessons and 3 fitness activities with the dance instructors.

Most activities were scheduled to take place by the pool weather permitting.  During our sailing the weather was not very cooperative so the activities ended up taking place in the Cabaret lounge on deck 6 I think.  It was very crowded.

Their biggest activity was called meeting point.  This was basically a portable booth they set up by the pool or where ever.  It was stocked with a few board games and cards that guests could check out and use on board for the day.

The staff, at least those who weren’t giving dance lesson, would dress up in funny looking costumes and juggle, sing, dance, and generally act silly.  I suppose the guests found this entertaining, we did not.  I think part of the problem was the language barrier.  English was not the main language, as expected Italian is the language of choice.  Don’t get me wrong I speak and understand basic Italian, and most of the crew spoke English; but at times it was hard to understand even their English.

If gambling is more you thing you could try your luck at the tiny casino on deck 6.  It had maybe 3 table games only one of which was ever open from what I saw.  There were also maybe 20-30 types of machines.  Not the most entertaining casino I’ve ever been to.  It was sorely lacking in fun and energy!

Now back to the original question “Would I sail them again?”  Surprisingly I would have to say YES!  Ok I’m not a masochist or a glutton for punishment, but hear me out.

Knowing what now I know after having experienced an MSC cruise I have much lower expectations.  I would sail them again more as a form of transportation and lodgings.  The cost of sailing can be as little as $500 per person for a 7 day Med cruise.  That’s cheaper than buying train or plane tickets to the ports of call!

I would use the ship to transport me from port to port, an easy way of getting around without the hassle of dragging luggage and going thru airport security.  I would also have a somewhat decent place to stay and someplace to eat, even if it’s only pizza and hash browns every day.  I would most definitely eat most meals off the ship it’s a great way to sample different types of cuisine at the ports of call.  Besides it’s a Med cruise, eating souvlaki, tzatziki, and baklava daily is not a hardship!

I’d also choose a sailing during warmer weather.  That way I could at least hang out at the pool during sea days.

I think the better question to ask me would be “Would you recommend MSC to your clients?”  I would definitely not! Unless my client wants to use the cruise as a ferry to hop around the Greek isles or where ever the ship sails to.

It would definitely not be anyone’s idea of a dream vacation.  I would never recommend it to  clients planning a honeymoon, anniversary, or luxury cruise.  It would fall very short!  However it’s a great choice for college kids on Spring Break and for anyone with a limited budget and is willing to settle for mediocre or less.

This was my experience on the MSC Lirica.  MSC has many other ships including the new MSC Seaside.  I can’t say for sure what type of experience you would have on other ships.  I can say that I’ve met several other cruisers who don’t give the MSC Poesia a better review.  One guy was kind and said they were understaffed, that was his way of saying the service was terrible.

On the record I was not paid for this review.  I purchased my own cruise ticket at the current rate less the black card member discount.  I am in no way affiliated with MSC or any other cruise line.

Let me help you plan your next vacation.  From budget to luxury travel we can help!  Call Savvy Nana Travel for all your travel needs!  808-372-7734

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6 Reasons to Take a Transatlantic or Transpacific Cruise

transatlanticYou might be wondering what exactly are Transatlantic and Transpacific cruises and why should you even consider taking one.  Both cruises are essentially ocean crossings done when cruise ships are repositioning from one route to another.

Transatlantic and Transpacific cruises are usually offered in the early spring and late fall.  The early spring cruises are done when ships are moving from their winter routes to their summer routes; late fall cruises are when the ships return to their summer routes.

Transatlantic cruises are generally from North American ports that serve as  gateways for Caribbean cruises in the winter to European ports that are gateways to Baltic and Mediterranean cruises in the summer.

Transpacific cruises are generally from Asian and Southern Hemisphere ports that serve as gateways to Asian and Australian/New Zealand cruises in the winter to ports located in North America’s western ports that are the debarkation ports to Alaska in the summer months.

transatlanticGot that?  Ok now you should know that there are basically 2 transatlantic routes.

The northern route  take ships from Florida to Northern Europe with ports of call in Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, and Scotland before ending up in either South Hampton, England or Copenhagen, Denmark.  These ships ply the Baltic route during the summer months.  Their late fall return usually includes stops along eastern Canada and the US eastern seaboard to view the colorful autumn foliage.

 

transatlanticThe southern route takes ships from Florida to ports in Spain, Greece, or Italy with stops at the Canary Islands, Azores, and possibly the Spain’s Costa del Sol.  These ships travel the Eastern and Western Mediterranean routes during the summer.  Their late fall return usually follows the same route they take in the spring.  [spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

 

transatlanticTranspacific routes generally travel from Asia, Australia, and New Zealand to San Fransico, Seattle, or Vancouver.  They usually make stops in Mexico and Southern youCalifornia.

Having said all this there of course will be exceptions such as ships moving from their winter routes in South America and those that travel around the Middle East.  For the purpose of this article we’ll stick to the Transatlantic and Transpacific routes.

Alright, now you sort of know what transatlantic and traspacific cruise are, so let me give you six reasons why you should consider taking one or perhaps why you shouldn’t.

transatlanticThe Price is Right!

Transatlantic and transpacific cruises are generally a good value.  The ships have to sail to their seasonal routes anyway so it makes good business sense to fill them up on those crossings.  I’ve paid as little as $1200 per person for a 14 day transatlantic cruise in a balcony stateroom.  That’s less than $100 a day!  They also included perks such as paid gratuity and drink package!    [spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

transatlatlanticRestful and Relaxing!

Cruises with many ports of call are exciting, but they can also be exhausting.  It’s go, go, go almost everyday!  Some cruises are so hectic you hardly get a chance to enjoy all the things the ship has to offer, not to mention you might need a vacation after your vacation!

Well that is not a problem on a transatlantic or transpacific cruise.  You will have plenty of days at sea to rest, relax, and enjoy everything the ship has to offer.  Most crossings have about 5-7 consecutive days at sea, plenty of time to catch up on your reading, learn a new dance step, or just catch up on your sleep.  [spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

transatlanticNo Cooking for 2 Weeks!

This is one of my favorite reasons to go on a transatlantic cruise, or any cruise for that matter.

From breakfast to dinner and everything in between your meals are prepared by someone other than yourself, and you don’t have to clean up either!

You can indulge at the buffet, dine in the main dining room, grab a burger at the grill, or sample the different specialty restaurants.  Whatever you’ve a yen for you’ll probably be able to satisfy it at one of the ship’s dining venues.

Best of all you’ll have the time and the appetite to try everything because you won’t be filling up on local foods on shore!  [spacer height=”-20px”]

 

transatlanticInteresting Ports of Call

Transatlantic and transpacific cruises make stops at some interesting ports that they don’t normally visit on their regular routes.  Ports like Tenerife, the Azores, Greenland, and Iceland are not on Baltic or Med routes.  Ships only stop there during their crossings about twice a year.

On our transatlantic cruise last year we stopped in Malaga, Cartagena, and the Canary Islands.  All very nice cities! [spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

 

 

 

transatlanticLearn something new or try something different or silly

Cruise staff really work overtime during these crossings.  They must come up with new and innovative ways to keep cruisers entertained.  They offer lectures, games, lessons, live shows, movies, and activities for just about everyone.

Last year I really enjoyed the free water color painting classes on the cruise.  Learned some new techniques and came home with a few pretty paintings.

We also enjoyed watching the Egg Drop event. It was amusing to see the contraptions cruisers came up with to save their raw eggs from getting smashed when dropped 6 decks down! [spacer height=”-20px”]

 

 

 

 

transatlanticMeet new people and make new friends

On many cruises you’re too busy running around to really meet anyone, much less have a conversation with them.  On ocean crossings this is not a problem.

It’s easy to be sociable when you see the same people everyday for 2 or more weeks!  Unless you prefer to keep to yourself you will find many opportunities to meet new and interesting people.  We’ve met many cruisers who’ve become great friends![spacer height=”-20px”]

 

Ready to book your transatlantic cruise?  Contact us at Savvy Nana Travel, we’ll help you plan your dream vacation!

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Family Cruising:  What’s Included and What’s Not

Family Cruising: What’s Included and What’s Not

CruisingFamily cruising has become popular and affordable. It can be a great value for your vacation dollars.  Cruise fares will take a big bite out of your vacation budget, air fare too if embarking far from home.  But that’s really all you have to spend.  You can budget around the “extras” by cherry picking activities and luxuries that are important to you and your family.

Our first cruise aboard the Star Princess was very costly.  We had no idea what to expect and purchased all sorts of tours and packages from the cruise line.  We’ve since learned to plan our own tours when possible and take advantage of free onboard activities.   We’ve learned that the chocolate covered strawberries that are part of the “celebration” package can be found for free at the buffet.  We’ve learned how to save money on the luxuries offered.  We’ve become very savvy cruisers, specially when we travel with our kids and grandkids!

It’s hard to budget vacation dollars when you don’t know what’s included and what’s not in the cruise fare.  Here is a list to help you budget for your cruise.

What’s included:

  •   All meals and snacks in “regular” dining venues.

Standard dining venues on most cruise lines are:

Family CruisingMain Dining Room – Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Buffet – Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks & Beverages (coffee, tea & some juices are included)

Pool side grills for burgers & hot dogs, and on some ships an outdoor ice cream shop.

  •   Selected beverages – coffee, tea (hot & iced), lemonade, some juices – selections of free beverages vary by cruise line.
  • Standard room service menu is generally free.  Most cruise lines now offer upgraded menus that include balcony dining, champagne brunch, and more – those are not free.  Some cruise lines have started to add a service charge per delivery.  Check before you order.
  • All onboard entertainment including theater productions, lounge shows, movies, in room TV (some lines have pay per view premium channels)
  •  All onboard activities – trivia games, karaoke, dance lessons, port talks, pool games, themed parties, and more.

 Family Cruising

  • Pools, fitness center and some classes, walking/jogging track, library
  • Youth and Teen Programs and activities – Most ships have youth centers staffed by trained counselors for different age groups. Kids must be registered to participate. Activities include parties, games, arts, and crafts. Most activities are free.

 

 

What’s not included: 

  • Tips and gratuities – for guests’ convenience gratuities are added to shipboard accounts it’s charged per guest/day.  Services charges are also added to beverage, spa, and salon purchases.  Some cruise lines allow you to pre-pay gratuities before you sail, check with your cruise line for details.
  • Tipping is not mandatory, you may remove these charges from your account at the purser’s desk any time before the cruise ends and instead opt to tip specific service people like your cabin attendant and diningroom waiters.
  •   Specialty Dining – A cover charge is added to your shipboard account if you choose to dine at a specialty restaurant.  Venues vary by ship and cruise line, but can include French Cuisine, Trattoria, Creperie, Steakhouse, and popular franchises such as Johnny Rockets, Seattle’s Best, and others that are now onboard some ships.
  • Gelato, specialty coffees and teas, smoothies, and other specialty treats.  In some cases the specialty coffees and teas, and gelato are charged, but the snack foods(cookies, salads, sandwiches, and pastries)  are free.  This is true on Celebrity’s Cafe al Bacio and Princess’s cafe in their Piazza.
  •  Bottled Water, Soda, Beer, Wine, and other alcoholic Beverages
  • Personal Trainers, Special Fitness Classes (Pilates, Cycling, Yoga, etc.)
  • Spa & Salon Services
  • Thermal Suites and other special services and equipment found in the spa
  • Computer & Photography Classes
  • Language Classes
  • Cooking Classes
  • Arts & Crafts Classes (some are free check before you sign up)
  • Wi-Fi, Laundry & Dry Cleaning
  • Photos
  • Casino Gaming
  • On Board Shops
  • Wine Tasting
  • Art Auctions
  • Shore Excursions
  • Flowers from the Florist
  • Celebration Packages
  • Group Babysitting, In Stateroom Babysitting

The items listed here are by no means everything cruise ships offer.  These are just some of the services, activities, and “extras” common to most ships. Different cruise lines and ships offer varying “extras” for a fee.   It’s best to check with the cruise line and ship you will be sailing for their complete list.

Whether your idea of the perfect family vacation is relaxing at the pool, dining with your child’s favorite cartoon character, or a luxurious day at the spa, you’re sure to find it on a cruise ship.

Bon Voyage!