Before I even write this post let me start by saying a very special thank you to Ms. @AvgJo for holding down the site during my absence. She really did her thing so well that I'm pretty sure that a lot of you didn't even realize I was gone. I've been doing this site for almost six years and I can honestly say I've never had anyone I could fully trust the vision and direction of my site to during an absence. @AvgJo has proven to be a wonderful asset to this site and I am grateful to have her as a member of The Savvy Sista family.
Some may not have realized this, but I've been gone for the past two weeks. I was cruising the beautiful Mediterranean and let me just say it was a dream vacation. I know a lot of people are apprehensive about going on a cruise about the recent debacles with the ships, but let me just tell you that if you've never been to Europe before a cruise is one of the best options to embark on. A cruise allows you to sample an area before deciding on the destination in which you would like to invest a lot of time into.
I've been cruising since 2003 and I'll admit that Carnival has always been my company of choice when it came to cruising. It was no exception when I chose to go on my first Mediterranean cruise with eleven of my family members. Carnival has had a lot of problems of late, but I've never had a problem with them.
One of the reasons I chose this particular cruise for my family to go on was because it went to Croatia (Dubrovnik) and Monaco which were two places I've always wanted to go. We also went to Venice, Naples, Sicily, Florence, Marseilles, Palma de Mallorca, Rome, and Barcelona, but the selling point for me was Monaco and Croatia.
My family members came from Florida, Georgia, and New Jersey. I was the lone person coming from Pittsburgh and so that meant I had to travel by myself which I had absolutely no problem doing. Hell, I'm a big girl. I've been traveling by myself since I've moved to Pittsburgh in 2005.
I don't know why they call Pittsburgh's airport an international airport because I swear the only international place it takes you is to Paris which personally I don't have a problem with, but can we please get some other international locations? I mean is that asking too much of an 'international' airport?
So in order for me to get to Venice, Italy (the place the ship was embarking from) I literally had to fly all over the world. I flew from Pittsburgh to Detroit to Amsterdam and then finally to Venice. Can you say exhausted? It was a good thing we had two days in Venice because I would have completely missed it because I was so tired.
Before I even get started on telling you about the trip itself, let me just say that a lot of people on the trip found themselves in for a rude awakening when they had to convert their dollars into euros. Honey, that conversion rate wasn't right...LOL! You should have seen the look on my cousins face when I finally got through to her how much money she was really spending on that handbag she thought she wanted in Florence. For some reason most people thought stuff was cheap until that conversion rate was broken down for them.
Everything on the ship was in U.S. dollars, but once you got off the ship it was a different story. No matter where we went, people wanted Euros and they didn't give a damn about your U.S. dollars. The dollar means nothing over there.
So before I even got on the ship, I booked tours for the different ports. You could book a tour, or as they call it shore excursion, through the ship or you could get a private tour. I will say for the most part I enjoyed the private tours more. I researched the private tours on the internet and managed to book a couple for Naples (Capri) and Monaco (Cannes, Eze, Antibes, Monte Carlo, and Nice). Those excursions were the most memorable for me because it was just a small group of people in comparsion to what the ship offered. Don't get me wrong the ship had some good excursions (we actually went on a few), but it was so many people going on the same excursions that it made the tours so impersonal. With a private tour if the group was small enough you could actually alter the itinerary and see some other things if time permitted. This was not the case with the large groups through the ship.
I'll tell you all about the ports we went to in Part II.
TO BE CONTINUED...